SNP councillors '˜interfered with Rangers fanzone plans' claims supporters' group

A Rangers supporters' group has claimed that Glasgow SNP councillors intervened in order to block plans for a fanzone near Ibrox stadium.

A general view of Rangers' Ibrox Stadium. Picture: SNS Group
A general view of Rangers' Ibrox Stadium. Picture: SNS Group

Initial plans for a trial run of a fanzone, set up on Edmiston Drive and able to accommodate around 2,000 supporters, were lodged earlier this year.

The plans were shelved in July after intervention from Glasgow City Council, despite hopes the trial run at Ibrox could help determine the feasibility of a similar fanzone at Hampden for the four scheduled Euro 2020 Championship matches.

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Club 1872 hit out at Ms Aitken over the summer after it emerged she had backed a broadly similar pilot at the National Stadium just weeks before rejecting Rangers’ proposal.

The group sought answers from Glasgow City Council over the snub, saying in August: “Very serious questions now exist over the actions of Council Leader Susan Aitken and her deputy David McDonald in this process, and that is something on which we are seeking urgent clarity from Glasgow City Council (GCC).”

Club 1872 submitted a Freedom of information (FOI) request, amid angry comments from Rangers sources who branded the decision “grubby municipal politics”, and opposition to the SNP councillors’ actions from Conservative and Labour politicians.

Club 1872 has published a number of redacted documents the group received via the FOI request which, they insist, “confirm the intervention of Council Leader Susan Aitken and Deputy Leader David McDonald”.

The umbrella group also claimed that the information released was “extensive despite Glasgow City Council previously informing Club 1872 that they held no information on the matter”.

A statement from the group - which is the second largest shareholder in Rangers - read: “Although their names have been redacted by Glasgow City Council, multiple internal and external emails reference their intervention at a meeting on August 1, the night before the formal withdrawal of permission by Glasgow Life for the use of the facility.

“Club 1872 is in no doubt that this intervention was the reason for the withdrawal of permission. This matter should have been considered by the Licensing Committee hearing scheduled for August 6th, which was subsequently cancelled.”

The statement continues: “These emails paint a disturbing picture of elected councillors interfering in the licensing process and overturning the advice and guidance of more qualified Council and Glasgow Life officials.

“Club 1872 has been encouraged by the efforts of the Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life CEOs to engage with Rangers and make positive progress over the past few weeks.

“However, we remain deeply concerned at the actions of the councillors. What guarantee does the Rangers support have that these individuals will not try to intervene again despite these positive discussions?”

The group confirmed that it would be taking the matter up with the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life, adding: “We will also pursue the original response from Glasgow City Council, which claimed they held no information on the matter, with the Scottish Information Commissioner.”