'˜Blessed' Steven Gerrard says he's at Rangers for the long haul
Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium is used to cheering audiences but it wasn’t until an unprompted speech from Gerrard at the end of Rangers’ annual general meeting that there was some real life to the place.
He may have been playing to the crowd, but it seems like he is in Glasgow for the duration.
Gerrard said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dave King for the support he has given me since day one and also the rest of the board and the directors.
“They have been really supportive to me and my staff and I would like to thank Mark Allen and Stewart Robertson, who I am working with on a daily basis.
“Without the support and that back-up behind myself and my coaching staff, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have so far this season.
“I can assure everyone that we will give every bit of time and effort we have got as a coaching staff to continue to move the club forward on the pitch and we will continue to try and attract the best players possible to help bring success back to this incredible club.
“I feel I am in such a blessed position to be here as the manager. I hope I stay here for a very long time and we share some really good times together.
“I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to say thanks for the continued support I get from the supporters, the board, all my players and my coaching staff.”
Unlike previous years, this was a quiet gathering when chairman Dave King and his directors and staff dealt with the few probing questions that came their way in a Q&A session that lasted under 25 minutes following procedural formalities and, of course, King’s speech.
King reiterated that he will continue to fight the seemingly constant legal battles with Sports Direct to regain full control of the club’s retail operation.
Managing director Stewart Robertson also indicated there had been more positive dialogue with Glasgow City Council over a fan zone area opposite Ibrox.
King said: “Unfortunately, Sports Direct has again done its best to interrupt our retail operations by engaging in the type of litigation that they are by now famous for.
“In my opinion, they use urgent and interim proceedings so that they can drown the court in papers that cannot be adequately reviewed in time.
“This allows them to get interim relief pending a full ventilation of the facts. In the final analysis Sports Direct has consistently failed with its bullying tactics and I anticipate a similar outcome to the present litigation.”
On the footprint outside Ibrox, Robertson said: “We have obviously had pretty well publicised issues with the Council a couple of months ago. That has been at the Councillor level and what I would say is that at the Officer level, Glasgow City Council are working very closely with us.
“Since we had that issue a few weeks ago, we have actually had very positive dialogue with them.
“I am hopeful, whilst there will still be voices inevitably that won’t be our biggest fans, that the plans we put forward will meet with the approval of the Council and we won’t have any issues with planning.”
Plans for the continued improvement of Ibrox and a three-fold increase in funding for the women’s teams at Rangers were also announced.
Robertson also indicated that a new 4G network will be installed shortly and a company had tendered for a safe standing area in the Broomloan Stand where Rangers’ most vociferous supporters are housed.
King, meanwhile, took time out to praise Graeme Murty, pictured, who had to take over from Pedro Caixinha last season having also acted as interim manager in the previous campaign when Mark Warburton left.
King said: “I want to thank a man who to my mind is a true Rangers hero.
“For the second time – and at great personal anguish much of the time – Graeme Murty put the club ahead of himself by taking on the extremely difficult role of interim manager for a prolonged period and under challenging circumstances.
“Graeme, I am extremely grateful for your sacrifice and for your decision to continue to help the youngsters at the Academy despite your disappointment. You are my man of the year.”