RANGERS kicked off their first home game under Charles Green's ownership after a summer of turmoil off the park which saw them cast out of Scotland's top flight and relegated to the Third Division.

Fans flocked to Ibrox for the first time since the dust settled on their club's demotion to see them beat East Fife 4-0 in the first round of the Scottish Communities League Cup.

Last season, as a Premier League club, Rangers would have been spared this stage of the competition.

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But on a sunny night in Glasgow most supporters were philosophical about their club's downfall, and were just relieved to see them playing football after months of uncertainty.

Tens of thousands came to cheer on their team, filling Govan Road with flags and colour before kick-off as they have done for decades. In fact, more than 38,000 fans attended the match, causing the kick-off to be delayed.

Andrew McMillan, 23, had driven from Tarbet, near Loch Lomond, with his friends to see the match. He said: "I've been looking forward to the game all weekend. I'll support Rangers no matter what league they are in or who they are facing. I hope every game's a sell-out and that we march up the divisions back to the SPL."

Maureen McHendrie, from Glasgow, believes it is more important to support the club than ever before. I came to get behind the team at their first home game. The opposition doesn't bother me at all. It doesn't matter who we face.

"What's happened to the club is part of our history now and the future is going to be great."

The Old Firm side was staring into the abyss for much of the summer months, after first going into administration because former owner Craig Whyte stopped paying income tax and then being liquidated after no buyer could be found to take over the stricken club.

The new regime, headed by Charles Green's Sevco consortium, have vowed to pick up the pieces but Rangers had to enter the league pyramid from the basement.

Last night's opponents, from Division Two, is the sort of team which will be regular visitors to Ibrox this season – and for the next two years at least.

However, fans were split between vowing their club will rise phoenix-like from the ashes, and simply being happy to see them take to the pitch again.

William Smith, from Glasgow, said: "Rangers received their punishment, so let us get on with it. I'll be coming to watch us get back into the top flight."

Thomas Michael was selling the fanzine, No1, outside the ground. He said business had been good and that the months of turmoil had brought the supporters closer together. He even thought the problems affecting Rangers would be good for the club. He added: "It's given people a reason to pull together. There's a buzz about Ibrox that hasn't been here for years. Football and Rangers means the world to some people, and they'll be out to support the club.

"People were fed up with the SPL, and with Scottish football. It had grown stale and what's happened to Rangers has given the club a shot in the arm.

"It's got the fans excited in a way I've not seen for 15 years."

For their part, fans of Methil-based East Fife were happy to be visiting Ibrox, with most viewing it as a day out in Glasgow.

John Stevens, a youth coach, was busy marshalling the team mascots outside the ground as the crowds walked past. He said: "Having Rangers in the Third Division will be good for Scottish football. It's got people talking about the game and it'll spread money out through the divisions. It's going to be fun seeing them at Ibrox and having them come to our ground, Bayview. Mind you, we're in the division above them, so we'll have to see what happens next year."