DAVE KING and his backers within the Rangers support were last night told by the club board to forget about being given security over Ibrox Stadium as the opposing sides in the battle for control of the League 1 champions became ever more entrenched.
Just hours after former manager Alex McLeish had given his endorsement to the South Africa-based businessman and warned fans were ready to "go to war", the directors issued a statement insisting that they would not hand over the keys to the ground under any circumstances and accusing King and former captain Richard Gough of harming the club with a pointless vanity project.
King and Gough have set up a company titled Ibrox 1972 Ltd, in conjunction with the Union of Fans supporters collective, into which fans are being asked to channel season-ticket funds that will only be handed over to the club should specific safeguards be offered.
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However, the board reinforced that they will not do deals over Ibrox and returned fire in what is an increasingly bitter war of words with the UoF, who claim that as few as 2000 season-book renewals for next season have been processed by Rangers.
"Attempting to create a fund that wishes to deprive revenue to the football club these men [King and Gough] purport to love so much and create financial difficulty for Rangers displays a twisted logic," said the board in the statement.
"For the avoidance of doubt and so that all Rangers fans are again reassured, the board has stated that it has no intention of granting security over Ibrox to anybody.
"We have already shown in our actions - and not words - that our stadium is sacrosanct.
"Any supporters considering engaging with Ibrox 1972 Ltd should be clear that, as the club will not grant security over Ibrox to any such organisation, there is no prospect that any commitment to this new scheme will ever come to fruition and is, therefore, entirely meaningless.
"This scheme is a worthless academic exercise created to serve the purposes of individuals and not the greater good of Rangers Football Club. It is also important to note that should existing season ticket holders choose not to renew by the May 16 deadline, as is being encouraged, they could lose their seat allocation.
"Any decision not to renew season tickets can only damage the club."
However, UoF spokesman Chris Graham responded strongly last night. "Their latest 'give us your money or the seat gets it' ultimatum is just another in a long line of misjudgments this board has made about the mood amongst the support in general," he said.
"The fact that those now in the crosshairs of this board are a lifelong Rangers fan who has ploughed millions of his own money into the club with no return, an iconic captain from one of the club's most successful ever periods and a group of Rangers fans attempting to secure the home of our football club, says more about this board than we ever could.
"There is no attempt to deprive the club of funds. This is made very clear in the security proposal and the board's hamfisted attempt to misrepresent this is one of the few transparent things they have done since coming to power."
McLeish made it clear earlier in the day at an event held inside Ibrox that he believed it was "common sense" to grant security over Ibrox to season ticket buyers and expressed his desire to see King take control of Rangers.
"It would be great to see someone like Dave King take over with the respect he has paid to the fans and with the UoF looking to make sure the assets are safe," he said. "For me, that would be a great solution for Rangers. It sounds as though there is a bit of responsibility being handed to the fans and you know that they will go to war to save this club."
Graham Wallace, the chief executive, had his position described as "untenable" by the UoF, but the board have given him their full backing.
"The absurd attacks made by individuals associated with this new scheme on chief executive Graham Wallace are disgraceful," continued the statement. "Mr Wallace has the board's unequivocal support."