THE Rangers board appears to have made concessions to supporters' groups over the security of Ibrox stadium.
Representatives of the Union of Fans met Graham Wallace, the Rangers chief executive, Norman Crighton, non-executive director, and Sandy Easdale, a director of the football board, yesterday and extracted a pledge over Ibrox but pushed for a similar assurance over Murray Park, the training complex near Milngavie.
The board, who have consistently refused to grant security over Ibrox to supporters, have offered a "legally binding commitment" over the stadium, according to the fans' statement last night. The board is expected to meet today to discuss the fans' demand to extend this commitment to Murray Park as the season-ticket deadline looms tomorrow.
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The pledge by the board over Ibrox will be perused by Union of Fans lawyers and the breakthrough came after suggestions that season-ticket renewals have fallen far short of what the club needs to move forward. The move by the Rangers board follows a campaign over season ticket renewals led by Dave King, the South Africa-based businessman, and supported by various fans' groups.
King has, with former club captain Richard Gough, registered Ibrox 1972 Ltd at Companies House. He has urged fans to withhold ticket money until the board provide them with security over the stadium and the training complex. Fans were asked instead to place their money in trust.
Sandy Easdale declared last month that season-ticket money was vital to the viability of the club, saying: "In 140 years, the club's gone into administration once. I don't think it would survive a second one. So I would ask every loyal Rangers fan - and I pick my words correctly in saying 'loyal Rangers fan' - supports the club at this time and gives it a chance."
Many fans were not convinced by the 120-day business review and there has been frantic activity at Ibrox to publicise renewals. Some observers see the board's readiness to meet Union of Fans representatives as a sign that renewals "were abnormally and spectacularly low".
The Union of Fans statement last night detailed precisely what the group felt it had achieved. It said: "A proposal was made by Mr Wallace that whilst the board would not grant a security they could consider giving a legally binding undertaking which would protect Ibrox from sale, sale and leaseback or as any form of security for a loan or other finance. We made it clear to Mr Wallace that we felt it was also appropriate that they provide the same undertaking for Murray Park. Mr Wallace and Mr Crighton agreed to discuss this with the rest of the plc board as a matter of urgency and further discussions between the plc board and Union of Fans will continue once this board meeting has taken place."
It is understood this board meeting will take place today, signifying the urgency of the situation.
The UoF statement continued: "We believe we accurately conveyed the fears of supporters that either or both of these club assets could be lost to the club in a scenario where they were used for any sale and leaseback or other loan security. Any proposal by the board will be evaluated by our lawyers and a decision will then be taken on how to move forward. We will keep fans fully informed as discussions continue."
Rangers did not comment on the statement last night.