For a club whose turnover for 2012/13 will be lucky to reach £25m, and given the long road back to full health facing Rangers, Stockbridge appeared pretty brazen in stating his aims to The Herald.
Nonetheless, he is undeterred. “It would be nice to get to £100m…and it could go beyond that point,” said Stockbridge.
These words have been greeted with a mixture of admiration and scorn. Admiration, because there is nothing wrong with ambition. Scorn, because £100m per year scarcely looks possible in the foreseeable future at Ibrox.
In one sense the key figure for Rangers in the next few years will not be turnover – or revenue generated – so much as profitability. Nonetheless, turnover figures are always viewed as a barometer of business growth, which is Stockbridge’s key objective at Ibrox.
The Rangers finance director was factoring in quite a few “unknowns” in his business goal for the club. For starters, his base point was a rough £60m in turnover in any Champions League season in which Rangers might participate.
Add on to this, Stockbridge believes, a planned new boom in Rangers’ merchandising, plus Ibrox naming-rights, a lucrative shirt sponsorship deal and the rest, and he believes £100m in revenue for the club is reachable.
“Even then,” Stockbridge added of the prospect of reaching his target, “I wouldn’t think my job was done.”
Rangers’ highest turnover to date is £64m, posted in 2007/08 on the back of Champions League participation and then a Uefa Cup final under Walter Smith.
Ironically, with calamity at Ibrox less than three years away, the club looked reasonably stable, and had shaved off yet another chunk of debt.
Celtic for some reason had often out-performed Rangers in terms of revenue, with £70m-plus figures posted for both 2007 and 2008. Yet in 2011, with the Champions League a temporary void at Parkhead, Celtic’s turnover fell back to £52.6m, their worst performance for five years.
The moral of this is well known: playing in the Champions League is the “transformer” for Celtic or Rangers. Nonetheless, what Charles Green and Brian Stockbridge are trying to do is find fresh income streams for Rangers which might make revenue from European football less significant than it currently is in Glasgow.
On the surface even a healthy and restored Rangers might be many years away from hoping to reach the magic £100m in turnover. Indeed, Stockbridge may not even be around to see it happen, depending on the way this colourful Green circus unfolds at Ibrox.
I believe Rangers are at least five years away – possibly longer – from playing elite European football again. The club first of all faces the bricks-and-mortar task of just getting back into the top flight in Scotland.
Once there a whole new challenge will face Rangers: that of being a dominant domestic force once again, and then being equipped to at least play among the best teams on the Continent. This could be many years in the making.
For all that Charles Green likes to shoot from the lip, in fact is he sometimes quite sober and realistic in his outlook.
Green stated in his recent Rangers shares prospectus that the club might be three years from profitability, and he has repeatedly hinted that only an austere finance policy at Rangers, such as a salary cap at 33% of turnover, will make the club whole again.
Rangers boasting of a £100m turnover? If it happens any time soon, Brian Stockbridge will have worked a miracle.
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