RANGERS will literally take their fans to new heights when they open the top deck of their stand in the game with Dundee United at Ibrox tomorrow, writes Ian Paul. The spectacular new seating will not be full, with about 1700 of the debentures not yet taken up.
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The latest addendum to the stadium, which already attracts 27,500 season ticket holders, cost in the region of #20m and will leave the club sporting a #7m overdraft but they started out on this course with a similar outstanding debt and are confident that it will be wiped out in a relatively short time.
Financial Controller Douglas Odam admitted that the costs of the new deck, the refurbishment of the current stand, and various other projects -- like the Albion car park -- had hoisted the total well beyond their original estimations. ''The basic cost for the new stand was #12m but that didn't include various fees, the extra work on the old stand (which was reseated with plastic seating), work on the dressing-room area, etc added to that. And there was #2.3m needed for extra safety features.''
Income from the sale of debentures is #8.5m and grants were received from the Football Trust amounting to #2m.
John Greig, wearing his PR hat, said that the supporters originally had made a commitment to little more than a sketch but he anticipated the remaining 1700 debentures being taken up when people appreciate the reality.
Odam added: ''As far as the overdraft is concerned we have plenty of other plans to take care of it.''
Even so, the figures do demonstrate just why Rangers felt the #5.5m offered by Marseilles for Trevor Steven was irresistible in the circumstances.
The new stand (or Club Deck, as it is termed) is exclusively for debenture holders who pay four different rates, #1000, #1300, #1500, #1650. All of the dearer seats were sold 18 months ago and, of the total 5000 so far issued, 1100 have come from existing season ticket holders who want to try the rarified air of the higher echelon.
They will not regret it. The view is breathtaking. So, too, is the climb up the stairs (only the executive box holders have the use of lifts) but, once you get there, the facilities on the concourse, with fast-food stalls and televisions spaced along the way, are of a high standard.