Rangers' already well developed taste for spending is increasing, and they are looking for new ways of paying for their habit.
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Those markets will initially be tapped by way of a new monthly magazine and video which will be available world-wide. Their initial move into retailing, however, may primarily be about raising revenue, but it is also about raising profile. ''I think we would open shops in Australia even if it was not the most viable operation,'' Murray insists. ''It would provide a service for our supporters there and take our name to a new market.'' ''We are looking at the Far East as a potential market, but we know you have to get things right at home before you start to try to export abroad.'' To prepare for that, Rangers have bought a substantial warehouse in Glasgow, which will feed the world with Rangers merchandise by mail order. The scale of the financial empire which this suggests may make some supporters wonder if theirclub has not changed beyond recognition. Murray insists not. ''Football is a different type of business which is not all about bottom line. Look at the situation with Brian Laudrup, for example. We could have made a lot of money by selling him to Ajax. In the end, we could miss out, but keeping him at Ibrox was about keeping the magic alive. We could not spoil the dream and had to keep faith with our supporters, whatever it meant in financial terms. In football the dividends are trophies,'' Murray says.
Such is the competitive nature of the man, it is difficult to see that statement as not being a dig at his oldest rivals, Celtic, as well as a statement of his philosophy. But Murray's mind is focused, and, as he attempts to make Rangers the financial champions of Europe, his club has an advantage over others, like Manchester United, who have floated on the Stock Exchange. They make profits to please institutional investors in terms of dividends. Murray holds over 60 per cent of the stock at Ibrox and can therefore plough his money back in. The pressure for monetary dividends is not as great. Nonetheless there seems a tireless will to exploit the assets of the club. The #3m which they invested in their giant Jumbotron screens, for example, is starting to be re-couped by hiring them out to the Ashes Test match at Edgbaston as well as grands prix. After nine consecutive titles, there may be little which Rangers can do to improve their product domestically. Success in Europe is, of course, the aim, but Murray will not be seduced into belittling the achievements at home. ''There are nine-year-old children who believe that Rangers always win the league. We have had tremendous success, but that in itself creates tremendous pressure.'' If Rangers are as determined in their retail ambitions as they appear to be on the field, then there is no clear limit. Perhaps in a few years time, similar nine-year-old children may think you always get your rice crispies and milk from Rangers as well as championship trophies.