RANGERS' plans to transform the enclosure in front of the main stand

into an all-seated area are meeting with the disapproval of the

supporters who inhabit that particular part of the stadium, writes James

Traynor. Already the club have received more than 100 letters objecting

to the proposed #1.5m development.

This growing unrest has not escaped the attention of the chairman,

David Murray, whose Murray International empire encompasses all things

Rangers, and he realises that the customers have to be accommodated.

Normally, Murray would reconsider his plans and make adjustments and

although he will take another look at this next stage of the Ibrox

upgrading there is little he can do to give the fans what they want.

Rangers, like every other team who wish to play in Europe, have no


Football's world and European authorities are demanding that stadia

must be all seated before clubs can play in the various FIFA- and

UEFA-sanctioned competitions. Rangers must do away with their

9000-capacity enclosure just as Celtic must replace their vast

terracings with seated areas.

Rangers have lodged a planning application to deal with this and the

re-seating of their main stand.

''We are here to listen to the customers and to try to give them what

they want, but it may be out of our hands. Legislation forces us to put

in seats,'' said Murray. ''Perhaps we are just addressing the problem

sooner than other clubs.''

The days of the upright supporters are over, but if Rangers are

looking for a way to appease their fans perhaps it is worth considering

the possibility of leaving the enclosure intact but closing it during

European ties. Maybe a compromise could be reached that way.

The owner also said that he was happy with the progress being made by

Rangers on most fronts, pointing out that they have come a long way in

the past 12 months alone. Even so, he will not allow the club to mark

time realising football is in a period of change and that only those

clubs bold enough to read the signs and act swiftly will emerge ready to

take advantage of opportunities such as an elite league drawn from all

European countries.

There is much more to this business these days than kicking a bag of

wind around a patch of turf, but without the players, of course, there

is nothing and they remain unconcerned about finances other than their

own salaries. While the likes of AC Milan and Real Madrid could be

fellow members of some future set-up Butcher, Gough, Johnston, and co

have on their minds this week only St Johnstone.

The Perth side will be at Ibrox tomorrow for the third round of the

Scottish Cup and they are capable of punishing any complacency. Rangers

need only look back to last season's semi-finals when St Johnstone

earned a no-scoring draw in the first match, but lost 4-0 in the replay.

Trevor Steven, who will be making his Scottish Cup debut, was given a

boost yesterday when England manager Bobby Robson called him into next

week's squad gathering. The Rangers midfielder was not included in the

list of 30 announced earlier this week, but cup replays south of the

Border have left Robson short.

Top clubs down there and in the premier division have been beaten to

the signature of 15-year-old Aberdonian Levi Smith. The Deeside Boys

Club midfield player had attracted the attention of many clubs, but

Rangers' youth coach Gordon Neely persuaded him that Ibrox was the best

place to begin.

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