Rangers Set Fourth-Tier Attendance Record In Home Opener
Rangers FC set a world record attendance mark for a fourth-tier match on Saturday when 49,118 watched their 5-1 win over East Stirling in a Scottish Football League game at Ibrox, according to Tim Hart of REUTERS. The figure "smashed the previous record" of 37,774 for a game between Crystal Palace and Millwall at Selhurst Park in '61 in the old English fourth division. The Ibrox crowd was larger than the combined attendance for last weekend's five Scottish Premier League matches of 40,383 (REUTERS, 8/18). In London, Mark Walker reported that Rangers Owner Charles Green addressed the crowd before the game and told them it was "just the start of the journey. Let’s enjoy the adventure." It was "a PR open goal for Green, and he didn’t miss." He stated: “Never mind sell-out Saturday that they tried to organise last week. This is sold-out Saturday. We’ve sold over 33,000 season tickets and that's not bad for a Third Division club." The "rapturous reception" that followed showed Green "certainly seems to have won over sceptical Rangers fans." However, "a similar reception" was afforded to former Owner Craig Whyte this time last year when he unfurled the SPL flag (SUNDAY TIMES, 8/19).
MAKING A STATEMENT: In Glasgow, Martin Hannan reported that Rangers Manager Ally McCoist said, "What a statement. I didn’t have any doubts, but you always wonder how many will come. In the last ten days, it has been staggering.” The record crowd "filled Ibrox to the gunwales as the famous old place hosted something it had never seen before -- Rangers in a league match that wasn’t top flight." Those who said the Rangers' support would dwindle if faced with the reality of playing in the Third Division were "made to look ridiculous." Allowing for concession and child tickets, "that’s the best part of £10M ($15.6M) banked." Add in the sales from the East Fife Cup game and the contribution from the hospitality boxes, and suddenly Rangers’ finances "are no longer a basket case now that they are shorn of debt" (SCOTSMAN, 8/18).
LOCKED OUT: In Edinburgh, Emma Smith reported that Rangers supporters queued outside the Ibrox ticket office for more than an hour because their season ticket cards "had not been activated despite money being taken from their bank accounts." Most missed the first half. Some were even told they could not get in to watch the match because "their seats had already been sold." No one from Rangers was available to comment (DAILY RECORD, 8/19).
SPL TO PROBE RANGERS: The SCOTSMAN reported that the SPL has announced that Nimmo Smith will chair the independent commission appointed to investigate "alleged undisclosed payments made by Rangers to players." The SFL also appointed Nimmo to "chair its own inquiry into activities" at Rangers earlier this year. Smith, who has served as an insolvency judge and was one of five judges who heard the appeal of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in '02, was appointed by the SFA in February, days after Rangers were forced to call in the administrators. The SPL commission will determine whether Rangers "breached their rules" in relation to Employee Benefit Trust payments and arrangements for players (SCOTSMAN, 8/18).