13 June 2013

Renewed Momentum

by Peter Ewart | Contributor

It’s that time of year again – renewal forms are out and the close season is in full swing.

Well, I say again, but this year should be slightly more straightforward than last and once again fans will renew in truly remarkable numbers. A freeze to season ticket prices has been welcomed but it shows you what we have been through that some fans expressed a wish to pay more, given the kind of deficit we are currently running!

Renewal. It’s not even a decision. The vast will renew automatically. This is Rangers. No boardroom shenanigans will upset that. And it doesn’t matter who the opposition is either, that is mere detail. I have never once attended a Rangers games because of who they were playing.

You are not just buying a ticket to see 18 league games; you are writing your own chapter in the illustrious 141 year history of our fabulous Club. Everybody’s match day experience is uniquely different – where you travel from, what you do pre-match, even down the view you get in the ground. But collectively it forms the irresistible force that is the Blue Sea of Ibrox. And it will continue to get passed down generations, ensuring that the future of the Club is in safe hands.

But a high renewal rate doesn’t equate to a vote of confidence in what happening in the boardroom. Questions need answers. Season ticket holders are not shareholders (of course many will have doubled up) but they are entitled to ask how their money will be spent. Good players have been signed, however, with that, an already huge wage bill for the level we are at has grown too. Players will have to go and that time will come, likely towards the end of the window.

It’s likely that your season ticket is one of the bigger purchases of the year. It certainly is when you consider the wider commitment: You’ll spend the cost of your season ticket a few times over by the time you include programmes, Rising Stars, food, drink, travel and everything else involved in attending matches. It’s the ‘Blue pound’ that the SFL3 (and many other) clubs were so keen to tap into the past season.

On away days you’ll have seen temporary hospitality, extra catering, printing, half time draw sales – all aimed at tapping into the RFC support and maximising the take on the day. There is nothing wrong with that – and if you readily spent it you can’t complain! It’s what subsidised a fair few of the current SPL clubs.

With that the case, it would be good to see much more tangible progress on the Club itself moving forward their plans to tap further into the ‘Blue pound’. It has long been pointed out that Rangers turnover is more heavily dependent on the fans themselves than other streams of revenue (TV deal, sponsorship etc) compared to many other top clubs are, and whilst a great deal more can be done on the commercial side, there’s also a lot more opportunity for the fans to spend their money with the Club.

And shareholders will be more than interested too. RFC will post a massive loss for this past season, and likely run at a loss next season too. The IPO generated a cash pile, which has been to a greater or lesser extent reduced since January. 

Whilst the IPO did include the need for working capital (icovering day-to-day running costs) there were also plans for some capital spending that would be ‘revenue generating.' Shareholders and fans could have done with a lot more news on this around renewal time. Tell us, the fans, what the upcoming projects are and when we will be able to put more of our Blue pounds directly into the Club. Albion Car Park and Edmiston House have been bought, but when will we see the new megastore up and running? 

Those of course weren’t the only projects mentioned. The prospectus identifies £5.5m of upgrades to Ibrox, £4.5m of land asset purchases adjacent to the ground and £3m in further ‘revenue generating’ projects. It all sounds promising so let’s see some of that progress. 

There’s a lack of information and that is a frustration for us all. But the fans have stepped up once again; it’s time for those running the Club to put the nonsense behind them and get on with the much needed rebuilding. 

And the sooner the better. There are Blue pounds looking spent.