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Well run by experienced executives! How Henry Winter was duped into Ibrox PR exercise

On May 10 and 11 Henry Winter was sharing his admiration for all things Ibrox as he fulfilled a weekend assignment for the Herald.

Recently made redundant by The Times the highest profile football reporter in England had been commissioned for a weekend of colour, giving his impression of the Glasgow football scene focussed around the May 11 Derby clash at Celtic Park.

A visit to the Brazen Head covered the cultural scene of Celtic while a stroll around the Ibrox footprint was enough to convince Winter that all was hunky dory at the home of Phil Clement and the serial losers.

Winter’s assignment was driven by Jonny McFarlane, head of Digital Sport at Newsquest and the man charged with leading fading titles like The Herald and Evening Times into a brave new world.

Unfortunately it seems like the same old diet of moonbeams is being served up to stay on message for scoops like the signing of Connor Barron rather than digging a little deeper to find the real issues and problems round the corner.

Winter explained:

Rangers are ambitious. Well-run by experienced executives like James Bisgrove, Rangers target funds for squad enhancement and to increase Ibrox’s capacity from 51,000 to 60,000 by 2030. They have 46,000 season ticket holders and 20,000 on the waiting list.

Moving home is not a consideration. Rangers take great pride in celebrating 125 years at Ibrox this year. They looked at digging down but immediate issues with the water table and moving out for a season precluded that. They looked at how Liverpool and Fulham played on while new stands were built or rebuilt. That looks their preferred solution.

A walk in the sunshine behind the Broomloan Road and Copland Road stands on Friday confirmed how sufficient space would allow new structures. Following Tuesday’s final home game of the season, against Dundee, a construction team moves in to install 1,000 more seats and create more bays for wheelchairs. Ready? Rangers are.

Opened last year, and yards from Ibrox, New Edmiston House is already winning awards and the sound within was of the tills in the club shops selling everything from Rangers branded dog bowls to garden gnomes waving scarves of royal blue, white and red. The huge open space downstairs can cater for up to 700 match-going fans generating £11 a head, rather than £3-4 over the road in the stadium where alcohol can’t be served.

That content seems like something a PR firm would pass to a client journalist to sweeten readers for the arrival of a billionaire from Motherwell.

Winter was hired by the Herald for the weekend with McFarlane beside himself with excitement over such a scoop. Whether the extra costs involved in buying Winter up only the Newsquest bean-counters will know, what the rest of us know is that the most high profile football writer in England was duped into lending credibility to a regime that even their own fans are starting to see through.

While Winter was publishing that puff piece the ‘experienced executive’ that is James Bisgrove was concluding his career move to join Al Qadsiah in Saudi Arabia forcing Chairman Bennett to take on an additional role.

The Stadium expansion that Winter promoted will result in no fans inside Ibrox during August with one or possibly two Champions League qualifiers impacted.

Only a complete idiot would put money on 50,000 fans in four stands watching a football match at Ibrox in September, staging matches in October looks about as optimistic as it gets.

While most messengers are happy to go with Ibrox being closed for August the reality is far different. The main take-away from Thursday’s brief statement was that there was very little detail beyond blaming a rogue Asian supplier.

Thursday’s SPFL fixture release should give the first pointer to what is going on, it should include two home SPFL matches before the first international break which begins on September 5.

September will also bring European group stage football, probably in the Europa League with UEFA insisting that all group stage matches are played on the same home ground.

If Ibrox isn’t ready in September the group stage matches will be played elsewhere, almost certainly Murrayfield, eating into the gate money that has provided the Ibrox board with an invaluable income source in recent years.

For over a month the Copland Road goalmouth has been undercover with a crane in place for work commencing.

At some stage that will have to be removed and a new grass area put in place, Winter will be reassured that those ‘experienced executives’ are on the job to ensure the earliest possible return of football and fans to Ibrox.

Perhaps The Herald can invite the former Times reporter back to cover the grand re-opening- whenever it takes place.

CLICK HERE for the closure statement.

CLICK HERE for Keevins performs incredible u-turn on Rodgers as he accuses Celtic fans.

CLICK HERE for I believe the asbestos rumours are genuine- ITK Ibrox fan with fearful news.

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