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Murrayfield or Hampden- costs soar as bears wait on Chairman Bennett’s stadium decision

John Bennett will have to pay out for a new pitch to ‘lay and play’ if he wants to stage his club’s first SPFL match of the season at Hampden.

According to the messengers Phil Clement’s side will be back at Ibrox playing in front of four packed stands in September which would result in the SFA receiving a very expensive gift at the National Stadium.

Two weeks ago it was confirmed that Ibrox wouldn’t be ready to host matches at the start of the season with the silence since then suggesting that major problems have been uncovered by the Copland Crane.

Lots of clubs have played matches on their home ground with one stand closed but six weeks ahead of their first match a brief club statement confirmed that Ibrox couldn’t be used with alternative venues being discussed.

Last week the SPFL announced their fixtures with Motherwell and Ross County scheduled to visit Ibrox on August 10 and 24. There will also be one or possibly two Champions League qualifiers with a 50-50 chance of a League Cup tie during August which ends with a trip to face Celtic.

Faced with matchday income being wiped out and the cost of hiring a stadium for one month or more is a major concern for Bennett as the costs mount up.

Hampden is closer to Ibrox and apparently cheaper but has a smaller capacity, inferior views and would require a new pitch to be rolled out while Queens Park are compensated to shift back to The City Stadium (Lesser Hampden).

It seems to be a story that the mainstream is reluctant to cover but The Scotsman has skimmed the surface and reports:

Depending on how long Rangers would require to use Hampden as delayed work to renovate their Copland Road stand continues, Queen’s Park might have to be encouraged to remain at their alternative Lesser Hampden home via a financial inducement.

As for the pitch, the Ibrox club would need to import a new surface to the stadium in time for the first home league game against Motherwell on August 10 using ‘lay and play’ pitch technology, which again would come at not inconsiderable cost.

It’s understood Rangers are eager to find a local solution to the problem although Murrayfield remains an option. However, it appears there’s little appetite on Rangers’ part to ‘split’ venues.

Whatever way Bennett looks it is going to be costly. A new pitch at Hampden with angry bears sitting in inferior seats watching serial losers or a competitive rental to go 45 miles east to Murrayfield with multiple traffic issues in the hope of selling more tickets to watch Motherwell and Ross County.

The reality is that a medium term arrangement is required which will host European group stage matches and domestic games while the squad is expected to undergo a massive makeover.

Keeping all that going while meeting the unrealistic expectations of 46,000 Season Ticket holders with Celtic sitting on 118 trophy wins is bound to put pressure on the Executive Chairman at Ibrox as well as the club’s limited budget.

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