Rangers have announced that money donated by fans to a fighting fund to pay running costs of the old club, will be used to bankroll improvements to Murray Park.
The Ibrox club is to build a stand at the training ground and improve dressing room facilities, along with a classroom area and additional floodlighting.
Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson said: “We are excited by this new project. Our academy is a key part of our business plan and we are starting to see the benefits of the significant progress we have made in this area with the likes of Ross McCrorie, Jamie Barjonas and Ryan Hardie all featuring in recent weeks.
“The stand will be a tangible legacy provided by the supporters which will also provide more dressing room capacity and education space, which will benefit our young players.
“It will facilitate greater utilisation of our academy pitches and thereby the amount of time the players spend with a ball at their feet. Ultimately this will assist us in producing more players for the first team.
“The new floodlighting will also allow us greater pitch availability, which again will benefit the players. I would like to thank the RFFF for allowing us to push forward with this important and exciting initiative and, along with the support from our friends at the Scottish Football Partnership, we will deliver a facility that all Rangers fans can be proud of and which will benefit the club for years to come.”
Non-profit group to fund redevelopment
The project will be funded by the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund, which was set up in 2012 to help pay towards the old club’s running costs when it entered into administration under Craig Whyte, before being liquidated after a CVA was rejected by creditors of the club.
At the time of the fund being launched, then-manager Ally McCoist said: “I encourage all fans to back the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund and help the club in any way they can, as they have done in recent weeks.
“Our fans have been fantastic. They are showing their true colours and have not walked away during these times of need.
“On behalf of everyone at the club I would like to thank our supporters for all their efforts and I ask them to keep backing us and keep filling Ibrox for matches as their support will make a difference.”
His predecessor Walter Smith added: “It has been an extremely difficult time for everyone associated with Rangers but the supporters have shown unbelievable commitment to our club throughout the administration process and deserve great credit.
“I encourage all fans to make a donation and back this campaign as their support will help safeguard the club’s future.”
A statement on the fighting fund’s website, read: “On the 14th of February 2012 our proud football club found themselves in a dire situation, we had entered the dreaded administration feared by all connected to Rangers.
“In the following days, it became clear that our 140-year history was at serious risk via the potential of liquidation.
“The Fund has been set up for supporters to make cash donations that will directly affect the Club now and will go a long way towards helping secure its future. Be assured, it has been agreed, with all parties, that not one penny of this fund will go to the current owners or the administrators, every single penny will go to the daily running costs of Rangers Football Club.
“The committee that had been put in place headed by Sandy Jardine and a number of chosen individuals who represent the fan base chosen by the supporters groups present at the meeting at the Ibrox Suite on Saturday 10th March 2012.
“The Fund (fully endorsed by the three major fan groups – the Association, the Assembly and the Trust) is working with others to ensure that the club is put back on its feet with stable finances.
“Without immediate help, the club were at a far higher risk of going into liquidation. Our one and only goal was the ongoing survival of our beloved club ensuring the 140-year timeline is maintained.”
Plans for the 264-seater stand at Murray Park were unveiled in February 2016, with the non-profit organisation providing £450,000 to build it. It was criticised by some fans who had donated to the fund as they believed all funds would be used to pay bills owed by the old club.
Charity warned over misconduct after giving funds to Rangers
It is not the first time that Rangers have benefited from a non-profit organisation giving them funds. In 2013, the charities watchdog strongly criticised trustees of the Rangers Charity Foundation after cash raised at a fundraising game between Rangers Legends and AC Milan Glorie went to the Ibrox side.
After doubts the game would go ahead following Rangers entering administration, trustees gave the club control of match income, which cut the charity’s profit share by £191,430.
The Scottish Charity Regulator decided not to take action against any of the trustees, but warned that the decision making of trustees “constituted misconduct”.
At the time OSCR Head of Enforcement Laura Anderson said: “What this case has highlighted, is the potential conflict of interest that may exist between charities and professional football clubs. I would urge the trustees of charities to consider the points we raise.”
After the inquiry took place, Rangers Charity Foundation took independent legal advice to improve all aspects of its governance.