Fans can own big stake in Rangers

RANGERS supporters could own a significant stake in their club in a matter of months if they embrace the idea of fan ownership.

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Richard Atkinson helped a supporters' group buy 70,000 shares in Rangers
Richard Atkinson helped a supporters' group buy 70,000 shares in Rangers

That is the message from Richard Atkinson of Supporters Direct Scotland (SDS), who has helped the Rangers First initiative buy a block of 70,000 shares in recent days.

Rangers First was formed in February as a community interest company and uses monthly subscriptions from members to purchase shares in Rangers International Football Club plc.

SDS has helped a number of supporters' groups across the country to have a greater influence in the way their club is run, and Atkinson insists the dream could become a reality at Ibrox.

He said: "Rangers was a fan-owned club when it was initially formed, it was owned by its members.

"One thing that will outlast anybody in a football club is the fans. If the fans are part of a scheme and are buying shares then, eventually, the fans will own the club.

"It is merely a question of how long it takes and how long it takes depends on how quickly people engage in the process.

"If it remains at a few thousand, it will tick over and take a long time.

"If it booms and becomes 10,15,20 thousand, you could have a significant stake in a matter of months rather than years.

"The fans will always outlast whatever else is going on. It is not just the direction of travel at Rangers, it is the same at a number of clubs in Scotland and England."

While there are few major clubs in Britain that are wholly owned and controlled by their fans, the structure is a successful one across the world, with a variety of different models in use at some of Europe's heavyweights.

Tensions between the terraces and boardroom are at an all-time high at Ibrox while the financial picture remains uncertain as the board come under yet more pressure.

And Atkinson believes the fans gaining control of their club would offer a brighter future for Rangers as they continue on their road to recovery.

He said: "If you look to the continent and look at what Community Ownership does in Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Argentina, the model does work.

"The last time Rangers was fan-owned was generations ago, so there is maybe a bit of doubt about whether this will work.

"It is possible for fans to have the kind of influence that isn't just about power, but the success of the club.

"The closer the fans are to the ownership of the club, the better shape the club is in because the fans have a genuine stake in it.

"They are in with the knitting and Supporters Direct believe fan ownership is the best way forward for clubs in Scotland."

Football

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