THE rebuilding work on the park is what matters most for Rangers. The refurbishments off it are further signs of progress, proof that the club is being taken care of once again.

The money from Dave King and his board has funded the overhaul that has been undertaken by Steven Gerrard. Away from the boardroom, Colin Stewart plays his own part.

At Ibrox, a new hybrid pitch has been laid, while the dugouts and the track have been replaced. So, too, have the plastic panels around the stadium, while work continues to update and upgrade the players’ area as the wood glistens with fresh varnish.

In isolation, each job may not seem like a big deal. They mean much to Stewart after seeing Ibrox lose some of its lustre while previous regimes walked the corridors.

“I am almost 20 years at the club and I have never seen as much work getting done at the same time as this summer,” Stewart, the Director of Operations for the RYDC, said. “You can hardly get moving for people with hard hats and that is fantastic to see.

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“It is actually quite heart-warming to see because we had four years of neglect, and you can’t do that.

“Having the manager on board, having come from what he has come from, has made a difference.

“It is fantastic. It is comforting for someone who is a Rangers fan that works there and sees it every day.

“I am delighted the board have seen fit to undertake the work. Money has to be spent on the first team, that is what we are all here for.

“But the board recognise that running parallel with that the fabric of the building had to be brought back up to Rangers levels. The board have backed the manager both on the pitch and off the pitch.”

The work at Ibrox is what supporters will see and cherish the most, but plenty is being done behind the scenes as well, including a major overhaul of the Hummel Training Centre.

That is where most of the funds, which total more than £8million now, that Stewart raises are invested.

It has taken time, but Rangers are finally being restored to the levels which supporters recognise.

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“When I joined, Dick Advocaat was the manager and we have had some great years since with some great players,” Stewart said. “We won Trebles, we had Helicopter Sunday.

“I saw the Treble teams of the 70s. As a Rangers fan I expected to win and it is a shame that there are a generation of young fans now that have never seen us win. I am just used to it and having those four, five, six years of nothing and seeing people take not give from the club, watching the place crumble from the inside, it was tough, really tough.”

It is four-and-a-half years now since King, Paul Murray and John Gilligan won control at Ibrox.

Time, and money, hasn’t yet healed all the wounds, though. Legacy issues continue to be dealt with on a regular basis as steps forward are taken.

“I only met Craig Whyte twice,” Stewart said. “I remember sitting for the first time with Craig and I thought to myself ‘I have never sat with a billionaire before’. Before the second meeting, I realised I still hadn’t.

“I refused to meet Charles Green, I refused to meet (Derek) Llambias and (Barry) Leach. I met (Brian) Stockbridge and (Imran) Ahmad but I didn’t meet the Easdales (Sandy and James). There were very few of that group that I actually met.

“It is terrible to say, we basically locked our door and got on with our work. Sometimes I would take my laptop and work from home for a week because I knew they were looking for me and I would come back to all these missed calls.

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“I refused to give them money. When the good guys arrived, I handed over money to Paul Murray.”

There are few staff at Ibrox with more stories to tell than Stewart. He lives the dream working for his club, but went through the nightmare before coming out the other side.

His commitment is admirable, his efforts crucial to Rangers.

“The board just now are great and I am around the place on a matchday and the guys thank me for what I am doing, which is really nice,” he said. “They are Rangers fans at heart and they just want the best for the club.

“For four years, I wouldn’t go near the Blue Room but now I am able to go back, there is laughter again and it is like the gloom has been lifted.

“The good guys are back and it is a changed place. The board are looking after Rangers on the pitch, but off the pitch is just as important.

“At Rangers, they go hand in hand. It is only once you see it you realise how much time and money has been put in. It is great, it is exciting.”

Some of the funds used for the redevelopment work have come from Stewart and the Rangers Pools that he re-launched last August.

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In its heyday, 1.3million people played every week as punters in shipyards and factories claimed big prizes and Rangers brought in the funds that would allow Ibrox to be rebuilt.

“It was 10p per week, so £130,000 per week was coming through Rangers Pools,” Stewart, who was an agent for the Pools in those days, said.

“That is why they were able to pay for three sides of the stadium. Hugh Adam was the brains behind it at the time and he did an incredible job, he really did. He was able to give £5million cheques two or three times a year to pay for Ibrox.

“What really killed the Pools was the National Lottery. Everyone thought they were going to win millions overnight and stopped playing Pools games, which was a shame.”

The numbers today are not as sizeable, but the theory is the same. In recent years, Stewart has given out millions in prizes to punters through the RYDC and he hopes more will step up and play going forward.

“We have given £20,000 for the Broomloan panelling and we will give £20,000 for the dressing room area,” he said. “The original Pools money contributed to the building and maintenance of Ibrox, so I wanted this money to be used for the upkeep. The RYDC money goes to the Academy and the Pools is a nod to previous years. The fans are saying that is brilliant, that is why we’re doing it.”

*Since 2002, RYDC profits have been directed to Rangers Football Club’s youth programme - with almost £8 million provided so far.

And in January, Academy Head Craig Mulholland and youth graduate Glenn Middleton accepted an RYDC donation of £400,000.

For full details on RYDC’s growing portfolio of products – the re-launched Rangers Pools, Rangers Lotto, Rising Stars, Scratchcards, Stadium Bricks and the Youth Members Club - visit www.rydc.co.uk or call 0141 427 4914.