Rangers face month-long Ibrox eviction as panicking chiefs in venue scramble after stadium work cock-up

Red-faced Rangers chiefs are scrambling to find another stadium after admitting a construction cock-up will force Philippe Clement’s side to decamp away from Ibrox for the first month of the new season.

Multi-million pound upgrade works to the Copland Road end are running weeks behind schedule, meaning the stadium will not be ready to host games when the campaign gets underway on August 3. A delayed shipment of steel for a new cantilever section being built as part of an overhaul of the club’s facilities for disabled fans is to blame.

With the delivery not due to arrive on UK shores from Asia until late July, Gers chiefs have been left scurrying to find an alternative venue ahead of the big kick-off. The club is now racing to get the refurb work completed as fast as possible - but the worst-case scenario could see them playing away from their home ground for the whole of August.

Hampden, however, has been ruled out from the club’s contingency plans. The National Stadium’s is set to host two outdoor concerts involving US pop star P!nk at the end of this month, after which it’s pitch will be ripped up and relaid, putting the Mount Florida arena out of action until September.

Rangers are heading to Murrayfield next month to take on Manchester United in a glamour friendly clash and there’s already speculation online that the home of Scottish Rugby could provide a potential solution. That, however, would force fans to travel 48 miles east to the other end of the M8.

Hiring another stadium would add another hefty whack onto the original seven-figure construction costs - although the additional seating available with Murrayfield’s 67,000 capacity would offer scope to limit those losses.

In the meantime, Ibrox chairman John Bennett has been left furious by the hold up having been given repeated assurances the work would be completed on time — with the news expected to draw a similarly seething reaction from fans. Heads have already rolled, with a senior official at the club leaving the business on the back of chief exec James Bisgrove’s decision to quit and take up a new post in Saudi Arabia.

Bennett - who is now acting as interim CEO - has taken personal command of the Copland project in a bid to ensure there are no further setbacks. But it comes at the worst possible time, with Clement’s team facing a huge August schedule as they look to balance the start of their Premiership title bid with qualifying for the Champions League. Rangers have already informed both the SPFL - who are due to announce their fixtures next Thursday - and UEFA that they require alternative arrangements.

Ordinarily, the Light Blues would have expected to play one or two league games at home in the first month. They also face two huge European qualifiers if they are to make the new look Champions League group stages, while there is also the potential for a Premier Sports Cup clash to be played at home should they come out of the hat first.

In a statement, the Ibrox board held their hands up, saying: “Rangers has recently been advised of a delay in a materials shipment from Asia which is likely to have an impact on the programme for the completion of the Copland Stand works. It is therefore expected, unfortunately, that there will be an impact on matches at Ibrox at the beginning of the 2024/25 competitive season.

“The club has engaged with the SPFL and UEFA in order to review planned contingency arrangements. Naturally, everyone at Rangers is deeply disappointed with this news. The club is working intensively to ensure that all steps are taken to deliver the project at the earliest possible date and a further progress update will be issued to supporters in due course.”

And the SPFL put out a statement of their own promising to work with the Ibrox club to resolve the situation. A spokesperson for the governing body said: “We have received notification from Rangers FC that they may be unable to host SPFL fixtures in August at Ibrox Stadium due to ongoing stadium works. We have agreed to work with Rangers on how we can best mitigate this situation following next week’s publication of the fixture calendar for season 2024/25.”

Ibrox bosses could request their home domestic clashes be reversed, meaning Clement’s side spend the entire first month on the road. But Record Sport understands the big Belgian would rather avoid forcing his team to travel to opposition territory week after week as such a key stage in the campaign.

Playing in front of three stands at Ibrox was also considered and rejected. The club will now shift the goalposts elsewhere, playing ‘home’ games away from their historic home for the first time since the 1978-79 season, when they twice hosted Celtic at Hampden during renovation works at Ibrox. Clement will be praying the disruption doesn’t upset his new-look side.

While Bennett has been busy sorting the stadium mess, the manager and recruitment chief Nils Koppen have been ploughing ahead with their squad rebuild. Connor Barron will check in to Ibrox on Friday to sign a four-year deal after leaving Aberdeen - although compensation for the Scotland Under-21 midfielder has still to be thrashed out with Pittodrie chiefs.

The imminent signing of Bayern Munich Yusuf Kabadayi winger will also go some way to calming raging punters. That would take the new arrivals this summer to four, following on from the signings of Jefte and Clinton Nsiala.

But there’s increasing speculation skipper James Tavernier could be on his way out. The right-back has been linked with a reunion with former boss Steven Gerrard in Saudi Arabia and sources close to Al-Ettifaq gaffer suggest a swoop could be imminent.

Meanwhile, it’s been confirmed Rangers will round off next month’s pre-season camp in Holland with a friendly clash against Ajax. Ironically, the July 13 bounce game will take place at the WHC Stadium in Wezep as the Johan Cryuff Arena is also out of commission while hosting the Amsterdam leg of P!nk’s European tour.