First of all, let me start by saying this is an issue I have previously written about, but recent events have prompted me to once again tackle the subjects of both the standard of food on offer at Ibrox, and the ongoing battle by Rangers to introduce a proper fan zone, outside the stadium on match days.
Over the last few days, I have been fortunate enough to take in an NFL and MLB matches, as well as rising early in order to watch Steven Gerrard and his Rangers side taking part in his first league game as the new gaffer, with that stunning display against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
I must say the improvement in this squad was a joy to watch, a well-coached Rangers side is something that has been badly missing over recent seasons. You can certainly see the level of work that has been undertaken on the training pitch, a level of patience is needed, however, just remember where this squad was not so long ago.
Now, to the issues I would like to discuss.
THE FAN ZONE
The fan zone and the ongoing opposition faced by the club is where I will start.
On my travels to many sporting events throughout the world, one thing that always seems to go down well is a fan zone, both with the children and the adults in attendance.
You set up a few games for the kids to participate in, a beat the goalie, skills challenges and even maybe some form of E-gaming, with some Rangers legends mixed in to help aid in the star power of the fan zone.
All the while the adults can grab a bite to eat, and a drink, safe in the knowledge the kids are having fun in a safe controlled and stewarded environment. This is how you continue to build the next generation of Rangers fans. The fan zone is something I have witnessed from the USA, to games in Germany, Spain and even on our doorstep in the English Premier League, but as soon as Rangers wish to try to hold one it becomes an issue. Very strange indeed.
We are being told that it will stop kids from playing on the park, and is no place to serve burgers or alcohol. So now the politicians feel they have the right to inform us what we can and can’t eat, and when. Excuse me if I have missed this, outside the ground, there are food vans and pubs, no?
Are these premises to be banned on matchdays too?
On the issue of the pitch and its use for kids, let me say this as someone as who played on a weekly basis at the Ibrox complex, it is a joke not fit for the purpose of use by kids. The pitch is in such a state of disrepair, that it has torn in several places, it is like playing on concrete, the surface is so bad kids of a certain age would simply not be allowed to play there. All that before we even think about discussing the dated and poor changing room facilities, with limited parking spaces thrown in.
There are fantastic facilities just a stone’s throw from complex, located at the Palace of Art. That’s where the kids should be playing.
Now we all know why we have faced opposition to this proposal, it has nothing to do with burgers, beer or the kids. It has everything to do with Rangers hating, fear and agenda driven bigoted views held by certain people in power and politicians in this country. Shame on you.
I thought when elected politicians were supposed to act in the best interests of all the people, not just the few.
Now on to something that I have shouted about for a while. The level and standard of food available on match days at Ibrox is substandard, to say the least.
This is not something new, I just feel strongly that we as a club are missing a trick to get in some extra revenue by simply offering a better standard and range of products on offer.
Over the last few days, one thing that struck me was the level of food consumed at the events I was present at, now one might argue that is due to where I was, I just don’t think it’s that simple. The quality of food was staggering and this is just the expected level throughout sporting events in the USA, from BBQ huts, nachos, hot dogs and good quality burgers, you can’t help but feel your stomach rumble as you move in the belly of the stadium.
At the baseball, they had $1 hot dog night and at only the second inning announced they had sold over 35,000 already, quite impressive a marketing ploy, as I’m sure many people who purchased one would have also purchased some other form of food and drink that was on offer. The better the food, the more we would sell, money that goes back into the club. It would serve as a further initiative for parents to bring their families to Ibrox, that and a fan zone could really add to the whole match day experience.
Dare I even suggest that once the retail deal is sorted, merchandise stands could be placed inside the grounds at strategic points.
We as a club simply must move with the times, even in our own country I remember being impressed on what was on offer at the Emirates Stadium, way back in 2010 as Rangers took part in the pre-season tournament.
The days of poor quality pies and soggy burgers we serve up has passed. The only confectionery we offer are Mars bars, Wispas, and crisps, long gone are days of branded chocolate and crisps.
Another issue that needs addressing is the appearance of the food stalls inside the ground, this is something else that has to be changed in my humble opinion, as the signs look cheap. Not what this great club should ever stand for.
I do understand the way our club was previously run, mismanaged and financially ruined means a load of capital has gone into the maintenance and freshen up of both Ibrox and the Hummel training centre, but the issue of the food on offer has been, and will continue to be substandard until something is drastically changed.
The club is making strides on and off the park, but we shouldn’t rest on our laurels, Rangers should always strive to offer the very best in every department, set trends not follow.