Rangers announce agreement to sell Ibrox naming rights to Sports Direct

The Scottish third division side is set to capitalise on their most lucrative asset after months of negotiations, with the changes taking effect at the beginning of next season
Rangers have reached an agreement to sell the Ibrox naming rights to Sports Direct, with the changes set to take effect by the beginning of next season.

Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United, also has a stake in the third division Scottish club and has brokered a deal for the naming rights of the famous stadium. The owner of the sportswear giant had renamed St James' Park to the Sports Direct Arena, but the name was changed back to its original title by their latest sponsor Wonga.

Rangers chief executive Charles Green is confident that the naming rights will be in place before the start of next season, and despite the notion also initially being rejected by the Ibrox faithful, he believes the fans are finally coming around to the idea.

Green told STV: "We have now decided that Sports Direct will be the partner [for stadium naming]. We had representatives from Sports Direct up for a fans' forum a couple of weeks ago. We also had Derek Llambias of Newcastle United sharing his experience of how that helped his club.

"We are now into the stage where we are doing some layouts, some pictorials of how it might look and we'll stick those on the website shortly so the fans can see what's being proposed.

"We have had good engagement from the fans on this. I think it was always an issue for fans but I think the fans accept now that this is something that we have to do. Almost all of the big stadia have been named now."

Figures released by Rangers since the club fell into liquidation last summer have show seem them announce a €8.1 million loss for the seven months to December 31 2012, while operating expenses also stood at €19.3m against a revenue of €11m.

"Nobody expects the club to be making a big profit in the first year," said Brian Stockbridge, Rangers' finance director.

"We are not about trying to make profit at the expense of everything else.

"We do need to create shareholder value because we are now a public company but it's about approaching things in a sensible way. The existing investors haven't invested to make profits in the first six months, put it that way."