Scottish football: Former Rangers striker Mark Hateley has warned Charles Green over ignoring fans’ wishes over controversial plans to rename Ibrox.
Gers chief executive Green is considering a number of proposals to sell off the naming rights to the famous ground, including one from Newcastle owner Mike Ashley which would see the stadium rebranded as the Sports Direct Arena.
However Hateley, writing in the Daily Record, said that, while he wasn’t opposed to the idea in principle, any change to the Ibrox name must be done in consultation with supporters.
“I believe it is incumbent upon Charles to get the approval of the supporters before he takes the idea any further,” said Hateley, who played for the Glasgow giants from 1990 to 1995.
“Before he even contemplates a change of name he had better make sure that he has their blessing.”
Ashley faced a huge backlash from Newcastle fans when he renamed St James’ Park, an alteration that has now been reversed following an equally unpopular sponsorship deal with loan sharks Wonga.com.
Hateley said that the Newcastle example shows how much history and heritage means to fans.
He said: “This is where they have gone all their lives to support their team. It’s where their fathers and grandfathers stood before. You don’t treat that kind of stuff lightly as I’m sure Mike Ashley learned the last time he tried to do something like this.”
However Hateley accepts that the bleak state of Scottish football means that clubs need to innovative when it comes to generating income.
“As everyone knows cash is in short supply in Scottish football so the chief executive will have to think outside the box. That’s fine with me because I’m in favour of seeing Rangers moving forward,” the Englishman added.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's Scottish Cup tie against Elgin, Gers manager Ally McCoist admitted to mixed feelings over the proposals.
“My own opinion is that I’m neither for or against it — I’m reasonably open-minded,” McCoist said.
“I do understand the business side of it but I do understand, more than anything, history and tradition.”
He added: “It’s a decision that thankfully won’t be mine.
“I’ll have an opinion on it, the same as every other fan, but the decision won’t be taken by me.”