Rangers commercial & marketing executive James Bisgrove explains reason behind club’s decision to accept controversial Sydney Super Cup invitation

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The Light Blues will play two games over the eight day trip, including a historic Old Firm match against Celtic, in Sydney this November - but fans are far from pleased

Rangers commercial & marketing executive James Bisgrove has explained the main reasons behind the club’s decision to accept an offer to take part in the inaugural Sydney Super Cup in November.

The Ibrox club confirmed their involvement and will join their Glasgow rivals Celtic in travelling to Australia for a four-team tournament to be held at the remodelled Accor Stadium, which hosted athletics events at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

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Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side will play Western Sydney Wanderers on Wednesday, November 16 before facing off against the Hoops on Sunday, November 20 in the first Old Firm clash to take place outside of Glasgow.

Rangers commercial director James Bisgrove (left) and sporting director Ross Wilson (right) must assess the impact of failure to reach the group stage of the Champions League.Rangers commercial director James Bisgrove (left) and sporting director Ross Wilson (right) must assess the impact of failure to reach the group stage of the Champions League.
Rangers commercial director James Bisgrove (left) and sporting director Ross Wilson (right) must assess the impact of failure to reach the group stage of the Champions League.

A statement on the club website read: “Rangers enjoy a phenomenal following across the globe with vast support in regions such as North America, Australia, the Far East and the Middle East, amongst many others.

“Rangers recently entered strategic club partnerships in the USA, India and Germany, and opened a world leading Rangers Soccer Academy in Abu Dhabi.

“The club has an estimated three million supporters globally and registered supporters clubs alone have grown beyond 650.

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“Australia is home to the Oceania Rangers Supporters Association (ORSA), which includes support clubs throughout the Oceania Region and beyond.

“Backed by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, alongside event promoters TEG Sport, Left Field Live and VenuesLive, the event will make the return of major global events to Sydney’s shores as NSW continues to lead the way in hosting major sport and entertainment events.

“Rangers Official Supporter Travel Supplier, CTM Sport, will be offering hotel and ticket options for supporters wishing to travel to Australia for the mid-season tour.”

However, Gers fans have been left angered by the club’s decision to accept the offer with one supporter stating “On our anniversary to allow this to happen is absolutely shameful”, while another said “As a season ticket holder, a shareholder and lifelong fans I am sickened by this. No faith in where this board is taking us.”

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Rangers welcome Hibs to Ibrox on Wednesday just three days after hammering Hearts 5-0 at the same venue. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Rangers welcome Hibs to Ibrox on Wednesday just three days after hammering Hearts 5-0 at the same venue. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Rangers welcome Hibs to Ibrox on Wednesday just three days after hammering Hearts 5-0 at the same venue. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

However, Bisgrove reckons their controversial trip to Australia alongside Celtic will create ‘sizeable commercial benefits’ for the club.

Speaking to Rangers TV, he said: “It was opportunity that arose due to the extended winter break because of the World Cup in Qatar and we’ve worked closely with Giovanni van Bronckhorst and the football department to put this in place.

“We’ve been in negotiations for a few weeks for this particular opportunity. It is a sizeable benefit for the club from a commercial perspective to such an extent that we’ve never had an offer of this level for two friendly games for an international tournament.

“It’s something that the board unanimously looked at and saw as a positive opportunity for Rangers Football Club.

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“Stewart Robertson has previously spoken around the broadcast and media values here in Scotland and the club’s view on that has been well-documented.

“The participation in this event will benefit the club to the same level as an entire season in the SPFL Premiership.

“We want to maximise the commercial potential of this football club and we felt this is an opportunity that really helps us to achieve that ambition.

Celtic and Rangers will play each other in November. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Celtic and Rangers will play each other in November. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic and Rangers will play each other in November. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“This particular season is one where we feel we can reach a very high revenue target commercially. I spoke at the AGM around the £27.9million mark, which is far higher than we’ve ever achieved before and this is another step to help us maximise that potential.

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“We’ve got a huge, huge fanbase and we recognise the international nature of that is something that should be celebrated.

“We see from Rangers TV and social media that Australasia, the Far East, Middle East, North America, right across the world there are Rangers fans who wake up at various different times to follow this team.

“To be at a place where we can connect with our sizeable fanbase in Australia, we feel this is a brilliant opportunity to take the first-team squad over, the players not going to be included in the FIFA World Cup.

“From a football perspective there’s a good opportunity to factor that into the winter break and commercially in terms of that international fan-engagement opportunity is something we think is really positive.

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“We’ve spoken around the recovery and growth phase of this club and we’ve set a very high bar in terms of the strategy of where we want to take this club.

“We look at our peers at a European level - the ‘El Classico’ took place over a month ago in Saudi Arabia, we had the Milan derby in China, Manchester United played Liverpool in New York.

Real Madrid celebrate their Spanish Super Cup triumph. Picture: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty ImagesReal Madrid celebrate their Spanish Super Cup triumph. Picture: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images
Real Madrid celebrate their Spanish Super Cup triumph. Picture: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

“As a club we recognise the Old Firm Derby is hugely unique, but in the same breath we need to maximise opportunities and make sure that when we have an offer which is unlike any other offer we’ve had before that this club is taking them.

“Everyone wants this club to be successful on and off the pitch. In order to achieve success on the pitch and have positive activity, whether that be new signings, players contracts or investment in Ibrox Stadium then we need to make sure we’re maximising our commercial potential and this opportunity allows us to do that.”

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