Rangers to play Belfast fundraiser against Linfield
Rangers are coming to Belfast to play a friendly game against Linfield in a bid to raise money for the under-threat club which has gone into administration owing millions of pounds to debtors.
Senior politicians — including Gregory Campbell of the DUP and Ulster Unionist Minister Danny Kennedy — were among 350 Rangers fans at the meeting in the Harland and Wolff Welders’ club in east Belfast on Wednesday night to hear plans from 60 supporters clubs to bankroll a fighting fund set up to aid the Scottish champions.
First Minister Peter Robinson sent a message to the meeting saying that he would do everything he could to support the local Rangers Til I Die campaign to save the Scottish club which has thousands of supporters here.
The administrator of the fighting fund — former Rangers star Sandy Jardine — flew into Northern Ireland to attend the meeting and have talks with officials from Linfield on Thursday morning to discuss arrangements for the game.
The match could raise upwards of £200,000 for the Ibrox club which has been a regular visitor to Belfast in recent seasons for pre-season friendlies at Windsor Park.
No definite date has been set for the match but Linfield’s vice-chairman, Billy Kennedy, hinted it could be next month or in May — with proceeds going to Rangers.
He said Linfield would probably add extra seats to their stadium to expand the capacity to around 15,000. “I’m very confident that Windsor Park will be packed for the game,” said Mr Kennedy, who was at Wednesday night’s meeting.
Sandy Jardine said the response from supporters in Northern Ireland to the financial meltdown had been astonishing and he said he was confident the club would not go into liquidation.
He said all the money raised for the fighting fund — which has been endorsed by Rangers’ manager Ally McCoist — will not go to the administrators or to owner Craig Whyte, who has been ruled by the Scottish FA not to be a fit and proper person to own a club.
He said the money would help with the daily running of Rangers.
“It’s crucial that we get to the end of the season,” said Jardine.
“Even if someone buys the club as has been speculated it will take time for the money to filter through and if there’s money left over after the club’s finances have been secured, it will be up to the supporters who collected it to decide what to do with it.”
It’s understood the fighting fund has already raised around £50,000 but there have been promises of individual donations of up to £100,000.