WHEN Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson revealed the Ibrox club were to sell off half of the Albion Car Park to a property developer last week, the response among their supporters was, in the main, positive.

Their reaction was certainly a far cry from the anger and alarm which greeted the news that then shareholder Mike Ashley had been granted security over "the Albion" and Edmiston House in return for a £2m emergency loan back in 2014.

That deal, and others like it which followed, led to a mass protest outside the front door of the stadium a few months later and helped to bring about the overthrow of the reviled regime shortly thereafter.

John Gilligan - the former director who, along with Dave King and Paul Murray, seized control at an EGM in 2015 – remembered the grave concern that such arrangements had provoked in the stands on these pages recently. “I felt that the stadium was at risk,” he said.

The trust that Rangers fans have in those who currently occupy the boardroom make the majority, but not all, of them far more comfortable with what is now being proposed.

This is not the first time the Albion Car Park has been utilised by the current hierarchy for financial purposes. The £3m credit facility extended to them by Close Brothers in 2018 was secured on both it and Edmiston House. That agreement was widely accepted as well.

Other reasons for the widespread contentment with the plan are that car parking will be provided by the club on alternative sites and the money generated used to fund the redevelopment of the stadium and surrounding area.

Rangers aim to take the millions banked and transform Edmiston House, a building which has sat derelict and dilapidated for an eternity, into a two storey retail facility, 1,300-capacity conference centre and concert venue, match day fan zone and museum. At the same time, they hope to turn the megastore into a sports bar and leisure facility.

“Edmiston House is going to be a real centre piece of the 150th anniversary celebrations,” said Robertson. “We are looking to create a really modern state-of-the-art facility that is hopefully going to lead us into the next 150 years of our history and will help facilitate the commercial growth of the club.

“What we are doing is taking what is essentially a non-revenue generating asset, taking the capital from that and putting it into an asset that will generate revenues for the club going forward. The more revenues we can generate, the more profit we can generate, the more we can provide to Steven (manager Gerrard) to strengthen the team and strengthen what we have got on the park.”

It is an ambitious and overdue move. The Ibrox infrastructure is tired and requires investment. Years of shameful neglect by past custodians has needed to be addressed in recent seasons. This will be part of that ongoing process.

Supporters are only really interested in how the team performs on the park and what new signings are arriving. But money must also be spent on the upkeep and upgrade of facilities to ensure the club is able to meet the demands of a game which has changed beyond all recognition in recent years and satisfy the needs of their customers.

If planning permission is granted for Edmiston House - which was formerly home to the social club and ticket office, but has lain unused for many years now - it will breathe much-needed life into the Govan ground and create new income streams. Potentially, they can turn a white elephant into a cash cow.

A couple of years ago I had an interesting chat with Paul Fletcher, a “stadiologist” who was chief executive at Huddersfield and Bolton when they built new homes in the 1990s and also worked as the commercial director of Wembley for a time, about what the SFA should do with Hampden.

Fletcher felt passionately that modern football grounds should be more than places to stage games and shouldn’t lie dormant when for days, weeks even, between matches. He advocated incorporating shopping centres, university lecture rooms and leisure facilities to ensure constant incomings and make them a focal point for the community. New Edmiston House would do all of that.

At the same time, many Rangers fans are uncomfortable about the sale of a piece of prime real estate which the Ibrox club have owned for decades and which their former players, including those who won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972, trained on in a bygone era.

It would be exaggerating somewhat to describe them as hawking the family silver. There is an incontrovertible logic behind what they hope to do. However, they will be losing a precious asset, or at least some it, forever. Could this development not have been subsidised in some other way? It would have been more palatable for some concerned sceptics if it had.

A grandiose scheme to build luxury apartments, a six star hotel, retractable roof, floating pitch and supercasino at Ibrox amounted to nothing during the ill-fated Sir David Murray era.

Only time will tell if this bold blueprint suffers the same fate or actually comes to fruition.