Europa League Final
High stakes as Rangers aim to reign in Spain
Rangers are seeking immortality on the pitch and a financial jackpot for the club when they take on Eintracht Frankfurt in the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium in Seville on Wednesday.
The stakes could not be higher for the Ibrox club which posted a loss of £23.5m in their last financial year.
Victory would mark the completion of the club’s recovery from the meltdown ten years ago that brought the club to its knees and saw it demoted to the bottom tier of the Scottish League.
It would also open up a route into the group stages of next season’s Champions League and unlock the accompanying riches associated with Europe’s premier competition.
The prize money awaiting the victors in Seville is a cheque for £7.2m, while a subsequent match against the Champions League winners – Liverpool or Real Madrid – in the UEFA Super Cup, could net a further £3m.
Qualification for the Champions’ League group stage next season itself is reportedly worth £13.1m.
It is Rangers’ first European final since facing Zenit St Petersburg in the 2008 UEFA Cup showpiece. Having emerged from their group in second place above Sparta Prague and Brondby, they have knocked out Borussia Dortmund, Red Star Belgrade, Braga and RB Leipzig en route to Seville.
Victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, who sit 11th in the Bundesliga, will end a 50-year wait for a European trophy, the 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup triumph over Dynamo Moscow in Barcelona.
But there are concerns that events off the field in in Andalusia could tarnish what happens on the pitch and undermine the club’s – and the city’s – image.
Only 9,000 tickets were allocated to each club for the final, but thousands of Rangers fans are heading to Spain without tickets.
Those unable to get into the game will have the chance to watch it in a dedicated “fan viewing area” at the Estadio La Cartuja, ironically where Celtic lost their UEFA Cup Final to Jose Mourinho’s Porto in 2003.
The club is keen there is no repeat of the serious crowd trouble which marred their last European final appearance in Manchester 14 years ago, with legends including Graeme Souness and Richard Gough taking to the club’s official Twitter account to urge fans to behave.
The former Rangers manager said: “Our team has done incredibly well in getting there, when you think the journey we’ve been on for the last 10 years to be now playing in a serious European cup final, it’s a fantastic achievement. They’ve done their bit, now it’s your turn.
“You have to turn up there, behave yourselves – have a party – but make sure you behave yourselves because you’re going there as an ambassador for our football club, our great football club, the great Glasgow Rangers. You must go there and behave, otherwise we’ll get all the trashy headlines, which would damage us for a long, long time.”
Stay-at-home supporters will have to settle for a place in front of a TV or big screen as a lack of appropriate staff means the club is unable to stage a public showing of the match at Ibrox.
A club statement said: “Whilst we understand the wish for supporters to be able to gather at our home for this momentous occasion, the club does not have sufficient staffing resources to be able to host such a large event due to the number of qualified staff and personnel required to travel to Spain to assist in the safe delivery of the final.
“We could not safely operate an event of this size without the presence of our safety team, all of whom are required in Spain.
“Given the significant UEFA regulatory demands, we are required to deploy our full safety team in Seville, given the anticipated travelling support. This was not an easy decision but it is vital we ensure the safety of the team, management and travelling support in Spain.
“We acknowledge and understand the disappointment and frustration of non-travelling supporters, but there was no safe way of delivering a matchday screening.”