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RANGERS ORANGE PARADE; Ibrox club unveils their new-look strip.

Byline: JOHN McEACHRAN

RANGERS fans planning another Dutch Day won't have to buy a new Holland top.

The Ibrox club is now producing its own orange-coloured replica strip.

It comes after thousands of the Ibrox faithful went out two years ago and bought orange Holland strips for a cup final, in tribute to then-manager Dick Advocaat and his contingent of players from the Netherlands.

Rangers yesterday unveiled three new replica strips for the fans, which will boost club funds by millions of pounds.

They include a first team jersey in the traditional light blue, and two change strips - one in white with red and blue piping, and one which the club described as being "a tangerine modern, contemporary kit".

The club is also to retain the traditional red and black socks favoured by fans and players after dabbling in recent years with white.

There was confusion last night over when the new orange strip would be worn by the first-team.

Club boss David Murray said the kit, which will be officially unveiled at a pre-season match in New York, would be the third strip and used only in Europe.

But the Rangers website claimed it was the second strip and would be worn for away matches.

Meanwhile, Rangers are set to cash in on the new strips by cutting out the middle man - making the Ibrox club one of the biggest retailers of football club merchandise in the world.

After a 10-year deal with sports giant Nike, Rangers will manufacture, sell and distribute replica kits themselves.

And with more than pounds 1million sales on the first day the strips were available last year, it will be mean a cash bonanza.

An Ibrox spokeswoman said: "The three new kits being launched are the result of one and a half years of focus group activity involving over 3000 Rangers fans.

"They featured young, old, male and female supporters and started with over 21 kit options. They over- whelmingly voted for these bright and contemporary choices."

The choice of colour could be seen as provocative because of links between Rangers fans and the Orange Order.

The club last night refused to comment on possible sectarian issues.

But John McMillan, general secretary of the Rangers Supporters Association, said: "I don't believe that it would be there for that purpose.

"I don't believe the Rangers management have any thoughts in that way now. That is long gone. I personally don't have any hang-ups about an orange strip. I haven't even seen it."

But he admitted Rangers had no tradition of playing in orange jerseys and he knew nothing about the focus groups.

He said: "You would normally get some of the fans coming to you before games and talking about something like this."

Celtic fans spokesman Peter Rafferty last night refused to comment on the possibility of Rangers playing in orange strips.

A Catholic Church spokesman also declined to talk about it.

Nor would the Rev Alan McDonald, convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Nation Committee which this week branded bigotry "the demon in our society".

He said: "I think the minutiae of football strips is really beyond our expertise.

"ARE RANGERS RIGHT TO LAUNCH AN ORANGE STRIP?

YES:0901 560 7824

NO:0901 560 7825

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 11, 2002
Words:547
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