Advocaat relief as Rangers head for Warsaw

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The Independent Online

Dick Advocaat, the Rangers manager, hopes his club's off-field victory in the Uefa Cup can inspire his players to success on the pitch. Advocaat and his first team squad have been in limbo since the first-round draw of the Uefa Cup was made, pairing the Ibrox club with Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala.

Dick Advocaat, the Rangers manager, hopes his club's off-field victory in the Uefa Cup can inspire his players to success on the pitch. Advocaat and his first team squad have been in limbo since the first-round draw of the Uefa Cup was made, pairing the Ibrox club with Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala.

Little more than 48 hours have elapsed since Uefa, the European governing body, finally agreed that the capital of Dagestan was too dangerous a venue for Westerners. That had been Rangers' argument all along and now the tie will be decided in a one-off game in the Polish capital Warsaw next Thursday.

Advocaat revealed that the decision had come as a huge boost to his players, who could now re-focus on their European task as well as domestic chores. There was no question that the prospect of travelling to Dagestan, which is only 100 miles away from the fighting in neighbouring Chechnya, had unsettled his players.

The consequences before Uefa's change of mind were also severe: expulsion from the competition and a possible ban from European action as further punishment.

Advocaat told the club's website: "It has been very difficult for everyone at the club in the last couple of weeks and this week was especially difficult as the clock kept ticking and there was no decision in our favour.

"We didn't know if we should prepare the players for a European match or if we would even have a European match, so the fact that the matter has been resolved has been a big relief to everyone. We kept waiting and hoping that the right decision would be made and it was anxious for us all. Thankfully, the situation has been resolved to our liking and we can all concentrate fully on the tasks ahead.

"I have to say that playing Anzhi over two legs would have been better for us but under the circumstances Uefa have come up with a good solution."

The decision to stage the game at a neutral venue, which upset Anzhi as they had been looking forward to hosting their first European tie, was the result of pressure from the club's chairman, David Murray. However, Advocaat insisted that plenty of other people behind the scenes at Ibrox had also been working hard towards the same goal.

Advocaat said: "I don't think some people realise just how hard our people have been working. The chairman, director-secretary Campbell Ogilvie and finance director Douglas Odam were working day and night to get the right result.

"I am very pleased that all of their efforts have not been in vain and the key for us now is to go out to Warsaw and win the game to reach the next round."

It was confirmed earlier yesterday that Uefa had selected Legia Warsaw's 15,000-seat stadium as the venue for the one-off tie with the Russians on 27 September.

Ogilvie and the operations executive Laurence Mcintyre will fly to the Polish capital tomorrow to meet Uefa and Polish officials to discuss the arrangements for the match. Uefa will handle the television rights for the match and then split that money and the gate receipts – minus expenses – between the two clubs.

Ogilvie said: "We are pleased with the choice of venue and we will now travel to Warsaw to discuss the arrangements for the match with the Polish federation and Uefa."

Uefa will also meet the costs of staging the match, including the travel expenses of the two teams. Mike Lee, the Uefa director of communications, said: "The match will be organised by Uefa with help from the Polish FA and Uefa will assume all costs incurred including the air fares for the team delegations.

"Because it is a neutral venue, Uefa will be in charge of television production and related marketing. The net proceeds from the game will be distributed, with some element to the Polish FA, jointly and evenly between the two clubs."

As well as the air fares, Uefa will pay for the team's hotel accommodation as well as the local costs of ground hire and stewarding.

It will be the first time Rangers have played in Warsaw, although they have played three previous ties in Poland. Aberdeen were the last Scottish side to play at Legia Warsaw's stadium, when they lost 1-0 in 1990 in the second round of the Cup-Winners' Cup.

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