Russian state news agency TASS have claimed that incoming Rangers manager Steven Gerrard will take part in a match between England fans and former players of Russian side Rotor Volgograd on June 18th – 17 days after he takes charge at Ibrox.
Gerrard will take the reins at Ibrox on June 1st with his first competitive game taking place on July 12th when the Light Blues kick-off their Europa League campaign.
Former Rotor Volgograd striker and FIFA World Cup 2018 ambassador, Alexander Nikitin announced the match and confirmed Gerrard’s participation.
“The idea for the match with the participation of former England player Steven Gerrard came from the English side. Without doubt we supported this idea,” Nikitin explained to TASS, as quoted by RT – which is also owned by the Russian state.
“Now the organizational matters are being decided. The friendly match will most likely take place on the morning of June 18 at Neftyanik Stadium and will feature adult teams consisting of volunteers, English football fans, and Volgograd veterans – namely former players of Rotor Volgograd.”
Football Insider verdict
This seems like a publicity stunt to get some attention ahead of the World Cup with Gerrard not even slated to be attending the tournament. If the Gers boss is due to take place in a kick-about in Volgograd a little over two weeks after taking the reins at Ibrox, someone at the Light Blues will need to come out – publicly – and explain who sanctioned it and why they thought it was a good idea. Everything about it seems a little bit off and it wouldn’t be a surprise if June 18th comes and goes without any sort of game taking place – with or without Gerrard. If the Gers boss is going to Russia at some point during the World Cup then it would be good if he was to come back from it with a few players to beef up his squad ahead of his first season as a manager in his own right. Until there is some sort of confirmation of this happening from somewhere other than a Russian state-owned outlet then it should be taken with a huge amount of scepticism.
In other Rangers news, Scott Arfield is looking forward to life at Ibrox