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It Is Entirely Possible That Ibrox Does Have A Very Significant Asbestos Issue.

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The Ibrox fan forums are abuzz today with anger over their stadium situation, and rumours that worse news is on its way. The least surprising of those rumours is the one about asbestos issues. These rumours have stalked Ibrox redevelopment projects for a long time, and there are good reasons why this is the case.

To understand it, you have to know two things; what asbestos was used for and the history of Ibrox itself. When you correlate that information, it is nearly impossible to draw any other conclusion but that they are in a world of trouble over there.

It’s important too to understand that these stories do not emerge from Celtic fans trying to cause them problems.

Most of them originated inside Ibrox itself, and some are allegedly – please note that word – the results of various health and safety surveys which have taken place there over the years. Most of that information is secreted away inside Glasgow City Council and the stadium itself, but there are leaks, always, and some of the information which has been circulated seems to confirm the worst suspicions of Ibrox supporters.

The first thing to realise is that asbestos has been considered dangerous from the start.

The first UK death from it was in 1906 and the first it pricked the public consciousness was in the 1930’s, with the famed Nellie Kershaw case; she was a worker in a textile factory who died of acute asbestosis aged just 33. A review of her workplace and its staff revealed that almost everyone there, mostly people whose jobs, like hers, involved weaving fabric coasted in the stuff, were at some stage of the disease.

Regulations followed; changes were made, but not enough.

In 1965, the Newhouse & Thompson report, published in the Sunday Times, called it “the killer dust.”

More regulations followed, but it was widely used in the construction industry throughout the 60’s, and its usage actually increased all the way through the 1970’s and the 1980’s. The first successful claim by a worker for work related illness was in 1972; still it was being imported, mostly from Canada, and used in major construction projects.

See, at first only various types of asbestos were considered dangerous, and those types were banned one at a time, before it became accepted that there was no safe level of exposure and no safe type. The first proper hard-hitting regulations weren’t announced until 1983, blue and brown asbestos imports weren’t banned until 1985 and a full ban on asbestos in construction wasn’t introduced until 1999, although by then limits on its use were so severe it might as well have been outlawed.

So why was it used so extensively, and for so long?

Two reasons basically; the first is that it’s cheap and the second is that as a building compound it’s pretty miraculous stuff.

Not only is it heat resistant and electricity resistant – meaning that it was used in buildings to fireproof them – it’s also water resistant, it’s a wonderful insulator and to top it off it is resistant to any number of chemicals … all of which means that its use in reinforced concrete prevented corrosion … meaning that what you built out of it stayed standing longer, and with less need for maintenance.

Which is sort of where Ibrox comes in.

Ibrox, as everyone knows, was the first stadium in the UK to be completely renovated and developed as an all-seater arena, costing, at the time, some £6 million …. adjusted for inflation that’s almost crazy to contemplate; it’s nearly £40 million in today’s cash.

And yet, that’s cheap at the price. Which is what you go for. We’ve all joked a lot about how Ibrox is “falling down”, but in fact the structure itself has stood up amazingly well for a ground whose first phase rebuild was completed 46 years ago.

Guess which of their stands was the first to be rebuilt?

Yep, it’s the Copeland Road Stand, the one at the centre of the current problems, and it was completed in 1978. Bear in mind, the Asbestos Act wasn’t introduced until 1983 and blue and brown asbestos was not banned for import until 1985.

It can be found in roof tiles, ceiling and floor tiles, all types of insulation, coatings, fire doors, lagging on pipes, its found in concrete, rainwater drainage gutters and in various types of cladding. Every one of those uses would be relevant to Ibrox.

It is almost inconceivable that the Copeland Road Stand was not built out of material containing this stuff.

The odds against it are absolutely astronomical.

Under normal circumstances, this would not in itself represent a huge risk … as long as asbestos is not disturbed it is pretty harmless.

But the minute you start ripping out fittings, pulling down walls and generally messing with the structure, the problems multiply exponentially.

And that does represent a huge risk and a big, big problem for all concerned.

Look, there is more happening over there than they are willing to disclose.

Their club is blaming supply side delays for this.

So, if that’s true, how come they’ve already sacked a senior member of staff over it?

The Sun claims it was the “project manager”, which seems to me a pretty severe response to a crisis which they are publicly claiming isn’t even their fault.

According to Ibrox “in the knows” there were four companies approached for this contract and three of them immediately turned it down over the impossibility of getting it done on time … but I’m sure there would have been a risk assessment involved as part of that, and maybe steel and concrete supplies weren’t their only areas of concern.

It’s clear that there’s a lot of concern over on their forums about this issue, and that’s not unfounded.

They are right to be worried.

It’s exactly the sort of  job which could result in all sorts of complications being uncovered and references online to their discovery of “faults” dating back to the initial construction may or may not be asbestos related, but together all this stuff adds up to a number of key questions over their timeframe.

The club statement seems to suggest that certain tasks can’t even be started until the supplies arrive for them, with an estimate that this will not happen before the end of July. That, in theory, gives them the month of August to get stuff done.

But there are more questions than answers here.

What if there are further delays?

What if there are issues with the work, unexpected little complications which happen all the time in major construction, which is one of the reasons that projects are almost never completed on time?

How are they proposing to get the top part of the pitch – on which there is currently a crane – relaid and ready for the start of September even if the construction work is finished on time? You’d be talking about a matter of weeks if all goes according to plan.

If there really is asbestos and a major issue there, how long to resolve that?

I had a brief look at the procedures for dealing with that stuff and they are long, complicated and I’m sure expensive on top of it, and although it’s possible to seal the place up with plastic sheeting and all sorts of other stuff, that would definitely result in the delays to the sort of work that would need to be done if they’re going to be ready to just install the new steel when it finally shows up.

The costs to the club could be huge, in financial terms, yes, but even more so if this results in a longer closure than they are so far willing to admit.

Notice that they aren’t promising a solution by the end of August, merely an “update” to fans later on.

That “project manager” wasn’t sacked over a minor delay which they could have blamed on the supplier … something has gone very badly awry and whatever they might be telling their fans, an end of August resolution to this seems optimistic if we’re being generous.

I personally would not put money on them meeting that deadline.

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  • Joe says:

    An extra 600 seats would bring in extra revenue. Having said that, if there was an issue with asbestos, then perhaps they should have just left it as was. Whatever the final bill it will take a very long time to recoup the costs. Karma really is a bitch.

  • Jim Armstrong says:

    Hi James I’m a time servered lagger who lost his father, grandfather, uncle and countless colleagues and friends to that horrible material. If Ibrox is riddled with the stuff as we are hearing, it will cost millions to remove and dispose of. Once they start finding this material it just grows arms and legs.
    Also the act of actually removing this mater is strictly monitored and an extremely lengthy process so September may just be wishful thinking on sevcos part.
    Safety is a priority that they cannot bring pressure on to get the job done quickly.

    • Charlie Green says:

      I genuinely do not think the law applies to Sevco. The sheriff, Alan Walker, who compiled the report on the Ibrox disaster came to the conclusion that the board knew about the problems with the staircase and just ignored it. The returning exiting fans, after Stein scored, were blamed by the media. Sheriff Walker was ostracised. It is an interesting story.
      Funny how the media cover up these problems yet they and their families attend games themselves and are put in danger.

    • Charlie Green says:

      The stadium’s owner, Rangers F.C., was later ruled to be at fault in a sheriff’s judgement on one of the deaths. Rangers did not dispute this ruling, and was sued for damages in 60 other cases brought by relatives of the dead.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Even before reading this article, I was thinking that sevco was probably

    trying to ‘manage expectations’ of their delightful customer base,

    and that the suggested stadium closure for August was most likely

    the best case scenario…?

    IF there are additional, significant issues, then who knows how long ibrox will be closed?

    Paddypower should take bets for the date of the next sevco home game at ibrox.

    I’m going for no footy returning to ibrox…

    this side of Christmas! 🙂

  • KirkieBhoy73 says:

    This next season of “The life and times of sevco” sound like a belter already, can’t wait to watch each episode as its aired.

    ?????

  • david bowie says:

    the procedures for asbestos are well know and the caveats for construction contracts dealing with the discovery are standard and have been about for years. that is not to say its a not a nightmare. I remember reading about Tate II and thinking they’ll hit asbestos issues – it is in an old thermal power station and i work in power stations – i was right. The liquidated damages clauses for being late will have been torn up and a new time and materials clause will kick in – and if the Contractor is contractually competent they will not sign up to a completion date. Glad its not me

  • david bowie says:

    having said what i have , a football stadium is essentially a ‘passive’ structure unlike a power station or industrial building. The regulations and Contract stuff will still apply but there there night not be a significant amount of asbestos used in the construction.

  • JimBhoy says:

    Asbestos dome right enough. They will be out of pocket hiring murrayfield and losing out on hospitality, match day sales and food and drink sales. Murrayfield owners will be quids in. That will sting them a few mill

  • The Joker says:

    The klan are in a panic with the SFA hopefully their safeguard,rumours doing thevrounds tonight are that the stadium is to closed for the 24/25 season.

    Issues now around compo for season books,and other costs having to be paid out to the other SPFL clubs for the games being switched.

  • Jim M says:

    Couldn’t happen to a better mob, when they mentioned rebuild didn’t know they meant the crumbledome, between this and the upcoming AGM , the losses and repair costs will be music to the ears of celtic fans.
    Can’t wait .

  • EBhoys88 says:

    Cheap and not so cheerful. The sins of the dead club coming back to haunt sevco. I love it. The huns are going bust
    The huns are going bust

  • SFATHENADIROFCHIFTINESS says:

    James, hypothetical but can this issue be related to the long rumoured case of a certain Glasgow Club having been denied a Ground Safety Certificate over a lengthy period of years and that this situation was common knowledge in the ranks of the Labour Administration at Glasgow City Council and it’s predecessor. It was also rumoured that the SFA were aware of it and turned a blind eye and allowed Rangers (IL) and the current iteration, Sevco to continue playing out of Ibrox Stadium.

    OK, so rumours can do a lot of heavy lifting but I’m in my 70’s and I was aware of the rumours in my 30’s and they just kept resurfacing. Post 2012 there were rumours that Duff & Phelps had problems marketing the stadium and were induced/ coerced if you will to sell it at a give away price.

    Perhaps this current fiasco will shine some light on things

  • Charlie Green says:

    I think not getting paid might have been another consideration.

  • Captain Swing says:

    New lyrics for an old favourite. Altogether now….

    No Huns at iBrox! Oh there’ll be no Huns at iBrox!

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    How apt – We all know that sadly asbestos is a dangerous cancer…

    Exactly the same as Liebrox and The Sevco Huns that pollute it all the time !

  • Thomas M Daley says:

    Love everything. Love the discomfort and the attempts to deflect.

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