Rangers Course Correct Again With Gerrard Appointment

After yet another tempestuous campaign for Glasgow Rangers, South Africa based owner Dave King has decided to make another change in order to course correct. The dismissal of Graeme Murty as manager was to be expected given recent disappointing results including a 5-0 hammering by rivals Celtic. Murty, who was given the job until the end of the season following Pedro Caixinha’s sacking in October, knew that it was coming after doubt started to surface about his ability to manage the club long term. The need for a more experienced manager to come in and sort the club out appeared to be the most logical next step. Thats why the appointment of Steven Gerrard, the untested former Liverpool and England midfielder as the new Rangers manager raised more than a few eyebrows.

Steven Gerrard has been appointed as Rangers new manager (Image from Tumblr)

Gerrard becomes Rangers 18th manager in its history and arguably its most inexperienced yet the failures of Mark Warburton, Caixinha and to a lesser extent Murty before him, should mean that the former Liverpool midfielder will be given much more leniency. He doesn’t officially start until June 1st but the size of the challenge that lies ahead of him (and assistant Gary McAllister) will mean that Gerrard will sleep little between now and then. His lack of experience was pinpointed by the media as his potential downfall but the same can be said about the squad he is about to inherit. Few of that squad know what it’s like to win a title or in some cases even taste cup success so turning them into believers may be Gerrard’s biggest challenge. Before he can fix the squad spiritually he must remove the deadwood. And there is a lot of it. Not only does it feature poor signings from his predecessors eras including Carlos Pena, Fabio Cardozo and Eduardo Herrera but it also features a lot of players who should have moved on along time ago. Captain Lee Wallace is one such figure who splits the Ibrox faithful when it comes to his future. There are those who believe Wallace is a symbol of a fallen period, someone who when times got tough stuck it out with the club and should be held in prestige because of that. But there are others who feel that Wallace has been a passenger for several seasons now and it’s only been the clubs turmoil off the pitch that has saved him from the axe. Wallace’s card may already be marked even before Gerrard gets his say following a club dispute that neither side is willing to go into detail publicly to clarify. His departure in the summer along with his co accused teammate Kenny Miller who happens to be out of contract soon will signal the changing of the guard and hopefully wipe the slate clean for Gerrard to build upon.

Changing of the guard as Miller and Wallace prepare for departures (Image from Tumblr)

The job however is not as easy as it seems. Yes money will be made available and to date no announcement has been made on exactly how much but he will have some to strengthen. If he needs more then he will have to find buyers for those surplus to demands which will be a task in itself. Many expect Gerrard to call in favours both at his old clubs, Liverpool and LA Galaxy but also with his numerous friends and connections in the game including former managers like Rafa Benitez at Newcastle. One person he won’t be calling to get players is Brendan Rodgers who is now in charge of Rangers arch rivals Celtic. Rodgers who is looking to complete an unprecedented back to back treble has yet to reach out formally to Gerrard to offer his congratulations however has been vocal in the press about the maturity and influence Gerrard will have on the Rangers squad. That doesn’t mean he is convinced Gerrard will be a success or even be able to stimulate his side enough to effectively challenge Celtic next season but it’s a nice gesture all the same. In honesty, Rodgers is probably delighted that Rangers have hired a novice manager rather than going for a more experienced head like Neil Warnock or even Frank De Boer. It could be argued that both have a better tactical knowledge than Gerrard having managed and won several trophies in their careers.

Gerrard will face former boss Brendan Rodgers next season (Image from Tumblr)

Time will tell if his lack of managerial experience has any bearing on where the title ends up next season. Those close to Scottish football will tell Gerrard that the most important games to win will be the ones against Celtic. Historically this was purely down to pride and bragging rights for the week following the game but now in a league with teams that have struggled to take any points off of Celtic, the Old Firm derbies are where the title destination is ultimately decided. And before the Aberdeen, Hibernian and Kilmarnock fans start writing hate mail about that last line, it’s worth noting a few things. Yes those clubs have “challenged” in recent seasons but to win the league you actually have to beat Celtic regularly, not just once or twice every five years or so. The other consideration is on resources and in particular the money that can be invested into new players. Only Rangers have the finances to compete with the budget of Celtic (and even then it’s still sizeably smaller) so it’s no wonder that Rangers are time and time again viewed as the only viable challenger.

Celtic’s 5-0 demolition of Rangers in the last Old Firm was Murty’s last game in charge (Image from Tumblr)

Gerrard arrives knowing the history of Rangers and will have been informed in no uncertain terms about the importance of stopping Celtic reaching ten consecutive titles in a row. That is the holy grail and to outsiders may seem insignificant but to both sets of supporters it’s often perceived as more important than life itself. Since Rangers ran to nine in a row back in the late 90’s, Celtic fans have stewed and pined for the day when they can get revenge. It comes down to nothing but bragging rights but in a city divided into green and blue, that all that matters. It’s here that Gerrard might actually make sense as an appointment. Having grown up in a similarly passionate city divided into red and blue (Liverpool) he will understand the desire on both sides to gain the upper hand and silence the other half of the city. Passion was what fuelled Gerrard as a player and spurned him on to become the leader he was. He will need to be the embodiment of passion and find players that complement this if he is to be a success. The four year contract handed to him suggests that the board will given him time to course correct the club but if the gap between the two clubs continues to widen and Celtic close in on ten in a row, Gerrard may find himself out of a job.

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Rangers Rebuild Begins with New Managerial Appointment

Rangers have appointed Mark Warburton as their new manager (Image from Getty)After the dust had settled on a disappointing season that saw Rangers failing to get out of the Championship at the first attempt, focus has swiftly turned towards next season and with it comes the news of a new managerial team hand picked to bring glory back to the troubled Ibrox outfit. Former Brentford boss Mark Warburton and his trusty assistant David Weir will be trooped out in front of the waiting media today as Rangers new board takes its first steps towards rebuilding the club. Warburton arrives to a mixed reaction from the Rangers faithful who were still largely enamored by stand in boss and former player Stuart McCall.

Despite his best efforts, Stuart McCall failure in getting Rangers promotion cost him the job  (Image from Getty)

Despite his best efforts, Stuart McCall failure in getting Rangers promotion cost him the job
(Image from Getty)

However after being parachuted in by the board to steady the ship and seal promotion, McCall only managed to get this sinking ship over the line, falling at the last hurdle to Motherwell in a rather pointless relegation/promotion showdown double episode. That defeat convinced many at Ibrox that major surgery was needed on both the playing staff and the coaching setup with perhaps for the first time in the clubs history a need to distance itself from its past tendencies to appoint former legends like McCall to save the day. He will have known at the time that defeat in the playoffs against his former side Motherwell would seal his fate however in typical McCall style he came out fighting and made a valid pitch for the job full time. That pitch was convincing and will have likely sparked debate at the boardroom level. But the sentiment towards McCall as a player for the club may have been his downfall with a fresh approach much needed. In Warburton, Rangers can get that freshness whilst maintaining a link to the clubs past through his assistant, David Weir. Like McCall, Weir is an Ibrox legend, a captain fantastic who surprised many in Scottish and world football by playing well into his forties with the same tenacity and spirit that he possessed as a kid some twenty years before. At Rangers Weir was the most respected man on and off the pitch at the club for a long time and many tout him as a future manager but for now they will settle for him as the assistant to Warburton. The new manager will need Weir’s insider knowledge of both Rangers and Scottish football if he is to settle in quickly and have the best chance of success.

David Weir will be an important part of the new backroom team  (image from Steve Parkin)

David Weir will be an important part of the new backroom team
(image from Steve Parkin)

However the challenge that awaits Warburton and Weir is nothing less than daunting. They inherit a skeleton  playing staff that lacks both in numbers and quality. Many of the faces from last years disaster campaign have gone – Boyd, Moshni, Foster, Daly and McCulloch with a few others eyeing the exit door with enthusiasm. There will be cash available to invest in players but it won’t be the amount that Rangers fans are used to seeing. The days of frivolous spending that saw Rangers wasted vast sums of money on the likes of Tore Andre Flo and Michael Ball are long gone. The focus will be on building for the future, investing in players who can not only compete in the Championship but also in the Scottish Premiership in the foreseeable future. Youth players will play a pivotal role in the clubs forward success especially given Warburton’s background in nurturing talent. Unfortunately for him that talent will not be coming out of the clubs youth system at Murray Park for a while as that well has all but dried up by now. The last prodigal son to come through that system was Lewis McLeod who ironically was sold to Brentford just as he began to stamp his authority on the Ibrox turf. Others have emerged since then like Tom Walsh and Ryan Hardie but have yet to really establish themselves as indispensable components of the Rangers machine. Warburton will have to look beyond Murray Park in search of young talent and again unfortunately will hit a snag. With no scouting network in operation at Rangers, the work will fall on Warburton, Weir and his coaching staff initially until a chief scout can be identified and brought in to help.

The days of overspending on players like Flo are over for Rangers  (Image from AP)

The days of overspending on players like Flo are over for Rangers
(Image from AP)

Building a squad capable of challenging is one thing but building one that can do so in under four weeks is another. Rangers pre-season training kicks off in earnest in early July with their first Championship match due on August 8th. Warburton will start the rebuild immediately but it will be time that will be his biggest opponent as he battles to get Rangers ready for the new season. The pressure on Warburton and Weir will be immense but the duo who led Brentford to the English Championship play offs only 18 months after taking charge should be able to handle it. Only time will tell whether Warburton can steer Rangers back to the Scottish Premiership and back challenging for the top Scottish honours once more.

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A New Dawn At Rangers As King Sweeps Into Power

In the end it only took just over 13 minutes for Dave King to gain full control of Rangers at the clubs EGM but for the Rangers fans it has been a long time coming. The South African based businessman who is a majority shareholder in the club called an extraordinary general meeting in an attempt to finally end the mismanagement of Rangers by several individuals on the board. At the EGM held earlier today, King was looking for the immediate removal of the four current board members – James Easdale, David Somers, Derek Llambias and Barry Leach and the subsequent appointment of himself, Paul Murray and former Tennents boss Jim Gilligan onto a new look board. In the weeks running up to the meeting, King’s chances were handed boost after boost with two of the four current directors – Easdale and Somers stepping down in advance, the clubs bumbling appointed nomad WH Ireland resigning and several influential shareholders throwing their support behind him or one of the various fan groups. It may have only taken 13 short minutes for acting chair Andrew Dickson to wrap up the vote but the result was a resounding yes for change with each of the resolutions receiving an 85% in favour of it being approved.

Now that King has control, albeit in a non executive function until he has gained SFA and Stock market approval as a fit and proper person, the work can now begin in rebuilding Rangers but the volume of tasks on his to do list is staggering. With the help of Murray and Gilligan, King will need to focus his attention on five pressing matters that require resolution quickly if he is to succeed in rebuilding the club he loves.

Appointing a nomad

To remain on the stock exchange, Rangers need to appoint a Nomad to act on their behalf following the resignation of WH Ireland. The club has 30 days to do so or faces delisting from the Alternative Investment Market. Failure to do so could make raising capital harder a with a length process required to become listed again. King is confident that he already has a nomad in place so an announcement on this front should be made in due course over the next few weeks. One thing that is certain is that WH Ireland will not be partaking in the usual handover of responsibilities to the new nomad after the quit before the general meeting. King however is likely to prefer it this way as his faith in the appointed person at the firm, Paul Shackleton was clearly gone even before King called the EGM.

Now the work beings for Murray, King and Gilligan (Image from AFP)

Now the work beings for Murray, King and Gilligan
(Image from AFP)

Appointing further members to the board

After appointing a new Nomad, up next will be strengthening the board with potentially two to three new faces at a minimum being added. There is a strong possibility that one or two of the spots could be filled by the so called Three bears – George Letham, George Taylor and Douglas Park. Their support of King and has quest for change will not have gone unnoticed and as primary shareholders and established businessmen, their appointments would be widely welcomed by all involved. Another set of investors who will likely seal a seat if not two on the board is the fan groups of Rangers First and the Rangers Supporters Trust. Both sets of fans have been instrumental in King’s win by collectively rallying behind him and gathering crucial proxy votes from the clubs fans. An appointment of a fan representative to the board will aid King in his quest to hand back the club to the fans and restore a culture of transparency and honesty, something that has been sadly lacking in recent years. Further appointments could be made as the club moves forward with various established business figures already being touted as potential members. But for now Rangers will likely operate with a smaller board in order to remain agile and able to get things done quickly.

Douglas Park will likely be appointed to the board (Image from PA)

Douglas Park will likely be appointed to the board
(Image from PA)

Ashley’s loans

Next on the agenda is what to do with Mike Ashley and his agreements that he has with Rangers struck during the last tainted regime. Ashley, with 9% ownership of Rangers has weaseled his way into Rangers first from a commercial prospective with an astonishing Sports Direct deal that will likely be problematic for King to exit from and secondly from an asset prospective by handing the club two £5million loans with rights to appoint two board members and various rights for Rangers assets. Whilst the second £5million has not yet been drawn down, or at least has not been confirmed by the club as such, the first loan is still very much alive. King could repay the loan and rid himself of the headache but he could also look to strike a deal with Ashley given the Newcastle owners considerable wealth. King is no fool and understands that the club needs capital and quickly to remain in business so burning bridges with a billionaire may not be the smartest move.

Discussions with Ashley will likely take place soon (Image from Getty)

Discussions with Ashley will likely take place soon
(Image from Getty)

Raising capital

Regardless of how King handles Ashley, Rangers need to raise funds to not only stay in business but eventually to start to restore the club to a point where it can be competitive again. King has already stated that he is willing to put his own money in but will not be the only person doing so. Ashley could provide further funding but having already secured the commercial rights and with King having no intention of using the clubs assets or board seats as a carrot, it is hard to see what is in it for the Sports Direct owner. Turning to the three bears could provide extra working capital in the short term but longer term new revenue will need to be found in order to rebuild and restore. US businessman Robert Sarver, who tried gallantly to buy Rangers last year before being rejected by the then board may return to the table and could offer significant long term investment but he wants full control of the club so it remains to be seen if King can strike a deal with him for co ownership.

Phoenix Suns owner Sarver still holds an interest in buying Rangers (Image from Michael Schennum / The Arizona Republic)

Phoenix Suns owner Sarver still holds an interest in buying Rangers
(Image from Michael Schennum / The Arizona Republic)

Rebuilding the foundations

With funding in place, the job of rebuilding can begin and first up is hiring a new manager. With Ally McCoist on gardening leave and his replacement Kenny McDowell handing in his resignation too, King needs to find someone who can lead the club forward. Stuart McCall, a former Rangers midfielder is the most likely candidate but the new board will not rush into an appointment stating the need for the right candidate is more important than getting someone in quickly. Once appointed, the club will focus on other staff hires including a new lead scout to build a scouting network and other coaching staff to help the new boss. Long term a Director of Football may be hired with Walter Smith the preferred candidate for Rangers fans. Whether there are roles given to former legends of the club like Richard Gough and John Greig is still to be seen but could happen as this would appease the fans and help strengthen the connection between the board and the supporters. After the appointments are all made, the focus will switch to repairs to the clubs training ground Murraypark and stadium Ibrox and then eventually the squad itself with a major overhaul needed. A new approach is needed that focuses on the long term health of the club and its new future.

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Understanding The Rangers EGM

Who will control Rangers after the EGM? (Image from PA)In two weeks’ time, the board of Rangers International Football Club (RIFC) are obliged to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) for the company’s shareholders. After two London hotels withdrew from staging the event, it will be convened at Ibrox, the team’s home and the venue for the previous two annual general meetings. It will probably be a short meeting, since there are only seven resolutions to be read out and voted on, and no opening or closing addresses. It is, though, the culmination in a long battle for control of the club.

Dave King is desperate to wrestle control of Rangers back to him  (Image from PA)

Dave King is desperate to wrestle control of Rangers back to him
(Image from PA)

What is the EGM about?

In its broadest sense, the future of Rangers; but in pragmatic terms, control of the board. The EGM has been called by Dave King, the former Rangers director who owns 14.5% of RIFC. He has raised seven resolutions: the removal of all four current directors – chairman David Somers, chief executive Derek Llambias, finance director Barry Leach, and James Easdale – and the appointments of King, Paul Murray and John Gilligan. As far as the bigger picture is concerned, this can be framed as Mike Ashley versus ‘the rest’. The former is the majority shareholder of Sports Direct and Newcastle United, and his MASH company owns an 8.92% stake in RIFC. King is at the head of the latter, but he has clear and unambiguous support from fellow Rangers-supporting shareholders, ranging from ordinary fans with small holdings to Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor, who between them own 20% of the RIFC shares.

Who are the key parties?

Ashley looms over the current regime. He wanted to increase his stake, in underwriting a share issue, but the Scottish Football Association paid heed to the spirit of their dual ownership guidelines and denied him permission. Sports Direct have a joint retail agreement with Rangers and have lent RIFC £5m, secured against various assets, with a second tranche of £5m available to be drawn down. As part of this agreement, Sports Direct are entitled to appoint two directors until the loan has been repaid, but no new directors have been appointed. Llambias is the former managing director of Newcastle United and when he was appointed as a non-executive director, the Stock Exchange was informed by the club that this was on behalf of MASH. Leach left his executive role at Sports Direct to take up the position at Ibrox. Sandy Easdale is also part of this group, having supported the board appointments through his brother, James. Sandy Easdale owns 6.45% of RIFC and holds proxy votes for a further 19.67%, which includes the shares held by Blue Pitch and Margarita Holdings.

Somers and Llambias are looking to stay on the board after the EGM (Image from SNS Group)

Somers and Llambias are looking to stay on the board after the EGM (Image from SNS Group)

King was born and raised in Castlemilk before moving to South Africa early in his working life. He was a director of Rangers under Sir David Murray and then Craig Whyte, with his position on the board under the latter one of two issues that he faces in terms of ‘fit and proper person’ criteria. After an 11-year battle with the South African Revenue Services, King was convicted of 41 breaches of the Income Tax Act – paying a cumulative fine of around £186,000 – and a tax bill of more than £40m. King has said that he has a company lined up to act as the nominated advisor of RIFC – which manages the company’s listing on the Alternative Investment Market – that will approve his appointment as a director. He would then need to seek the approval of the SFA’s professional game board, having been on the board under Whyte when Rangers Football Club plc was put into administration, and due to his breaches of the Income Tax Act.

Root Cause Of The Recent Problems - Disgraced Former Owner Craig Whyte  (Image from Getty)

Root Cause Of The Recent Problems – Disgraced Former Owner Craig Whyte
(Image from Getty)

Paul Murray is also a former director of Rangers, and faces the same issue with the SFA having been on the board under Whyte, albeit he was sacked by the former owner before RFC plc entered administration and had previously been very vocal about Whyte’s unsuitability as an owner. A private equity investor, Murray has campaigned for proper corporate governance at Ibrox, becoming a thorn in the side of Charles Green and others who have passed through the boardroom in the past three years. Gilligan is the former managing director of Tennents Caledonian Breweries and a former vice-chair of the Rangers Supporters Trust (RST). There is a further block of powerful shareholders in Park, Letham and Taylor. The three offered to provide equity finance to RIFC earlier this year, but the board chose instead to take a loan from Sports Direct. All three want to invest in the club, and will vote for King’s resolutions. They have yet to respond to comments to the Rangers Fans Board by Leach, that were noted in minutes and released online, in which he said – in very uncomplimentary language – that they had been terrified when they thought their offer would be accepted. Later, Rangers said: “These minutes have not been seen or approved by the board. We are very disappointed by the behaviour of the existing fans’ board”.

How do the votes stack up?

Votes are currently being cast by post or by proxy, but informed estimations can be made. King is adamant that he will win, and has the backing of his own 14.5%, the 19.49% held by Park, Letham and Taylor, River & Mercantile’s 5.7%, Rangers First’s 1.75%, Rangers Supporters Trust’s 1.56%, Kieron Prior’s 1.35%, Ally McCoist’s 1.34%, Felix Magath’s 0.99%, Graeme Henderson’s 0.72%, Malcolm Murray’s 0.25% and Walter Smith’s 0.09%. That gives King a starting point of 47.74%.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has a share in Rangers  (Image from Getty)

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has a share in Rangers
(Image from Getty)

The board can count on MASH’s 8.92%, Sandy Easdale’s 6.45%, Blue Pitch Holding’s 4.91%, Margarita Funds Holding’s 3.19%, James Easdale’s 0.7%, David Somers’ 0.08%, and the remainder of Sandy Easdale’s proxy, 11.57%. That gives the board a starting point of 35.74%.

The floating voters?

The remainder of the shares – 16.52% – are held by a smattering of small investors and individual fan shareholders. The latter are thought to hold around 10%, and many have been motivated to vote in advance by the board’s attempts to hold the EGM in London. The RST, in particular, and Rangers First have been gathering proxy votes and will cast them ahead of the EGM. Given the amount of proxies lodged so far, those votes alone could see King have the backing of more than 50% of shareholders, and a straight majority is all that is required for resolutions to be passed. It is conceivable that the board will be informed ahead of the EGM that King’s resolutions have the required support, prompting them to appoint the three and then resign.

What happens after the EGM?

Whichever side wins, there are clear and critical issues to address. The first is finance, since the Sports Direct loan is short-term and the club needs rebuilding from top to bottom. It is also conceivable that the second £5m tranche from Sports Direct will be drawn down before the EGM, with additional securities. If King wins he will not seek the second tranche of finance. He will refinance himself and with the support of Rangers-fan investors.  The performance of the team also needs to be addressed, since Rangers’ only likely route to the Scottish Premiership is now via the play-offs, and performances have sagged during the recent political strife.

Note to reader: This is a repost of BBC Scotland article written by Richard Wilson and the BBC. Full credit is given to him. Images have been added by BOTN and are credited as such

To view the original article, click here: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/31524925

The Fight Is On For Ownership Of Rangers

The Battle for Rangers heats up (Image from Getty)Remarkably almost three years on from entering administration, Glasgow Rangers remain in tatters. Financial mismanagement, greed and self preservation on behalf of certain individuals has tarnished this once iconic football club and turned it into the laughing stock of world football. Ripped of its soul and starved of those who hold the club close to their hearts, Rangers are fading fast into the abyss with the threat of another administration or worse becoming a real possibility. They have already lost faithful manager Ally McCoist who quit after enduring years of torture at the hands of others seemingly hell bent on destroying the club he loves. And now its star players are heading for the exit with Lewis McLeod already sold to Brentford in order to bring in much needed funds to keep the club on life support for a few more months. Left back Lee Wallace could be next to depart with several interested parties watching the ongoing developments at Ibrox with interest. Each day is like a new nightmare for the passionate fans who only want to see Rangers regain its financial footing and challenge once more for honours both at home and abroad.

Rising star Lewis McLeod has already been sold to bring in much needed funds  (Image from Getty)

Rising star Lewis McLeod has already been sold to bring in much needed funds
(Image from Getty)

The fans are quite rightly demanding answers but as yet are unable to get a clear picture of what is happening behind the closed doors at Ibrox. Drip fed information by non executive Chairman David Somers, the fans are struggling to understand who exactly owns what at Rangers and how a club that has consistently cut back on costs can still be hemorrhaging money to such an extent that majority shareholder and Chairman Sandy Easdale had to loan the club £500,000 recently to avoid it from being wound up by HM Revenue and Customs. Struggling to balance its books, Rangers are at real risk of financial suicide before the end of the season unless significant investment can be found. Step forward three unlikely characters who have added more complexity to the story. In the first surprise move, the Douglas Park Group consisting of wealthy fans and established businessmen Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor swooped in to buy 16% of the club from investment firm Laxey Partners. Their purchase was made as a tactical move to stop Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley from his planned takeover, a move that many see as problematic for the club. Ashley’s involvement at the club is under scrutiny from various parties including the SFA, English FA and UEFA as its breaches dual interest rules and has now been blocked by the SFA in his attempt to increase his ownership to 30%.

Who owns what at Ibrox?

Who owns what at Ibrox?

Currently Ashley controls 8.9% of the club but has greater influence on its day to day running after persuading the club to hire close acquaintances Derek Llambias and Barry Leach to the key roles of Chief Executive and Finance Director respectively. Ashley also loaned the club £3million in November to help with running costs but in exchange landed the naming rights to Ibrox as well as an extremely lucrative merchandising deal. The Douglas Park Group believes that Ashley is not acting in the clubs best interest and has offered a further investment of £6.5million in exchange for seats on Rangers board. In a similar move, South African based businessman Dave King has snapped up a 15% stake in the club by purchasing the shares once held by Artemis and Miton. The move was made after King’s original offer of £15million for a controlling stake was rejected by the board in favour of Ashley’s loan previously mentioned. King, a lifelong Rangers fan has been wrestling with the Rangers board for years now with the intent to gain control and stabilize the club. But with the Easdales unwilling to budge, King has had to be creative to get his foot into the door with a coup his likely next move. Before that is possible, King will have to convince the Financial Conduct Authority that he is not working in unison with the Douglas Park group as that would require additional steps to be followed.

The final twist in the saga is the appearance of US businessman Robert Sarver who has expressed an interest in acquiring the club. The owner of NBA team Phoenix Suns made a formal bid of £18million for controlling interest with another £15million to be invested only for it to be rejected by the board for undervaluation of the club. Sarver has until February 2nd to increase his bid and make it formal if he is keen to proceed. His interest in Rangers was peaked after discussions with former Rangers left back David Robertson who is now working in Phoenix as a youth soccer coach. The two became close after Robertson coached Sarver’s three sons and when he found out that Sarver had ambitions to invest in a European based football team, he urged him to look at Rangers. After carrying out a detailed review, Sarver made his move just after Christmas informing the board and WH Ireland which manages RIFC’s listing on the Alternative Investment Market. Whilst his initial bid has been rejected, it is unlikely to deter Sarver from proceeding. However the moves made by King and the Douglas Park group may have complicated things but the American is happy to work with fellow like minded individuals in order to restore the club to its former glory.

US businessman Robert Sarver could be the answer for Rangers  (Image from Getty)

US businessman Robert Sarver could be the answer for Rangers
(Image from Getty)

The next few weeks and months will be interesting viewing for Rangers fans as the story unfolds. The battle for ownership at Ibrox will be messy, with four player’s jocking for position. In one corner, Mike Ashley plots his next move, likely in collaboration with the Easdale brothers and Somers who many now see as Ashley’s mouthpiece. Robert Sarver will review the response from the board and react accordingly within the month before his February deadline. King and the Douglas Park Group will also watch with interest to see what the American financier does next. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the trio could join forces to oust the existing board and seize control of Rangers once and for all. It is rumoured that conversations have already taken place and that plans are being developed. This would be the best scenario for the Rangers fans that are being urged to back the trio in any way that they can. A return to normality for Rangers is on the horizon but time will tell if it’s the path that this once great club travels down or whether they will remain in their current descent into the abyss.

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Wanted – One New Owner To Instill Pride Back Into Fallen Giant

Wanted - New Owenr (Image from Google)

Wanted – One football mad billionaire to invest in well established and popular club with significant history of success. Glasgow Rangers is looking for a buyer who can end the non football related turmoil at the club and restore it to its former glory. Must be able to handle boardroom drama, petty bickering and fat cats lining their pockets with cash. New owner will be expected to clear house (and the board), restore pride and invest in the future. Millionaires will be considered unless they are Craig Whyte and/or wanted by the authorities for any illegal activities.

Defining moment - Former owner David Murray signs the club over to Craig Whyte  (Image from AFP)

Defining moment – Former owner David Murray signs the club over to Craig Whyte
(Image from AFP)

It seems like this is the only option left to Glasgow Rangers now who continue to be in disarray due to boardroom squabbles and dodgy book keeping. Posting an ad in the wanted section of a newspaper appears to be the only remaining way of finding someone who genuinely wants to help the fallen giants of Scottish football instead of helping themselves. The fans are disillusioned over what has happened, former players are dumbfounded and the football world shocked by what appears to be a group of devious businessmen pretending to care about the future of the Glasgow club whilst secretly raiding the coffers for every last penny. How this club, who went into administration in 2012 a year after being bought by corrupt businessman Craig Whyte before appearing to be rising back up like a phoenix from the flames, is once again in financial peril is anyone’s guess. Despite relegation to Scotland’s third division in 2012 following administration, Rangers have rallied and the revenue continues to flow in. Significant money has been generated through yearly ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorships, yet the Rangers board continues to complain about a lack of funds that are available and that the club is living dangerously close to the edge of yet another administration. The truth is that the men placed with responsibility for running Rangers are not doing so with its best interest at heart. How a chief executive and his staff can take full bonuses when a club is close to another financial meltdown or why a club would sell the naming rights to an investor for pittance behind the fans back is unknown but what is known is that the fans have had enough.

Rangers fat cat Board have plunged the club towards another administration (Image from PA)

Rangers fat cat Board have plunged the club towards another administration (Image from PA)

The Rangers fans have stayed loyal to the club despite its problems, turning out in force to support them despite their fall from grace. Where else in the world will you see 50,000 people turn out for a third division match against Berwick Rangers or any other team for that matter? But enough is enough from their prospective. As yet another wealthy investor with criminal connections is touted at being interested in plunging money into the club, the fans are wondering at what cost does this investment come? Maybe their training ground, Murray Park which is one of the best in the country will be used as a bargaining chip to secure it or perhaps the stadium itself, that is if it hasn’t been flogged already. The fans have been waiting for some time for someone to rescue the club from the board that currently residing at 150 Edmiston Drive. The Blue Knights led by Paul Murray have long but disappeared over the horizon whilst South African based businessman Dave King continues to wait with his rumoured £30million investment with the fans unsure why he is not making more aggressive moves to seize control. Now Newcastle owner Mike Ashley appears to be taking up a dominant position in exchange for very little in.

A packed Ibrox Stadium during a Champions League game  (Image from Getty)

A packed Ibrox Stadium during a Champions League game
(Image from Getty)

What is needed is a single owner of power and stature to come in and make sweeping changes. He or she must clear the board of its corruption and instill hardworking honest people who want to build the club back into a force both domestically and in Europe. Secondly they will need to balance the books and clear the mess that has been created by the current and past owners. And finally they must return pride and faith back to the fans by showing them that they are serious about the club and passionate about its future. Reinstalling former Rangers legends like John Greig, Walter Smith, John Brown, Arthur Numan and Brian Laudrup into key roles at the club and its board will help this process and give the new owner a sense of history about what this club used to be like. Memories of special title wins like 9 in a row will spark discussions whilst talk of European adventures including champions league upsets, UEFA cup runs and Cup Winners Cup glory will reignite the passion.

Legend John Greig brings the Cup Winners Cup back to Scotland  (Image from Getty)

Legend John Greig brings the Cup Winners Cup back to Scotland
(Image from Getty)

Many will argue that Scottish football doesn’t make economical sense but the draw of Europe and its potential windfalls do. A smart business person will be able to operate the club within its means, learning from past mistakes and using the clubs global footprint to identify and maximize other revenue opportunities. There is also still the potential for Rangers to join the English Premiership or a much talked about Atlantic League, neither of which has been ruled out fully. The history of the club alone is enough to pull on someone’s heart strings and invest for the love of the game. For a club that has won more league titles than any other team in the world, has a fan base that stretches far beyond its Scottish borders and has seen a host of great players like Greig, Baxter, Cooper, McCoist and Gascoigne to name a few who have pull on its famous blue shirt, it is a shame that it has fallen on such hard times. But that doesn’t need to be the case. Rangers can be saved, it can be reborn and it can rise again to once again become a force in world football.

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Rangers Chaos Continues As Mike Ashley Tightens His Grip

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley tightens his grip on Rangers (Image from PA)The calamitous situation unfolding at Ibrox should surprise no one as yet another diabolical chapter of Rangers history is written. In the latest twist, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley who current owns 8.92% of the club tighten his grip by injecting a £2million interest-free loan into the ailing club. This was in stark contrast to the apparent £15million rescue package put on the table by South African businessman Dave King or the £3million offer from Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy which was rejected in favour of Ashley’s investment. At the heart of this lies a boardroom battle that has plagued the Glasgow giants for over three years now since former owner Craig Whyte plunged them into administration. Rangers appeared to be on safer ground with the appointment of a new board containing former Manchester City executive Graham Wallace as CEO and accomplished financial guru Philip Nash as financial director. However as Ashley made his play for increased power at Rangers, both Wallace and Nash have been forced out of the club with the duo resigning in the last few days. This leaves the board with two empty slots of which it would appear that Ashley is keen on filling with his own men.

After Wallace backed Dave King's plan and it was rejected, his position was untenable  (Image from Getty)

After Wallace backed Dave King’s plan and it was rejected, his position was untenable
(Image from Getty)

Step forward former Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias who has since flown to Scotland to hold talks with Rangers PLC chairman David Sommers and the football board chairman Sandy Easdale about filling the position of CEO at the club. Llambias has suggested to the media that he is one of several candidates that the club is considering to fill Wallace’s boots but few believe this is actually the case with Ashley now pulling the strings. The second position is likely to be filled by Stephen Mucklow, yet another close acquaintance of Ashley’s. Mucklow’s appointment will be less contested than the CEO role however given his background of failed businesses and various unknown involvements at a host of companies at present, it should be seen as the more contentious of the two appointments. The exiting Nash had a pedigree in football when he arrived at Ibrox having worked at Liverpool and Arsenal in the past as financial chief and it appeared to those close to the club that he was trying to resolve the clubs troubled cash flow problem. With Rangers still in financial peril, getting rid of the one man that could have stopped that from happening could be disastrous for the club.

Derek Llambias has flown to Scotland for CEO discussions  (Image from PA)

Derek Llambias has flown to Scotland for CEO discussions
(Image from PA)

Given the financial mess that Rangers are in, the question around why a £2million loan beat out more concrete offers for higher amounts (£3million and £15million respectively), with less stipulations needs to be asked? The answer is more troubling than many Rangers fans care to admit. The club is locked in a power struggle with Sandy Easdale as majority owner with 26% of the shares calling the shots. PLC chairman David Sommers appears to be only a puppet to Easdale who has entrenched himself with Ashley so deeply that the Newcastle owner now controls more of Rangers than a shareholder of less than 9% should. Not only does he own the naming rights to Ibrox, which he acquired in a dubious manner for only £1 but he also owns other Rangers assets and is further strengthen his grip on the club each and every day. Having signed an agreement with the SFA to restrict his involvement in Rangers to only 10%, it would appear that Ashley is exploring other avenues beyond share ownership to increase his control at Ibrox. SFA chief executive Stuart Regan has written to Rangers and to Ashley requesting information from both parties about the Newcastle owner’s involvement at the club and his future plans.

Dave King's sizable rescue package was surprisingly rejected  (Image from AFP)

Dave King’s sizable rescue package was surprisingly rejected
(Image from AFP)

It is unclear exactly what Ashley is up to or why he has chosen Rangers as his next pet project but as a businessman at heart, money will principally be behind the move. By appointing both Llambias and Mucklow to the board, Ashley protects his investment and has influence over the forward direction of the club. Llambias has been quick to suggest that Rangers fans have nothing to fear from this wealthy owner and that he has the best of intentions for the club. However the last time they heard that statement was from Craig Whyte and we all know how that turned out. They have every right to be nervous as yet another shuffling of the pack happens at Ibrox, whether the cards dealt this time will be any better, well they will have to wait and see.

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Will the Return of the King Save Rangers?

The Return of the King (Image from Getty)After months of internal squabbling and in fighting on the Rangers board, reports today suggest that former director and multi millionaire Dave king is to make a sensational return to the club as chairman of the board. Following lengthy discussions at his South African home with chief executive Craig Mather and finance director Brian Stockbridge, King has agreed to return to Rangers and bring his considerable wealth with him. Unfortunately for Ranger fans, it’s his wealth and not necessarily his business prowess that has enticed Mather and Stockbridge to reach out to the former director of the club. But how did it come to this?

Stockbridge and Mather have a lot to answer for (Image from Getty)

Stockbridge and Mather have a lot to answer for (Image from Getty)

The financial uncertainty of Rangers continues to baffle onlookers who can’t understand how Rangers find themselves in a mess yet again. Having entered administration following escalating debts owed to Lloyds TSB just over 2 years ago, Rangers had their slate wiped clean and started as a newco in the Scottish Third Division with aspirations to become self sufficient and stable once again. A clear out of highly paid players and staff cut costs dramatically whilst plans to nourish and grow the clubs youth players appeared to herald the dawn of a new approach by the club. But with Brian Stockbridge contradicting himself by declaring the club as “financially secure” and “on a strong financial footing, he then released this year’s financial results which saw Rangers post a £14.4 million loss. Having raised over £22million from a stock market float last December, many are questioning how the club can be in this position again and more importantly what is going on behind the scenes at Rangers to create this mess.

McCoist has taken a pay cut due to rising debt (Image from Daily Record)

McCoist has taken a pay cut due to rising debt (Image from Daily Record)

A quick look at the books may give some answers, including the fact that Rangers current annual wage bill sits at £7.8 million, which for a club competing in Scotland’s third tier is crazy. Why McCoist was allowed to build a squad based on such an exuberant wage structure is beyond belief, and screams of the mismanagement of the club at board level. Added into this, rumours of board members making excessive six figure sums from the club in salary and or bonuses whilst it struggled to regain its financial footing continue to surface with an alarming regularity. Graham Spears of The Herald recently wrote an interesting piece in his column about the excess spending going on at Rangers and how baffling it is that they haven’t learned from previous mistakes. The truth is that he is right; Rangers and its board have not learned from what happened only a short while ago and continue to spend beyond their means with no regards for the consequences. Rangers are heading towards another financial black hole which this time could lead to much more than administration and relegation. The future of the club is unfortunately in the hands of people who care little for its future and see it only as a way to profit personally.

Chaos at Rangers - New additions on bumper wages  (Image from Rangers.co.uk)

Chaos at Rangers – New additions on bumper wages
(Image from Rangers.co.uk)

That is except for King, who genuinely wants to help the club. A passionate and lifelong fan of the Glasgow Club, King’s return could mark the turning point in this vicious cycle that Rangers are in. If appointed Chairman, King will want to open the books up and take a look under the hood. What he will see will shock him as a business man with the P&L of the club looking more like a statement of an overused credit card than a self sufficient club. Overspending in all areas, King will have to cut the cloth and quickly to avoid a situation grimmer than he will inherit. He will want full control over the books, the spending at the club and more importantly the board, which until now has been a mismatched group of egotistical and manipulative individuals who don’t possess the same passion as he has for the club. Investors like Jim McColl and Paul Murray have been fighting for months to regain seats on the board and King may be able to make that happen, but not with ease. King will invest in Rangers but on his terms, with a long term business plan and a proper corporate governance structure put in place before he releases a penny. Mather and Stockbridge are convinced that bringing in King will help to save Rangers and their jobs as they approach a very hairy AGM scheduled for later this month. The fans have had enough and are crying out for stability back at the club they love. The hard questions will be asked at the AGM and answers will be demanded into the future of the club and its direction. Heading back into administration is not an option, something the board and King know too well so the urgency behind persuading the South Africa based Glasgow born businessman to take up the role of Chairman is someone heightened. The return of King could galvanize Rangers but only if he gets his way which to date hasn’t happened.

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