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?
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.
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.
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.