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Some words on recent events from yours truly via TRS:

 

http://www.therangersstandard.co.uk/index.php/articles/current-affairs/330-the-fog-on-the-clyde

 

It’s been another fascinating week on the southern banks of the famous river which dissects Glasgow. Not one, not two but three separate offers of financial assistance made to the club; two key board member resignations; various rumours with regard to their replacements and media suggestions manager Ally McCoist may well be next for the chop. None of the above is new to the Rangers farce of course but it’s more interesting this time as it appears that Mike Ashley – the man whose £2m loan offer was ultimately accepted – is now calling the shots at Rangers.

 

The reaction to this from the fans has been equally interesting. Yes, the key backers of Dave King’s failed efforts are unhappy and repeating their calls for protest but many other fans are left somewhat undecided at the weekend’s events. Do we concede that Ashley – by way of his incredibly successful Sports Direct business – brings the kind of net worth and expertise that could secure and stabilise the club or are we more concerned at his efforts to bully the board into the kind of onerous contracts that will cost us millions going forward irrespective of the owner? In simple terms are Ashley’s intentions honourable or is he just another vulture circling a club that seems to be heading for new dangers every other week?

 

Unfortunately, for the average Rangers fan that question is impossible to answer. For one thing, Ashley has never been the most transparent of people – either when it comes to his sporting goods empire or his ongoing ownership of Newcastle United. Not only does he actively shirk from media interviews but he leaves the engagement of shareholders and fans to other staff. For example, in February 2013, when Charles Green was ruminating publicly about stadium sponsorship by Sports Direct, it wasn’t Ashley that spoke to fans in a crowded Ibrox Suite but Derek Llambias – a long term business associate and today linked with replacing the departed Graham Wallace as our latest Chief Executive. Such apparent coincidences aside, quite simply our fans won’t ever get to directly speak with Ashley so our newly constituted fan board won’t be invited onto helicopters for meetings in England any time soon. As a quick aside, it’s disappointing to note the minutes from the first fan board meeting are already eight days overdue so it’s debatable whether this initiative will ever move on past its inaugural early October meeting.

 

We can make a guess at what Ashley is intending though. Without severely cutting costs his secured £2million loan for working capital won’t last long – perhaps until January at the latest. This means the oft-talked about and largely inevitable new share issue should happen at the earliest opportunity. Before that however, we need accounts from Deloitte and an AGM to ratify any board appointments and further resolutions related to any share offer. The former were previously far from guaranteed without auditor qualification but with Ashley’s billions now involved in the decision-making process (alongside two distinct fingers raised to Stewart Regan and Peter Lawwell vis-à-vis SFA rules) it must be pretty much a certainty that a share issue cements Ashley’s place as de facto Rangers owner. Consequently, it’s just a matter of to what scale – both in time and money – Ashley wants to stay in that position.

 

For example, does he see this as a long term advancement of his interests: i.e. taking Rangers back into the Scottish Premiership and European football to aid with the continental exposure of Sports Direct? Or perhaps this is a short-term measure to secure his contractual interests, consolidate various share-holdings and sell at an inflated price to people like Dave King, Brian Kennedy or others who remain keen to buy the club. There are other funding solutions of course – say a long term renaming deal of the stadium or a sale and leaseback of key assets. However, these would be unpopular or unlikely to raise substantial funds so a share issue appears unavoidable.

 

Meanwhile, what of his ownership of Newcastle? In recent years, Ashley himself has banned newspapers from making various claims about the club and has said that it won’t be sold before the summer of 2016. To that end, commentators in the north east of England remain unsure about exactly why he’s so keen on associating himself strongly with Rangers. Indeed, one or two suspect other factors are in play with regard to this but are reluctant to expand when pressed. I’ll let the reader speculate!

 

All guessing aside, despite the already glaring media spin on Ashley’s behalf, Rangers supporters are no further forward in having the club’s future clarified. He could be the good guy or just another villain but we have no way of knowing. In any event, Ashley has made his move and it seems no-one – not King, not Kennedy and not even the Rangers board – can stop his plans. Will the shareholders be able (or even want) to at the AGM? Will Ashley attend said meeting? What effect will planned protests have upon his investment? Will 15,000+ disenfranchised Rangers fans return to Ibrox as the Ashley era begins? Will this be aided by moonbeams or genuine change implemented by his men on another ‘new’ board at the club?

 

For all the positives that Ashley may well bring to the club, it could be argued Rangers fans want transparency more than anything. We want to be shown (and take part in) a clear future but amidst the strong October winds in Glasgow, the fog on the Clyde remains in the south side of the city and continues to tumble its way around the Bill Struth Stand on Edmiston Drive. Unfortunately, there’s no immediate sign of it dissipating and as long as the club contributes to the uncertainty, concerned and frustrated fans will stay away. With that in mind, a probable attendance of just 10,000 at Ibrox tonight for a quarter final in the League Cup is a far cry from an excited, capacity crowd in the Champions League. Rangers fans should never stop asking questions until these nights return and the likes of Mike Ashley should do the honourable thing and answer them. If not, he’s just another ‘crooked coffin-maker undertaking to be our friend’.

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its going to be another year before we wake up to ashley.

 

fool me once.........

 

Fooled or not, there's not much we can do but watch on regardless.

 

I suspect there's a lot more going on here than what we see at first glance.

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Its been hard to second guess anyone who has come to the fore where the running of our club is concerned to the point its not even worth the effort any more. Three bids came in to safeguard the future of our club and Ashley came out top with the least attractive bid. 2 million and control of the club that he only owns 9 % of.

 

Gets you thinking what the hells going on doesnt it!

 

Not really hard to work out though. Of the three bidders Ashley is in the best position to offer the easdales and the faceless investors the best price for their shares when the time comes to sell. they are simply protecting their own interests. As for the club and the fans, well they are secondary to the needs of the fore mentioned.

 

as for Ashley and his plans, in the grand scheme of things he sees our club as the vehicle that will catapult his Sports direct empire into Europe. He wont be doing anything for the good of our club, hell be doing everything for the good of sports direct.

 

Is this what you want for Rangers football club? I certainly dont. Weve seen the current board empty half the stadium and they should remember the words of jock stein, " football without fans is nothing".

 

Its the only form of protest that we have as fans. Some mock those who choose to vote with their feet but right now its the only voice the fans have but its also the strongest.

 

Ashley may have strengthened his grip on our club but he has a long way to go before he gains outright control.

 

What the fans do next will dictate the future of the club for years to come. i just hope they get it right.

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I think the point raised about the fan board and whether this will move forward given the recent revelations is an interesting one. I suspect that this may not be an ideal that is fully supported by Ashley. It certainly didn't seem to be something that the Easdales would have been overly involved in - GW seemed to champion this initiative.

 

Whilst i am unhappy over MA's involvement within the club, and the concern i now have with respect to Easdale / Ashley / Blue Pitch / Margarita / Laxey seemingly fortified their figurative trenches within Ibrox - I cannot help but try and look for a silver lining amongst this dark weather front heading over our home.

 

With respect to his Newcastle involvement, we are reminded of his 'generosity' in keeping the club afloat, investing in players to develop and sell on for a good fee and also the legions of the 'Toon Army' continually flocking to St James Park week after week to support the team despite the clear problems the support have with Ashley. I believe that a key point with the frustrations of Newcastle fans is the direction to which the club are heading on the park - they clearly do not rate Pardew and are not happy with the selling of good players to larger clubs for hefty fees. Liken that point to what we have at Rangers and the only difference here is the lack of opportunity for good transfer dealing be it down to quality of our players, weakened bargaining position (given our league status and very public financial woes) or general lack of foresight and strategy for our club within this area. Whichever way you cut it - this area has to be sorted. Could this be a key area that MA is interested in changing at Rangers asap to follow the situation at NUFC??

 

What i also find very interesting is where the Newcastle fans would like to see their club perform and to how they would measure success. I will not pretend to be any kind of follower of NUFC so my opinion on this isnt really the best, but i would have considered top half of the Premier League with the hope of Europa League Football and the odd trophy would be classed as a successful NUFC team. Attaining that status and maintaining that performance in the Premier League is no mean feat and requires significant investment into the team year on year. it is clear to see that is not how MA runs NUFC. Turning our focus back to us, we simply cannot afford to have the same success benchmark. Rangers has always been a successful club and one which deliver trophies and European football to the fans - that expectation will not change, despite our recent adventures being somewhat more modest. Where i do think MA could be interested in Rangers is down to the fact that the level of funding required for such will not be a drop in the ocean compared to achieving the same with NUFC. For a team like Newcastle to get into the top 4 would take about £250M - to get Rangers back to the top of Scotland would take something in the region of £40M (IMO). Where this would also reap benefits to MA would be the European arena - something which i think he will crave for himself - and for Rangers!

 

We Rangers fans haven't covered ourselves in glory throughout this mess. And by that i do not refer to our superb support of the team (boycotts aside) with some fantastic attendances through the lower echelons of Scottish Football. I refer solely to the lack of 'joined-up' thinking between fan groups and 'in-fighting'. Another point that was made to me the other day was that a lot of fans who say they do not recognise the club they grew up supporting were of the age when SDM was at the helm. During the good era of SDM, fans were happy with the performance of the club - 9 in a row to use but one example. If MA were to return success to Rangers - would the dissenting fans still be unhappy with the way the club is run - or will they be glad of his involvement?

 

Time will tell I suppose.

 

That went on for a bit longer than i anticipated - good article Frankie!

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Its been hard to second guess anyone who has come to the fore where the running of our club is concerned to the point its not even worth the effort any more. Three bids came in to safeguard the future of our club and Ashley came out top with the least attractive bid. 2 million and control of the club that he only owns 9 % of.

 

Gets you thinking what the hells going on doesnt it!

 

Not really hard to work out though. Of the three bidders Ashley is in the best position to offer the easdales and the faceless investors the best price for their shares when the time comes to sell. they are simply protecting their own interests. As for the club and the fans, well they are secondary to the needs of the fore mentioned.

 

as for Ashley and his plans, in the grand scheme of things he sees our club as the vehicle that will catapult his Sports direct empire into Europe. He wont be doing anything for the good of our club, hell be doing everything for the good of sports direct.

 

Is this what you want for Rangers football club? I certainly dont. Weve seen the current board empty half the stadium and they should remember the words of jock stein, " football without fans is nothing".

 

Its the only form of protest that we have as fans. Some mock those who choose to vote with their feet but right now its the only voice the fans have but its also the strongest.

 

Ashley may have strengthened his grip on our club but he has a long way to go before he gains outright control.

 

What the fans do next will dictate the future of the club for years to come. i just hope they get it right.

 

I for one haven't been to Ibrox this season and have no intention of doing so for the forseeable future. Nor will I be buying any club merchandise.

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I think the point raised about the fan board and whether this will move forward given the recent revelations is an interesting one. I suspect that this may not be an ideal that is fully supported by Ashley. It certainly didn't seem to be something that the Easdales would have been overly involved in - GW seemed to champion this initiative.

 

Whilst i am unhappy over MA's involvement within the club, and the concern i now have with respect to Easdale / Ashley / Blue Pitch / Margarita / Laxey seemingly fortified their figurative trenches within Ibrox - I cannot help but try and look for a silver lining amongst this dark weather front heading over our home.

 

With respect to his Newcastle involvement, we are reminded of his 'generosity' in keeping the club afloat, investing in players to develop and sell on for a good fee and also the legions of the 'Toon Army' continually flocking to St James Park week after week to support the team despite the clear problems the support have with Ashley. I believe that a key point with the frustrations of Newcastle fans is the direction to which the club are heading on the park - they clearly do not rate Pardew and are not happy with the selling of good players to larger clubs for hefty fees. Liken that point to what we have at Rangers and the only difference here is the lack of opportunity for good transfer dealing be it down to quality of our players, weakened bargaining position (given our league status and very public financial woes) or general lack of foresight and strategy for our club within this area. Whichever way you cut it - this area has to be sorted. Could this be a key area that MA is interested in changing at Rangers asap to follow the situation at NUFC??

 

What i also find very interesting is where the Newcastle fans would like to see their club perform and to how they would measure success. I will not pretend to be any kind of follower of NUFC so my opinion on this isnt really the best, but i would have considered top half of the Premier League with the hope of Europa League Football and the odd trophy would be classed as a successful NUFC team. Attaining that status and maintaining that performance in the Premier League is no mean feat and requires significant investment into the team year on year. it is clear to see that is not how MA runs NUFC. Turning our focus back to us, we simply cannot afford to have the same success benchmark. Rangers has always been a successful club and one which deliver trophies and European football to the fans - that expectation will not change, despite our recent adventures being somewhat more modest. Where i do think MA could be interested in Rangers is down to the fact that the level of funding required for such will not be a drop in the ocean compared to achieving the same with NUFC. For a team like Newcastle to get into the top 4 would take about £250M - to get Rangers back to the top of Scotland would take something in the region of £40M (IMO). Where this would also reap benefits to MA would be the European arena - something which i think he will crave for himself - and for Rangers!

 

We Rangers fans haven't covered ourselves in glory throughout this mess. And by that i do not refer to our superb support of the team (boycotts aside) with some fantastic attendances through the lower echelons of Scottish Football. I refer solely to the lack of 'joined-up' thinking between fan groups and 'in-fighting'. Another point that was made to me the other day was that a lot of fans who say they do not recognise the club they grew up supporting were of the age when SDM was at the helm. During the good era of SDM, fans were happy with the performance of the club - 9 in a row to use but one example. If MA were to return success to Rangers - would the dissenting fans still be unhappy with the way the club is run - or will they be glad of his involvement?

 

Time will tell I suppose.

 

That went on for a bit longer than i anticipated - good article Frankie!

 

I don't think there's much to argue with there.

 

I see the Newcastle situation as very much like when SDM was in control of Rangers. Many fans (although a minority for sure) were critical of his custodianship but relative success meant that criticism was always ignored in favour of trophies. Some (most?) fans just aren't interested in drilling down into contracts and financials.

 

The CL strategy appears to be the only one which makes sense for Ashley but even that, IMHO, seems flawed and simplistic. Even if we do win the SPL within say 3 years, qualification for the CL is far from guaranteed and we'll struggle to compete there. That means the SD brand would be associated with a small-fry club (relatively speaking) and, as we know, the SD branding would be removed from the stadium in any case for such games.

 

Is that really worth up to £50m of Ashley's money? Not to mention time...

 

Surely there's an easier way for him...

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I don' think we will see another share issue from Ashley. We will limp along until early next year before another crisis comes along by that time he will have strengthened his grip on the commercial side.

We have to look at the role of Laxey in this,yet again switching sides at the eleventh hour.What have they been promised? by early next year I expect them to offer us a loan in exchange for security.

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I wonder what Deloitte think of all this. Given the current rate of cash burn, £2m short term finance that needs to be repaid at a time when our cashflow will be at its lowest point, does not make for a going concern.

 

Talk of a share issue is all well and good but when you've only just failed to persuade existing shareholders to take up a £4m issue, why would we necessarily sell out a £10m one, regardless if its available to anyone and everyone.

 

OK, Ashley may well underwrite the share issue, but are we under any illusions that this will happen over night? Meanwhile we limp on.

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