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Mike Ashley's Rangers swoop overshadows Craig Whyte dawn raids...


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The Rangers story rumbles on, the gaudy prospect of financial meltdown distracting observers from even a backward glance in the rear-view mirror. The news that £8m is needed to keep the lights on keeps minds focused on the present.

 

The question of how it all came to this may have to have its answer in court. Recent history, though, can be assessed with some accuracy.

 

The failure of Dave King's attempt to take over Rangers is crucial not only to the future direction of the club but also has a further, significant impact. It is this: King gathered expert advisors and galvanised a section of the support. The legacy of King's failure to gain any power at Ibrox is that some are now not only disillusioned but highly reluctant to attach themselves to any renewed moves by the South African businessman.

 

However, the idea that King may have no further role in the Rangers story may not stand up to scrutiny.

 

A chronicle of his interest in Rangers proves an instructive history of what has gone on at the club over the past nine months leading up to Thursday's announcement of the £8.3m loss to June this year. Auditors have included an emphasis of matter paragraph, highlighting that there is "material uncertainty on the group's ability to continue as a going concern".

 

This has always been King's contention and it has informed the choices he has made when addressing the task of changing the power base at Ibrox.

 

At an early stage in his attempt to force regime change, King told an advisor: "I will just sit here until they run out of money and they will have no place to go. They will have to come to me." He was consistently told this would not happen. It did not happen. But can it now?

 

The King involvement must be examined as it charts the course to where Rangers stand now and what options are available to the club in what can now be soberly described as a battle for survival.

 

King, of course, was always on the periphery of the Rangers story but he took centre stage in March when he came to Glasgow to meet the Ibrox board and canvassed for both financial and popular support.

 

A series of meetings was held and he headed back to South Africa. However, he left behind a time bomb for the Ibrox board. His move to set up a trust fund for season ticket money could be seen as highly unsuccessful as it was never formed, instead a website gathered support from disaffected fans.

 

But it had an effect that it was part of a climate that reduced season ticket sales. Shortly after King flew out, David Somers, the Rangers chairman, criticised the move on season tickets as the club released interim financial results for the last six months of 2013, showing a £3.5m pre-tax loss.

 

King ramped up his offensive in a series of interviews, pledging that he could underwrite a share issue personally to the sum of £30m, perhaps even £50m.

 

Rangers, meanwhile, were looking at an unsustainable future, despite the protestations of directors. Briefly, season ticket revenue was down and costs were outstripping income. As the figures released on Thursday show, this basic business problem has not been addressed with any success.

 

It was then that instead of a King putsch there was a Mike Ashley manoeuvre. The sportswear billionaire had, of course, bought shares at the initial public offering. He had a merchandising contract in place. He has the crest.

 

At the beginning of August, there were leaks that Rangers needed money and that Ashley was prepared to provide it in loans. The Newcastle United owner, routinely and accurately described as a billionaire, was ready to flex his muscles.

 

In early August, there was a meeting to step up the King move to bring change to Rangers. George Letham, who had given Rangers a £1m crisis loan, Paul Murray, a former board member who was now allied to King, were present, as were others.

 

The Herald understands it was agreed to try to raise money to make a public, formal offer for the 26% Beaufort stake in Rangers, controlled by the Easdale brothers. The next step was to approach the Park family who own the coach company and car dealerships.

 

A source close to this development said this meeting took "the best part of a month" to set up. It is not known what occurred at that meeting but the buying of the Beaufort shares was never pursued in any meaningful sense.

 

The next move was for King to have talks with Graham Wallace, chief executive of Rangers, Philip Nash, director, and Norman Crighton, non-executive director. Paul Murray and Letham were present at these discussions.

 

The plan was to persuade the board to recommend a share issue whereby King would put in £8m and what could be called the Murray-Letham consortium put in a further £8m.

 

Rangers, meanwhile, were desperately seeking a saviour but King consistently refused to see Ashley as a threat to his ambitions.

 

Instead, the English businessman was presented with an open goal. As Somers subsequently explained, the Ashley loan could be taken because the rival Brian Kennedy bid carried a higher level of interest and demanded more security. There are mutterings about both these claims but Somers has issued a statement reinforcing them.

 

The King-Murray-Letham consortium was dismissed over what was described as a failure to provide proof of funds.

 

There has been much shouting since in terms of statements and counter statements.

 

Three interesting elements have emerged. First, that Paul Murray was prepared to sit on the board as part of the Kennedy deal. Second, that King has revealed he did not want to oust Sandy Easdale, the football board chairman, from Ibrox.

 

The third is that King and his allies believe they never had a chance. On October 23, they believed they had an agreement in principle with Easdale to have some power in exchange for investment. They needed Easdale on board because the brothers have control over 26% of shares and 75% is needed to approve a shares issue. The half-back line of Easdales, Ashley and Laxey hold 51%.

 

But as King headed to watch Liverpool play Real Madrid, he believed he had a deal in his grasp. Within 24 hours he was disabused of this, with telephone calls informing him that Rangers would take a loan from Ashley.

 

This series of events has led to Ashley gaining an extraordinary influence at Ibrox, particularly for someone owning about 9% of shares. They are also history.

 

So why does it matter now?

 

It is clear King failed in this approach. He also contributed to a significant level of disillusionment among fans who can be best described as activists in attempting to change the structure at the club. This could impact on any renewed attempt by him to gain power at Ibrox.

 

But the developments also give an insight into the motives of Ashley. He has not, nor will not, make his intentions clear but he has to safeguard the merchandising deal that he has with club. The drip of loans means the clubs survives, strips can sold.

 

But it is not a long-term strategy. Ashley has to find a coherent plan that does not just involve cutting costs but includes ushering in a period of stability. Does he have the will to dedicate a significant chunk of time to something that is relatively modest in terms of income to a man worth £4bn?

 

So what will he do next?" Whatever he wants," was the brisk reply from a City source last night who has rued his investment in Rangers.

 

The City source suggested that Ashley may decide that he is willing to share some of the burden of restructuring a club, forming a scouting network, refurbishing the stadium and building a team to compete at the top level of Scottish sport. This was the view, too, of a major financial player close to the Rangers story.

 

There may be some conjecture of what precisely is Ashley's vision for the club. There can be no doubt that he does not like what he sees, though. History tells us that Ashley is always prepared to make a deal. Does that include returning to suitors to see what they have to offer?

 

King has been dismissed as a "tyre kicker" whose reluctance to buy shares was fatal to any successful strategy. There may be truth in some of this but it would be foolish to rule out a return to the table by the former Rangers director.

 

The jostling for power has not stopped.

 

http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/football/the-king-bid-is-dead-but-for-how-long-we-cannot-say.25998604?

 

Any effective jostling has stopped and all that remains is mud slinging by bad losers. MA's man is up foe election to the board at the AGM. That Amy's all about who is in control. The brothers back MA, so it's sewn up as tight as ducks erse. As for King, for sure, the biggest tyre kicker I have ever seen He has repeatedly proven that doesn't love Rangers as many would believe. He has done untold damage with his mud slinging tactics. He is a convicted serial fraudster. You would need to be a total idiot to go into business with such an untrustworthy character. MA is no fool and he doesn't ever let others play with his money and certainly not a chancer like King.

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Any effective jostling has stopped and all that remains is mud slinging by bad losers. MA's man is up foe election to the board at the AGM. That Amy's all about who is in control. The brothers back MA, so it's sewn up as tight as ducks erse. As for King, for sure, the biggest tyre kicker I have ever seen He has repeatedly proven that doesn't love Rangers as many would believe. He has done untold damage with his mud slinging tactics. He is a convicted serial fraudster. You would need to be a total idiot to go into business with such an untrustworthy character. MA is no fool and he doesn't ever let others play with his money and certainly not a chancer like King.

 

another troll on the go.

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another troll on the go.

What part would be untrue?

I do understand that the at times can be difficult to accept. I even believed CG and what a lying c@nt and disaster he turned out to be. MA has has too much to lose to screw this up if he takes us over and I don't mean in monetary terms. His reputation as a businessman would be at stake. I don't mean I trust him, far from it, as everyone of those business type need watched like hawkers and I'm sure everyone of us will be doing just that. For him, his prestige as a top businessman is what counts and for him to be successful as the owner of our club, we need to be successful on the park and I am confident he will readily provide the cash to be just that.

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What part would be untrue?

I do understand that the at times can be difficult to accept. I even believed CG and what a lying c@nt and disaster he turned out to be. MA has has too much to lose to screw this up if he takes us over and I don't mean in monetary terms. His reputation as a businessman would be at stake. I don't mean I trust him, far from it, as everyone of those business type need watched like hawkers and I'm sure everyone of us will be doing just that. For him, his prestige as a top businessman is what counts and for him to be successful as the owner of our club, we need to be successful on the park and I am confident he will readily provide the cash to be just that.

 

MA has got what he wants, an onerous contract. he can now sit back and reap his reward. If you think this chancer is going to put any more money in, then there you are gravely mistaken.

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What part would be untrue?

I do understand that the at times can be difficult to accept. I even believed CG and what a lying c@nt and disaster he turned out to be. MA has has too much to lose to screw this up if he takes us over and I don't mean in monetary terms. His reputation as a businessman would be at stake. I don't mean I trust him, far from it, as everyone of those business type need watched like hawkers and I'm sure everyone of us will be doing just that. For him, his prestige as a top businessman is what counts and for him to be successful as the owner of our club, we need to be successful on the park and I am confident he will readily provide the cash to be just that.

 

We've all been watching MA (as far as we've been able to - the visibility isn't great).

 

What has he done so far to win our trust? Based on his actions up to this point, what grounds are there to believe he has Rangers' best interests at heart? For example, do you think the Sports Direct deal has been good for the club?

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We've all been watching MA (as far as we've been able to - the visibility isn't great).

 

What has he done so far to win our trust? Based on his actions up to this point, what grounds are there to believe he has Rangers' best interests at heart? For example, do you think the Sports Direct deal has been good for the club?

Exactly nowt and I don't. For me the pointer is his man up for election, so it isn't a short term thing. I cannot see the for him to have the brand, even for nothing, if we as a team are not successful on the park. It doesn't make good business sense in the context of football. Clubs need to be successful on the park if they are to be successful off the park in business terms. Otherwise there is no point him bothering. Our brand is everything to that success. He'd make a fortune if we were winning as in the nine in a row years. My point is that he is the only substantial and credible financial backer to get us there. It's a leap of faith yes, but to do otherwise in MA's world wouldn't make sense.

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What part would be untrue?

I do understand that the at times can be difficult to accept. I even believed CG and what a lying c@nt and disaster he turned out to be. MA has has too much to lose to screw this up if he takes us over and I don't mean in monetary terms. His reputation as a businessman would be at stake. I don't mean I trust him, far from it, as everyone of those business type need watched like hawkers and I'm sure everyone of us will be doing just that. For him, his prestige as a top businessman is what counts and for him to be successful as the owner of our club, we need to be successful on the park and I am confident he will readily provide the cash to be just that.

What reputation? The only people I have ever seen being positive about him is the anti-RST/UoF/SoS mob.

 

What makes you think he cares about his reputation? What a ridiculous comment to make. All he cares about is making money for himself, he doesn't give a fuck about anything else.

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Exactly nowt and I don't. For me the pointer is his man up for election, so it isn't a short term thing. I cannot see the for him to have the brand, even for nothing, if we as a team are not successful on the park. It doesn't make good business sense in the context of football. Clubs need to be successful on the park if they are to be successful off the park in business terms. Otherwise there is no point him bothering. Our brand is everything to that success. He'd make a fortune if we were winning as in the nine in a row years. My point is that he is the only substantial and credible financial backer to get us there. It's a leap of faith yes, but to do otherwise in MA's world wouldn't make sense.

He's made Newcastle much worse on the park so there goes your argument.

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Exactly nowt and I don't. For me the pointer is his man up for election, so it isn't a short term thing. I cannot see the for him to have the brand, even for nothing, if we as a team are not successful on the park. It doesn't make good business sense in the context of football. Clubs need to be successful on the park if they are to be successful off the park in business terms. Otherwise there is no point him bothering. Our brand is everything to that success. He'd make a fortune if we were winning as in the nine in a row years. My point is that he is the only substantial and credible financial backer to get us there. It's a leap of faith yes, but to do otherwise in MA's world wouldn't make sense.

 

Every Director is up for election.

 

Such is the construction of the joint venture deal that Ashley/SD will make money irrespective of how successful we are on the park.

 

One thing we've learnt is that RIFC plc doesn't not have to be a successful business in order for in control to suck money out.

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