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WOULD-BE Rangers saviour Dave King held court in Glasgow earlier today as he outlined his vision for the future of the crisis club.


He sat alongside John Gilligan and Paul Murray, the men he hopes will join him on a new-look Rangers board before the end of the month.


King is convinced he has won more than 50 per cent shareholder approval to remove the current incumbents, with Rangers expected to confirm the date of the general meeting by Friday.


King, Murray and Gilligan answered questions for an hour from daily newspaper reporters at the offices of PR company Level Five. We publish part one of the full question and answer session below - all 4,000 words of it.


Are you going to win the EGM?


Dave King: “Yes. We have enough support. I am absolutely certain we have more than 50 percent even if every single shareholder votes, which is unlikely. We are well over 50 percent. We will win.”


There has been a history of flip-flopping by institutional investors – are you certain there are no surprises coming?


DK: “It has happened previously. Well, in some senses it has and it hasn't. Previously - and Paul (Murray) may be better able to answer than me because he was more directly involved - you can get a sense from institutional investors they are supporting you and then you interpret that as they will vote for you. However, when it comes to the vote their view is: ‘we’re not active supporters therefore we’re not voting, so we’re kinda with you intellectually and mentally and we agree with you but we’re not willing to vote’.


“That has been taken out of the mix. The key event was the removal, the very non-strategic removal, by the board or the powers-that-be behind the board, of Norman Crighton. That was the single biggest tactical error that the board made because once he was gone the institutions said: ‘Look, that’s enough now, this is not being run on a proper basis’. That was the basis for the Three Bears being able to acquire their shares from Laxey and it was the basis for me acquiring shares. That became a turning point and if you look at it now, really other than River & Mercantile there is no real institution in there. So I feel very, very strong and solid about the current shareholder mix. If that hadn't happened I would have been in the same situation perhaps Paul was in (previously), where I certainly wouldn't have called the meeting with the same level of confidence.”


No date has been called yet, do you expect them to stall or trip you up?


DK: “I don’t expect it. It could still happen. The reason I don’t expect is that they have had almost 21 days and if there were any concerns about the technical aspect, whether the Is were dotted and the Ts were crossed, I would have thought I would have had some communication by now. It’s almost three weeks. I have had no indication of the board at all that there are any concerns with the requisition itself, therefore I expect that by the deadline on Friday they will announce the general meeting.


“I have had no communication in fact whatsoever, directly or indirectly, with any of the board members at all since the requisition. There was just a request from (NOMAD) Paul Shackleton yesterday. He phoned me, and he asked if I was willing to negotiate a compromise and he made an attempt to suggest what he thought might be a way forward without calling a general meeting. But the alternative was far from being acceptable.”


What was his compromise?


DK: “It was about the existing four directors remaining and me getting a couple of appointments and a couple of independents, and ‘given that Llambias and Leach are really independents the board would be balanced’. It was really, quite frankly, a nonsense, a nonsense suggestion. It would just have created further impasse. We have had enough uncertainty I think. We really have to go forward with a different structure.”


Did that phone call indicate they are hugely concerned?


DK: “Well yeah. I said: ‘Look if you want to save the money you know what to do to save money. You have had long enough to look at the shareholders’ register, you know you’re going to lose, therefore I think the right thing for the board to do is make the appointments and resign, that’s the way to save the money, we don’t have to have the general meeting where it will cost £50,000-£60,000-£70,000, whatever, that’s money the club doesn't have to spend and the outcome I believe is a foregone conclusion’. So that is what I would hope they would do on Friday. I would be surprised if they would do it but I think it could be a responsible thing to do.”



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Are River & Mercantile onside?


DK: “River & Mercantile have fiduciary funds, so they have a responsibility to shareholders. Their prime concern is clearly to see some form of recovery in the share price, otherwise they would have sold out as well and they haven’t sold out. They sold half a million shares to me but they kept the balance therefore they want a recovery in the share price. I don’t need to have a conversation with them to know this board is not going to move the club forward. The disconnect it has with the fans is not going to change with the board therefore the only way to make progress is in fact regime change. It really has to happen.”

What are the themes and concerns fans and shareholders have raised with you about the club?


Paul Murray: Speaking as a shareholder myself, the shareholders have two questions they really ask. The first one is, there is no organisation in the world, whether it’s a football club or a business, that can survive without its customers. You cannot disconnect from your customers, otherwise you have no business. Clearly in the last four years with the chaos and the financial mismanagement, the club is now disengaged from its customers. You can see that across the range. If you are an investor in a company and you see that, it clearly can’t continue. It is unsustainable. There is no ability for this board to recover from that position. The only group that can bring the supporters back – and it’s really a question of trust now – is this group. That’s the first thing.


“The second thing is, if you’re a shareholder and you’re looking at this board, it is clearly promoting the interests of one shareholder who is a nine percent shareholder, Mike Ashley. That is not right. Their job is to promote the interests of all the shareholders. Those are the two key issues for the shareholders and the other one as Dave mentioned is that most of these guys invested at the IPO when it was 70p a share. Although it’s recovered a little bit in the last couple of weeks, partly on the back of some of this corporate activity, it is a long way away from 70p. So people have lost a lot of money and they have to find a way of recovering that. The only way of recovering that is by having a board that is fit for purpose and which is able to re-engage with its core customers.”


Was Ashley’s £10m loan a final grab by him because he knew he would lose EGM?


PM: “Part of the problem is you don’t know what Mike Ashley’s plans are because he doesn't speak to anyone. I think it would be helpful if he was to set out what his plans are but that’s probably not going to happen and it certainly hasn't happened at Newcastle. Who knows? But I think the board made its decision. They had other options. They chose to go with Mike Ashley and what I can see from the outside, speaking as a shareholder apart from anything else, I didn't think the terms of that loan were particularly attractive to the club.”


If you do get in at the EGM how difficult will be to disentangle from these contracts and the debts to Ashley or do you try to work with him?


PM: “Obviously, the last four years have been very bad for the club. Clearly, it has been chaos on an unprecedented scale and financial mismanagement and so on. But we have to look forward now. If we are successful we have to present a vision to the shareholders and other stakeholders to take the club forward, and that is what we are going to do. We can do that today. But obviously the past is important and it’s important that if there has been any impropriety, any issues, then we have to look at that. We have said that we will forensically look at contracts and agreements and if we find that there have been any issues we will obviously take action on that.”


DK: “Can I just say on the Ashley point, I certainly don’t see Ashley being a complication in this process, whatsoever. If he has advanced money to the club presumably he would like to get it back. He can get it back, we just refinance it in friendly hands and he gets his money back. The debt itself really doesn't give him undue influence, the club can afford to refinance a debt. I really don’t think that’s an issue. Ashley is a commercial guy and he is someone I think one can do business with. What is his interest? Ashley is not someone sitting out there with a passion to own and control Rangers and have a club tie and a jacket and sit in the boardroom. It’s not what he’s about. He’s about Sports Direct and he has done whatever he thinks is in his commercial interests. He’s a guy that you can do business with, he’s commercial. I really don’t think Ashley is in any way a complication in this process.”


Your conversation with Shackleton the Nomad – did you say he was trying to make you agree that Llambias and Leach were not Ashley’s representatives on the board?


DK: “I don’t know if he was trying to get me to agree to it, but he was certainly suggesting that a composition of the board that allowed certain changes would be a balanced board because they were not aligned to any...it was a suggestion he put to me. I assume he didn’t expect me to agree. I think he wasn't surprised by my short, sharp response.”


You said in the autumn that Ashley snubbed your attempt for discussions, have you had any further attempts since then to talk with him?


DK: “I have had two different instances where people have approached me purporting to represent Mike Ashley to see if there was an opportunity for some sort of dialogue, including very recently. And I have said: ‘Sure, of course there is an opportunity.’ He knows how to get a hold of me if he wants to talk about.”


That hasn’t happened yet?


DK: “That hasn't happened as yet.”


Why do you feel Ashley is not a complication? What about these retail and commercial contracts so heavily fixed in Sports Direct’s favour?


DK: “The view on that is that if it is correct that the contracts are unfair, through undue influence, through non-third party, whatever, then they are attackable and we will deal with that in due course. They are either fair or they’re not fair. But that is a commercial decision we will make as a new board once we investigate it. That’s just commercials and commercials can always be dealt with. Ashley is a businessman, he’s not a fanatic sitting with one or two percent of the board and protecting his jacket and his tie. He is a commercial guy and he doesn't need a dispute. Quite frankly the only possible way to analyse what is in Mike Ashley’s interest is based on one thing that we know for sure: he is a businessman and his real interest is in Sports Direct. It has got to be in his interests for us to succeed, because the fans are disconnected. He needs the fans to come back and be sitting there and start buying retail. He needs that to happen.”


But logic hasn't often been applied to Ashley’s involvement in Rangers?


DK: “But Ashley couldn’t have done it because of the Easdale blocking - until the removal of Norman Crighton changed the game irreversibly. Laxey sold, Artemis sold, Miton sold . . .prior to that, Sandy Easdale was the power behind the throne with his couple of per cent - that was the reality, for Mike Ashley and for us. In fact, Mike Ashley might have done better and joined with us to get rid of the existing regime. It’s his his interests to do that, to vote with us, so why wouldn’t he do it? The only reason is if he’s aware the contracts are unfair because he knows we will come in and interrogate that, whereas the existing regime have been party to that. That would be the only concern I would have if I was Ashley.”


What’s your strategy going forward?


DK: “We’d be looking to refinance very, very quickly. If there was a delay in any way we can put debt in - the financial crisis will be solved. When we came in November we were willing to put £16 million into the club and that money is still there from the same people. It has just been blocked. That would be unblocked by a change in board control. One way or another we’ll get the cash into the club.”


Would you transform future debt into equity?


DK: “Debt initially until which time there is a rights issue at which time the debt can be converted to equity. One way or another we’ll figure a re-financing offer that allows the club to go forward. As far as the fans are concerned we’re all agreed we would like to see over a period of time the fans being an extremely dominant and influential voice and board level and shareholder level. It’s a great pity the fans are not only completely disconnected but also haven’t had a voice at all. The single biggest and most important stake holder hasn't had a voice. They've just been twisting in the wind and the only thing they've been able to do, reluctantly - and I know reluctantly - is to withhold season ticket money. It’s not something any Rangers fan did willingly, it really was a last resort and we have to go forward with the fan groups. They have demonstrated their capacity and attitude to the club in a way that shows we can work and engage with them and increase their stake in the club.”

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Is this your last chance to take control


DK: “I don’t think it’s the last chance. It will happen. We are across the line, we will win, but it’s not the last chance if we didn't. Let’s say I woke up in the morning and found a shareholder with 15 per cent had sold to the Easdales and it ended up being 51 per cent against a general meeting. I don’t think that will happen, but if it did I’d go out and buy another five per cent in the marketplace and do it again. It’s not the last chance but I think it is the end game.”


Are you concerned about a fit and proper person test?


DK: “If one looks at it, the fit and proper thing has been a dominant issue in the media. It has certainly not been a dominant issue in terms of the exercising of my mind on the way forward. Managing the shareholder issues has been more complicated. The fit and proper thing is simple to a certain extent. It goes back to my situation in South Africa. I was engaged in litigation for 11 years and it’s a difficult and harrowing process. We spent £50 million. If you can imagine how intense that litigation was for 11 years, it was a bruising thing. There are casualties on both sides. I had a number of situations where judges disagreed with my version and gave rulings very strongly against me and didn't believe me at all and SARS did the same. Sometimes it would be reversed in a higher court - one here went to the House of Lords, where they appealed my version and I won. I won some and I lost some. Sometimes the state was criticised. The state was criticised by the UK courts for the way they managed the litigation. If you trawl the million pages on Google I could pick up 50 quotes where SARS were hugely criticised and you can do the same against me. You are left with what really happened at the end of the day, which is what the final settlement was. What was the unalterable, irreversible position of the court? It was settled in my favour with no fraud charges. South Africa is no different to the UK, our companies’ act is directly based on the UK’s. It’s just something that has been thrown out there. Do I have to be interrogated? Of course I do. I’m talking to NOMADs because I think the current NOMAD is not fit and proper to be associated with Rangers Football Club, given they were appointed by Green and have continued a certain approach which has facilitated a lot of what’s happened.”


But what about the SFA?


DK: “The SFA are going to be more interesting because they will be challenging me in a number of areas. They’ll be saying: ‘Why did you continue on the board when Craig Whyte was there?’ They’ll want to know and I have to respond why I stayed on the board because, remember, they tried to force me off the board. Gary Withey forced me off the board. I got a notice saying I had been forced off the board. Why? Because I wanted access to accounts, I was trying to get transparency. They were hiding things from me as well and I refused to go off the board. I sent them a letter saying they couldn't vote me off the board because my original deal for investing £20 million was my entitlement to a seat on the board. I hung in there as long as I could. I've got to explain that to the SFA, they've got every right to ask the question. I expect to go through a very, very robust interrogation by the SFA as well and they have every right to do so, but I still expect to survive it.”

If SFA were to block you, would it change anything?


DK: “It wouldn't change anything. It wouldn't change my shareholding, it wouldn’t change my passion for the club. I’d still be a fan. I’d just put on an alternate director, quite frankly. Actually, it’s just something that makes no difference. If, after the gm, I go to the SFA and they say: ‘Look Dave, we’re very uncomfortable. You stayed on the board while Craig Whyte was there, we have difficulties with that.’ If I couldn't contest that I’d say: ‘Fine, I’d go off the board then and appoint someone else.’ The game is much bigger than me being on the board. It’s much more important than me being on the board.”


The SFA investigation at the time was critical of the board for not doing more to raise the alarm about Whyte. What’s your response?


DK: “I’d make submissions to the SFA. I’d use the police report. In the whole Craig Whyte affair they have been very complimentary of the fact I did stay on the board and tried to hold them to account. I made available a lot of information in terms of their investigation which wouldn't have been available had I not hung in. It has been very, very useful to the police case. The fact I did stay on board and tried my best to represent what I thought was my interests and the fans’ interest has worked well. That submission would be persuasive to the SFA as well, I believe.”


PM: “I’ll be part of those discussions as well, albeit it I was thankfully fired off the board within 21 days! However, no fair minded person could suggest the old board of Rangers did not raise the alarm about Craig Whyte. We issued statements, we tried to stop it, but unfortunately we had an 85 per cent shareholder who unfortunately had a gun put to his head by the Bank of Scotland and the club was sold. There was nothing more we could have done as an independent board to prevent that happening. With regards to where we are now, I will be part of this too and John (Gilligan) will also have to go through the same process.


"There will obviously be more questions for me and Dave because of our past involvement. The SFA have a big role to play here because, let’s face it, the last four years have been chaotic in terms of Rangers. It’s really important to Scottish football that Rangers emerges from this in a stronger state and plays a role in developing Scottish football in conjunction with others. From where we sit, this group is the only group that can actually achieve that in terms of re-engaging the fans, putting and end to the strife and instability. The SFA want stability and a thriving Rangers, I would think, on the basis they want other thriving clubs as well. We’ll put our plan to them and I would like to think they’ll be fair minded and look at that in a positive way.”


John Gilligan: “The fans are the victims here, out supporters are the victims. There’s no question about that. As a supporter, the last four years have been a complete nightmare. It’s still unfathomable to the ordinary fan how a guy can borrow all that money unsecured and buy the club, it’s still unfathomable how the club was forced into the position it was, for a settlement of £18 million when our total debt was something like £900,000. These things are hard for ordinary fans to understand. The two things that matter - the history is intact and the fans are still behind the club. They are withholding season ticket money, but people such as me still pay on a match by match basis and go in.


"To be clear, Dave King didn't ask for a boycott but for upfront cash to be withheld, there has been a lot of twisting of that. Our supporters are the victims here when all they ever wanted was to support their team. They've done that and the whole of Scotland benefited and all the different leagues benefited as we filled every away ground. And we were welcomed, so the fans have built up some nice relationships right across the country. We've got to talk about the past, but tomorrow is much more important. It’s really important the supporters believe in a new board, they trust a new board, they know the new board has the passion for the club and the financial clout to make it work.”



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The extraordinary general meeting at which Rangers’ fate will be decided for the immediate future will be held on March 6, Telegraph Sport can reveal, ...


That will be a day before a potential Scottish Cup Quarter Final. Essentially by now the 5th or 6th time that important information will be released or important actions taken just ahead of an important game for the club. More often than not, the resulting game of football not only became secondary, but also failed to deliver any useful result.

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