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Keith Jackson: Rangers saga has gone from surreal to ridiculous.. but is there method in madness of Lalit Modi bid?


AS yet another figure enters the bidding to take control of Rangers, KEITH asks whether Lalit Modi's interest is as ludicrous as it might seem?


EVERY now and then this unrelenting Rangers debacle descends beyond the surreal and delves deep into the realms of the utterly ridiculous.


The sudden arrival on the scene last Thursday of a would-be new owner – an Indian tycoon by the name of Lalit Modi – was precisely one of those bolt between the eyes moments.


On the face it this unexpected plot twist might have appeared to be no more than a highly amusing diversion from the main event, the March 4 egm which will determine if this club is to be saved from itself or sentenced to death by self-destruction.


And right on cue into the madness walks this cricket-mad semi billionaire with convictions for conspiracy to traffic cocaine and kidnapping and who lives under 24-hour protection in London in fear of underworld assassins (or at least whenever he’s not nightclubbing with Shilpa Shetty off Big Brother).


A man described by those who know about his hard-nosed approach to making money as India’s answer to Mike Ashley (x 100). Yes, why wouldn’t someone with such credentials want to pay through the nose for a seat inside the old Ibrox odditorium? And why wouldn’t they do so right now? At this very moment, the most toxic and volatile in 144 years of all things Rangers?


In fact, never mind Rangers, it is hard to recall the fans of any other club in any other league at any other point in history becoming so universally revulsed by its directors.


Less than 12,000 of them paid to watch yesterday’s Scottish Cup tie against Raith Rovers which merely amplified the eerie, end-of-days noise which has wrapped itself around this club.


Furious pre-match protests outside the front door while, inside, vast blocks of empty blue seats framed by a garish barrage of Sports Direct advertising.


A team led by a stand-in manager who can hardly wait to be relieved of his duties and freed to pick up his secateurs, having been forced to pick players of whom he has no knowledge. Crashing out of the Cup at home to Raith Rovers without so much as a whimper?


My goodness Rangers in its current state is an embarrassment of a football club. An empty shell with no heart or soul.


And from nowhere Modi wants to blow £40m to get control of this putrid mess?


On the face of it the very idea seems so far fetched, so jaw droppingly ludicrous it’s almost begging to be dismissed out of hand.


But consider this: What if it’s not?


What if, far from mistakenly walking into the wrong Bollywood movie, Modi has been watching this farce develop from a distance for quite some time? What if this late run for power is more than just a diversionary tactic?


What if it’s real and part of a wider plan to protect the interests of some of the shadowy figures who have been lurking in the background?


Wouldn’t that make more sense than the supposed reality of Modi’s misty-eyed motives to be involved?


It might certainly explain why, late in July 2013, Rafat Rizvi (remember him?) attended a luxurious VIP bash at a villa in Barbados, just a couple of hundred yards along the beach from the world-renowned Sandy Lane Hotel to celebrate the launch of a new big-money cricket venture, the Caribbean Premier League.


Rizvi’s links to the Charles Green consortium and his position on Interpol’s most wanted list are, of course, well established.


But who knew he had friends in such high places in the multi-million pound cricket empire? Well, chances are Modi might as this is his world too.


Modi set up the blueprint for this very venture when he launched the Indian Premier League, a money- making machine. It’s not known if he too was at that same party that same night but the villa is owned by Ajmal Khan, who was credited with transporting the idea of a Premier League franchise from India to the Caribbean.


It might be coincidental that Modi’s cousin, Satish Kumar Modi, sat on the board of Royal Holdings Services Ltd, a London-based funding company owned by Khan.


But it is interesting to note Rizvi talked openly of his involvement in Rangers to other guests that night. Rizvi and Modi are both now based in London.


Also of interest, although from February of that same year, was the short notice cancellation of an Ibrox board meeting in order that Green – still chief executive at the time – could meet an unnamed wealthy Indian businessman in Dubai.


Again, this could be purely coincidental but then, where Rangers are concerned, often it is better to remove the word “coincidence” from the conversation.


Modi has declined to answer or return several phone calls from this office. But in a statement released to the BBC last week he confirmed initial discussions about a takeover had begun. It’s understood those talks have been held with Sandy Easdale who represents the very 26 per cent holding to which Rizvi’s name is attached.


You may also recall Easdale and Rizvi were pictured by this paper last year when they met with a bunch of mysterious Malaysians in a Glasgow city restaurant.


It is ironic Easdale and the club’s other directors would now rather be seen anywhere else but in the home city of their club. None of them were sat in their own directors box yesterday and so unwelcome do they feel that they have chosen to stage next month’s egm 500 miles away in a hotel in Kensington.


Thousands of outraged Rangers shareholders are already preparing to stampede over the border.


But one wrong move by any of them, inside or outside the Millennium Hotel, could lead to the postponement of the very meeting they have fought so hard for.


Perhaps it would be wiser to vote in advance either by post or by proxy and to leave London well alone.


This Rangers board may well grab any chance to cause a further 28-day delay to the vote Dave King firmly believes will wipe it out.


This meeting is the only viable opportunity for the weeping sore that is Rangers to be properly disinfected.


King may well have his own reputational problems but his reasons for getting involved are not in dispute.


It says it all about this wacky race for control of Ibrox that a man with 41 criminal tax convictions looks like the only one in whom the Rangers fans are able to place their trust.



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On a sidenote, this Indian chap can buy how many % right now in the open market? Those of Easdale himself. That will get him no-where near any "control of Rangers". And I somewhat doubt that he will be able to force his way into the boardroom like Ashley did. The EGM can't come quickly enough.

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