30 October 2013

The Rangers Minefield

"Daniel Stewart & Co - The Small Company Advisor"
by Chris Graham | Contributor

Last week, Paul Shackleton of Rangers’ third AIM Nominated Advisor (Nomad) in a year, Daniel Stewart, stated that he was “trying to map out a path through the (Rangers) minefield”. The short interview appears perfectly reasonable in itself but the continued inaction, at the very least, in appointing Dave King to the Ibrox board is becoming concerning. 

Not only do the board and our current Nomad appear to be dragging their feet, but the usual suspects in the press and rival supporters are using the uncertainty to whip up a storm over the prospect of King taking a place on the Rangers board.

Given what has happened over the past few months it is perhaps understandable for Shackleton to liken dealing with the Rangers board to navigating a minefield. It has already claimed several directorial victims as well as brokers and a pair of Shackleton’s Nomads-in-arms. There has been a huge amount of upheaval but actually, if anything, the loss of almost all the current board members should have made things simpler for Daniel Stewart.

The Nomad currently finds a situation where there are only two directors on the board who appear to be backed by around 24 percent of the shareholders. The Easdales have the proxies of Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita to add to their own holdings and possibly the residue of shares held by Charles Green and Imran Ahmad. A further 28 percent-plus of shareholders have nominated Paul Murray, Malcolm Murray, Alex Wilson and Scott Murdoch to represent them. Furthermore, if public statements are taken at face value, we appear to have in Dave King a chairman who is acceptable to all sides of the shareholder battle and who unites the fans and represents a source of crucial future investment.

So where is the issue? The board has only two members. If Dave King and the four proposed non executive directors were appointed then that would leave the board with seven members. A Chief Executive and a Commercial Director being recruited would take that to nine and form a board which has representatives of the major shareholder blocks and fresh talent on the executive staff.

So why has Paul Shackleton at Daniel Stewart not yet processed the documentation that Dave King filled in when Craig Mather went to meet him in South Africa? For weeks there appears to have been a delay in progressing that. Also why are moves not being made to appoint the Non-Executive directors who represent the institutional shareholders? Surely trust, competency and broad shareholder representation are crucial to the desired “stability” spoken of by Shackleton?

So whilst we sit and wait, in an apparent void of activity and information, the tide of negative press coverage against Dave King continues. The reporting of his tax settlement has been nothing short of a disgrace in certain quarters of the media. Pandering to the frothing of Celtic fans and their useful idiots who see King as a serious threat to their current dominance appears to be the order of the day.

We have seen various accusations. Graham Spiers and his “grisly list of felonies” came first. Tom English has now joined him by stating that King was convicted of “non payment of tax”. When these inaccuracies are challenged, and information is provided on what the actual charges were and how the settlement was reached, suddenly there is Twitter silence. A regular on Twitter (@JJMNJ) has provided them both with the relevant section of the act used to fine King. Oddly enough, nowhere does it mention “non payment of tax” or “felonies”. The section is reproduced below but don’t expect either of them to reference it or explain themselves. They don’t want to know. 

The section at issue in Dave King's crimes against humanity.

More seriously, Roy Greenslade, the Irish Republican friend of Phil MacGiollabhain, took to his Guardian blog to accuse King of “tax evasion”. We got this kind of rubbish a lot about Rangers last year from various similar sources. It was proven to be nonsense about Rangers and is nonsense about King. Any charges relating to fraud or “tax evasion” were dropped. Greenslade had better hope that King regards him as an irrelevance.

The point of all this, of course, is to put pressure on the SFA to block King’s appointment to the Rangers board. It is completely ignored that the SFA have complete discretion on whether to ratify or block any board appointment. They have guidelines but every case is examined on its merits. There is no hard and fast rule. Even a cursory examination of either the charges from South Africa or the SFA rules would have appraised people of these facts but still we hear that the SFA “would have to break their own rules” to allow King on. More nonsense.

The press and internet warrior outrage at King is an obvious a sign of how much he is feared as being a force for good at Rangers. That is just one reason why Daniel Stewart should be doing everything they can to facilitate King’s swift appointment to the board. Why it is taking them so long to do so should have alarm bells ringing, and these alarms are made louder by stories of the board’s own expensive PR consultants briefing against King. Is the board dragging its feet? Do Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita — whose identities are still shrouded in mystery — not want King on the board? 

What possible reason could anyone with the good of Rangers at heart have for blocking King? I suspect Paul Shackleton would be happy to avoid the necessity of any further press enquiry but if he continues to drag his feet then he might find himself standing on a metaphorical mine rather than navigating through the Rangers ‘minefield’.

9 comments:

  1. My guess is that the SFA will try to blackmail Rangers again, over the clearance of Dave King.

    They have form regarding this, and Lawell knows now that he needs Rangers for our TV value. The TV contract doesn't add up for Sky and BT, unless they have Rangers as a part of it.

    If they were prepared to threaten us with extinction over administration issues, then they will ask us to sign away our biggest potential earner in TV rights, just so Dave King can join the board.

    Lawells comment about the Kong situation was telling, when he suggested it was a "really complex issue". This wasn't a throwaway comment, it was designed to let Rangers and King know that whatever they resolve between them, he controls an obstacle in the road.

    Raman didn't pick up on it in his interview, but that's hardly surprising, as you can't process those thoughts when your lodged up a man's rear end at the time.

    Whatever issues there are between King and the Kray Twins, they had better have a strategy for what Lawell was hinting at.

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  2. My guess is that the SFA will try to blackmail Rangers again, over the clearance of Dave King.

    They have form regarding this, and Lawell knows now that he needs Rangers for our TV value. The TV contract doesn't add up for Sky and BT, unless they have Rangers as a part of it.

    If they were prepared to threaten us with extinction over administration issues, then they will ask us to sign away our biggest potential earner in TV rights, just so Dave King can join the board.

    Lawells comment about the Kong situation was telling, when he suggested it was a "really complex issue". This wasn't a throwaway comment, it was designed to let Rangers and King know that whatever they resolve between them, he controls an obstacle in the road.

    Raman didn't pick up on it in his interview, but that's hardly surprising, as you can't process those thoughts when your lodged up a man's rear end at the time.

    Whatever issues there are between King and the Kray Twins, they had better have a strategy for what Lawell was hinting at.

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  3. Dave King plead guilty to 41 criminal counts of contravening the South Africa Income Tax Act and agreed to pay a fine of 80,000 Rand per criminal conviction or 3.28 million Rand in total. King also agreed, as part of the deal to drop the other 281 criminal charges he faced, to pay the Criminal Assets Recovery Account of the South African Authorities 8.75 million Rand in compensation. King was originally indicted on 322 counts including fraud, tax evasion and evasion of exchange control regulations, as well as money-laundering and racketeering.

    Just to clarify - if you were accused of murder but were allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter, you are still guilty of the crime and have a criminal record.

    And have a look at those list of charges Mr Graham. Is this the sort of person you want to run your club? Isn't tax avoidance what got your beloved club into all this mess in the first place? Thanks to Mr Murray and then Mr Whyte? Be careful, very careful, of what you wish for.

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    1. Johnny: How confident are you with the South African Judicial system considering it is controlled by the ANC and I feel Mr King had no other option. Remember the miners that got shot last year and in this country an enquiry would have happened immediately it took SA a year , I could also add land grabbing etc etc it is a sad fact that the SA judiciary system has now dropped to the level of a third world country since the ANC came to power.

      I could also argue that a majority shareholder and non executive director who owned the Betdaq company and still has board influence in the betting company he sold it to seems to pass muster , notwithstanding the Australian government called it and in effect him a rogue operator.

      So is Dave King any worse than a majority shareholder and non executive director at another scottish club ?

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  4. I feel King will pass the test and on the other matters the Easdale's will win the vote at the AGM, In which case as it is the McColl, Murray and now the other Murray who have caused all the instabilty at the club including dividing the fans, who then convenientlty ask us to vote them on the board to create stabilty. Will they then go away because if ever there was a less illuminating press release than the one after they met the fans groups who represent less than 1% of the actuall support then I have yet to see one.
    They continually ask for long term plans from the board which are a matter of public record but have not released long term plans themselves and for an alleged billionaire who missed the boat on purchasing assets who expects not to dig deep himself to get on the board is laughable, ask yourselves if you were as rich as him how much would you happily waste on our great club?

    To many forget the Kieron Prior's of the world and other big investors are on side with the Easdale's and as Neil Patey said in the Evening Times " The direction of travel is correct " after accounts were released and it is unfortunate that so many great Rangers men who were imperious blogging last year for our club in the face of great adversity now only focus on the negative which has only help divide an already delicate support, as a proper reading of accounts shows with all the non recurring liability's and one off payments combined with revenue still to come including sponsorship and further season book money etc etc the accounts were not as bad as some predicted according to Kiero Prior no less.

    It is just unfortune that this has all happened and it has turned our support into a bit of a laughing stock which no doubt grown business men and sections of our support acting like children being a contributory factor in this and keeping neutral like the vanguard bears and only publishing only facts should have been the way to go.

    It also does not help that Rangers supporter group's forums moderate out or abuse posters who ask questions of the requistioners and all this serves in doing is disengaging with fans making them less likely to vote with the requisitioners. It is also my feeling part of the problem is the end game for some of the groups especially if the Easdale's prevail ? I even read one blogger who suggested that the SoS banner was well recieved at East Fife when in fact as I was sitting in the main stand these people were widely booed and told in no uncertain terms were to go, but hey ho as the song goes The only way is up.

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  5. I worry for any Rangers fan who thinks this article has any merit. Multi-million pound fine or 80 odd years in jail - sorry Chris you are utterly deluded if you think what Rangers need going forward is a convicted tax fraudster - they already have one of those in Easdale. There must be someone on the planet who supports Rangers, has lots of money and is not a tax evader - go find him and your on the road to recovery

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  6. I swore I would refrain for a day out of respect for Fernando Ricksen.

    In the absolute narrowest technical sense, Chris is correct regarding the DK / SARS settlement. DK agreed to accept liability for "the failure to disclose information and the failure to provide correct information about incomes earned over a number of years." (Joint Media Statement 29 Aug).

    Of course your tax liability is based on the income you report. If you don't report all your income, you will not be assessed the proper tax liability.

    In short, not fully reporting your income is the same as not fully paying your tax. If the tax rate were zero, SARS wouldn't care what income was reported. They only brought a case because DK didn't pay the tax liability on his true income.

    There have been similar high-profile tax cases in the US. Actor Wesley Snipes and singer Lauryn Hill have both been jailed for what the US press unashamedly referred to as "tax evasion". In fact, both of them simply failed to report income; I believe they actually failed to file any returns over a number of years.

    I respect Chris' passion for his beloved club. He knows how desperately they need investment, whatever the source.

    DK has the only 2 qualities that matter to Chris and many RFC supporters now: He has money and is a "Rangers man". Personal integrity or past history pale if DK is able to keep RFC afloat. That he is a proven bigger liar and crook than Craig Whyte is irrelevant. If CW would've invested in RFC, Chris would love him despite his obvious shortcomings.

    Chris needn't worry about the SFA F&P guidelines. Regan lives for the day RFC returns to the top flight - if he had his way, they would already be there - so he can negotiate big TV and sponsorship deals.

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    1. John: I will give same reply as Johnny above.

      How confident are you with the South African Judicial system considering it is controlled by the ANC and I feel Mr King had no other option. Remember the miners that got shot last year and in this country an enquiry would have happened immediately it took SA a year , I could also add land grabbing etc etc it is a sad fact that the SA judiciary system has now dropped to the level of a third world country since the ANC came to power.

      I could also argue that a majority shareholder and non executive director of another Scottish club who owned the Betdaq company and still has board influence in the betting company he sold it to seems to pass muster , notwithstanding the Australian government called it and in effect him a rogue operator.

      So is Dave King any worse than a majority shareholder and non executive director at another Scottish club ?

      Good to see you admit that it requires Rangers to negotiate big sponsorship and TV deal as that is the only really accurate part of your comment.

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  7. Good Morning Alan,

    I'm pretty sure Wesley Snipes and Lauryn Hill will vouch that my statement about them in accurate.

    Where am I not accurate?

    I certainly admit the obvious that Regan can negotiate larger TV / sponsorship deals with RFC than without.

    I said from day 1 I wanted RFC in the top flight, albeit with a severe limp so CFC could hand them a few 6-0 pastings. Few Tims will admit openly that last season's SPL campaign was a bore: 79 points and win by 16!

    Desmond may not be a saint but he is no DK either. Plus, such comparisons are irrelevent anyway. The SFA will not stand in the way of DK as they have a vested interest in a strong RFC. They have to apear tough and impartial in public but there is no way they will allow RFC to sink into an administration from which they may never emerge.

    Cheers and good luck in the cup tonight. An OF cup match would be awesome!

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Keep it civil, lads.