02 May 2014

Dave King: Time to Step Up and Pay

by Andy McKellar | Contributor

It is fair to acknowledge that the Rangers rebuild has proved to be as farcical and shambolic as realistically imaginable. Labelling it a missed opportunity just doesn’t do justice to the levels of negligence, exploitation and incompetence that we’ve witnessed since the beginning of our lower league journey.

In an ideal world we would have used our demotion to learn from the mistakes of the past and to develop a business and football strategy into a model which would see our dominance of Scottish football return upon our promotion to the top-flight. But, alas, Rangers now operate under circumstances which are so imperfect that at times you find yourself wondering just how such chaos is possible.

In truth our recent history reads like more of a pantomime than the events you’d find at any moderately normal football club and the latest civil war again centres on a seemingly untrustworthy board and the frustration of many supporters. Whyte, Green, Mather, Stockbridge. It’s little wonder that there is scepticism in all honesty. But moaning alone will get us nowhere.

Organising the Rangers support to make a meaningful change to our current situation has thus far proved impossible, although that perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise. What has been equally frustrating however has been the lack of success achieved by the perceived saviours who have launched themselves into the limelight with relentless statements and continuous allegations. It really is a shambles.

Many of Dave King’s claims have undoubtedly been valid, and certainly questions remain over the recent performance of the board and indeed their plans for the future, but that unfortunately doesn’t change the fact that King’s verbal jousting has achieved virtually nothing except perhaps causing division and disappointment. He really must do better.

Much like the Requisitions before him, King’s greatest strength appears to be the weakness of his opposition. His season-ticket trust still hasn’t launched, his equity fund is non-existent and, if the best he can offer is mere words, I think I’d rather he didn’t bother. His campaign has been an immense let down for many fans who saw him as a unifying figure and as a potential solution to our current problems, of which there are many, but there is still time to rectify that.

What we have at Rangers is undoubtedly an ownership problem. The power and influence lies with the shares. Administration and the sale of the business and assets unfortunately left the door open for opportunists and, while some of them have since departed, it’s fair to acknowledge that the primary concern of our owners is not the performance and success of our football club.

These shareholders, including the reputable financial institutions, are here for a return on their investment. That’s the harsh reality of business. We can either howl and scream at them or we can face up to our situation and seek to do something about it. I know which option I prefer.

It might not sit well with supporters or indeed Dave King to put money into the pockets of people who have overseen financial calamity at Rangers, but how else are we supposed to change things? Withholding money could lead to secured borrowing, administration or worse. Is it really worth taking that risk when a controlling interest can surely be purchased for a price far less than the cost of repairing the potential damage a boycott could cause? Either way, these shareholders look like they’ll get their money one way or another. To pretend otherwise looks like a very naïve approach, and I certainly don’t believe Mr King is naïve.

While there are lingering doubts about his own credibility given his tax problems in South Africa I don’t think we should doubt his intentions where Rangers are concerned. But that goodwill can only get him so far and, judging by some of the reaction to his latest statement, I’d suggest that patience is wearing thin amongst our fans.

King must now move quick to rectify the situation and to garner the support that I believe he is capable of achieving. His season-ticket trust idea is flawed, and also dangerous in my opinion, but I wish him every success in achieving his aim of receiving security in return for releasing the funds. Regardless of this, the bigger picture must be addressed and that is something that he has ignored for far too long.

The board do not currently have the authority to issue new shares directly to King – a fact that is often ignored – and therefore, as things stand, he is reliant upon a fresh rights issue and a low uptake from the existing shareholders. Only if those circumstances exist will he be able to invest on his own terms and have all of his cash going into the club rather than to the current owners. His stance is admirable. Surely we all want money going into Rangers? But unfortunately it is also unrealistic and naïve. He needs to join the rest of us in the real world, and soon.

It’s not my place or indeed anyone’s to tell Mr King what to do with his own money and his children’s inheritance. Of course it isn’t. If however he wants to use some of it to benefit Rangers Football Club and write his name into the history books, I really hope he is currently considering a different approach. The dirty PR tactics have been a waste of time meanwhile the season-ticket trust is essentially a distraction from the bigger picture. Until that’s addressed, nothing will change.

Despite his errors of judgement and his lack of meaningful action to date, I’d still support King almost without hesitation if he committed to raising funds alongside supporters in order to buy a controlling stake in our beloved football club. The details and technicalities of course would need to be worked out, but I firmly believe that we need to get Rangers back into the hands of those with its best interest at heart. And King has the ability to make this happen.

So it’s over to you, Dave. You can stay in South Africa firing ineffective statements against the board or you can dust off your cheque book, stand side by side with our supporters and take the first steps towards reclaiming and rebuilding the Rangers.

There can be no more false messiahs at Ibrox. Time to step up and pay.