I was recently told by a very good source that Mike Ashley was about to break ranks and mount a serious offensive against Dave King and the incumbent board of RFC.
This has now started and, regardless of who wins the head-to-head contest, the fans of Rangers look to be the losers.
Rangers fans are well used to being the collateral damage in the fallout of the schemes of rich men and wannabe rich men. Sir David Murray took the Rangers support on a rollercoaster ride during his nearly quarter of a century time at the helm, only to crash into the ground and leave the club in the care – “care” being a very inappropriate word – of the man reputed to have wealth off the radar, Craig Whyte. His wealth turned out to be so far off the radar that he can’t lay hands on it and is presently receiving Legal Aid.
Very rich men have been chased away by certain elements in the Rangers fanbase, leaving the club presently in the custodianship of men of very modest means. That they are so is no crime or sin but the fact that they are in a veritable state of war with one of Britain’s richest men, who is both an investor in and business partner with the club, could arguably be termed either wifully self-destructive or utterly irresponsible.
On a financial level, the head-to-head between King and Ashley is less like David and Goliath and more like plankton to a whole. Put simply, Ashley has the means to crush Dave King like a bug. My information is that for the Sports Direct magnate, this feud has become personal and is no longer about money. Bad news for Mr King but also potentially very bad news for the bluenose legions who crave a settled club and onfield success.
Sadly, the truth appears to be that there are no good guys and bad guys here – it is simply a clash of two egos. King and his cohorts have embarked on a very reckless campaign of vilifying Ashley and undermining his business while Ashley’s lack of communication has made him appear arrogant and disdainful. That a lot less SD merchandise is being sold than could be is down to the truculence of both protaganists in what appears to be a bitter, pointless feud.
The media, as always, is having a field day on the off-field troubles at Ibrox and this only serves to make the club a circus far more entertaining than any Billy Smart could come up with. Lies and smears abound while Ashley’s ham-fisted approach is only helping to make King a martyr in the eyes of many supporters. It might be compelling to watch but is ultimately seriously negative stuff for both Rangers and Scottish football.
Fans of other clubs may be salivating at the prospect of there being no end in sight to the trials and tribulations besetting Rangers but the underlying message is a stark one: Football clubs are the playthings of the rich and the super-rich and thus subject to the whims and caprices of both. This is almost never a good thing.
Lurid headlines of Mike Ashley seeking to have Dave King jailed for breaching a gagging order are the meat and drink of tabloid journalism. But they are not what either supporters or people who have a financial interest in Rangers’ fortunes want to read. Both sides need to wind their gobby PR necks in, get round a table and come up with a solution that either sees Mike Ashley’s wealth being a bedrock of support for the club or that provides him with a swift exit from involvement with Rangers.
People should not buy into the ego wars. The only side that matters in all of this is Rangers.
Tragically, if these boardroom tussles don’t end soon, it is Rangers and the club’s legions of fans that will suffer.