Got Those Big Club Blues

I note a more conciliatory tone taken by the Rangers board in its recent statement towards Mike Ashley.

Hopefully this comes from a realisation that poking a stick at Ashley is extremely dumb for a whole host of reasons. The new regime fought a dirty campaign to get their backsides on the boardroom seats and this included demonising the Sports Direct magnate. Given that Ashley is a major creditor who controls important assets, continuing to vilify him is of the utmost folly.

Whether he is willing to be placated now is up for debate but from a purely business point of view, Kingco, Parkco and MASH/SD need to get around a table.

Surely MASH would be a far more sensible source – and infinitely wealthier one – than asking RF and RST to empty the coffers…

I am hearing that Sports Direct want the loan money back pronto as they feel the conditions have been breached. If this is the case, then any injection into funds by the new regime will be eaten up by this loan repayment – perhaps much sooner than the board would like. It wouldn’t surprise me if Newcastle United followed suit and asked for the £500,000 promotion money to be ringfenced.

This £5.5 million would make a big hole in any injection of funds from whichever source.

In addition to this, my understanding is that Mike Ashley is preparing a strong legal case against certain key players in the new regime concerning their conduct in the recent tussle for control.

Perhaps this explains the new tone the board is taking towards Ashley and Sports Direct…

Sadly, the recent boardroom battles got very personal. This is not good for Rangers. The club is being torn apart because of certain egos at the centre of it all.

The question has to be asked: Why can’t the two sides work together?

As I said in a recent blog: Why does it have to be the so-called Real Rangers Men OR wealthy investors? Why can’t it be these Real Rangers Men AND wealthy investors?

The problem as I see it is that in their desperate desire to control Rangers, the new regime wants to flout every principle of business sense and freeze out anybody who is wealthier just so it is their hands on the till. Fair enough if they have the funds to back up their ambitions. Suicide and utter foolishness if they don’t.

The crux of the matter is what kind of club does the new board want Rangers to be? If it is a downsized version of its former self then they appear to be on track. But if their vision is Rangers as a big club and even bigger than before, then a red carpet needs to be unfurled down the marble staircase to welcome big beast investors.

Talks with Ashley are urgently needed. Whether or not he will listen to anything his usurpers have to say is yet to be seen…

———————–

Pundits are questioning why Manchester City have collapsed as a footballing force this season.

Tactics and formations have been questioned. The average age of the squad has been cited as a factor. The manager’s ability and suitability has come under scrutiny.

I can answer the Man City dilemma in one word:

Barcelona.

When you are feted for playing devastating football and spoken of as being world class, it must be soul-destroying to play a team which does to you what you regularly do to others.

Man City rip teams apart and are miles ahead of most of their competition in England. Their players are treated as superstars and paid fortunes.

Imagine having all that adulation and praise only to discover that you might be the Barcelona of England but to the real Barcelona of Spain you are Accrington Stanley.

It’s a cruel game, indeed.

The Shadow Of Mike Ashley And Other Challenges Facing The Rangers Board

The monolithic figure of billionaire Mike Ashley stands as an immovable obstacle before the Rangers board and its ability to move forward without hindrance.

Fans are screaming for the new regime to pay Ashley off but the inactivity over this serves only to underline the real problem.

That problem seems to be an unwillingness or inability to pony up the funds necessary to rid the club of Ashley’s hold. Demonising Ashley to curry support among the more gullible sections of the fan base may have been a viable tactic in ousting the old board but it is looking increasingly desperate and foolish now.

If my information is correct, it has also succeeded in pushing Mike Ashley to a place where it is now personal for him. If this is the case, it is the height of folly for a club so presently weak and enfeebled as Rangers is to incur the considerable wrath of a man who has the means, power and influence to hurt RFC very badly.

The problem is that the Real Rangers Men and their supporters are locked in an either/or paradigm and not a both/and one. By this I mean it is either them or billionaire investors and it could so easily be them AND billionaire investors.

Only one thing prevents this. It is EGO.

Or to give it its Scottish name – BAWHEID Syndrome.

The burning need to be the big cheese on Edmiston Drive has sadly so far not been matched by big spending where it matters. The strategy of chasing away people with genuine funds just so they could have a blazer will prove to be far more about self-interest than any concern for the club and when the RRM myth is shattered, there will be hell to pay.

The self-immolation which saw Rangers-haters willingly damage Scottish football just so they could kick Rangers when the club was down has seeped into the Rangers support. My good friend Ninjaman was spot on in his recent blog when he said that the blame for the present plight of RFC lies solely with those fans who believed the King & Co hype and voted them in at the EGM. Not only will those fans have no-one to blame but themselves for chasing away billionaires so that those who can’t or won’t invest can have their seats in the Directors Box – they might have no-one to turn to after the Kingco regime has spectacularly flopped.

Unless, of course, Mike Ashley shows kindness to a club that has demonstrated hatred and hostility toward him by stepping in and picking up the pieces.

I have said all along that Ashley’s greatest revenge on those who unceremoniously booted him out of power at Ibrox is to let his usurpers run the club. So far this has proved to be an accurate observation – the new regime’s poor start only strengthens MASH’s grip on the club.

Mike Ashley’s tanks are still very much parked on Ibrox lawns. The issue is not can they be removed but is in which direction are they pointing? Treating Ashley as an enemy will not help Rangers one bit.

Much nonsense has been made over the trademarks issue. My own take is I would rather have Mike Ashley in control of the trademarks than Dave King. After all, to get the trademarks back all the new board has to do is fulfill their own promises and pay Ashley off. This in itself would go a long way to underlining the custodianship credentials of the new regime.

As for the ISDX, my understanding from trusted City sources is that this will prove equally as difficult to obtain listing in as the AIM. The simple fact is that investor activism has made Rangers toxic to the Stock Exchange. Should the ISDX take their cue from the AIM, then Rangers will find listing nigh on impossible. This is all on top of the actual requirements for ISDX listing, which include a year’s working capital free and clear in the funds. Not great news for a club limping by on crisis loans.

Other factors I cannot go into at present could also massively impede the club going forward and severely dent RFC’s ability to close the serious funding gap it faces.

The new board has many challenges if it is to succeed in making progress. It also faces a terrible conundrum. Fail to get promoted to the Premiership and this could inflict horrific damage on Rangers for years to come. The alternative is to win promotion and thus ramp up the need for serious immediate investment from chronic to critical levels.

Who would be a Rangers director?

The many problems facing the current lot sitting in the boardroom are not without solutions.

The real question is do the incumbents have the humility and courage to implement them?

Harsh Truths For The Old Firm

The Rangers Revival under Stuart McCall has hit the buffers after a couple of good results and performances.

Last night’s mauling at the hands of Queen of the South was compounded by the fact that the Dumfries side were oozing with confidence before a ball was kicked. Despite the McCall effect, it is proof that teams no longer fear Rangers. It is also a worrying portent for Rangers as they head toward the playoffs. The major problem is that the teams likely to be in the mix with Rangers are showing more desire as well as having a track record of victory over the Ibrox men.

I have said all along that, regardless of who wears the blazers in the boardroom, another season in the Championship would be disastrous for Rangers, resulting in a long-term downsizing of the club. That’s if RFC survives at all. The downsizing option is one that has been predicted by a few intelligent observers and a growing number of people even think it is the actual objective of the new regime.

Running Rangers at its present scale has proved to be a massive strain and downsizing makes perfect fiscal sense. However, it would be calamitous to any ambitions Rangers and the club’s fans harbour for both domestic success and European progress.

Again, the knock-on effect to rivals Celtic cannot be discounted. Should David Low’s prediction of Rangers being the same size as Hearts prove to be accurate, the need for serious investment by Celtic to stay several steps ahead of the pack in Scotland would diminish, thus ensuring a downsizing at Parkhead by default. The gamble of reaching Champions League group stages may prize open the chequebook but not to any great extent. Caution tends to outweigh ambition at Celtic Park and perhaps that isn’t a bad thing. Should Celtic manage to find another competitive outlet such as a European League or a route into England this may change.

The harsh reality is that the new regime at Ibrox has shown very little sign of being able to swell the crowds back to the levels they once were at. Serious investment is needed to build a team capable of competing in the Premiership and this itself is a huge gamble. What if they invest all that money and the crowds stay away? All I have heard from people who say they believe the stay-aways will return is just hope and optimism. The fact is that once people get out of the habit of attending matches, it can be very difficult to entice them back, particularly if they make new commitments to other pursuits.

There is no doubt that a Scottish football virtually starved of its main fixture – a global attraction – has helped to seriously deplete the crowds and weaken the squads at both Ibrox and Parkhead. Celtic have coped far better than Rangers but the imbalance in competitiveness has brought a definite erosion in both quality and credibility to the East End club. No serious football fan is impressed by recent title wins for Celtic, no matter the hype generated over them.

Thar said, Ronnie Deila has done a good job so far and has definitely kept Celtic’s dominance over the Scottish game intact.

Rangers on the other hand have passed up a golden opportunity to rebuild and come back stronger than ever after years of excess resulted in a three year spell in the wilderness. Instead, bitter infighting has seen the club cannibalise itself and become the epitome of self-destruction and self-loathing. Rangers fans have become legendary for defending the club’s historical continuity but it is the future continuation of the club that is more in peril.

“For whoever has, to him will more be given, and he who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away from him.”

This seems to be a Scripture verse that sums up the present situation perfectly, especially in light of the recent announcements concerning play-off riches having to be shared with the SPFL.

You could say it another way – the rich get richer and the poor get shafted.

The challenge for any Rangers board right now is to find a way to break out of this paradigm. Actually, that can be done very simply but would require honesty and humility.

Celtic, meanwhile, will, I am sure, happily opt for the status quo.