Scottish Daily Mail
THIS COULD BE WATERSHED FOR A CLUB THAT'S BROKEN
AS Dave King joined hands with his allies to give a triumphant salute on the steps of Argyle House, a great roar emerged from those Rangers fans who had patiently waited to greet the new regime. The noise was more than three years in the making. After so many bitter disappointments, and so much anger directed at so many characters in this sorry saga, here was genuine belief that they finally had their club back.
King, Paul Murray and John Gilligan were all elected as directors with around 85 per cent of the vote at yesterday’s extraordinary general meeting. The same overwhelming number turfed Derek Llambias and Barry Leach — Mike Ashley’s two associates — out of the Blue Room. A despised board was routed.
The incoming directors have a resounding mandate for change but a huge task lies ahead. Rangers, in many ways, is unrecognisable to what it once was. As both King and Murray have said, their job is to fix a club that is broken.
To find the glue that sticks the pieces back together again, the South Africa-based businessman believes they have to look back in time. Not just in terms of restoring financial strength and success on the field, but also in the image and values the club projects.
‘As a day in Rangers’ history, it’s got the potential to be a watershed event,’ insisted King. ‘If you were to ask me sitting here today then I’m confident it will turn out to be that.
‘People ask when will we take the club forward — in actual fact we are taking the club forward to the past. We want to restore the qualities of this club and that is part of the challenge we face here, in trying to build a competitive football team and living up to what the fans expect.
‘There is a value system attached to Rangers Football Club and this has been lost over the past few years. Rangers has been a club with traditional values.
‘It’s had generational support and a pass- on from father to son. There’s been a consistency, an integrity and a loyalty.
‘Paul has referred to the fact the club has only had 13 managers in its history and that tells you there is a stickability about this club.
‘What we have seen over the last few years has been turbulence, change, lack of loyalty, lack of integrity. What has happened is the exact opposite to the values I associate with my club.’
King, Murray and Gilligan addressed staff inside Ibrox prior to holding a media conference, then travelled to Murray Park to speak with those on the footballing side of the business.
In recent times, Rangers has been a place where employees have lived in fear of redundancy. Whole departments have pretty much disappeared. Morale has lurked somewhere south of dismal.
‘The very first priority is to get our arms around the club,’ said King. ‘You have the unusual situation of one board en masse going out and another coming in. Normally, there is a process of transition.
‘Much of what we know about the state of the club has been gleaned from newspaper reports.
The club is broken, it’s broken in many areas. There are footballing issues, infrastructure issues and scouting i ssues. I nformation gathering will be a big part of our immediate job.’
A new manager will also be considered but King stressed that the importance of getting the right man means it will not be rushed. It could well be that Kenny McDowall, the reluctant caretaker, still has a few games in charge beyond today’s trip to Cowdenbeath.
Rangers will have to come through the play-offs to reach the Premiership next season, but King is adamant failure to win promotion would not derail plans to radically strengthen the squad.
‘ Promotion i s going t o be challenging and t here is a possibility it won’t happen this year,’ he admitted.
‘We hope that with a full resumption of attendance and energy from the fans that it might give the team a pick-up for the rest of the season. We chatted to the fans outside and we are really optimistic we will see full houses for the rest of the season to help the team kick on.
‘I hope they can still get across the line, but with improved cashflow we will get up the following season. I would expect a huge improvement in terms of quality on the field next season, whatever league we are playing in.
‘In terms of the manager, I have said before that we need more of a coach. We need someone with a different set of skills who is going to build, develop and bring youngsters through. We have to be very careful.’
King has already stated around £20million will be required in the short to medium term to get Rangers back on their feet.
He intends to provide half of what is needed. The remainder will come from other wealthy fans, including Douglas Park — one of the Three Bears consortium — who was added to the board in the wake of yesterday’s result.
Asked how much of the total sum would be used on the playing squad, King replied: ‘ I have included other development issues such as a whole scouting network and maintenance of buildings. If you are asking for a rough figure, I would have to say it has to be more than 50 per cent.’
In terms of the boardroom makeup, King insisted fan groups deserved to be rewarded for their role in the revolution with representation.
Llambias and Leach have gone but are still nominally chief executive and finance director. Asked if they would be sacked, King responded: “I wouldn’t think so”. Have they a future? “I wouldn’t think so”. Take from that what you will.’
Ashley still has the right to appoint two directors via the terms of the £10m loan facility the old board agreed with Sports Direct in January, although King stated the funds are in place to repay that debt if preferable.
Llambias and Leach began the process of trying to draw down the second £5m tranche this week.
‘If it is drawn down, I don’t think it would be a bad thing,’ said King. ‘It would nice to go in and find this £5m in the bank. I don’t think it is likely to happen now. For it to happen, it would have to happen through engaging with the board.’
Sandy Easdale abstained from using his voting block — now reduced to around 20 per cent — at the EGM. Yet that stance is unlikely to lead to an unexpected truce.
‘That would be challenging,’ said King when quizzed on whether he would work with the current chairman of the football board.
King has postponed his own instalment as PLC chairman until he has satisfied the f i nancial authorities and the SFA that he is a ‘fit and proper’ person.
The Castlemilk-born businessman remains adamant his 41 tax convictions in South Africa should not be a barrier to a return to the Ibrox boardroom. He will ‘formally engage’ with a new nominated advisor (Nomad) — to replace WH Ireland — on Monday.
‘Either I am fit and proper or I am not,’ said King. ‘I wouldn’t have started this process if I didn’t think I was fit and proper. The only concerns that were aired came from the other side, who felt the need to flag this.
‘It was a mechanism to deflect away from their own failings.
‘If I was a concern, then the Nomad would not have engaged. The fact they are working with us tells you all you need to know. Me sitting on the board is not critical, but I don’t think it will be an issue.’
In actual fact, we are taking club forward to the past