Rangers’ Board – Who do the Fans Want?

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There is no denying the general
lack of front-page headlines about Rangers in recent weeks has been something
of a welcome break. Almost conspicuous by their absence, the lack of political
stories revolving around either Paul Murray, Jim McColl and/or Frank Blin has
come as a great relief for those of us who enjoy the football on the park and
not the tug of war going on in the boardroom.
However it would be equally naive
for those of us with priorities on the turf to turn a blind eye to events off
it, as long-term they concern the club’s future, tabloid though the stories may
be.
To that end, this blog entry is
inviting readers to make up their own minds as to how they wish the drama to
unfold and conclude. The level of variables in this ‘masterpiece’ have reached
epidemic proportions, and to cover every eventuality would be as boring as it
would lengthy.
So let us try to sum up, vaguely
where we currently are at:
Right now the Ibrox boardroom has
6 directors: 2 executives in CEO Craig Mather and Finance Director Brian
Stockbridge, and 4 non-executives in Ian Hart, Bryan Smart and recently
promoted Easdale brothers James and Sandy.
It is no lie to say the majority
of fans are decidedly unhappy with the state of the current boardroom, with
many unimpressed by Mather’s performances and decidedly dubious about
Stockbridge’s given he is the finance director and was brought on board by
former CEO Charles Green. His former tenure at Zeus Capital is further ammo.
Most of the real ire, however, is
aimed at the Easdale brothers, James and Sandy. With Sandy’s conviction for VAT fraud in 1997 for
which he received 27 months, many fans quite simply consider the brothers to be
toxic, despite only one of them being convicted and both now currently
incredibly successful and wealthy businessmen. There is no condoning a breaking
of the law, but it was 16 years ago and the man paid for his crime in jail.
Nowadays he is a ‘model citizen’ who does not need to resort to VAT scams to
make millions. He and his brothers’ bus empire alone employs almost 400 people
with 165 buses running in the west of Scotland. Their other ventures
employ at least another 600.
And truth is with the brothers’
stakeholding now at around a quarter of the entire club they are clearly here
to stay. James being a director on the PLC, Sandy being on the Rangers Football Club Ltd.
So, many fans look to this and
feel disgruntled. As if their club has been ‘taken away’. Problem is who gave
it to us in the first place? Sir David Murray? He owned Rangers. It was only because the club was successful it felt
like ‘ours’ but it never was.
Rangers fans support the club,
they do not own it. And the sooner we realise that we are the ‘paying customer’
and not the owner, the better. Murray
already tried the share issue, offering us the club. He only managed to get
around £1M from the fans and had to underwrite £50M himself. So we have had a
chance to own this club ourselves, and we have not taken it.
So we look to shining knights to
‘save’ us, albeit we do not need ‘saving’ (more of that later).
And here is the second option;
Paul Murray and the other so-called ‘Blue Knights’ who have done nothing but
bluster for the past 5 years.
Can any Rangers fan honestly say
they have faith in any of these men – the problem with all of them is statement
after statement and not a single tangible plan. Indeed, Jim McColl, to name
just one, has quite categorically distanced himself from the endeavours of Murray, and I cannot say
I blame him. He has no personal interest in investing in Rangers, and Murray does not either. Murray in particularly
appears to have nothing but ego and a pretention he can do a better job than
Stockbridge or Mather.
The requisition was a categorical
insult to all supporters, by implying any old supporter can basically just take
this club without investing in it or earning that right. Murray’s own shares are a mystery – whether
indeed he even has a single one.
Furthermore, Frank Blin, after
briefly being named as a potential candidate for directorship, has himself
departed amidst increasing acrimony.
As for that ‘saving’ matter? The
reason Rangers are leaking cash is not down to crooked internal deals, nor
poorly-run financial policy. It is down to the very glaring fact this club’s
income has been crippled thanks to a loss of CL cash, the reduction in season
ticket prices, next-to-no TV cash
thanks to the deal negotiated by the (now) SPFL (negotiated in summer 2012 and
due expire in 2017), and a reduced global operation. There are also the reduced
attendances too, albeit that has not been quite as dramatic as it might have
been. Quite simply Rangers are down millions.
It does not matter if Bill Gates
is the CEO of Rangers, there is simply less money coming in. The IPO helped
that for a while, but it has been spent now. The club is also a much more toxic
business than it was, so finding investment is much harder than it was when Rangers
were against Stuttgart
rather than Stranraer.
I challenge any business mind out
there to do a better job at the hot seat among the same trying circumstances
the current board are.
Am I saying the current regime is
brilliant? No. But it is not half as malevolent or useless as many imply.
And I will finish this rant off
with the following:
If Rangers normally made, for
argument’s sake, £50,000 a month average (TV cash, season tickets, global
merchandising, CL cash), which allowed the club to break even or even profit,
how do the greatest business minds accommodate that sum reducing to £15,000?
Are the directors expected to magic all this out of thin air to patch up the
financial bleeding?
Unless Paul Murray has millions
to bring into Rangers, he is no more useful than anyone else at the club.
And that, essentially, is the
pickle this club is in.
Still, at least we are winning!

6 COMMENTS

  1. I'm not backing Murray/McColl unreservedly by any stretch, but some of the things in this article are beyond incredible.

    For a Rangers fan to describe themselves as merely a "paying customer" is something I've never heard before. To say that we only feel part of the club because of it's success is blatantly nonsense. There are plenty of clubs currently more successful than mine, but I'll never support another team. If Rangers were to cease to exist, I wouldn't start supporting another team, that type of cultural shock would take generations to recover from.

    Football clubs have an emotional monopoly over their supporters and the directors have a responsibility to act in the long term best interest of the clubs because of that. It's us that are the people, not the guys in the board room.

    You criticise those who show concern for how the club is being run, yet openly admit that we are bleeding red ink. It may well be hard to return to profitability with reduced turnover, but what is the alternative. Should we stand by and let the current board sleepwalk into insolvency, simply because it might be hard to try something else.

    We all accept that at some point Rangers will need refinancing. The important question now is; how do we achieve that? Are the current board capable of selling Rangers to the markets?

    Bill Gates might not be able to turn water into wine, but his track record makes him an easy guy to get behind financially. As in investor who would you back, Gates or Mather? It's a no brainer.

    I would agree that Paul Murray is a divisive figure in this but I'm certainly not aware of McColl distancing himself from him in this latest power squabble. Can you provide any quotes to back up this claim?

    McColl is no Bill Gates, but reallistically he and perhaps Dave King are the closest thing we have. Drive them away at your peril.

  2. we are leaking cash, yes but not so much if stockbridge and mather stop taking outrageous wages and bonuses for the little theyve done, and i guess tier is a few more.

  3. I think the above article is pretty simplistic to be honest ? its fine if you think Rangers are only a football club ? …………..they are an awful lot more than that to most of us , so the basic idea behind the article is flawed IMO .

  4. The first comment above covers most of it for me. I would only add that I believe the clubs very survival should have been financially secure with the IPO and yearly income. To hear we need further investment just to run the club makes me believe the current board don't know how to run the club. I think the deal to save the club was all done last minute and there was no rigid financial plan in place. Green himself said his original plan was to be at Ibrox for year before I presume selling his shares. The directors and management teams wages make it look like they just kept a lot of the costs at a similiar level as if using the old books for guidance. I'm sure it can't be true that the board would do this but they can't have had much of a long term plan if it turns out we do need further investment. That for me is not good financial management after all we raised in investment and income. If its true then I couldn't back the current board any longer. The clubs survival should not be in jeopardy after all that's been raised, surely?

  5. As a life long supporter, I am utterly embarrassed by this long running fiasco at my club, really fed up with the whole thing, they are like Vultures fighting over the dead carcass. I t really needs to stop.

Comments are closed.