I felt the desire more than the need to respond to the comments within Keith Jackson’s (Senior Sports writer of the Daily Record) Twitter comment of 24th of April 2016 and subsequent article in Monday's newspaper (25th of April 2016).
Jackson began his fishing expedition on Sunday when he tweeted “After all rangers fans have suffered they deserve an honest chairman”.
After all rangers fans have suffered they deserve an honest chairman.— keith jackson (@tedermeatballs) April 23, 2016
Now Jackson has since proclaimed his comments were that of a sympathetic journalist who felt that Rangers fans after all they have been through deserve only the best. But I simply do not believe that. The comment implies that King, the Chairman of the company board, has been dishonest with the support.
In Monday's Daily Record Jackson then went onto to write “it's ironic that Rangers have a man with a magic hat in the dugout because this summer will reveal if the old smoke and mirrors culture of the boardroom has finally come to an end”. This is a comment made without consideration of the promises made to fans, the key being putting a quality product on the park, securing promotion, correct governance and restoring Rangers values. Does Jackson choose to write an article based on the fact that the board led by its chairman fulfilled all those promises? No, because a good news Rangers story does not sell well to the greater demographic of fans of other football clubs in the same way a negative one will. Now to be fair to Keith he does mention the good job that King and the board have done so far as “remarkably in a short space of time”, but this is a lift him on your shoulder, before you drop him comment.
Jackson then proceeds on in his article with the tedious “where is the war chest, Dave” mentality given King's previous bravado with regards to front-loading the business. However these comments were made prior to him or the rest of the board getting to look under the bonnet of the club. And King’s valuation of what it would take initially changed from £30m to nearer £50m after assessing the company's financials. Further, the South African based businessman always maintained that this was a joint venture with fellow fans and any investment would most likely be over a period of time. Though there's no doubt all have put in significant sums already.
For clarity, King is also not the owner of the club as the Scottish press keep inferring (clearly they struggle to contemplate how a PLC works compared to a Ltd. Company). Dave King has a major shareholding, but not even close to a majority holding. In fact he is no more an owner of the company or club than any other shareholder). This is a PLC. You simply do not gift PLC money.
Similarly, the board continue to reduce expenditure with the last account statement showing £2.2m in savings on the losses from this time last year. There are also historic issues with regards to the one-sided retail contract leaving a financial void to fill. Resolution 10 to dilute shareholding and to raise funds was blocked at the last AGM, perhaps mostly due to the “Ashley Bloc” shareholding.
While the board continue to work around these difficult issues wealthy fan investors have provided loans against the existing equity. Prior to paying off Ashley these were at around £14.7m before the board took the decision to take further friendly loans against the existing equity in the business to pay off the £5m MASH loan, which returned Rangers' trademarks to their rightful owner. Something which every fan I have met has supported over spending the same £5m on players. The company also continues to look for solutions to cut expenditure to live within its means to ensure prior mistakes are never repeated. Until Resolution 10 or the retail deal is either renegotiated or mutually terminated it leaves the board with the remaining equity to plug the gap.
Jackson also argues that if Warburton isn't backed he will take another job in England. I would say that is the same within any manager of a decent calibre with ambition; if you take a club as far as you can within its budget then managers tend to move on for a new challenge. But there is no evidence to support the continual story of “The board need to back Warburton or he will walk”.
Mark Warburton is smart man from a business background and he knew the challenges of the business and the football club prior to accepting the job. He has also said continuously the board have signed every target that he has asked them to so far and that he has had their support 100%. Sure, two targets of interest went elsewhere: Scott Allan for a propaganda wage to Celtic and Toumani Diagouraga a 28 year old whose eventual transfer value was above what both Warburton and the board wanted to spend.
Targets that were wanted? Yes.
Did the Club decide not to enter bidding wars or pay a player more than anyone else in the dressing room? Yes.
Did the Club show financial responsibility in dropping interest? Yes.
It also has to be noted when discussing budgets that Mark Warburton has spent less than £1.5m since coming in on a team which romped the Championship and have beaten Dundee, Kilmarnock and Celtic - with some key players unavailable for these games.
Following the Scottish Cup Semi final, Dave King said that he spoke with the manager after the game to say if we win the final and qualify for European competition we may need to 'reconsider the quality and extent of targets' - a conversation Mark Warburton has confirmed has taken place. To that end, Warburton has indicated originally 5-6 more players would come in this summer, but if they win the Scottish Cup and qualify for Europe it could be 7 or 8.
Thus there is little evidence that Mark Warburton is not getting the support he requires from the board. How many time does Mark Warburton have to say “it’s about value for money” before he is believed?
Fortunately, our fans appear to have a better understanding of the club's financial position and what the board and Mark Warburton and his team are trying to achieve than some sections of the media.
The truth is, the mischief-making ramblings of Scottish sports writers may end up a bigger incentive for Warburton to go back south than any other factor and that offers a better explanation for their motive than faux concern for Rangers supporters. Not to mention placating their football club printing partners who do have some genuine negative headlines to deal with. That's the real story here...
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