Normally at this time of year with Christmas and New Year being over the pantomime season is starting to wrap up.
The biggest pantomime this season is happening in Scotland – no it is not Cinderella that stars John Barrowman and the Krankies at the Scottish Exibihition Centre in Glasgow – it is happening at Ibrox Stadium, the home of Glasgow Rangers.
This pantomime is going to be a classic. You have the current board, led by chairman David Somers, chief executive Derek Llambias and the pantomime villains James and Sandy Easdale who were booed at the recent AGM.
With this taking place the day after manager Ally McCoist was put on gardening leave after he handed in his resignation, they were further chants of “Sack the Board” and “Out, Out, Out ”.
This pantomime has been since taken a turn when Goldilocks – South African businessman Dave King – and the three Bears – the consortium that is led by luxury bus tycoon, Douglas Park and his associates George Letham and George Taylor – turn up to purchase almost 30 per cent of Rangers shares.
Even though they have worked separately, both groups have similar aim of where they would like to see the club move forward. King was asked at the time why he moved “Because the board rejected my attempts to issue new shares to me and thereby get much-needed money into the club, which was my stated preference.”
That was in relation to a £16 million investment package that was rejected by the Rangers board in favour of a £2 million loan from Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, subsequently raised to £3 million.
Subsequently, Sandy Easdale had to loan the club £500,000 to pay a National Insurance bill to stop the club going into administration. The loan has since been repaid when rising star Lewis MacLeod was sold to Brentford.
The Glasgow giants are in dire straits financially again – nearly three years after a former owner Craig Whyte put the club into liquidation after the HMRC was after them over an unpaid tax bill.
Alastair Johnston -former Chairman of Rangers and director of US sports management company International Management Group – feels that the with King and the Three Bears on board that the administration is less likely. He said: “People ask what does it matter if they are ‘Rangers men’ or not.
“The difference is, there is a tendency to trust them more because Scots and people close to the club know one thing: Screw Rangers at your peril.
“On the other hand, guys such as Charles Green (former Chief Executive of Rangers and Sheffied United), Mike Ashley and everyone else who has had an axe to grind have viewed it as an opportunity to take whatever they could.”
The saviour for Rangers looked to have come from American banker and owner of NBA basketball side Phoenix Suns, Robert Sarver. Since before Christmas, the CEO of Western Alliance Bankhas been in negotiation with the board to buy a controlling interest in the club. After an initial £18 million offer was knocked back, Sarver’s made another offer that consists of £20 million and an emergency loan of £6 million.
This time, the board rejected Sarver’s revised offer by saying that a majority of the major shareholders would unlikely to get the required backing.
There was doubt from certain quarters as to the reasons why Sarver wants to get involved in Rangers. Johnston has asked about the motives of US banker, saying: “What I’m still struggling to fully understand, however, even despite his relationship with David Robertson – the former Rangers left back who is involved in coaching Sarvers children in the US – is why Rangers? Why now? Let’s be honest here, the club’s reputation has been mangled over the past four years. Rangers were once a proud institution, known for competing in Europe and winning 54 titles. Now it’s famous for having hooligans running riot in the boardroom.”
These allegations would be aimed at Ashley, who wants to increase his stake of more than ten per cent at Ibrox but is unable to do so by the SFA because of conflict of interest as a result of his ownership of English Premiership side, Newcastle United. To get around it, Ashley has appointed representatives onto the board that include chief executive, Derek Llambias.
So it looks like the pantomime season going to continue well into the New Year. What is the likelihood of a solution to be found? With the bid from Sarver still ongoing, the fans will trust Dave King,the Three Bears consortium and Johnston because they are seen as ‘Rangers Men’, rather than the Easdales – even though that they are Rangers supporters – and Ashley.
With Scots multi-millionaire businessman and Rangers supporter Jim McColl donating 10,000 of his share in Ibrox to fans group, Rangers First, it would mean that the fans will have more than a say on how the club is.
With dwindling attendances, the club should start listening to the fans on a Saturday afternoon when they start singing “We are the People!”