Everything Has Changed

The recent revelations of a potential winding up order being served on Rangers Newco certainly does have a sense of “deja vu all over again” for the average reader of this blog.

It reminds me of an episode of the excellent Western series Alias Smith & Jones. The episode was called The Posse That Wouldn’t Quit. In the story, the eponymous anti-heroes were being tracked by a particularly dogged group of law-men whom they just couldn’t shake off – and they spent the entire episode trying to do just that. In a famous quote, Thaddeus Jones, worn out from running, says to Joshua Smith, “We’ve got to get out of this business!”

The SFM has been trying since its inception to widen the scope and remit of the discussion and debate on the blog. Unsuccessfully. Like the posse that wouldn’t quit, Rangers are refusing to go away as a story. With the latest revelations, I confided in my fellow mods that perhaps we too should get out of this business. I suspect that, even if we did, this story would doggedly trail our paths until it wears us all down.

The fact that the latest episode of the Rangers saga has sparked off debate on this blog may even confirm the notion subscribed to by Rangers fans that TSFM is obsessed with their club. However even they must agree that the situation with regard to Rangers would be of interest to anyone with a stake in Scottish Football; and that they themselves must be concerned by the pattern of events which started over a decade ago and saw the old club fall into decline on a trajectory which ended in liquidation.

But let me enter into a wee discussion which doesn’t merely trot out the notion of damage done to others or sins against the greater good, but which enters the realm of the damage done to one of the great institutions of world sport, Rangers themselves.

David Murray was regarded by Rangers fans as a hero. His bluster, hubris and (as some see it) arrogant contempt for his competitors afforded him a status as a champion of the cause as long as it was underpinned by on-field success.

The huge pot of goodwill he possessed was filled and topped-up by a dripping tap of GIRUY-ness for many years beyond the loss of total ascendency that his spending (in pursuit of European success) had achieved, and only began to bottom out around the time the club was sold to Craig Whyte.  In retrospect, it can be seen that the damage that was done to the club’s reputation by the Murray ethos (not so much a Rangers ethos as a Thatcherite one) and reckless financial practice is now well known.

Notwithstanding the massive blemish on its character due to its employment policies, the (pre-Murray) Rangers ethos portrayed a particularly Scottish, perhaps even Presbyterian stoicism. It was that of a conservative, establishment orientated, God-fearing and law-abiding institution that played by the rules. It was of a club that would pay its dues, applied thrift and honesty in its business dealings, and was first to congratulate rivals on successes (witness the quiet dignity of John Lawrence at the foot of the aircraft steps with an outstretched hand to Bob Kelly when Celtic returned from Lisbon).

If Murray had dug a hole for that Rangers, Craig Whyte set himself up to fill it in. No neo-bourgeois shirking of responsibilities and duty to the public for him; his signature was more pre-war ghetto, hiding behind the couch until the rent man moved along to the next door. Whyte just didn’t pay any bills and with-held money that was due to be passed along to the treasury to fund the ever more diminished public purse. Where Murray’s Rangers had been regarded by the establishment and others as merely distasteful, Whyte’s was now regarded as a circus act, and almost every day of his tenure brought more bizarre and ridiculous news which had Rangers fans cringing, the rest laughing up their sleeve, and Bill Struth birling in his grave.

The pattern was now developing in plain sight. Murray promised Rangers fans he would only sell to someone who could take the club on, but he sold it – for a pound – to a guy whose reputation did not survive the most cursory of inspection. Whyte protested that season tickets had not been sold in advance, that he used his own money to buy the club. Both complete fabrications. Yet until the very end of Whyte’s time with the club, he, like Murray still, was regarded as hero by a fan-base which badly wanted to believe that the approaching car-crash could be avoided.

Enter Charles Green. Having been bitten twice already, the fans’ first instincts were to be suspicious of his motives. Yet in one of history’s greatest ironic turnarounds, he saw off the challenge of real Rangers-minded folk (like John Brown and Paul Murray) and their warnings, and by appealing to what many regard as the baser instincts of the fan-base became the third hero to emerge in the boardroom in as many years. The irony of course is that Green himself shouldn’t really pass any kind of Rangers sniff-test; personal, sporting, business or cultural; and yet there he is the spokesman for 140 years of the aspirations of a quarter of the country’s fans.

To be fair though, what else could Rangers fans do? Green had managed (and shame on the administration process and football authorities for this) to pick up the assets of the club for less (nett) than Craig Whyte and still maintained a presence in the major leagues.

If they hadn’t backed him only the certainty of doom lay before them. It was Green’s way or the highway in other words – and speaking of words, his sounded mighty fine. But do the real Rangers minded people really buy into it all?

First consider McCoist. I do not challenge his credentials as a Rangers minded man, and his compelling need to be an effective if often ineloquent spokesman for the fans. However, according to James Traynor (who was then acting as an unofficial PR advisor to the Rangers manager), McCoist was ready to walk in July (no pun intended) because he did not trust Green. The story was deliberately leaked, to undermine Green, by both Traynor and McCoist. McCoist also refused for a long period of time to endorse the uptake of season books by Rangers fans, even went as far as to say he couldn’t recommend it.

So what changed? Was it a Damascene conversion to the ways of Green, or was it the 250,000 shares in the new venture that he acquired. Nothing improper or unethical – but is it idealism? Is it fighting for the cause?

Now think Traynor. I realise that can be unpleasant, but bear with me.

Firstly, when he wrote that story on McCoist’s resignation, (and later backed it up on radio claiming he had spoken to Ally before printing the story), he was helping McCoist to twist Green’s arm a little. Now, and I’m guessing that Charles didn’t take this view when he saw the story in question, Green thinks that Traynor is a “media visionary”?

Traynor also very publicly, in a Daily Record leader, took the “New Club line” and was simultaneously contemptuous of Green.

What happened to change both their minds about each other? Could it have been (for Green) the PR success of having JT on board and close enough to control, and (for Traynor) an escape route for a man who had lost the battle with own internal social media demons?

Or, given both McCoist’s and Traynor’s past allegiance to David Murray, is it something else altogether?

Whatever it is, both Traynor and McCoist have started to sing from a totally different hymn sheet to Charles Green since the winding up order story became public. McCoist’s expert étude in equivocation at last Friday’s press conference would have had the Porter in Macbeth slamming down the portcullis (now there’s an irony). He carefully distanced himself from his chairman and ensured that his hands are clean. Traynor has been telling one story, “we have an agreement on the bill”, and Green another, “we are not paying it”.

And what of Walter Smith? At first, very anti-Charles Green, he even talked about Green’s “new club”. Then a period of silence followed by his being co-opted to the board and a “same club” statement. Now in the face of the damaging WUP story, more silence. Hardly a stamp of approval on Green’s credentials is it?

Rangers fans would be right to be suspicious of any non-Rangers people extrapolating from this story to their own version of Armageddon, but shouldn’t they also reserve some of that scepticism for Green and Traynor (neither are Rangers men, and both with only a financial interest in the club) when they say “all is well” whilst the real Rangers man (McCoist) is only willing to say “as far as I have been told everything is well”

As a Celtic fan, it may be a fair charge to say that I don’t have Rangers best interests at heart, but I do not wish for their extinction, nor do I believe that one should ignore a quarter of the potential audience for our national game. Never thought I’d hear myself say this, but apart from one (admittedly mightily significant) character defect, I can look at the Rangers of Struth and Simon, Gillick and Morton, Henderson and Baxter, and Waddell and Lawrence (and God help me even Jock Wallace) with fondness and a degree of nostalgia.

I suspect most Rangers fans are deeply unhappy about how profoundly their club has changed. To be fair, my own club no longer enchants me in the manner of old. As sport has undergone globalisation, everything has changed. Our relationship to our clubs has altered, the business models have shifted, and the aspirations of clubs is different from that of a generation ago. It has turned most football clubs into different propositions from the institutions people of my generation grew up supporting, but Rangers are virtually unrecognisable.

The challenge right now for Rangers fans is this. How much more damage will be done to the club’s legacy before this saga comes to an end?

And by then will it be too late to do anything about it?

Most people on this blog know my views about the name of Green’s club. I really don’t give a damn because for me it is not important. I do know, like Craig Whyte said, that in the fullness of time there will be a team called Rangers, playing football in a blue strip at Ibrox, and in the top division in the country.

I understand that this may be controversial to many of our contributors, but I hope that this incarnation of Rangers is closer to that of Lawrence and Simon than to Murray and Souness.

Trisidium

Trisidium

Trisidium is a Dunblane businessman with a keen interest in Scottish Football. He is a Celtic fan, although the demands of modern-day parenting have seen him less at games and more as a taxi service for his kids.

4,442 Comments
  1. bad capt madman


    Bunion says,
    Sounds like another useful chant for fans to follow on from the Ogilvie Out! one. Who’s up for it?

    View Comment
  2. ianagain

    ianagain


    I think that from looking around the websites of fan forums that this reconstruction effort will fail. Mostly because everyone is cheesed off with the no1 placing retaining the money and the voting structure has not changed due to Aberdeen blocking it.

    View Comment
  3. scapaflow14

    scapaflow14


    We are in a holding pattern at the moment. It is clear that Group took in sufficient funds to keep Rangers in business for the time being. Every time somene as said what about the share price, I’ve had a look, the price is stable, the volume of shares being traded is in relation to the number of shares, is miniscule., so really it gives us no meaningful information at all.

    The WUO was hilarious, but, it is still a sideshow. Both Rangers and Celtic, barring an asteroid hit, have won their respective leagues, they just don’t yet know which league they will be playing in. It will soon be SB renewal time, which poses an issue for all the clubs, because I would not bet the farm on re-construction being sorted anytime soon. Why? because nobody is actualIy leading on this. No one has come out and said we must do A B and C, here are the reasons why, and these are the risks if we don’t. In short no one is owning and driving the change, the result being that if change does happen, it will be ill thought out, poorly implemented, and very quickly found to deliver none of its goals.

    In fact, I think I’ll see what odds I can get on no change happening at all

    View Comment
  4. ianagain

    ianagain


    Scapa

    Spot on its all lets do something. Why? Dont know. We (~DOncaster) say so. Leanne Dempster convinced the well society guys that it was a good deal. Now it seems the SPL have morphed the good deal into something very different. Leanne I think may have been duped.

    View Comment
  5. whullie


    dentarthurdent42 says:
    Friday, March 8, 2013 at 20:47

    Personally I think any changes of the structure should be made with one clear season. i.e. it is agreed in advance and does not come into force until the season after the upcoming one. So 2014/15 would be the new structure. I think that is fair to everyone and gives all teams a chance to plan.
    —————————————–
    Did Ally McCoist not argue exactly that point?

    Also…….

    View Comment
  6. ianagain

    ianagain


    Not just Mcoist but many others its totally undoable. Bin it to be honest. We have 2 previous examples from other leagues in Europe showing why it does no good but Doncaster persists. Bin it now. The leagues tight exciting (if your not a Celtic fan). So we all go bust a gut to change it? Why?

    View Comment
  7. ianagain

    ianagain


    mmm I think I know

    View Comment
  8. nowoldandgrumpy


    http://alturl.com/63uai

    No leg up for Sevco

    View Comment
  9. olemungobhoy


    scapaflow14 says:

    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 00:59

    Rat

    We are in a holding pattern at the moment. It is clear that Group took in sufficient funds to keep Rangers in business for the time being.
    scapaflow14 says:

    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 00:59
    ————————————————————————————————————————-
    Oh … are we really that clear ? Quote below from Deloittes who prepared the recent financial statement

    “A review of interim financial information consists of making inquiries, primarily of persons responsible for financial and accounting matters, and applying analytical and other review procedures. A review is substantially less in scope than an audit conducted in accordance with International Standards on Auditing (UK and Ireland) and consequently does not enable us to obtain assurance that we would become aware of all significant matters that might be identified in an audit. Accordingly, we do not express an audit opinion.”
    —————————————————————————————————————————–

    “………so Mr Green , how much cash do you have in the bank ………………?
    ………..oh loadsa but you’ll have to ask our Financial Director about that ”

    ……………and eh Mr Green what about this eh Negative Goodwill thing ?”………..
    ooh it’s only £20 million – an insignificant sum”

    ……….and this revaluation of Ibrox and Murray Park that’s in the books ?

    ……….oh I’m just a plain speakin Yorshireman ..see or Financial Man for that sort of stuff … he’s called Patsy

    ………..So when can we expext to see a properly ,legitimate audited set of accounts from your oranisations Mr Green ?”

    ………..Rifght lad ..that’s enough …drink up and don’t forget we know where you live . SECURITY !!!

    View Comment
  10. neepheid


    olemungobhoy says:
    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 01:59
    4 1 Rate This
    scapaflow14 says:

    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 00:59

    Rat

    We are in a holding pattern at the moment. It is clear that Group took in sufficient funds to keep Rangers in business for the time being.
    scapaflow14 says:

    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 00:59
    ————————————————————————————————————————-
    Oh … are we really that clear ? Quote below from Deloittes who prepared the recent financial statement

    “A review of interim financial information consists of making inquiries, primarily of persons responsible for financial and accounting matters, and applying analytical and other review procedures. A review is substantially less in scope than an audit conducted in accordance with International Standards on Auditing
    ========================================================
    Deloittes haven’t conducted an audit, but I can guarantee that they will have seen the bank statements before putting their name to any sort of financial statement. In any case, the RIFC directors aren’t going to risk jail time by telling the AIM market blatant and easily disproven lies about how much money is in the bank. That really would be stupid.

    I posted some figures on cash flow last week- it looks like RIFC have enough cash to get through to the end of next season, so long as they don’t have any exceptional expenditure and can keep the same level of support and season ticket sales. But by May/June 2014 at the latest they will need to raise more money just to keep going, plus a load more for the famous “war chest”.

    It will be interesting to see whether the institutions come up with the money, or if it’s back to the peepil for cash. I’m still gobsmacked that £17m of real money was put in by institutions last time round, so no more predictions from me on that front.

    View Comment
  11. ecobhoy


    scapaflow14 says:
    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 00:59

    We are in a holding pattern at the moment. It is clear that Group took in sufficient funds to keep Rangers in business for the time being. Every time someone as said what about the share price, I’ve had a look, the price is stable, the volume of shares being traded is in relation to the number of shares, is miniscule., so really it gives us no meaningful information at all.
    ==================================================================

    I don’t agree with your analysis of the share price although I am happy to concede that it is early days and trading had been generally light. However there are simply understood reasons for the light volume of shares being traded in relation to overall numbers. 1) Football fans don’t tend to trade their club shares for obvious reasons. 2) The institutional investors are locked-in and can’t trade for 6 months. 3) Directors and key employees are locked-in and can’t trade for 12 months. 4) I think it highly likely that the original investors who were given 1p shares are also locked-in although time periods might vary depending on how much ‘muscle’ they had when negotiating with Green.

    What is also obvious is that the overwhelming volume of share trades have been sales and not purchases although in the main there aren’t big individual share numbers involved.

    The Rangers International shares traded on Flotation Day back in December 20 at 76p and rose fairly quickly to their peak of 94p on January 7. Since then they have slid downwards to a plateau over the last week at around 78p. Interestingly the 6 month result didn’t firm the price. In the short term you always have to be aware that ramping and de-ramping activities might be underway but I have ignored this for the moment.

    But then we had a major development on 6 March I believe, announced yesterday, when two lots of 400,000 shares each were sold within a few minutes of each other. The really interesting question is who was the seller/sellers. Is it one seller or were the 800,000 shares put together from a number of sellers who are not subject to lock-in.

    In the short history of Rangers International share trading 2 virtual simultaneous trades of almost one million shares is very significant. The problem is we don’t know what the significance actually means because we don’t know who sold the shares. But, unless this is a one-off, something could well be stirring.

    As to a ‘holding pattern’ I would say that a ‘burn-rate’ of £1 million per month is more like a glide to a crash landing myself. And the comment that Rangers International ‘raised enough funds to keep Rangers in business for the time being’ is I would think hopeful.

    It also totally ignores the game plan outlined in the AIM Prospectus about the various capital improvements that were mooted in and around Ibrox. Increased playing expenditure was mentioned in the Prospectus with no actual figures but more recently we have had Green state Ally on a bad day would have a £10 million warchest and on a good day would have double that.

    And with the amount of players now being linked to Rangers I wonder if even £20 million will be enough 🙂 I see plenty of people going on about the wages cap of 30/33% but my memory is that the institutional investors were told the First Team cap was going to be 26%. Even to a non-accountant this doesn’t appear to add up.

    I really wonder how long a piece of string the ‘time being’ actually is and how will institutional and other investors feel if the £22.2 million raised by the flotation is swallowed-up in operating expenses. Would they support another trip to market for a further flotation which would then dilute the value of their existing shares?

    Who knows and until we get straight-talking answers and actual fully audited accounts I doubt if more than two people actually know the whole truth. In the meantime it will continue to fill websites with conjecture and I note that even some Rangers fans on their own sites are beginning to waken up to some of the anomalies which are emerging,

    View Comment
  12. easyJambo


    ecobhoy says: Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 09:19
    ======================
    The lock-in only really applies to the directors and key employees and covers 9.25M shares. (Green 5M, Amhad 2.2M, Hart 0.5M and McCoist 1M make up the bulk of those)

    The lock-in for the institutional investors (16.4M shares) isn’t watertight. Their commitment for six months is only that an “orderly market” is maintained.

    Cenkos have entered into orderly market agreements dated 7 December 2012 with certain of the Shareholders holding upon Admission, 16,375,000 Ordinary Shares (representing 22.60 per cent. of the Enlarged Share Capital), which provide that a shareholder shall for a period of 6 months following Admission only dispose of an interest in Ordinary Shares following consultation with the Company’s broker and in such manner as the broker may reasonably require with a view to maintaining an orderly market in the Ordinary Shares.

    My reading of the above extract from the Prospectus is that the institutional investors can dispose of their shares at any point with the agreement of Cenkos.

    View Comment
  13. spanishcelt


    neepheid says:
    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 08:44

    It will be interesting to see whether the institutions come up with the money, or if it’s back to the peepil for cash.
    ……………………………………………………………………………
    OR, some Rangers friendly managers down south pay crazy money for one or two of “the worst Rangers team ever”
    They done it before and got away with it so why not?

    View Comment
  14. spanishcelt


    ecobhoy says:
    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 09:19

    But then we had a major development on 6 March I believe, announced yesterday, when two lots of 400,000 shares each were sold within a few minutes of each other. The really interesting question is who was the seller/sellers. Is it one seller or were the 800,000 shares put together from a number of sellers who are not subject to lock-in.
    …………………………………………………………………………….
    Can you confirm these sales actually took place, I have looked at all the charts and dont see this anywhere.

    View Comment
  15. easyJambo


    spanishcelt says: Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 10:25

    They were probably initiated on 6th March but were only completed and went through on 8th March

    http://www.lse.co.uk/ShareTrades.asp?shareprice=RFC&share=rangers_int

    6-Mar-13 16:15:47 78.00 400,000 Sell* 78.00 82.00 312.00k O
    6-Mar-13 16:17:28 79.00 400,000 Sell* 78.00 82.00 316.00k O

    View Comment
  16. Big Pink


    New post up

    View Comment
  17. ecobhoy


    easyJambo says:
    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 09:54

    The lock-in for the institutional investors (16.4M shares) isn’t watertight. Their commitment for six months is only that an “orderly market” is maintained.
    ================================================================

    You are probably totally correct in what you say but in an LNS ‘moment’ I have never fully accepted that the wording actually means what it appears to mean 🙂 I am also not sure whether the wording in the Prospectus applies to all institutional investors or only some. It appears to be all but I see possible wiggle room in interpretation.

    And I don’t know if there is one set ‘Orderly Market Agreement’ or whether these are individually tailored but it’s obvious that if one of the larger institutional investors threw in the towel and decided to get out and this became public knowledge beyond any ‘magic circle’ then share prices would be likely to slump fairly dramatically to possibly 40-50p.

    But the Institutional Investors would have paid much more than that projected price so there is a strong self-preservation instinct at work between them not to sell and end-up with a loss unless they form very negative views about the medium to longer term prospects as they could all end-up taking a bath. Cenkos of course would also be exerting strong pressure to stop any major selling and they will have all sorts of other financial ties which provide levers – none of which are illegal I should point out.

    So I just have a feeling that the 800,000 didn’t come from the Institutional Investors and my hunch is still one of the original 1p investors. If so it doesn’t necessarily indicate that they view Rangers International as a poor investment bet but just that they have achieved their personal investment strategy and are taking a handsome profit at a time which suits them.

    View Comment

Leave a Reply

SSL Certificates