WILL THE HOLY GRAIL OF A RANGERS SHARE FLOTATION TURN INTO A GREEN PRUNE? by Ecojon

With Charlie Green hot to trot on a Rangers share flotation, it’s a good time to look at Friday’s Manchester United flotation and to see whether any parallels can be drawn with the Ibrox situation.

Both have operated under the ‘Prune Juice Economy’ as described by Lord Sugar. He explained that you shovel the money in at one end and it comes sizzling straight-out the other end as never-ending record payments are made to players and their agents to quell the spectre of financial collapse which awaits relegation should on-pitch performance falter.

You might instinctively think it’s an unfair comparison with Manchester United situated near the pinnacle of UK Football with a 660 million global fan base and Rangers sitting as low as it gets in the SFL. But I think there are possibly lessons to be learnt.

Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) opposed the flotation and on Friday called for: “A worldwide boycott of Manchester United sponsors’ products, with support across the UK, Europe, Asia and the US.

The Supporters Trust is calling for boycott of the Club’s sponsors

“The boycott strategy is intended to send a loud and clear message to the Glazer family and club sponsors that, without the support and purchasing power of the fans, the global strength of the Manchester United brand doesn’t actually exist.”

Sponsors include: Aon, DHL, Hublot, Smirnoff and Nike with General Motors Chevrolet recently completing a £422million shirt deal for the 2014-15 season.

In the pre-internet social-networking universe I doubt if the Sponsors would have even heard about the boycott let alone given it a moment’s thought. But as we have recently seen in Scotland, football supporters can mobilise, campaign and actually exert real influence over clubs, associations and league structures.

I have no doubt that their ‘Sporting Integrity’ clarion call propelled Rangers into the depths despite desperate SFA and SPL attempts to prevent it. In turn, Rangers fans are plotting revenge on the vast majority of SPL clubs when the Great Day dawns that they can desert their current SFL ‘friends’ without a backward glance.

They intend to boycott away-games with SPL clubs which voted against them to starve them of revenue just as a portion of the Rangers support are currently trying to starve their latest ‘Saviour’ Charles Green out of Ibrox by calling on fans not to buy season tickets. Interestingly there is also an effort underway to cancel Sky subscriptions as a punishment for various perceived offences. No doubt Bears will have awarded themselves an exemption for pub viewing of games at home and away.

However, back to Manchester United. Advisors originally recommended a $16-$20 price launch but this was cut to $14 (£9) on Friday, valuing Manchester United at £1.5 billion. With 10% of the club (16.6 million shares) up for grabs trading was slow on the New York Stock Exchange and one trader attributed early gains to small retail investors buying a token share. He added: “Clearly, investors who are actually looking for a return as well as a shareholder voting right are steering clear.” By close of play the share price had fallen back to its starting price of $14 and its performance over the next few weeks will be the deciding factor whether more shares are sold.

Malcolm Glazer remained calm as news of the share issue’s success came through

Voting rights were a major reasons behind the MUST boycott because a successful New York floatation would result in investors owning 42% of the available shares but which only carried 1.3% of the voting rights. This comes from a two-class voting structure with the family retaining almost total control through B shares with 10 times the voting power of those sold publicly which also have no dividend payable.

There was also anger over original promises from the Glazer family owners that all the money raised from the share sale would go to reducing Manchester United debt which soared to £423 million after they bought the club for £800 million in 2005 with mainly borrowed money. It now appears that the flotation may raise £150 million with half going to reduce club debt and the other £75 million to the owners.

Manchester United is undoubtedly creaking financially, despite increased sponsorship income but with season ticket prices beyond the reach of ordinary fans and £500 million hoovered out of the club since 2005 to service debt interest as well as administrative costs and fees paid to the Glazer family. A run of poor yearly results in Europe could potentially create financial problems for the club.

Many Manchester United fans detest the Glazers for the sin of wanting to make money out of the Club

I pointed out in an earlier post that only Celtic and Arsenal still have shares quoted on the Stock Exchange and if Charles Green takes Rangers to an AIM Flotation that would make three clubs although most of the Arsenal shares are held by a few wealthy individuals so aren’t really publicly traded.  If you have the time or interest a more detailed explanation of the flight of of over 20 UK football clubs from raising capital through share sales can be found here.

In a nutshell, share flotations are no longer the flavour of the month and, as described above by Lord Sugar, in his not so sweet analogy, football is ruled by the ‘prune juice economy’.

Lord Sugar colourfully compared the football economy to this…

Despite the billions ploughed into English Football the shareholders over 20 years got literally no dividends and share prices slumped for a variety of reasons. A football club investment fund launched in 2007 effectively ‘died’ five years later with initial investors having lost over 40% of their cash and that’s without taking inflation into account.

Geoff Walters, of the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre, part of the University of London, recently said: Being on the stock market is fundamentally incompatible with being a football club.

So what’s in it for Rangers supporters investing in their club’s new share offer? Well fans always have a hope for control of the club and also making money through dividend payments on the shares as well as an increase of value in the actual shares if the team performs well in the inextricably linked playing side and the financial one.

Previous experience tends to suggest that the control issue is a non-starter as major investors have an obvious financial interest in exercising control over their investment. A club share offer could even see 90% of shares going to supporters and they still wouldn’t have any control over directors because their shares are either non-voting or have restricted rights.

They are unlikely to pay any dividend and it could be argued in a debt-free Rangers scenario that the shares would increase in value if a successful flotation is achieved.  I wouldn’t disagree with that although I think it will be a huge ‘ASK’ for a variety of reasons. But the ‘emotional’ factor comes into play with football supporters because they didn’t buy the shares for profit but because they love their club.

So the share value might soar but the support won’t sell and then as we should all remember that what goes up usually comes back down.  There are a large number of reasons both internal and external to Rangers that could affect the club’s share price.  And there are also unresolved issues about the original major investors who apparently have a deal whereby they can double their original shareholding at an advantageous price.  I have yet to see whether their shares will have voting rights and dividend payments but I would expect they will have.

Those in charge of any company can, by following procedures, issue unlimited amounts of shares and also make loans to other companies. That is why trust is so important and also IMHO ‘control’ through shares with voting rights.  I would never buy a share that didn’t have voting rights and and quite simply anyone that does is a MUG.

Michael Jarman, chief equity strategist at H2O Markets, an ex-professional footballer and Man U. fan, said of Friday’s offer: “Investors are not idiots and there is simply no value in the company. The Glazers want to have their cake and eat it – the share structure shows they want to retain complete and utter control” and added that investors are better off buying shares in Tesco.

 

Posted by Ecojon

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37 Comments

Filed under Charles Green, Guest Posts, Manchester United, Rangers

37 responses to “WILL THE HOLY GRAIL OF A RANGERS SHARE FLOTATION TURN INTO A GREEN PRUNE? by Ecojon

  1. mick

    great post ecojon but can rangers fans come up with them money the rfff only raised 500,000 were in a on going resession you no what wifes are like theres no holiday were buying shares in the rangers ,also people are having to reajust there wants and needs the ranger fan wants the shares but the wife needs a holiday ,all classes are cutting back murrays share issue did not get over the 1.5mil mark and that was in the boom time well just have to wait and see

    • ecojon

      @mick

      Just for you :)

      Michael Jarman, chief equity strategist at H2O Markets, an ex-professional footballer and a Man U. fan himself, conceded that, “debt free, Manchester United is a good business”.

      But Mr Jarman sees no such value at Old Trafford given its current debt position. In fact, he argues the club is massively overvalued and argues investors are better off buying shares in Tesco.

      • Mick

        Super market shares are good business ,maybe manutd might soon do a switcheredo phenoix like rfc nothing is impossible

      • mick

        a was highlighting sevco to tesco the other day some1 said mick a thought you would want asda its green back drop like yourself a a said am not bitter wanting all glasgow green if its tesco the orcs cant boycott it as its there colours and would make them more comfortable lol :-)

      • ecojon

        @mick

        You’re all heart mick :)

        Still it is the Dear Green Place right enough and that’s what the Gers Fans will be chanting when the shirt prices rise – still the profit is all going to the football club so that’s great. Pity it’s Newcastle :)

      • mick

        @ecojon a was looking at the newcastle fans site there calling div3 sev a feeder club and think mike should be spending the money at there club lol

  2. Glazert Tim

    Three billionaires my erse.

    Charlie probably put 30k of the RFFF on lucky dips for the Euro Lottery tonight. Which would realise a significantly better return than investing in Govan Disney. Disney have an SFL place, Disney have remorse and Disney have a leg to stand on for all or any ongoing enquiries.

    Talking of legs, leglessly drunk and then Leggo. If I could have a pint of what he is on I would be barking at the moon covered in Angel Delight head first through the railings at the GRI by now.

    The dipsomaniac, incontinent, bewildered Fred Elliot lookalike is clearly a bawhair from entering the portals of the Parkhead Hospital. How ironic it would be if he ended up in Gladgow’s finest mental health establishment bearing the name of the ground of his nemesis.

    For the sake of social mishchieviousness, based on his uncanny resemblance to the Coronation Street butcher Fred Elliot, I propose we all bombard his site with comments asking “Ah say ah said ah say Leggo, I’ll have a pound of mince, six square slice, six black pudding and a mutton pie for my dog Ally!”

    Infantile yes, lowering ourselves to his level maybe but ultimately worth a batter till he blocks us.

    • ecojon

      @Glazert Tim

      Interestingly we can compare the Real Disney with Man U. But how do the figures stack-up with Glasgow Disney. Or should that be ‘Disnae’?

      The Glazers original aggressive valuation for the New York shares was $18-$20 a share valuing the entire club at around $3bn which is around 26 times the club’s annual earnings. Analysts pointed out that an established media company such as Disney is presently valued at just 10 times earnings.

    • Mick

      @glazertim Well said there all a sick joke Legos some state

  3. Michael

    Raising funds through equity is an expensive route at the best of times. To do it now with record low interest rates is mental. Unless, of course, no-one will lend to you.

    • ecojon

      @Michael

      That’s the bit that intrigues me. Why go to an AIM Flotation if investors are coming on board of, for sake of argument, the likes of Ashley who can also offer a commercial proposition re selling replica kits in Sports Direct.

      Green said about Ashley: ”I don’t think Mike needs to throw (money into the club) and that’s not the model that I think is sustainable for any football club and not Rangers.’

      Green goes on to state that he reckons a deal with Ashley could bring in £5-£10 revenue to Ibrox. In the current state of the economy I’m not sure fans can afford to spend the money and also with JJB not being the force it once was how generous does Sports Direct need to bewith Rangers desperate for income to stay afloat until an AIM Flotation?

      Talking of the Sports Direct deal Green added: ‘That is far, far more worthwhile than Mike individually signing a cheque because that’s not the right way to run football clubs.’

      Green appears to reject the ‘Prune’ solution but Man U. is struggling on profitability even with vastly increased Sponsorship earnings, higher merchandise sales and sky-high season ticket prices. And they have a disenchanted and disenfranchised fanbase eating away at the Glazers in a PR war of attrition.

      And the reason Man U. is struggling financially is because its owners the Glazer family, although fabulously wealthy, just ain’t in the billionaire class of a Gulf Sheikh or Russian Oligarch who can buy top-flight clubs with the change in their pockets and not have to borrow the money.

      But Green instinctively shies away from letting Ashley get too close to the ownership action because he is capable of picking-up Rangers as a cut-price lot. Fine to let Sports Direct pump money in as a commercial arrangement but lettng Ashley near the ownership is another matter alltogether – at least for Green but I wonder how Imram Ahmad views the situation.

      I suppose it all boils down, at the end of the day, as to where the most money can be made. Who ends up owning the club or whether it even survives is not really something that the moneymen care about. History is something to be forgotten as they move on to the next money-making opportunity.

      • @ecojon has Mike Ashley made any comment yet? Wouldn’t be the first to have his name bandied about as an “investor.”

      • mick

        @ RABTHECAB Representatives of Ashley refused to comment on the matter it said in msm so he could be doing a shirt @merchiandise deal and greens blowing it bigger as there is only 25000 st sold ,also green could be selling the shirts the way whyte sold the pies once the shirts go its only brick and mortar left

      • ecojon

        @rabthecab

        I haven’t seen any comment actually from Ashley – just Green’s comments and lots of speculation. One bit that interests me is that he will invest £2 million for a 9.8% stake. Other investors supposedly put in £1 million for 10%.

        The crux is what the kit deal is – if there is one. Reports on what Green expects from the kit deal range fron £2-£10 million per annum. Problem is that it is impossible to verify the figures and it suits both parties to talk-up the figures for obvious reasons.

    • Glazert Tim

      Not even Wonga will lend them cash and I have it on good authority that behind the counter of every Ramsden’s is a photo issued by the SFA, of any trophies likely to be pawned.

  4. Ben De Loaby

    Charles Green will want it both ways again. He will want to sell the fans the idea that they are buying a share of their beloved Club. But when talking about OldCo says they only held shares in the Company, not the Club.

    • ecojon

      @Ben De Loaby

      Quite an interesting point and I have to say that I have been amazed at the lack of financial awareness shown by Rangers fans and a simplistic belief that by owning a majority of the ‘club’ that they control the actions of the company and directors/members especially when it comes to authorising share issues or making loans to other companies or individuals and, indeed, accepting charges against the company and its assets.

      I just feel that Rangers are on a financial knife-edge and even if Green gets a £ million here and there – he needs to get that every year. Even billionaires don’t throw money into blackholes unless there is an emotional tie or a prospect of making money.

      And then, of course, there is the AIM Flotation – where Green takes his money and rides off to his next ‘job’ and leaves ‘what’ behind. That is the real question and no one yet knows the answer to that,

  5. mick

    @ecojon and michael dont you think glazer lacks vision for man utd ,celtic on a smaller budget are looking to open up a academy in philidelphia via a deal with a us sport company ,if i was glizier a would look at acdemys in every contient any player with the tecknowwho would want to play at it ,celtic will benifit lots from america and is a well known brand over there my only fear is a bad recession here and them join the league there ,asia is a massive market to that has great return in players

    • ecojon

      @mick

      I think the Glazers have a few distinct problems. One was that when they bought Man U. it was at the top of its value as a club and it’s a bit like the economy crash.

      The money they used to buy it was all borrowed either from banks or hedge funds and they’ve got to be paid their interest.

      Then there’s the Glazers American sporting interests which I would think are more important to the family than Man U and it also lessens the time that they really create the big plans for the future for the club.

      Another aspect of their diverse business empire is that they can move debt balances around and some might see a parallel here with DM. But with all the pressure that is still coming on banks sometimes that merry-go-round co,mes to a grinding halt as we have seen with Rangers and previously Celtic although wee Fergus arrived just in the nick of time.

      I know Asia is held to be a massive market but I think the jury is still out on that one for football. It seems more and more to me that the prime Asian interest in football is gambling and I would love somebody that knows the market to do a piece on it. It might even be that attendance is based on massive ‘spot-fixing’ – much better than watching the prunes spin in a slot machine.

      I’m also reminded that Man U. wanted initially to do their stock-market launch in Asia – I think Singapore (That old stomping ground of Mr Green and other Ibrox directors) but they pulled out because they thought the flotation wouldn’t be successful.

      Green at Rangers has been making mouth music about the massive shirt sale potential in Asia but does that really exist for Rangers whose ‘brand’ wasn’t in the global top-flight to begin with and now disappears from international TV coverage for at least three years. No glamour Old Firm games, No European adventures. I just can’t see Asian football fans tuning in to the Alba highlights of SFL3 even though they might understand the commentary :)

      Glazer have kept very tight voting control over Man U. and that enhances their chances of finding a Billionaire to come along and buy the club and let them retire from the field if not gracefully then with a load of mullah.

      One think I can’t understand about Green is that even ginormous football clubs only need ONE Billionaire but he needs THREE – what kind of heist has he planned? Is actual world domination in his sights? Has he been infected with a dose of the ‘Blues’?

      • mick

        @ecojon man utd should become a sporting club if glazer has other sports on his books ,my dream for celtic is a sporting club with a academy in every contient pruducing top winners ,a was also thinking about the 3 billonares hes lying why would they not have bought it out right via d&ps hes selling the merchandise cut price and as usual the msm are blowing it out of proportion

  6. mick

    http://www.whosay.com/CristianoRonaldo/photos/213128

    am up flicking throw a thought a would share these with yous

  7. mick

    @charlie don

    lets hope yous have a good year

  8. mick

    com on hibs march on

  9. mick

    forget the numbers facts and figures ITS SOCCER SATURDAY LOL

  10. mick

    HOPE YOUS ALL HAVE A NICE DAY AND AVE ALWAYS SEEN PETERHEAD AS MY SECOND TEAM ITS NOT JUST BECAUSE THERE PLAYING SEVCO A WOULD HAVE DONE A SEVCO SONG BUT THEY DONT HAVE ANY .

  11. charliedon

    @mick

    Thanks for the video mick. But what makes you think I’m a sheep?

  12. mick

    @charlie don ave no upset the cartel top man “don”:-0

    • charliedon

      @mick

      I thought maybe you guessed right because some of the thoughts expressed in my postings were a bit “woolly” haha.
      But you were right. I’m just heading off to the Ross C game now.
      Good luck to your team too mick, especially in the next champions league round.

  13. RayCharles

    Great clips Mick.

    With regards to Man Utd I think a different point of view can be taken.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19206565

    At the end of this piece it is pointed out that:
    “The owners of the new Manchester United shares will be awarded only a tiny fraction of the shareholders’ overall voting rights. And they have been told that dividend payments are unlikely too. Their only real economic prospect is that the club becomes even more successful in the future and that the value of the shares rises as a consequence, to give them a potential profit if they chose to sell later on.”

    And there is a real possibility their shares could be worth substantially more in a few years’ time if there is a global economic recovery.

    Man United are a valuable brand and many investors obviusly see other sports franchises as a lucrative potential investment even in these austere times.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2012/03/29/2-billion-dodgers-sale-tops-list-of-most-expensive-sports-team-purchases-ever/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2012/08/11/old-traffords-naming-rights-could-fetch-1-billion-for-manchester-uniteds-shareholders/

    While Forbes may be sugar-coating matters, I believe in the triumph of the “super-brands”.

    Manchester United are one of the global brand leaders in football and, as such, there is room for growth and profit for those prepared to invest for the medium to longer term.

    The value of Manchester United may well soar in five or 10 years’ time if a full-bloodied economic recovery takes place.

    Charles Green’s Rangers, however, is a different matter entirely.

    They are a toxic brand.

    • ecojon

      @RayCharles

      I agree with you on the Green situation.

      On Man U. perhaps I didn’t make it very clear in this post but I did in my earlier post to which there is a link.

      Man U might not have 5 or 10 years as the Glazers can’t financially compete with Billionaire owners who don’t need to go into debt to run their clubs.

      So I’m afraid I don’t actually believe the future is that rosy for Man U. and it would appear a sizeable section of their support have the same fears as I do.

  14. RayCharles

    “This could be a play by Soros on the strength of Manchester United’s brand and the English Premier League’s growing media rights.”

    http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/20/soros-manchesterunited-idINL2E8JKLUJ20120820

    It is apparently Soros’ eldest sons that make investment decisions now rather than George Soros but the fact remains this, not unsuccessful, hedge fund envisages that they can turn a profit from the shares.

    As I posted earlier, United are now a global “super brand”.

    They may be mired in debt at the moment but, clearly, some investors can picture a brighter future.

    Perhaps they believe a Chinese consortium will come along and buy the club and clear the debt?

    I just don’t buy the “Manchester United are doomed” analysis.

  15. Pingback: Green prepares to fly with Rangers Share Flotation but will it soar or crash and burn? – by Ecojon | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

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