A quick roundup of news from Ibrox as Rangers FC approaches at top speed the deadline for a licence being granted.
The phrase “subject to SFA membership” has started to appear on Rangers.co.uk. Reality hitting home?
Where are they with membership? Mr Green and the BBC disagree.
What about Mr Kennedy’s offer from three weeks ago?
How did Rangers sign new contracts with players a few weeks ago, if they can’t do so now?
What does Mr McCoist want to sign SPL players, and, if membership is issued, will Mr Green allow him?
What is the Sevco/Rangers new battle cry?
And some good news, as the head of youth development at Ibrox talks in glowing terms of his leading lights and their ability to cope in SFL3.
“Subject to Securing SFA Membership”
The official Rangers FC website has taken now to adding the above phrase into its pieces.
For example, in explaining that the League Cup match with East Fife has been moved back a couple of days it states:-
“Subject to Rangers securing an SFA membership, Ally McCoist will lead his side against former team-mate Gordon Durie’s men.”
Cynics might suggest that moving the game from 4th August to 7th August is designed to give another couple of days for Rangers FC to sort out its issues, but thankfully no one who reads this blog is a cynic!
At the end of this piece is the coda:-
“Ticket information will follow when available.”
Bearing in mind this is a game due in less than two weeks, it is symptomatic of the disarray at Ibrox, which Mr Green would attribute to the football authorities, and which many others would blame on Rangers FC itself.
The website also reports that Andy Little is ready to sign a new contract.
“Subject to SFA membership being concluded, Rangers want to be in a position to complete the paperwork so that the Northern Irishman can come straight back into the plans. “
Everything at Ibrox is now “subject to SFA Membership” being transferred.
What About the SFA Membership?
Yesterday also brought positive news from Ibrox about the SFA membership transfer.
“RANGERS Chief Executive Charles Green hopes SFA membership will be secured within the next 24 hours. Part of the deal will be a signing embargo for a year from September 1 but it means Rangers can sign players now ahead of the new season.
He said: “We are making good progress. I spoke to the chief executive of the SFA, Stewart Regan, this morning and that went very well. I have also just spoken to Neil Doncaster and I will be meeting both of them later today.
“I’m really hopeful now that within the next 24 hours we can have this thing signed and sealed.
“Most of the things are now clear to all parties. As far as I am concerned now we have no outstanding issues with the SFA. It’s now purely process and documentation.
“We have no issues with the Football League and just some minor points to resolve with the SPL and I’m hopeful we can to that today.”
This morning’s news coverage is also proclaiming that the membership announcement is very close. However that seems only to be based on what Mr Green had to say. He may well be right, but the characterisation of the negotiations by the BBC’s Chris McLaughlin seems rather different.
“Rangers appear to be no closer to securing Scottish Football Association membership despite confidence from newco chief executive Charles Green.
Rangers have been in negotiations since last week and there have been further talks between the new club, the SFA and Scottish Premier League. But a source close to the discussions told BBC Scotland that they are no further forward.
The new club need membership before they can start the season on Sunday. The main sticking point is Rangers’ insistence that they are not prosecuted following a dual contracts investigation.”
According to Mr Green Rangers FC have no issues with the SFA, and the statement from that body on Friday (with which of course the Rangers FC chairman promptly disagreed) suggested that it was only a matter of the paperwork.
The SFL too are unlikely to have issues with Rangers FC, having voted to admit them.
However the so-called “dual contract” issue, where a prima facie case has been established and where the SPL has said it will proceed with disciplinary action, remains unresolved.
As I have said many times, Mr Green can dispose of that issue in a one-line sentence, but he cannot do so as it would alienate almost all of his customers.
If he states that, whilst playing on the stadium where Rangers played, and in the same strips, and under the same name, Sevco Scotland Ltd owns a team which is a new entity, and is unrelated to the old team, then the SPL can continue with an investigation, but would be unable to penalise Sevco Scotland Ltd.
That would be seen however as a craven surrender by Mr Green, and for football and business reasons he can’t take it.
If the SPL decides to drop the disciplinary process regarding this matter, then its explanation for doing so would be very interesting indeed. Maybe Mr Green, or Mr Regan or Mr Doncaster could enlighten us on what they actually discussed together?
New Players at Ibrox?
Returning to the story about Mr Little signing a new contract, this can also be linked to the piece about Ian Black and Craig Beattie, formerly of Hearts, training at Murray Park.
Mr Green commented on both stories as follows:-
“Andrew Little is coming back to the club. We’ve agreed terms with him and hopefully he will re-sign tomorrow. So I think people will see Rangers coming out of the mire, as it were, and there is a lot of confidence around the club.”
“Alistair has a list of players and he has been speaking to some of them. Obviously until we have SFA membership he can’t sign any of them. He has two or three he wants to bring in this week and start training with the squad.
“We have a number of other targets lined up and it’s up to Ally to decide. He picks the ones on the field and I pick the ones in the office.
“The difficulty we have is that we are playing in the Third Division. Some of our senior players have agreed to stay with us and that’s really commendable because you couldn’t blame them for picking up their bags and going elsewhere.
“For Alistair now the balance is getting the players in that can play in the Third Division but can also move forward as the club moves forward.”
As regards Beattie and Black, Mr Green said:-
“I think it’s testimony to the manager. Rangers is a name but it’s also the manager that the players want to come and play for.
“I think people within Rangers have seen first-hand what Ally has had to do since February but the reality is the players who are looking to join the club have seen it from the outside and I think that’s recognition of what Ally has done to keep the club together.”
I note that Mr Green says that players could not be blamed for packing their bags and leaving…but he did so with the “objectors” to the TUPE transfer!
There is also a concerted effort in what he says to praise Mr McCoist. After all, this is the man who a couple of weeks ago said that he did not yet trust the new Board and Mr Green, and whose statement on Saturday was a clear marker that he felt Sevco were on the point of conceding too much.
He seems to have won his power struggle.
One wonders what Mr McCoist is doing as regards his contract. Has he accepted a reduction in pay, as the manager of an SFL3 team ought not to be on the same wage as an SPL boss, surely?
Is Mr Green keeping him sweet because, if he was to leave, there is no way in which Rangers FC could afford a manager of the quality to be seen by the fans as suitable to run the club. Most Rangers FC fans will view their club as an SPL team forced to sojourn in the lower leagues, rather than actually being an SFL3 team.
As money is tight at Ibrox, which may well be an understatement, how can they justify looking to sign SPL players, unless they are willing to come at SFL wages?
As Gretna showed in its rise up the league, the trick is to be adding players ready for the division above, and to move them on and repeat the exercise each time promotion is achieved. Economically player agents will undoubtedly be looking for their clients to be paid SPL wages by Rangers FC. Can that be afforded or justified?
On the other hand, how will assembling a team of SFL2 journeymen go down with the fans at Ibrox?
Mr McCoist seems from what Mr Green says, to have a free hand in who he is looking for. One suspects it will be SPL players, which might not go well with Mr Green.
It is also the case that Rangers announced a few weeks ago that they had had some players sign new contracts. What about them if, as Mr Green now says, they can’t be registered till membership of the SFA is in place?
The Brian Kennedy Sale
Mr Green issued clarification yesterday of Sevco’s position regarding the offer from Mr Kennedy. As was pointed out elsewhere, Mr Kennedy was party to a bid of around £7 million for 100& of the assets, and now is supposedly offering £5.5 million for 51% of them. Interesting…
My comments are in bold.
“CHARLES GREEN has reiterated his stance that he is not interested in selling a majority shareholding in Rangers after confusion over a purported bid by Brian Kennedy.
“I had been away for a couple of days and I came back yesterday and saw all the press speculation.
How was your trip to Zurich, or Greece or wherever Mr Green? Did you meet UEFA, FIFA or Olympiakos? Can we add this to the list of questions you promised to answer within seven days, and didn’t?
“It’s really frustrating. It seems every two weeks we get someone who is going to make an offer for the club. Yesterday it was Brian, last week it was Bomber Brown a couple of weeks before that it was Walter and it’s just a big distraction. I’m sure it’s just as disruptive for the fans as well.
If he had read what Mr Kennedy said, the offer from him was made three weeks ago. On one hand the fact that it remained secret till this week is remarkable in this tale. But Mr Green referring to it as “yesterday” is unclear. Is he now accepting there was a bid, which he had denied before?
“The real focus is to get Ally and his team out on the pitch and to deal with the challenges with the SFA.
“I have never met Brian Kennedy. I have spoken with him twice now. I spoke to him from the lawyer’s office when we got the exclusivity and he did ring me to congratulate me after the deal was completed.
“I said to Brian then and I have said on a number of times to other people, if anyone wants to be part of what we are doing at Rangers, bring a cheque and join the team. That’s what we said to Jim McColl, Douglas Park and Walter and also to Dave King.
“Bring a cheque and join the team!” Brilliant! You can hear the fans singing it at the top of their voices!
“This is a big club and there is room for other investors. They can be fans, they can be individuals. What we can’t do is be distracted.
“When you look at the amounts being offered, they are less than what we paid for the club. We have no intention of selling but we definitely wouldn’t be selling for less than we paid for it.
Mr Kennedy’s offer was around what was paid, but for 51% of the club. Therefore Sevco still retain 49% of the shares and have got their initial investment back. He just sold 10% of the business to Mr Mather for £1 million. Isn’t that selling for less than he paid for it?
“I don’t believe that anyone should own this club entirely or to be able to control it. That’s why all of the investors we have at the moment have small share-holdings and when we do the next fund raising those share-holders will be diluted even further.
Mr Green’s strategy is a share flotation. That is a tactic he has used in various businesses, with debatable success. He needs to get the fans interested in buying the shares. He should be aware of what happened at the last Rangers FC PLC share issue…
As far as “small shareholdings” the mysterious Blue Pitch Holdings have 23% of the shares. That is not, in my eyes, a small shareholding…
“I think that’s healthy for the club. As I have said from day one if I can keep everyone between 10 and 15 per cent then that’s the best plan. It would be wrong to sell 51 per cent to one person.”
If Mr Kennedy or anyone else offered Mr Green £10 million for 51% of the club, does anyone think he would turn it down? If so, then he has some masterplan for turning base metal into gold that he should sell and make himself a fortune.
The Future – Rangers FC’s Young Players
On a positive note for Rangers FC their “youth supremo, Jim Sinclair, is confident that his young players are ready for the challenges ahead.
“The young players that have gone into the team in the last three or four years, such as Danny Wilson, Kyle Hutton, Jamie Ness and Rhys McCabe, have all acquitted themselves really well. I’ve no reason to suspect the ones being called upon now, although a wee bit young and less experienced, will serve the club well.
” I’m confident the boys can do well and young Lewis is one who is going from strength to strength in these circumstances. I also think the fans will enjoy watching Darren Cole who has briefly touched the first team, in fact he played in the Champions League (against Bursaspor). So he is one I hope will do well and Ross Perry has still to establish himself as a first-team player, I hope he can do that.
“Then of course there is Kyle Hutton who is coming back from being on loan so there’s a lot to look forward to from the youth department’s point of view.”
Talking of players going out on loan he said, “I think it’s invaluable, I’m sure they will have benefited from that and I’m sure we’ll see that reflected in their play.
“Somebody said to me that the Third Division is a cluggers division but I think that’s a ridiculous thing to say. I’m sure Rangers from the manager down will treat this division with the utmost respect and the respect it deserves. It will be very competitive and it will be difficult to be successful in.”
I would like to commend Mr Sinclair for what seems the most sensible and realistic comments to come from Ibrox for months!
What Will Today Bring?
Posted by Paul McConville