The battle lines are drawn. Rangers CEO Craig Mather is on one side – the investors who want to appoint Frank Blin and Paul Murray to the board on the other. Charles Green is somewhere involved in the battle, but I suspect he is not in the Mather camp.
Maybe one reason for Mr Mather’s disgruntlement with Mr Green is that, if Mr Mather’s shares in Rangers had cost what Mr Green paid, he would own 100 million of them, rather than only a measly 1 million? And Mr Mather’s “investment” has lost almost 60% of its initial value as well.
He has every incentive to run things differently from Mr Green!
How has Mr Mather spent his first year as a Rangers investor?
On 18th July 2012 Rangers released a statement from “businessman Craig Mather”:-
“I am delighted to have invested in The Rangers Football Club with my business partner Guy Gisborne.
“In addition to the financial investment, my sports management business, Simply Sport Management, specialises in youth players. I am confident that my colleagues and contacts within this field will prove invaluable.
“The facilities within the youth academy and training centre at Murray Park are world class and we must continually improve to ensure that the players coming through are of the same standard.
“I look forward to being part of the team rebuilding this fantastic club.”
It seems that Mr Gisborne has been written out of the story since – I cannot see any mention on the official Rangers website of him.
You will also note that Mr Mather referred to investing in Rangers (The Rangers Football Club) with Mr Gisborne. Was it a joint investment, or did they have separate investments?
On 17th October 2012 Rangers announced the appointment of Imran Ahmad as Commercial Director and of Mr Mather as Director of Sports Development. He was described as a “founder investor”. The statement continued:-
Craig Mather has been appointed as Director of Sports Development and will assist the Club in reviewing the overall organisational structure and assume financial responsibilities for Murray Park.
Charles Green said today: “My roles have been stretching me to the limit and certainly the commercial side is something we want to improve upon.
“In terms of Craig, he signed a cheque for £1million and was one of the founder investors. He has particular interest in youth development and Murray Park is a big cost centre for the club.
“I think there have been issues that we need to address in terms of how the club manages its affairs, how we use the cash that comes in and of course where we are going to spend the money that we are now raising in the market.
“Craig is completely independent. He has come in as an investor and he is looking at things completely objectively.
“When a man signs over £1million from his own bank account then I think he is entitled to have a look at what he has invested in.
First of all, as a founder investor in what was Sevco Scotland Ltd, and then became The Rangers Football Club Ltd, it is likely that Mr Mather came to the party as a result of Mr Green’s excellent promotional activities.
However even as a founder investor it seems that Mr Mather did not benefit from the excellent terms offered to other founder investors like Mr Green and Mr Ahmad. They are understood to have paid 1p per share for their investments. From what was said by Mr Green Mr Mather paid £1 per share.
Based upon the present share price Mr Mather therefore has a paper loss of almost £600,000 accumulated over the last year. That loss could explain the rumours about his apparently generous wage package – according to some sources totalling £500,000 per year. It is hard to grudge him a reasonable compensation which will still leave him out of pocket after a year’s work!
That might also explain the apparent rift between Mr Green and Mr Mather. After all, how would you feel if you were persuaded to invest in a business by someone who, only a couple of weeks before you invested, paid 1/100th of the price you paid? And then your investment loses 60% of its value?
That might have made for a frosty atmosphere round the board room table.
It might also lead one to question Mr Mather’s business sense. After all, for his £1 million investment, if he had acquired shares at the price paid by Mr Green, he would have 100 million of them!
Things went quiet on the Mather front until earlier this year and the announcement on 19th April 2013 which followed Mr Green’s departure.
The Board has commenced the search for a new Chief Executive and expects the role to attract high quality candidates from both within and outwith the industry. A further announcement will be made in due course.
Quite wisely the Board was prepared to consider candidates from inside football and from outside. Bearing in mind the size of the business and its world-wide reputation, surely the vacancy would attract high powered candidates from the UK, from Europe and indeed from around the world?
The announcement that followed on 24th April 2013 gave Mr Mather the inside track.
RANGERS Football Club has today confirmed the appointment of Craig Mather as Chief Operating Officer and Interim Chief Executive with immediate effect.
Mr Mather, 42, becomes a Director of the Club’s Football Board and an Interim Director of the PLC Board.
Rangers Chairman Malcolm Murray said: “We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Craig Mather as Chief Operating Officer of Rangers. He will also be acting Chief Executive which will allow us some time to examine the credentials of candidates for this position on a permanent basis.
“Craig’s appointment as Chief Operating Officer will allow the company and the Club to keep moving forward.
“Craig has invested £1m of his own money in the Club and is committed to playing an active part in delivering future success for Rangers.
“The Board has approved his appointment and look forward to him pushing us in the correct direction. Craig will lead the business on a day to day basis but I want to make it clear we are in a healthy position financially following the successful flotation of the company in December last year. I would also like to assure all of the supporters that this money is being used for the benefit of the Club and nothing or no one else.
Craig Mather said: “I am delighted to take on the role of Chief Operating Officer of Rangers Football Club and also Interim Chief Executive.
“This is one of the world’s great football clubs with a long and proud history and I had no hesitation in investing personally in Rangers. My own business background is in sport and particularly in youth development, something that will be fundamental to the success of this Club.
“I could not stand here and tell you I have always been a Rangers fan but I can say, with profound honesty, that I have been around football all my life and I have known of Rangers and their huge successes for many years. But then who hasn’t?
“I am well aware of what this Club means to so many people. I have been working at Rangers for the last year or so and the commitment and passion from the supporters never ceases to amaze me.
“They deserve so much better than they’ve been getting of late. My job will be to make sure the work is put in to make them even prouder to be Rangers fans.
“It is incumbent on everyone working for Rangers that we make sure the Club is in the best possible shape for next season and to create the platform on which fans can enthusiastically support the team.
“I look forward to starting work immediately and would like to make it clear the Chief Executive’s job is a position I would like to take on permanently.”
What better way to demonstrate the fitness for the job, especially against the “high quality candidates from both within and outwith the industry” who would undoubtedly have applied by now?
We will see in Part 2 what happened.
Posted by Paul McConville