At both a macro and a micro level, the overall picture presented by Rangers chief executive Graham Wallace after his 120-day review of the club's finances is eye-opening.
From details such as £2 million unnecessarily spent on wi-fi and other technology for Ibrox Stadium to nine signings made by manager Ally McCoist that the club "should have known that it couldn't afford", Mr Wallace's analysis does not hold back. Overall, with reserves of more than £70m to rebuild the club, its stewards squandered the money in under two years.
The review describes this as mismanagement but it is clear that several people who have been involved in running the club since the Rangers 'newco' emerged from administration did well from their jobs while leaving the club no better off.
Mr Wallace's review is a serious attempt to address the problems but there is an aura of wishful thinking about the plan of action he proposes. Rangers need a rapid cash injection just to survive and must raise up to £30m over the next three years to be able to compete at the top level, he says. Plans being put in place will lead to the club being financially sustainable by 2015-16 and able to compete in Europe within three years.
In the context of an inability to accept payments for season ticket sales by debit or credit card, the need for cuts to player wages and in the face of a threatened boycott of season tickets by fans, that seems optimistic, to say the least. Cuts of £2m a year have been made but the club's interim accounts revealed losses of £3.5m for the six months to December 31 alone. The previous regime left the club labouring under unwise commercial deals. Mr Wallace calls for an end to external comment and campaigns that, he says, threaten the club's recovery. Former Rangers Director Dave King has urged fans to pay into a trust fund rather than make any more money available to the current regime. It appears unrealistic to hope that these and other problems will vanish soon.
One sensible decision was to delay the deadline for season ticket renewal until May 16, which will allow fans time to assess whether Mr Wallace's review convinces them to support him. Will it be enough to persuade fans to pay up for season tickets? It is hard to see how it can be, given that they have already been asked to dig deep to secure the club's financial future.
There have to be question marks about where a further £30m will be raised from; not, surely, from institutional investors who may not be reassured by the admission that money raised previously had been squandered. Meanwhile, fans will not want to invest without a board they feel they can trust. Formerly key players in this saga bled the club dry while Mr King is an odd white knight. His long battle with South African authorities and investors does not bode well, given the club's recent history.
Many will feel sympathy at the degree of crisis Mr Wallace wrestles with at Rangers. He is untarnished by the bonus culture and other past problems at the top. But others on the board have connections with the old regime. While Mr Wallace's analysis of the problems at Ibrox is admirably frank, delivering on his proposals may depend a great deal on whether there is further evolution in the boardroom. We wish him well in his task.
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