DIRECTORS at Rangers have been guilty of "appalling" mismanagement that has seen almost £70 million squandered in two years, according to a major review of the club's books.
Football finance analysts expressed shock after the full extent of the Ibrox club's parlous finances were yesterday revealed by new chief executive Graham Wallace, who conducted the 120-day review.
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They predict that the Glasgow giants would struggle to regain their dominant position in Scottish sport soon and would also need a substantial injection of funds to stay in business.
The blame for the club's woes was laid at the feet of former executives, including Charles Green and Craig Mather, finance director Brian Stockbridge and commercial director Imran Ahmad.
Although none of the men is named in the review, it makes clear their time in charge was an opportunity to put the club on a stable footing. It says this chance evaporate through a series of "ill-defined, short-term-focused decisions".
Ken Pattullo, a partner at Begbies Traynor insolvency experts, said: "The previous executives are clearly culpable in all this. At the end of the day they were in charge of the whole club during this period.
"It's just astonishing that a club could negotiate deals without lawyers present, which is detailed in the report, while also spending £700,000 on lawyers' fees."
Mr Pattulo described reports that Rangers are on "financial life support" as possibly not far from the truth. He added: "It seems incredible that the club has gone through £70m. What has that money been spent on?"
He said much more detail was needed to uncover the full extent of the financial black hole at Ibrox.
Mr Pattullo said it was astonishing that £8.6m had been spent on "Central Administration and Overheads". He also questioned the £7m cost of non-football staff on the payroll.
The review concludes that among the money frittered away by the League One champions was £2m spent on stadium wifi, LED displays and jumbo screens that were non-essential.
Mr Pattulo added: "It's a fairly appalling record of mismanagement. The report says that £5.6m was spent on football matters not related to the first team, which would indicate that millions were spent on players not good enough for Scotland's bottom tier."
Robin Knight, a partner at advisory and restructuring specialists Zolfo Cooper, said that, while it was known Rangers' books made unpleasant reading, the scale of the challenge facing the current board came as a surprise.
He said: "The results of the review reveal a level of expenditure which is wildly out of sync with the club's league position and disproportionate versus its short term sporting ambitions, whilst the report's own use of the term 'liberal' hints at significant underlying issues."
Neil Patey, of accountancy giants Ernst & Young, said the review was "a fairly damning report" on the old regime's financial management skills.
He said: "Graham Wallace clearly believes that a lot of money has been misspent and a lot of contracts have been badly handled in the period running up to his appointment.
"There was little in the way of prior experience in running the financial side of a football club and it appears that a number of mistakes have been made."
He said it was critical to Rangers' financial health that the fans were brought back onboard and season ticket sales picked up.
Former captain Richard Gough, who has lodged a new firm with former director Dave King for fans to pool their season ticket money into a trust account, wrote on Facebook: "So we have spent £70m in 18 months, yet this board does not deny that they will receive bonuses for winning Second Division. Season ticket renewals in cash or cheque! Incredible. A review that has taken 120 days which could have taken 10. Your time is up guys. Please leave the building."