• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Ahmad loses cash freeze bid as judge rules out Rangers insolvency

A former commercial director at Rangers failed in a renewed bid to freeze cash at the Ibrox club following a season ticket protest ahead of his legal action in which he is seeking a £500,000 payout.

A judge said that on the basis of the information put before him by Imran Ahmad it could not be said that as matters stand today that there is a real possibility that the football firm will be practically insolvent early next year.

Lord Armstrong said: "I appreciate that there is some scope for concern as to the financial future of the defenders."

The judge said he was asked to place weight on sworn statements from club officials, including the chief executive Graham Wallace.

He said he was informed that there had been meetings in recent days with institutional investors who were said to have "a good degree of confidence" in the management and are fully aware of difficulties.

"It is in effect confirmation that the defender is financially secure and will remain so for the foreseeable future," he said.

Lord Armstrong said that he was told that the position of the Union of Fans group and that of former director Dave King amounted to a significant campaign which, taken together with protests at a home match against Dunfermline, indicated a strength of support for the strategy of withholding season ticket payments, which was said to be the primary of principle source of income for the club.

Mr Ahmad's counsel Kenny McBrearty QC argued that the fact that there was a risk of insolvency was a reason to grant the move to ring fence £620,000 at the Ibrox club ahead of his client's legal action being heard.

The sum sought to be frozen included the £500,000 Mr Ahmad is seeking in compensation, plus interest and cash for expenses.

He said that when applying the legal test the court was concerned with the possibility of insolvency. "It is not concerned with actual insolvency nor even with the probability of insolvency, but rather the possibility of it," he said.

Mr McBrearty said there had to be a real and substantial risk that enforcement of an award in favour of Mr Ahmad would be defeated or prejudiced.

He said it was not possible to say at this stage that Mr Ahmad's case at first sight was a weak one.

"What lies at the heart of the current application is concerns at sales of season tickets for the forthcoming season," he told Lord Armstrong.

Mr McBrearty said that when past figures were looked at it was seen that season tickets bought by fans accounted for £8m in revenue which gave an indication of their importance to the club.

"From the pursuer's perspective, his understanding is that the vast majority of season ticket sales are by way of renewals. When one looks historically at the uptake of renewals it is extremely quick - a very large number are renewed immediately, effectively on day one," he said He said the renewal period had been due to close on May 6, but had been extended by 10 days.

Mr McBrearty said that information available was "sufficient to indicate there is a risk of there being a substantial decrease in season ticket income".

"Information now in the public domain indicates significant doubt as to the extent of season ticket income which has been and will be received. That is of significance given it is acknowledged as being the primary source of income of the club," said the senior counsel.

He said there was a movement among supporters that season ticket money should be withheld and not paid to the club, with the main demand being it should grant security over the stadium and training ground in return for the cash.

He said there was material indicating "a very significant rift between the board on the one hand and the fans." Mr McBrearty said the first suggestion of such a move had come from former Ibrox investor Mr King who reportedly lost £20m under the previous regime.

A trust with Mr King and former Rangers captain Richard Gough as directors has been launched in which fans can pledge money on to the club if security is granted.

Mr McBrearty said the Union of Fans organisation could not be dismissed as inconsequential. He added: "One simply cannot brush them aside as representing the views of only a small minority of fans."

But Alan Summers QC, for Rangers, maintained that the source of revenue has not been "materially impacted" by events of the last few weeks.

He said that Graham Wallace and the club's chief financial officer, Philip Nash, have been speaking to institutional investors in the City.

"Having seen the business plan the defenders have adopted they are content that the defenders are now being properly managed and have a future in which they have confidence," he said.

He said Mr Ahmad had not put before the court nor was he able to any indication "that the source of revenue has been decimated".

Mr Summers said: "It is not so much money from season tickets has been lost it is rather a question of when the money comes to hand."

Lord Armstrong asked the counsel if he was telling him that Rangers are financially secure and Mr Summers replied: "I am."

He said there was "a period of turbulence" but there was underlying confidence in the supporters who have been loyal to the club.

Mr Summers said Rangers were "completely blind-sided" by what the trust was all about and how it functioned. "It is a little bit of a chimera at the moment," he told the court.

Mr Ahmad, a former commercial director at Ibrox whose employment was terminated last year, is suing Rangers Football Club Ltd for £500,000 in a case that is due to go to a full hearing of evidence in November.

He maintains that he is due the bonus payment in an action being contested by the Glasgow club.

He claims that under a contract he was entitled to five per cent of commercial contracts negotiated by him subject to written approval from the chief executive or chairman.

He said that a letter from the former CEO Charles Green had confirmed that his bonus for 2013 would be "no less than 500K".

An earlier bid by Mr Ahmad to ring fence assets at Rangers ahead of his legal action was rejected in February by Lord Tyre.

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

231604