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Brutal war of words breaks out between Rangers and club suitor Dave King

THE battle for Rangers has intensified with both sides accusing each other of making untrue statements.

The first shots of an extraordinary day were fired by Dave King, the South African businessman who is seeking control of the club. He declared all-out war on the club's board, enlisting the captain who led the team to nine titles in a row and calling on the fans not to buy season tickets or merchandise.

The former Rangers director is incensed at what he believes are the board's "false representations" over the publication of the business review. Mr King maintained he was told by chairman David Somers that this will not be unveiled until after the cut-off date for season ticket renewals next month. The 120-day period previously cited runs out next week.

Mr King is now setting up a bank account into which supporters can place season ticket money on an "interim basis" with Richard Gough, the former Rangers captain, as a joint custodian. Details of this scheme, he said, would be announced soon.

However, Rangers, who announced season ticket renewals this week, immediately hit back at Mr King, accusing him of making a "number of untrue allegations".

The club added: "For someone who claims to have the interests of Rangers at heart and as an ex-director, King's untrue comments are nothing short of disgraceful."

Mr King accused Rangers of false representation for what he said was the intention of the club to postpone the publication of the business review.

The Rangers statement said the club "refute all allegations and have referred Mr King's statement to the club's legal advisers". It said the club would issue the results of the business review "prior to the season ticket window ending". It added: "This position remains unchanged and Mr King is well aware of this, having sought personal confirmation on this matter from the chairman as recently as yesterday."

The statement also had a jab at Mr King's recent assertion in media interviews that he was willing to underwrite a rights issue to the tune of £50m.

It said: "When the board met Mr King a few weeks ago, he made it clear he did not want to put another penny into the club and would prefer to see the club using other investors' money".

It expressed "disappointment" at Mr King's statement which was "clearly designed to unsettle and mislead Rangers fans" on the eve of today's William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Dundee United at Ibrox.

In a blunt and fiery statement, Mr King advised supporters: "I believe that it is vital that fans now withhold season ticket money from this board and similarly refuse to support the club by way of the purchase of replica kit or any other retail product."

His attack on the board over the apparent extension of the review period was unforgiving. He said of his meeting last month with the Rangers board: "The board recommitted to issue the business review within the original 120-day deadline and, importantly, committed that the fans will have access to this review prior to advancing funds by way of season ticket renewals. Despite strong reservations from fan groups I asked the fans to give the board time to honour this commitment."

He said part of his motivation was that any public company board is bound to act in good faith and that breach of such a share price sensitive commitment would be wrong.

But he said yesterday that "the chairman has advised me that the board will now only issue the review at the end of the season ticket renewal period".

With Rangers losing money and fears growing of an insolvency event, the stakes have now been raised to the highest level with Mr King's appeal to supporters not give the club money through season ticket money or merchandise.

Mr Somers warned on the publication of interim figures last month that uncertainty over season ticket sales could jeopardise the club's ability to keep trading. This statement was made at the behest of the auditors, Deloitte, before the figures, showing a loss of £3.5m for the six months to December 13 and the evaporation of the £22m in the initial public offer, were signed off.

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