The situation around Rangers remains a fog of uncertainty.
In recent weeks, some information has been deployed as a tactic and the truth is lost somewhere in the stir that causes. Supporters are effectively powerless to prevent their club being caught in the midst of a series of corporate, and other, entanglements.
There is a split on the board, essentially based on those who supported Charles Green, the chief executive, and Imran Ahmad, the commercial director, and those who wanted them removed. There have been insinuations and allegations from both sides, including doubts about how much money is in Rangers' bank account, questions about commissions paid on commercial contracts, and the suitability of Malcolm Murray as chairman.
The attempt has been to portray issues as black and white, when the reality is shades of grey. Rangers insist the club is financially stable. Murray is a singular character, but has been working on what he is convinced is best for the club. It was Green and Ahmad whose positions had become untenable, and whose management is being investigated in an independent examination. Now Green has resigned and Ahmad will follow, there ought to be an opportunity for rapprochement.
The impending appointment of Craig Mather as interim chief executive also split the board, since some considered him a Green ally. Yet putting him in place is less disruptive than bringing in an outsider for a short period, with the board's intention being to appoint a full-time replacement after a full and proper search in a matter of weeks.
Rangers need to make a clean break from the toxicity of the Craig Whyte era and the undisclosed deals that resulted in the group fronted by Green buying the business and assets of the club from Rangers Football Club plc. That transaction is being investigated by the club – through the independent examination of Deloitte and Pinsent Masons – by the liquidators, BDO, and by the police.
Whyte's claim that he was a director of Sevco 5088 has generated alarm. Green disputed the claim but has changed his story on several occasions. The legality and validity of either man's position has yet to be determined but, unless the assets were held by Sevco 5088 before being transferred to Sevco Scotland, the club is unlikely to be liable to Whyte's claim. Duff & Phelps' interim report to creditors last July was clear that the assets were sold to Sevco Scotland.
Where Whyte may have a claim is if Green novated the sale from Sevco 5088 to Sevco Scotland, prior to the transaction taking place, without the requisite authority. If Whyte and his business associate, Aiden Earley, were legitimately directors – which Green denies – they may have a case against him personally, or perhaps administrators Duff & Phelps. This turn of events, which should always take into account Whyte's reputation for deceit and for being a wholly unreliable witness, has spooked some city investors. There are also expectations of further revelations to come which are potentially serious.
Cenkos, the broker, and the Alternative Investment Market itself, will also have become increasingly irked at the public nature of the allegations and the boardroom tensions. Into this mix yesterday was thrown the possibility of James Easdale buying Green's 7.8% shareholding, and perhaps more to take the cumulative stake of himself and his brother, Sandy, who was jailed for VAT fraud in 1997, to 29.9%. They are lifelong Rangers fans, but are perceived within the club to be allies of Green and Ahmad, who were both intent on undermining manager Ally McCoist.
It remains unlikely that the Easdales will buy a significant stake and even this information was being used as a form of manipulation. Yet two other high net-worth Rangers fans are considering their options, and one is prepared to move now. The club needs stable ownership as much as stability on the board, but it is unclear what deals could be struck. Green and Ahmad could have called upon a proxy of somewhere between 30% and 50% of the shareholders, so even ousting them does not remove their influence. Blue Pitch Holdings, part of the original consortium, are keen to sell, although technically must wait until June and, according to the share prospectus, "following consultation with Cenkos and in such manner as to preserve an orderly market".
There are also fundamental disagreements on the club's business plans, with some adamant that the costs of Murray Park need to be drastically reduced. Yet without a solid and extensive scouting and youth network, Rangers will eventually return to the top flight unprepared for the challenge of trying to catch Celtic. The club needs to be run sustainably, but that includes the football side, which should generate income from transfers and contribute to the business. Some who work at the training ground say it is vastly under-resourced, with no scouts since Neil Murray was forced to leave last month.
Rangers remain in a state of turmoil, and the second largest wage bill in Scotland cannot be sustained while the club is in the lower leagues. Yet provision needs to be made for the return to the top division, or else fresh external investment will be required to allow Rangers to take the place that their fans expect: challenging Celtic and playing in Europe.
Right now, though, the club is struggling to make proper headway.