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

Analysis: another bruising battle looms for control at Ibrox

Rangers are back on the brink.

Jim McColl

At the very least, the coming weeks will bear witness to turmoil. Brinksmanship is, after all, seldom accompanied by a sense of calm. The ownership of the club is at stake and two sides are determined to prevail.

The next few days will be revealing. Walter Smith, the chairman, will have to react to the return of Charles Green - who had previously been intent on the removal of Ally McCoist's assistants - and the emergence of Jim McColl as a figure attempting to force change in the boardroom.

By putting his name to the notice requisitioning an extraordinary general meeting to vote on the removal of financial director Brian Stockbridge, chief executive Craig Mather, and non-executive director Bryan Smart, McColl broke cover in a way that he has previously been reluctant to do.

He was one of the parties interested in buying the club during administration last year, but without any publicity. Taking this stance is a measure of his confidence, since he will not want to be seen to fail. His group is adamant and optimistic.

Smith will not welcome Green's return, although the former chief executive was prevented from becoming a director again. He will continue to agitate for that. Smith and McColl worked together on an unsuccessful bid to buy the club from Green last summer and the fans will be influenced by how the chairman reacts. Smith could, in theory, take the majority of the support into one camp. In effect, though, the personalities are a diversion, even if Green is believed to be opposed to Malcolm Murray, the former chairman who is supporting McColl's group. The battle will be won among shareholders and financial institutions.

Green is a persuasive salesman. Last December's Initial Public Offering of shares was successful in part because of Green's chutzpah. He and his backers believe some of the institutions will continue to support him. McColl's group believe they are backed by the three institutions with the largest stakes, and their requisition notice had the backing of around 24% of the investors. It is understood they have more support and Mike Ashley, the third largest shareholder, could be a key figure.

Green's camp believe they have 51%. The posturing will continue until the EGM, which could take up to six weeks to arrange. Some of the politicking in the meantime could turn messy. The battle can be portrayed as being between those who are lifelong supporters and those who see the club as a vehicle for financial gain. Money is critical since Rangers will need fresh investment this season. The Sports Direct and Puma deals are weighted in favour of the suppliers, rather than the club, so increasing commercial revenues will only be possible at the end of those contracts.

Green has a track record of raising money, but it is unclear what agreements were struck with various investors. Cenkos, the former brokers, were also vital to relationships with some shareholders, and will play a role. They remain supportive of Malcolm Murray. McColl is one of Scotland's richest people, but he won't spend his own money. His group wants Paul Murray and Frank Blin appointed as directors, but they will also have to raise funds.

Supporters will take sides. Their best hope is that the long-term interests of the club are secured.

Contextual targeting label: 
Finance

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.

173904