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Spiers on Saturday: Wallace looks a feisty match for would-be King of Ibrox

Isn't Dave King wonderful?

Dave King has had much to say but the former director has as yet not bought any shares in the new incarnation of Rangers. Picture: SNS
Dave King has had much to say but the former director has as yet not bought any shares in the new incarnation of Rangers. Picture: SNS

Doesn't he just keep us going with his recurring, tantalising statements about the fate of Rangers, and what he would like to do about it (except, that is, buy shares, a feat he has yet to achieve)?

I've met King on a number of occasions, so can vouch for his charm and courtesy. I've also made my views plain on his income tax convictions back in South Africa, so let's leave these aside for the moment. Instead, let's examine the long, sometimes eccentric, statement King issued this week, and the stir it has caused.

Firstly, said King, he wants to lead "a fan-based group to acquire an influential shareholding in the club". Well, that's pretty good of him. Point of fact: right now the Rangers Supporters Trust are doing their damndest to get their BuyRangers campaign up and running, and are having some success. A separate initiative is also trying to make headway.

Right now it is estimated that perhaps as much as 13% of the equity in the reformed Rangers is owned by supporters. Whether you think the fan-ownership model is realistic or not, there is potential for it at Rangers. Strange, then, that King has not yet bought any of the new shares, either at the IPO or any time since.

King, bizarrely, believes Graham Wallace, the chief executive who is trying to mount a salvage job at Ibrox, should not - repeat, not - cut any running costs. "If we cut our costs to suit our current income we will remain a small club," he said.

Many Rangers supporters, even those feeling pretty disenchanted with the club's current situation, will find this an unfathomable position. Wallace wouldn't be doing his job if he did not seek ways to cut the cost-base of a business that was losing around £1m per month when he was parachuted in as Rangers' own Red Adair three months ago.

Is King being serious? That Wallace, in the here and now, should not cut Rangers' costs to align with income? This is strange stuff.

Next up, King's brazen claim that if Wallace does go ahead with cutting costs, it will allow Celtic to "shoot through 10 in a row and beyond, while we [Rangers] slug it out for the minor places . . ."

This is quite a prophecy from Mr King: here we are early in 2014 and he is telling us with some conviction what will be happening at the top of the Scottish game by the end of the 2021-22 season.

Celtic, may it be noted, are on two-in-a row, shortly to reach three. It seems alarmist to suggest that should Wallace or any other CEO tidy up Rangers' affairs it will condemn the club to not winning a top-flight title for at least another eight years. The evidence for this theory seems scant yet King has developed a bee in his bonnet about it.

Then there is the thorny issue of season-tickets bargaining, which was at the core of King's latest statement. There is no doubt that withholding or diverting season book income could give Rangers fans significant power, and King wants an independent trust established, into which the fans' monies can flow, to be released on a "pay as they play" basis. Many Rangers supporters will feel unease at this. King's plan, for sure, is not a straight "boycott", but it threatens to be one, and it holds the Rangers board over a barrel with certain demands being made.

It is quite an irony that while King has expressed his concern at Celtic romping to 10 in a row, there is probably nothing that could cause Rangers more medium-term damage than the disruption of the flow of much-needed income from season-ticket sales this summer.

Wallace's appointment last November was applauded in many football circles with, it seems, some justification. He comes over as a straight, reliable, honest executive who is determined to fix Rangers from within. It was telling that, amid many Rangers fans once more getting excited at the sound of King's perennial voice, Wallace came right out and played with a pretty straight bat himself on Thursday , though much of what he said got buried. "We are putting in place a business structure to protect and develop Rangers [and] we are well on track to building a club that is sustainable and delivering onfield success," he said.

Wallace, just like King, may be wise to be cautious about making predictions. Nonetheless, he has taken on a fearful task. People are baying at the Ibrox gates, but he does not appear to be cowering.

The weariness of the Rangers support is duly noted. They have been through the wringer over the past two years, and have twice seen their investments in the club reduced to dust: first, with the liquidation in 2012 and, more recently, with the IPO event and its subsequent dramas.

Many Rangers fans feel robbed of the ability to trust or "have faith". Many bought into Craig Whyte and Charles Green, only to turn their wrath on both these men. The IPO was lauded by many fans, who now hate the idea that a hedge-fund such as Laxey Partners can be a significant player at Ibrox. Everyone is now spinning with distrust and confusion.

King, without doubt, remains a key figure in the future fate of Rangers but not far behind him on that list of notables is Wallace, whose ability to deliver - and even survive - will also be telling.

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