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

Spiers on Saturday: the clock is ticking again at Ibrox

Rangers fans yesterday were once again concerned to read a statement through the London Stock Exchange, this time confirming the latest bid by the Ibrox custodians to drum up fresh funds via a new share-offer aiming to raise around £4m - but a net to the club of £3.6m.

The lights are on at Ibrox, but who knows for how long as the Rangers board struggle to raise enough money to pay the bills. Picture: SNS
The lights are on at Ibrox, but who knows for how long as the Rangers board struggle to raise enough money to pay the bills. Picture: SNS

The Rangers statement, setting out the terms for nearly 20 million new ordinary shares to be issued at 20p each, sounded as wary as it did optimistic. It read to me like the current Ibrox board have real anxieties about their ability to finance the club in the short term.

Loading article content

The club openly admits it needs this fresh windfall, in part just to pay off £1.5m in loans which are due for paying back within days. But, more than this, Rangers admit that a further tranche of new funds will be required, either by the spring of next year, or possibly even before 2014 is out.

The club also confirmed that if the new offer does not reach a 75% take-up then the process will be scrapped. In this scenario, Rangers say that creditors' bills might not get paid and "the directors would immediately have to seek emergency financing which may or may not be available."

This is an extremely stony road Rangers are treading. The club needs to raise up to £30m over the next three years in new investment - but just getting over this first hurdle involving £4m is a major task.

Rangers stated yesterday: "There can be no certainty as to the aggregate level of subscription for the new shares." And should the offer not work? "The company will be unable to pay off its creditors …and the future of the company will be uncertain." And even if the minimum level of subscription - around £3m - is taken up? "At the minimum level of subscription, then additional working capital will be required towards the end of the current calendar year."

All told, this is pretty bleak. For good measure Rangers added the customary rider: "There can be no certainty that such funding will be available, and failure to secure such funding would be damaging to the business."

Given the current disdain of many Rangers supporters towards the current regime - both at boardroom and institutional level - this latest scheme might well flop. In which case, to put it in layman's terms, the Ibrox gas meter will start to run out within weeks, let alone months.

Many a finance analyst is watching this Rangers sequence of lurches from one minor crisis to the next and wondering where it will all end.

"Their [Rangers] recent effort to raise up to £10m from institutional shareholders was unsuccessful - so this is Plan B," said Neil Patey, the football industry adviser at Ernst & Young. "Given the fairly urgent need for cash at Rangers, this share offer is the quickest and cheapest method. It is just an interim measure, as the board has indicated that the share proceeds will only fund cash requirements for between four to eight months."

It strikes many as just a plain fact that the current Rangers board, for a variety of reasons, simply cannot raise funds in such a way as to restore Rangers and allow the club to thrive over the next few years.

"Based on the current sporting and financial position, the board has been unable to raise the level of funds that would provide financial stability over the minimum period that a company would typically look to - maybe two to three years," Patey added. "It has recently had to resort to 'emergency' loans from shareholders [worth £1.5m] to fund short-term working capital, and this current Rangers share issue is another short-term measure.

"The board has said it wishes to raise £20m to £30m in the next stage of the club's development to re-establish itself at the top of Scottish football - but it is unlikely to be able to do this until it is back in the Premiership. Even then, it remains to be seen if this level of investment will be available from pure financial investors. More likely, Rangers will have to rely at least in part on 'emotional investment' from wealthy fans.

"The question is whether this level of investment will be available with the current shareholder base in place, or whether it will require 'regime change' to convince new investors to invest."

Right now, why would anyone invest in Rangers? Groups such as Rangers First, the fans' organisation, will certainly seek to take up new shares, but that is purely an emotional investment.

The group wants as much fan-ownership as possible at Ibrox, arguing that it is the best means of safe-guarding Rangers' future.

But why would others - institutions or small investors - want to plough more money into a club that is once again ailing?

"To protect an existing investment," says Patey. "If the club goes into administration, then existing shareholders will lose significant value. By investing further funds, not only could you stop the club going in to administration, but in the medium term the value of your investment has the prospect to grow, if and when Rangers get back into European competition. Just compare the current market capitalisation of Celtic at £69m to that of Rangers at £17m."

Yesterday, one former Rangers director and current shareholder, Ian Hart, expressed his sorrow at the way the club self-evidently is starved of funds. "Investment is probably pretty tough in the current environment for Rangers," said Hart. "There is little stability around the club and a section of the support is not happy with things. I think when you have that instability it probably puts some people off wanting to put money into the club.

"I'm a shareholder - whether I put more money in remains to be seen. Like a lot of people, I'm not in it for a return. I just love the club and I want Rangers to be stable again."

Meanwhile, somewhere in South Africa, Dave King lurks. No-one knows if he has a next move, and if he has, whether it can be successful. But the clock is ticking once again on Rangers.

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.

258100