Honestly, the sun always shines on the Glencoe Car Park Run.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Who Owns Newco Rangers?

Friday 11th May could prove to be one of the most significant days in the history of Rangers Football Club (RFC). The much-heralded Blue Knights (TBK), with Brian Kennedy (BK) now fully on board, once again withdrew their bid for the club. However, this time, rather than go quietly and let Duff and Phelps (D&P) continue to follow whatever crazy-paving path it is the administrators are following, TBK held a highly emotive press conference to publicly question the motives of D&P.

During this press conference they continually emphasised that time was running out for saving the club through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

Later, D&P hit back at TBK’s claims about the size of their bid saying they had to do what was in the creditor’s best interests, and their bid wasn’t acceptable to them.

A new consortium led by Charles Green was lauded by D&P as being in the advanced stages of negotiation and looks like being the new preferred bidder.

The fans and TBK fear this new consortium is another Bill Miller…or Bill Ng…or worse still, another Craig Whyte (CW).

And then tonight TBK release another press release and full details of their offer for everyone to read and make their own minds up.

It is now an open civil war between TBK and D&P.

Another of the much reported obstacles to TBK gaining control of the club was the reluctance of majority shareholder CW to hand over his shares if Paul Murray (PM) was going to be a director. This smacks of a spoilt brat child saying it’s my ball and he’s not playing.

So no matter how damning yesterday’s SFA Report into CW’s disastrous tenure of the club, he still sits in his castle dictating the future of RFC.

We’re now hearing from many sources as every second passes by that RFC is heading for liquidation.

We’re also hearing that RFC will return in one shape or form as a newco. In fact, there can be no doubt that Rangers will return as a newco in one form or another.

But who will control this newco RFC?

Why should CW, or anyone else for that matter, have a say on who is in charge of newco Rangers?

Surely he and his type have had their chance(s).

He may have a piece of paper in his hand saying he owns X amount of shares. So what? Neville Chamberlain also had a piece of paper in his hand…which proved as worthless as the…eh…paper it was written on.

No single person has ever owned RFC.

David Murray (DM) may well have been majority shareholder for many years and ran the club like he owned it, but he didn’t own it.

RFC, like every other club, is owned by the fans.

Players, managers, directors and so-called owners come and go depending on many factors. The one thing they all have in common, though, is financial reward in terms of wages.

Fans pay for the privilege of being fans. They pay the wages of those mentioned above. This is a lifetime commitment, not one they choose to walk away from when the going gets tough.

Of course, some fans also come and go, usually depending on success or failure; but part-time glory hunters aren’t real fans.

All fans would like their club to be run by the fans for the fans but, alas, this is rarely possible. Many smaller teams don’t have the fan base to make fan co-operatives financially viable. And most clubs don’t offer fans the chance to have a say.

But RFC aren’t a wee club with a tiny fan base. They are a huge club with a massive fan base around the world. It appears to be only D&P and CW who are standing in the way of fan ownership. Why is that?

Within weeks a newco RFC will apply for membership of the SPL.

This move will force the other SPL chairmen to vote on whether or not to allow newco RFC entry into their exclusive invitational league. We all know these clubs don’t want to lose out on TV money. We also know they want to include sanctions that enable them to grab RFC’s share of TV money over the following years. So, unbelievably, these clubs want to profit out of RFC’s misery.

But who will officially own, according to a piece of paper, this newco RFC applying to the SPL?

At the time of writing no-one knows.

Who should own this newco RFC?

According to RFC fans they should own it.

And so they should. The only issue is how to go about it. We’ll come to that shortly.

First, many RFC fans would now rather start again in Division Three than take further sanctions from clubs wanting nothing more than financial gain.

The moral argument around the country is any newco should start in Division Three.

Like I said earlier, an application for a newco RFC to gain entry into the SPL will be made some time. They also need to apply to the SFA for a footballing licence.

What would the SFA do if two applications for a newco RFC arrived on their desk on the same day?

One from Joe Bloggs and his consortium based in the British Virgin Islands or Timbuktu, and one from a co-operative of RFC fans groups, RFC legends and wealthy local businessmen whose allegiance to RFC has been visible over the years.

Of course, the Joe Bloggs consortium will probably have Ibrox Stadium and Murray Park to back up their application. But what chances of success if they have no fans?

The co-operative will have to arrange to play games at Hampden or elsewhere to begin with, but with the backing of the fans they will be around for the long haul.

If the SFA allowed Joe Bloggs into the league and parachuted them straight into the SPL then the game in Scotland can be proved to be corrupt and run for the benefit of finance rather than sporting integrity.

Actions like this may end with a British Football Association instead of individual FA’s for each home country.

If the SFA allow the co-operative to begin in Division Three newco RFC will start with a clean slate. The SFA are seen to be protecting the integrity of the game at the expense of the biggest club, bringing with it much kudos from UEFA and FIFA. Expect to see many more SFA officials climbing the UEFA corporate ladder.

As for Joe Bloggs owning Ibrox Stadium and Murray Park, what is he going to do with them? He can’t use them for any other purpose than what the planning permission allows. This inhibits his ability to sell them on for a profit if he doesn’t have a football team or league to play in.

There is only one answer: sell or lease them to newco RFC for a nominal sum.

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog I highlighted how everyone connected with the club is saying time is running out fast. Unless a deal is closed in the next few days a newco RFC is a certainty as it looks like it’s too late for a CVA. In fact, it’s probably a certainty now, but my mother always said ‘never say never’ so I will hedge my bets until the day comes.

Newco RFC will either be someone handpicked by D&P and CW, or it will be run by the fans for the fans.

RFC fans can sit and wait and see how it pans out, or they can mobilise and apply directly to the SFA for a licence to compete in Division Three.

Ibrox Stadium isn’t needed to play in Division Three, and neither are players on £25,000 per week.

A newco RFC with a clean slate will attract many investors. Many, many more investors than a newco RFC run by Joe Bloggs without the backing of the fans.

Put the ball in the SFA’s court. Let them decide whether the future of the game in Scotland is about dodgy investors wanting to make a fast buck or about the lifeblood of the game: fans forking out hard earned money. Let them decide whether the business practices of Rupert Murdoch dictate who plays in our leagues or whether we who gave the game of football to the world still lead by example.

RFC may be the headlines today, but it is the reputation and future of Scottish Football as a whole which is at stake.

The battle for RFC is only just beginning. To win it fans must be in it. It’s not about who the fans choose to back, it’s about who chooses to back the fans. They are and always will be the true owners.

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