New losses at Ibrox, new people to blame

Ibrox Stadium Image copyright SNS
Image caption The Three Bears are allies of fellow shareholder Dave King

Since the last time Rangers splashed its financial red ink in public, there's been yet another change of management at Ibrox.

And as there's another loss, and more bad news associated with it, the new chairman, Paul Murray, is stressing how disappointed he is by the mess he's been left.

What this overlooks is that the pre-tax loss for the back six months of last calendar year were lower than the same period in 2013, down from £3.5m to £2.7m.

If David Somers had still been chairman, the same set of figures would surely have been accompanied by a message about things improving.

Rugby boost

What the numbers make clear is that a boycott of Ibrox by fans - either deliberate or through exasperation - has done a lot of the financial damage.

Gate receipts and hospitality takings were down £700,000 to £5.7m. Retail takings were down £500,000 to £4.3m. Sponsorship revenue was down £300,000 to only £400,000. Sponsors tend to shy away from controversy.

The new bosses, while out of power, were happy to see that pressure exerted on their predecessors. So although Paul Murray is "disappointed", perhaps he should shoulder some of the responsibility.

Indeed, in the circumstances of those categories of falling revenue, David Somers might have been arguing that things could have been a lot worse. And it was helped by the unlikely intervention of rugby, with the Commonwealth Games holding the Sevens tournament at Ibrox.

Going concern

The six-month figures come with a lot of passionate rhetoric about the importance of Rangers fans and the return to the glory days, as well as some insights into the financial thinking.

In the short term, it has to be a significant concern that the auditor, Deloitte's, quit last summer. Shareholders were not informed, and another auditor is yet to be appointed. So the latest figures do not have the status of proper audit. Instead, it's fallen to 'independent reporting accountants' to point out the substantial risk that Rangers may not be able to continue trading as a going concern.

That will require more funding later this year. Beyond that, a medium-to-long term funding plan for Rangers will be published "in the very near future". The very near future also includes the 30 day London Stock Exchange deadline for getting a nominated adviser in place.

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That role is as a first line regulator to ensure those on the junior Alternative Investment Market are sticking to stock exchange rules. The last adviser, or nomad, quit on March 4. Without one, share trading was suspended, two days before the last board was swept out and replaced.

So unless there's a new nomad by the end of this week, Rangers faces permanent removal from trading on the stock exchange. That would make some things easier for the current directors. For a start, they wouldn't have to release all this information to investors (and fans and the media).

But they have claimed they want to keep the listing in place, as that's what investors have bought into when Rangers International Football Club floated more than two years ago. And as they're going to have to go back to those investors, there's all the more reason to remain publicly listed.

Toxic trail

Today's market update says Rangers is heading for another fund-raising exercise by selling new shares this summer. Directors say: "This funding will be provided by existing and new investors who now want to invest in the club".

Allowing the issue of shares for new investors has been tried twice in the past two years, but rejected by shareholders. This looks like it would require a third attempt to get permission at a general meeting.

There's also a renewed commitment to get fans represented on the board. The first attempt by the new management didn't work too well. The directors' pick for that job quickly turned out to have a toxic trail on social media, and he had to go.

The strategy now is to get fans to think long-term, by which directors mean seven years. That happens to lead to 150th anniversary of Rangers being founded. Cue howls of complaint from critics about whether the current Rangers is a continuation of the club founded in 1872.

So patience is being urged. Patience is a rarity among football fans, and Rangers fans have good reason to be less patient than most.

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