Rangers: Dave King returns to Ibrox boardroom after SFA test

Dave King (centre) with John Gilligan (left) and Paul Murray
Dave King (centre), John Gilligan (left) and Paul Murray ousted the previous board at an EGM at the beginning of March

Dave King had been waiting for 74 days to return to Ibrox as a director again.

In the time since the shareholders voted him, Paul Murray and John Gilligan onto the board, King has scrupulously kept out of the decision-making process at the club.

and dynamic leadership is required.

The opening months of the new boardroom regime have seen consolidation, a bid to restore a sense of stability and the beginning of some long-term thinking, but issues still need to be addressed.

Finance

Always the critical factor, although not as inflammatory a subject as it was under the previous board. A loan from Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor provided short-term funding, but there is a structural deficit to address as well as the requirement for investment to rebuild the infrastructure of the football and business sides of the club.

Ibrox Stadium
Ibrox Stadium requires investment to bring the facilities up to scratch

The expectation is that King and other investors - most prominently Park - will participate in a fundraising exercise, most likely as a share issue - making new shares available - or by way of loans that are converted to equity, or a combination of both. The money is crucial if the process to restore the club to its previous stature is to begin in earnest.

When King, Murray and Gilligan were elected onto the board in March, King remarked that "the club is broken in many areas". Fixing those problems will take time, but it needs to be underpinned by investment as much as ideas.

Given his public statements about providing funds, King is expected to deliver the bulk of the new money that the club requires.

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Sportsound panel discuss Dave King

The priority will be establishing financial security, but there are a range of immediate issues that need to be dealt with, including restoring the club's commercial capabilities and re-staffing areas of the business that were cut by the previous regimes.

Managerial matters & more

Stuart McCall has improved the team's form and handled every dilemma and off-field complication he has faced with a calm manner. As a former Rangers player, and with good management experience including a mostly impressive spell at Motherwell, his long-term appointment would hardly create dissension in the ranks of the Ibrox club's supporters.

Nonetheless, the board must also consider if the 15,000 fans who did not renew their season tickets will be sufficiently engaged by McCall's appointment, to return to the fold. There are also wider issues to address on the football side.

There is no scouting network in place, analysis methods need to be better and there needs to be a collective sense of direction. The Rangers board has to decide what strategy to put in place to ensure that the team progresses, that it is run on a financially sustainable basis, and delivers the kind of football that the supporters will respond to.

Rangers boss Stuart McCall
Stuart McCall is relaxed at the idea of having to apply this summer for the Rangers manager's post on a long-term basis

McCall is in place just now, and the priority is trying to reach the top-flight through the play-offs.

Ashley and Sports Direct

Rangers directors have met with representatives of Sports Direct, the company owned by Mike Ashley. Yet the request from Ashley's investment firm, Mash, for a general meeting to answer questions about the delisting of Rangers International Football Club from the AIM stock exchange and to ask shareholders to vote on the repayment of Sports Direct's £5m loan, reflects an ongoing tension.

Ashley, who owns Newcastle United, has an 8.92% shareholding in Rangers International Football Club.

Derek Llambias and Barry Leach, the former Ibrox chief executive and finance director respectively, remain suspended. Llambias is a long-time associate of Ashley's, while Leach left his executive role at Sports Direct to move to Rangers.

Their situation needs to be addressed, as does the £5m loan and the nature of Rangers' commercial relationship with Sports Direct, through the joint venture Rangers Retail.

Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley holds the security over the club's branding, the Murray Park training ground and Rangers' retail rights.

Documents have been pored over, as the new regime has sought insight and background to the deals that were struck with Sports Direct, including the level and extent of the securities provided against the £5m loan.

That information-gathering process will eventually need to deliver an outcome, and now that King is chairman, the board may be more inclined to address the relationship with Sports Direct, both historically and in the future.

Rangers' standing

The 'fit and proper test' process has been lengthy for King, but he was always adamant that he would be able to take his place as chairman. In the absence of an executive management team, that makes him the club's figurehead.

Fans will look to King and the rest of the board to lead the club forward. King, along with the directors and his fellow investors, will have the main influence in setting the tone and the priorities of the next stage of the club's rehabilitation.

A balance of authority and consideration will need to be struck. King has been waiting for long enough, he will now need to show that he is ready.

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