This morning’s stock market announcement that Rangers International received a £5m emergency loan from our pal Mike Ashley, with terms agreed (pending diligence) on a further £5m available if needed, will see the club through the next week.
£3m of that £5m will go straight back to Ashley, to repay the loans he issued the club last year, leaving £2m, which will cover this week’s wages, with little left over (last year’s average monthly expenses was £2.75m).
The club can sell players this week, but as that is unlikely to generate significant funds, it looks like additional funding will be needed before next month’s wages – and significantly – before the proposed EGM.
In return for what is little more than an additional three week’s money, Ashley gets a floating charge over ALL the club’s assets. Despite how many headlines portray this story, that includes Ibrox Stadium.
Issuing a floating charge over assets is a normal piece of business for a football club, but this is not a normal football club. Floating charges are usually issued to banks, not predatory retailers, and they are seldom issued when the club is weeks away from running out of money.
A fixed charge has been granted over Murray Park, Edmiston House, Albion Car Park and, crucially, the club’s trademarks. In the event of a default, all these assets become the property of Sports Direct.
For reasons which are hard to fathom, Ibrox became some totem not to be tampered with, allowing Ashley to grab hold of enormous assets with relatively little concern. Should they default, consider this:
You want to sell tickets with ‘your’ crest or badge, pay me. You want to sell programmes, own a web site, do a shirt deal with someone else in the future, display the crest on the stadium wall, pay me.
The fact that Ibrox is subject to a floating, not fixed, charge, means that in theory the board could grant someone else a fixed charge over that asset, if they act before the floating charge becomes actionable. However, with Ashley now able to load the board with another two appointments, that possibility is not credible. If you have the floating charge, and you have the board, you don’t need a fixed charge.
There are other kicks to the nether regions. The club has given Sports Direct another 26% of Rangers Retail, bringing their total holding to 76%, for the duration of the initial loan. This is not hugely significant, but it could be in lieu of fees and interest, which are not being charged.
More interestingly for a club completing short-term funding requirements, they have agreed to pass their shirt sponsorship proceeds to Rangers Retail from 2017, until all these borrowings are repaid. With all the other rights Ashley is likely to assume in the coming months, this seems unnecessary. He has the board, has inserted the conditions he wants in these loans and has the fixed and floating charges required to do pretty much anything. Apart from rubbing people’s faces in the faeces, this additional ‘benefit’ appears superfluous.
What’s the takeaway message in all of this?
Despite the press briefings which were slavishly reported as news earlier this month, Ashley is not about to roll over, no matter how ample his frame. He doesn’t care about anything you care about. He cannot be bribed, blackmailed or coerced. He will react badly to people trying to manipulate him. Very badly.
He has control of the boardroom and Rangers International will need him before he needs it, and before any EGM is held. This is his new baseline, the next round of ‘assistance’ will tighten his grip on the all-important income streams.
It’s an impossible situation for the fans. Learn to live with the guy you’ve failed to box into a corner, while he exacts compensation for the trouble he’s been put to, or continue to resent him.