o Newco Rangers have £1.2m in the bank and the courts have just arrested £620k, leaving circa £600k available. In early September. Football clubs have their cash high water mark in June, after season ticket money arrives, with the low-point coming the month before, so is liquidation just around the corner? Not necessarily.
The club has a couple of significant problems: it’s short of money and has significant monthly outgoings, but it also has assets, and may have buyers for those assets.
Murray Park is an outrageous folly and should be sold immediately. Protests to secure it have been acts of self-harm; swallow your pride and sell. This is a football club in acute danger, pretentions of grandeur, and Murray Park is exactly that, should be shed immediately. Albion car park and the Edmiston House office building are superfluous property assets and could be sold without stopping football operations.
Mike Ashley has an asset Newco want back – stadium naming rights. He could repatriate these rights as a sweetener in a deal to buy Murray Park, Albion and Edmiston. Newco could leaseback the training ground, Sports Direct would be able to build a stonking big tracksuit shop on the Albion site and the club could boast to fans that they negotiated back Ibrox naming rights.
This might sound like a bitter pill but it will keep the lights on a little longer, makes irrefutable sense and is relatively painless. The original Rangers existed for over a century without Murray Park, one of Scotland’s best run topflight football clubs’ Motherwell, train on a school sports field, Newco Rangers could do the same. A little humility right now would be good for them.
There remains a problem: cumulatively, these assets are unlikely to be worth more than the £4m the club hope to raise in their proposed (not underwritten) share issue. This is still not enough to see them through the season. Expenditure for the last season accounts are available, 2012-13, averaged close to £3m per month. The club will need close to £20m between now and season ticket renewal time.
Creditors must be paid or the club will go into administration. To pay creditors, without sufficient income or credit, more assets must be sold, specifically Ibrox.
If they go into administration before selling Ibrox, don’t expect events to follow a similar path to the one Duff & Phelps took when administering Oldco Rangers. Duff & Phelps were appointed by a liquidation specialist with a specific remit. They even tried to sign a player. Newco in administration would follow a more conventional route: redundancies would take place and assets would be sold to pay creditors.
Ibrox is the only significant asset administrators would have to sell. It could generate enough to pay creditors in full and get the club through to the end of the season. Finding a buyer would be the main challenge, but as we all now know, the club can stand or fall, but whoever controls Ibrox can continue to get a rental return from successor club.
An administrator could dismiss the manager and some other highly paid staff, reducing costs to a more manageable level, and pay ordinary creditors in full.
Newco Rangers need to finish in the top four to be in with a chance of promotion, which would be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one with the right manager in place. They could be a top flight club next season.
This is not how fans wanted the Newco to progress but after they were unable to raise more than the £5.5m Charles Green’s consortium put on the table to buy Rangers assets, the future was mapped out.
Costs for police, insurance, electricity, IT, office staff, security and the million other items needed by a football club who occasionally host 50,000 people will be no less than circa £17m p.a – before you employ a footballer.
Newco’s income could rise from the £19m they earned in season 2012-13 (though possibly not this season), but there’s just not enough money to run a football team. Scottish Premiership football would be a chastening experience, the levels of austerity required going forward would be draconian.
Fans can protest that they are watching the same old club all they like, but it’s not going to look anything like the Rangers you or I have ever known – and I knew them under John Greig. And here’s the nub, the most optimistic financial projections are based on Newco selling the same number of tickets Oldco sold. Would a Newco competing alongside St Mirren and Kilmarnock sell any more than the 23,000 season tickets they’ve sold this year?
The long-term financial fundamentals remain unchanged. In 2012 the Blue Knights concluded there was no viable future for football at Ibrox if Rangers were liquidated. Two years later all the evidence reaffirms that position. This is a dead multi-club franchise.
Looking forward to the Maestro Match tomorrow. See you there.