Dave King defends running Rangers from South Africa

Rangers chairman Dave King takes his seat in the stands ahead of kick off on a rare visit to Ibrox in January last year. Picture: SNS
Rangers chairman Dave King takes his seat in the stands ahead of kick off on a rare visit to Ibrox in January last year. Picture: SNS
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Rangers supporters might prefer to see him spending more time in Govan than Gauteng but Dave King has no intention of changing his status as an absentee landlord of the Ibrox club.

The South Africa-based businessman is on a rare visit to Glasgow this week, breaking bread for the first time with new manager Pedro Caixinha and formulating a player recruitment budget he hopes will result in the Portuguese coach overseeing a strong title challenge to Celtic next season and guide Rangers into the group stage of the Europa League.

Two years after taking 
control of the club, King’s ambitions for it remain high. But he will continue to try and achieve them from afar. He shrugs off criticism of his hands-off approach, insisting it makes no difference to his level of commitment towards a task which, so far, he admits has brought him little but 
hassle.

With so much of Rangers’ recovery from financial meltdown in 2012 still tangled up in court proceedings, King is quick to point out that he 
didn’t get involved for the fun of it all.

“Have I had any fun or enjoyment from being involved in Rangers these past two years?” he reflected. “Not much. If you added it all together it would only come to about ten hours of enjoyment, and that was probably all after the Scottish Cup semi-final win last season. The whole ten hours were all squashed together.

“So, is it fun? Of course it’s not fun. There is nothing fun about what I’m doing. There’s litigation, being sued by Sports Direct and having people trying to put me in jail. What is fun about that? But I didn’t do it for fun, I did it because I felt at that time there was no-one else willing to step into the breach. But I now spend a huge amount on things like litigation, and there is no fun in 
litigating with Mike Ashley (pictured right).

“There’s nothing fun about that at all, nothing enjoyable or satisfying about it. But I have to do it.

“I travel to Scotland more often than I’d like to. People say I’m absent but I’m here far more often than I’d like to be. Sometimes I fly into London for one day to meet on litigation and fly home the same evening. It’s actually taking up more of my time than I’d like, and it’s not fun. But I signed up to do it.

“I’m not going to leave South Africa, that’s for sure. 
Listen, I don’t think it’s an issue. 
Personally I think it’s an advantage. The only disadvantage of me not being available on a 
regular basis would be in the corporate hospitality side of things.

“Ideally you would have the chairman at games, meeting everyone and talking to them. That would be a perfect world. But then you have got to dial back and ask ‘what is right for the club?’

“Let’s imagine I step down, feeling there was an issue. Where would the club be in a year’s time? Part of regime change was whether there were local people who were able to do this – and you’ll remember from interviews I did initially when I said I did not want to get involved at Rangers, I did not want to invest in Rangers. And my position remains the same. If anyone wanted to come in and do the job better then they can come in.

“But I’m left in a situation that, as a South African, and despite other attempts from different rescue operations, I became the one who had to come in and do it.

“Did I want to do it? No, I didn’t want to do it. I absolutely didn’t want to do it. But is the club better with a local chairman? I don’t know because where would he come from? It’s not a question of not wanting to do it now, but I live in South Africa. You can’t fly into Glasgow on a Saturday morning to watch a game. I have Rangers TV, I mean I watch every game. I don’t actually have to be at Ibrox.

“Let’s put it this way, if it was a condition of me being involved in Rangers that I had to relocate to Scotland, firstly I’d be single because my wife would divorce me as she certainly wouldn’t come here. The fact is if there was someone else who could have done it then they would have done it. But I had to do it and I’m not willing to become single!”

King also defended the level of investment in the club since forcing regime change in 2015 and says that a sum higher than the oft-quoted figure of £30 million which he intended to spend will be required to close the gap on champions Celtic.

“We have spent far more than half of the £30 million already,” he added. “£30 million is not enough. It is going to be more than £30 million. But what the figure is at the end of the day will depend on how well we do.

“We are behind where I thought we would be on the field this season. I would have expected us to be equidistant between Aberdeen and Celtic. If we were 12 points behind Celtic and 12 points ahead of Aberdeen I would have thought that was a fair position, given that the strategy was to win the Championship last year and try to add seven players to improve the squad and then add five, six or seven next year to try to improve it for Europe.

“That’s clearly not worked for us on the park this year. The sooner we start competing in Europe and start competing successfully with Celtic, the more chance normalised 
revenues would allow us to continue on that basis.

“If we fail in Europe, we are going to have to put more money in to get us to that position. But it is pretty much a season-by-season basis.”