ANOTHER major boardroom upheaval is on the cards at Ibrox after Dave King announced last night he is ready to become chairman of Rangers after holding “very positive” talks with senior club officials in South Africa.
King invested heavily in Rangers during Sir David Murray’s stewardship and is reported to have lost £20 million when the club went into administration in 2012.
Having settled a long-running tax dispute with South African authorities, the Glasgow-born tycoon is free to invest in the newco Rangers.
And King confirmed last night that he is planning for the funding of the club already, to keep Rangers on course to rise back to the top of the Scottish game.
King said in a statement released by Rangers: “I confirm that I held talks with Rangers chief executive Craig Mather and finance director Brian Stockbridge in South Africa.
“The discussions were, to my mind, very positive and it was agreed that subject to the normal regulatory approval I would put my name forward to join the board and to serve as chairman. Such an appointment is of course subject to the approval of the existing board members and ultimately the shareholders of the company. There are also mandatory regulatory requirements that must be complied with and take time. I have already submitted all the necessary documentation.”
King has been disappointed that news of his meeting with the club officials became public knowledge and sought to assure supporters he has the right motivations.
“First, my willingness to become part of the future of the football club is based simply on my love for the club and my desire to support the club with a combination of my business expertise and my willingness to make a further investment,” he said.
“In particular I see a present need to utilise the time we have over the next few seasons to be prepared, both financially and on the pitch, to compete with our Glasgow neighbours when we get back to the top league.”
The “Glasgow neighbours”, Celtic, have won two back-to-back Scottish league titles while Rangers have toiled with financial trouble and relegation to the bottom tier.
Rangers have earned their first promotion and are two more away from returning to the top flight.
It has been speculated that King wants former director Paul Murray to rejoin the Rangers board, but he stressed: “My involvement is not linked in any way to any other individual, albeit I have my private thoughts as to certain individuals that might add value to the club going forward. Ultimately it is for the shareholders to make such decisions.”
King claims that squabbling off the pitch – “the continued disunity between the fans and other stakeholders” in his words – is holding up Rangers’ progress and warned: “We do not have time to waste.”
He added: “It was also made clear by Mr Mather and Mr Stockbridge that Rangers are not in need of an immediate financial injection but we agreed that now is the time to commence a new round of funding to ensure that it is available in an orderly and cost-effective manner when required. I wish to lead that fund-raising exercise and being on the board will greatly assist me in that regard.”
The Rangers annual general meeting is scheduled for 24 October, when King could return to the board – although the AGM could be delayed following a hearing at the Court of Session on Monday.
The club recently announced operating losses of £14.4 million for the 13-month period until the end of June.
Mather is convinced King can play a key role in the ongoing development of the newco Rangers. He said: “We would be delighted to have Mr King, with his knowledge of the club and business acumen, on board and as can be seen from his own statement he is happy to join us right now in the quest to take Rangers back to the very top.
“Rangers will be back at the top sooner rather than later and Mr King, who has made it abundantly clear that he is willing and happy to work with the current directors of both the plc and ltd – myself, Brian Stockbridge, Bryan Smart and James and Sandy Easdale – would be a great asset.”