DAVE KING will return to Ibrox tonight for the first time in two months after being granted “fit and proper” status by the SFA to serve on the board of Rangers.
The South Africa-based businessman, who will take his seat in the directors’ box for the first leg of the Scottish Premiership play-off semi-final against Hibs, has expressed his satisfaction at the outcome of the SFA’s deliberations and pledged to fully commit himself to “rebuilding Rangers”.
Shortly after leading a successful bid for regime change at the club at a general meeting of shareholders on 6 March, King returned to his adopted homeland to await approval of his eligibility to take up a formal role at Rangers.
King, who was previously a non-executive director at Rangers from 2000 until their financial collapse under Craig Whyte’s ownership in 2012, faced scrutiny over both his past involvement at Ibrox and his widely-publicised legal battle with South Africa Revenue Services.
In 2013, the Glasgow-born entrepreneur accepted 41 charges of breaking tax laws which carried a potential prison sentence of 82 years. King, branded a “mendacious witness” by one judge during the 11-year saga, stumped up a settlement of £44 million as a deal was reached with the authorities.
King has subsequently continued his successful business career in South Africa as chairman of his Micromega Holdings company, primarily dealing in IT and financial services.
I am delighted with today’s announcement from the Scottish FA. I can now turn my attention fully to the task of re-building RangersDave King
The 60-year-old consistently stated his absolute confidence that neither the legal nor footballing authorities in Scotland would find any reason to block him from becoming a Rangers director.
Last month, the Court of Session in Edinburgh cleared his application. Yesterday, the SFA also gave King the green light after what they described in a statement as “unprecedented” levels of due diligence.
Evidence and documentation was gathered from police and tax authorities in both South Africa and Scotland, along with independent legal advice from specialist lawyers in both countries.
The final decision rested with the SFA’s eight-man board of chief executive Stewart Regan, president Campbell Ogilvie, vice-president Alan McRae, Hibs chairman Rod Petrie, SPFL chairman Ralph Topping, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell, Scottish Junior FA secretary Tom Johnston and independent director Barrie Jackson.
“Following the submission of an amendment to its Official Return by Rangers Football Club, the board of the Scottish FA has considered the Fit and Proper status of Mr Dave King as a director of the club in respect of Article 10.2 of the Articles of Association,” read the SFA statement.
“Mr King provided substantial information in relation to the matters set out at Article 10.2 (h) and 10.2 (j) namely: He has been convicted within the last 10 years of (i) an offence liable to imprisonment of two years or over, (ii) corruption or (iii) fraud and; He has been ‘a director of a club in membership of any National Association within the 5-year period preceding such club having undergone an insolvency event’.
“In considering the request, the board of the Scottish FA has sought and received specialist independent legal advice, both in Scotland and South Africa, in respect of Mr King’s conviction further to the South African Income Tax Act and in relation to his previous involvement as a director of the club. It has also received significant documentation from relevant authorities both within the UK and South Africa.
“The scale of this due diligence is unprecedented but befitting the complexities of the consideration placed before the board. During this exercise both Mr King and the club were fully co-operative and responded to all questions put to them by the Scottish FA.
“On the basis of this advice presented to it, and having considered all submissions received from Mr King and the club in respect of this matter, the Scottish FA board granted an approval, conditional upon further submissions from Mr King in respect of documented agreements with the appropriate authorities in South Africa.
“The Scottish FA can confirm it has now received this supplementary documentation in full and the board is satisfied Mr King is Fit and Proper in terms of Article 10.2.”
King responded almost immediately with a statement issued by Rangers in which he expressed a sense of vindication at the verdict.
“I am delighted with today’s announcement from the Scottish FA,” said King.
“I can now turn my attention fully to the task of rebuilding Rangers.
“The Scottish FA’s process has understandably been a long one given their recent negative experience with some of the previous board members, who were tasked with being custodians of the club.
“It was essential that I dealt fully with all of the Scottish FA’s questions and provided them with everything they required, no matter how personal, in order to prove that there were no barriers to me joining the board of Rangers International Football Club plc.
“I always maintained I would meet the fit and proper requirements of the Scottish FA once they had examined all the evidence and that is what happened.
“I said before that I must be the most scrutinised candidate in Scottish football history but, as I also previously explained, I was happy to accept this given the importance to the club of having a board fully comprised of individuals with the club’s best interests at heart and who are all approved by the Scottish FA. We finally have that, and my colleagues on the board and I look forward to serving the club in the years to come.
“I thank the Scottish FA for their diligence in this matter and now it is time to look ahead and map out Rangers’ future. However, I will elaborate on that in the coming days because there should be no distractions ahead of tomorrow night’s match at Ibrox. This first leg of the play-off semi-final is absolutely crucial. I will be going to the match and I urge as many Rangers fans as possible to buy the remaining tickets to ensure a packed Ibrox. Together we can help drive the team forward.”
King is likely to become chairman at Rangers, a role which has been held on an interim basis since 6 March by his fellow former director Paul Murray who was passed ‘fit and proper’ by the SFA on 1 May.
The level of King’s personal financial investment in the club will now be eagerly awaited by the club’s support. His most immediate pressing issues include responding to Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s call for a shareholders’ meeting at which he is seeking the repayment of his £5 million loan to Rangers, which currently gives his Sports Direct company security over the Murray Park training ground, commercial branding and retail rights.
Ashley is also demanding answers over Rangers’ de-listing from the stock exchange in the wake of King’s failure to appoint a new nominated advisor in the wake of his victory at the March general meeting.