RANGERS chief executive Graham Wallace has insisted that major shareholder Sandy Easdale was not speaking for the Ibrox club when he cast serious doubt on their financial position and repeated his own assertion there is “no threat” of a second administration.
Easdale, who controls more than 26 per cent of the shares in Rangers, described the club’s situation as “fragile” in a BBC Scotland interview ahead of Wallace’s publication yesterday of his business review and strategic plan for the League 1 champions.
The long-awaited document painted a damning picture of Rangers’ operations since its business and assets were purchased by Charles Green’s consortium in May 2012 following the descent into administration and liquidation under Craig Whyte’s ruinous tenure.
Despite raising £70.7 million through a share issue, season ticket sales and commercial income between that date and December 2013, only £3.5m was left at the end of last year. Wallace’s review admits the club “mismanaged almost all of its cash reserves following administration” and that a “perfect opportunity to rebuild Rangers has been completely missed”.
Wallace has now set out a strategy which will require capital funding of up to £30m over the next three years and which he believes can culminate in Rangers winning the Premiership title in 2017 and qualifyingfor the Champions League. The club intend to have another share issue later this year to raise cash, but their immediate financial position is dependent on the sale of season tickets against the backdrop of former director Dave King’s call for supporters to instead place their renewal money in a trust fund.
But, although Wallace admitted poor season ticket sales would have an impact on the club’s financial operations, he distanced himself from Sandy Easdale’s bleak assessment and the possibility of a second administration at Ibrox.
“Sandy Easdale’s comments were made by him in his capacity as a shareholder,” said Wallace. “He’s not a director of the PLC board, so they were not made in a capacity in respect of the PLC company.
“I’ve gone on record before to say there would be no threat of administration and my position today is exactly the same. There is no change to my view based on the club’s current position and our future projections.
“Sandy Easdale wasn’t put out to comment by the club.
“He made them as a shareholder. You would have to speak to him directly to ask the context in which he made those comments.
“If you are asking me if ‘administration II’ is a possibility, then I’m saying categorically ‘No’. There would need to be a significant reduction in season ticket renewals to present a major problem to the club.”
Wallace denied that the current level of season ticket sales was as much as 9,000 down on the same period last year.
But the situation has been further complicated by the withdrawal of credit and debit card services to pay for season tickets after the company who processed them for the club demanded security over Ibrox Stadium to protect itself against any potential liabilities.
Rangers turned down that request and supporters will now only be able to purchase season tickets by bank transfer, cash or cheque payment.
“We have extended the season ticket renewal window through to 16 May and we will monitor the progress of the fans renewing over the coming weeks and assess it,” added Wallace. “There is no sense of panic – no sense of panic at all. Season ticket sales have been slow and I don’t think that’s surprising. A lot of people have been waiting to see what we were going to see coming out of the review, a sense of comfort and security that if they put their money in, the company is still going to survive, but also a sense of ambition in terms of where we want to take the club.
“We’ve never said that we would look to run this club on a limited cost basis. What we did say was that we would look at every pound we were spending and ask ourselves if we were spending it in the right areas. I think we’ve been true to that.
“So what we’re setting out is a summary of the position as it was, an assessment of where we are today but, more importantly, a vision of where we want to take the club over the next three to five years. We’ve spent a decent amount of time on a proper robust business plan.
“I said at the time of the AGM that there was no point in going out and looking to raise funds if you haven’t got a robust plan that sits behind that.
“So that’s what we’ve done and I very much hope that the Rangers fans will look at what we’ve said and support us with a sense of comfort that we’re running the club in the right way, that we have a sense of ambition and that their aspirations for a successful team on the field is equally matched by those of us in the boardroom who are trying to grow and develop the club.”
What Wallace described as a “small number” of staff will be made redundant as a result of the review findings. He also outlined plans for two new major roles at the club – a chief football operations officer, responsible for player talent identification, scouting and recruitment, and a chief commercial officer tasked with maximizing club revenues.