Rangers: ‘King refused for failing to prove funds’
The former oldco director flew in from South Africa last month in a bid to wrestle back control of the League 1 champions. The multi-millionaire businessman submitted an investment plan on behalf of a consortium that also involved former Blue Knight Paul Murray and wealthy fan George Letham that would have seen them claim a 51 per cent stake in the club.
Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy also offered the club a £3m loan at the 11th hour – but the Ibrox board instead opted to agree to a £2m crisis loan from Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.
The Sports Direct tycoon – who owns just under nine per cent of the Glasgow giants – has since extended that facility by a further £1m, with his money secured against the club’s Edmiston House and Albion car park facilities. But Somers claims Rangers had no choice but to turn down King’s offer.
“We had three people offering us funds,” Somers told Sky Sports News HQ. “I felt it was very important we do proper due diligence on all three. In the past Rangers has perhaps done deals it wouldn’t have done if it had done proper due diligence.
“Where [the King offer] fell down was really at stage one. When I said to all three of these people, ‘Would you show me proof of funds?’ two showed me proof of funds. The consortium did not.
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“The second question for the consortium was, ‘I know there are eight of you, I only know three of you. Can I please have the other five names?’ And the message I was getting all the time was, ‘If you agree to do a deal, if you persuade 75 per cent of shareholders, then we’ll show you funds and you can have the other names’.
“It wasn’t meeting the due diligence requirements – they were simple questions. I cannot go to shareholders when I don’t know all the names, I can’t check the names out and I can’t put my hand on my heart and say ‘these guys have the money’.
“In the end, we had to move on to stage two which left two providers. Then it was a simple case of which provider was offering the lowest interest rate – Mike Ashley was offering zero interest which is difficult to beat – and which provider wanted least security – again Mike Ashley only wanted a small amount relative to the other deal. Once we got to that stage, it was a no-brainer which one we were going with.”
As well as owning 8.92 per cent of Rangers, Ashley also now runs the club’s retail division through a deal which nets him 49 per cent of shirt-sale profits.
But Somers added: “The merchandising agreement is important to us. We make quite a lot of money from it, and so Mike Ashley and we are both keen that Rangers has financial stability because then we will both benefit.”
King has yet to respond to Somers’ claims.
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