Warburton to get £30m to fund Rangers’ Euro ambitions

Mark Warburton has been assured he will have the necessary funding to ensure Rangers’ return to the Premiership and that the squad will be bankrolled all the way back to the European arena.

Rangers manager Mark Warburton and chairman Dave King at the club's AGM. Picture: SNS Group

The Ibrox manager has identified three areas of his team he wants to strengthen – the left side of defence, defensive midfield and up front – as he strives to stave off the challenge of Hibs to win the Championship.

Chairman Dave King reiterated yesterday that he still feels that £30 million may be needed to produce the quality of squad he desires to compete at the top even if Warburton has achieved more in a short space of time than he expected.

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King, speaking at yesterday’s annual general meeting, said: “I wouldn’t move away from that figure but a lot of it depends on Mark.

“It really was uncommonly successful for Mark – in very short notice – to bring in the number of players that he brought in without being able to do too much preparation and they have all, more or less, worked.

“So in a sense we are in a fortunate position right now because we have had reasonable value for the players we brought in.

“The overall requirement as we advance to the Premiership – promotion this season is essential – and more importantly Europe is we will need a better quality in players.

“How much we will have to spend at that time will depend on development and how successful Mark has been.

“I would still say that £30m is a number that still makes sense to me.”

Warburton is worried he will be left short if skipper Lee Wallace, Andy Halliday or Martyn Waghorn were to suffer injuries.

He said: “We want to look at players who can play in a number of positions, the way Barrie McKay and Martyn currently do.

“Defensive midfield is one area we need cover and left side of defence is another, as we rely on key individuals there, and up front. Any team is always looking for attacking options but we have to find players who can handle playing in front of 40,000 or 50,000.”

King, who announced that the £5m Sports Direct loan is being repaid and that another £2.5m has come in to cover running costs, insists Rangers are in a very strong financial position and he anticipates major investment in 12 months’ time.

He said: “If you look at the club going forward I do believe there is an attraction for investors other than narrow-based investors who are really doing it as supporters.

“I think there is a market out there but the timing is not conducive until we get some of these issues that are obvious to us all sorted out.

“I don’t think the time is right but if you ask me in a year’s time I would be very surprised if we were not in a position where we were more attractive to investors.

“The existing investors put money in to take control of 
the club and we continue to bear the burden of the rebuilding of the club but it will be important to bring in new investors but we are just not ready for that yet.

“The position regarding the soft loans is that those providing them are doing so as an equity substitute. There is no intention of these loans ever to be repaid. They will be converted into equity at some time in the future.

“If you look at the financial strength of the club, once the Sports Direct loan is paid off, other than shareholder loans, which I’m saying you treat as equity, Rangers Football Club has no debt.

“You will go far to find a single football club in the world that has a balance sheet as strong as Rangers, which has a strong supporter base and owns all of its assets.

“We have no external debt whatsoever, Barcelona can’t say that, Arsenal can’t say that and Manchester United can’t say that. We are in a very strong financial position.”

Shareholders had an insatiable appetite to learn the intricacies of the deal with Sports Direct and also the ramifications for Rangers if Charles Green and his fellow accused are found guilty.

However, repeatedly King or company secretary James Blair had to advise that they were legally constrained from answering.

One shareholder asked if there was any legal manoeuvre that could extricate Rangers from the retail deal with Sports Direct.

King said: “What I can say is that this board had spent a huge amount of time and effort looking at a number of commercial contracts and we believe there are a number of opportunities for us to improve in a number of areas.

“The board is actively challenging a lot of the litigation we are facing at this time. There is a lot of energy going into this.

“We can’t talk specifics but I can assure you there is no lack of energy right now.”