Dave King: ‘I’ve enjoyed seven minutes of it... day we beat Celtic at Hampden’

Dave King welcomes Steven Gerrard to Rangers.
Dave King welcomes Steven Gerrard to Rangers.
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Three of the greatest golfers in the world relived former glories over a sumptuous dinner in Hawaii nearly 20 years ago, oblivious they were a subplot to a major chapter in Rangers’ history.

Arnold Palmer Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were winding down after competing in a Champions Tour event.

Player had brought his caddie with him which seemed strange to IMG vice-president Alister Johnston, a subsequent Ibrox director but doing some consultancy for the club.

Intrigued by the mystery guest, Johnston quickly discerned that, like him, Dave came from Glasgow and, with a little more digging, found out he was not only a Rangers supporter but an incredibly wealthy one.

By the end of the night he had convinced King to invest in Rangers and woke David Murray in Edinburgh to tell him the good news: “Gary Player’s caddie going to put in £20million.”

Dave King lost all of that investment after Murray’s cavalier management style and subsequent disastrous sale of the club to Craig Whyte in 2011.

He resisted becoming involved again during the financial meltdown the following year and the subsequent transfer of assets to Charles Green’s consortium.

However, at the behest of shareholders and supporters sickened by what they believed was miss-management and asset stripping, he came back in March 2015 to find a train wreck.

It’s taken this long to fix and King admits it’s been a chore. He said: “‘I think I enjoyed about seven minutes of it – the day we beat Celtic in the semi-final at Hampden.

“Those seven minutes didn’t last long as I’d a meeting straight afterwards which took me back to 
reality.

“So I think about seven minutes. Out of five years that’s not bad.

“Looking back, I think you’d have to say the club was in a far worse position than I had envisaged when regime changed initially came about.

“I thought the situation would be dire because of what insiders were telling me. I still felt there would be infrastructure in place. However, it had been institutionally demoralised.

“They weren’t doing any maintenance, even the health and safety stuff was being ignored. The level of degradation throughout the club was astonishing.

“A lot of the money initially had to go into the stadium and into health and safety. We had to make immediate improvements to the stadium otherwise they would have shut it down.

“The amount of cash I wasn’t able to put into the team at that stage was disappointing, but we really had no other option.

“Did it set us back? I don’t know. Maybe that had more to do with the managers.”

While Mark Warburton’s Championship season was successful, he was found out at Premiership and the appointment of Pedro Caixinha, pictured inset, 
was as off the wall as it was disastrous.

The bold appointment of Steven Gerrard is already looking like a shrewd one with a real title race, success in Europe and a cup final coming up. King said: “We have now got a manager at Rangers that is fitting of the image and reputation.

“That has helped me a lot with the corporate and sponsorship side of things. 
People want to be associated with Rangers. Five years ago they didn’t want to be associated with this club. There is a big difference now.”

He also feels he has restored Ranges to 
party with their great rivals.

He said: ““If you look at the revenue streams, the commercials sales, season-ticket sales we’re pretty much the same as 
Celtic

“If you take where we were five years ago and where their commercial revenues were, remember we were in the Championship, right now we are exactly there with them.

“The advantage Celtic have got at the moment is they’ve had a good track record of player trading.

“We don’t yet have the pool of players where we can use player trading as an immediately reliable source of income but that is our strategy.”

That South Pacific dinner must seem like another lifetime ago for the man who many feel will be remembered as the saviour of
 Rangers.