‘We’re pretty much the same as Celtic’ - Dave King makes bold claim about state of Rangers

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Dave King believes he is leaving Rangers in their best condition for 40 years after announcing he will stand down as chairman next year.

The South African-based businessman is planning a new share issue next year which he hopes will wipe out the club’s £11 million debt and leave them in a solid financial state.

Rangers director Alastair Johnston, managing director Stewart Robertson, chairman Dave King and manager Steven Gerrard at the Rangers agm. Picture: Paul Devlin/ SNS

Rangers director Alastair Johnston, managing director Stewart Robertson, chairman Dave King and manager Steven Gerrard at the Rangers agm. Picture: Paul Devlin/ SNS

He even contends that Rangers are now on a par with Celtic on and off the park and therefore will not sanction the sale of Alfredo Morelos in January.

However, he still has unfinished business with Sport Direct and will remain actively involved in completely freeing the club’s retail operation from their grip.

King was close to tears as he announced he was standing down at the Rangers annual general meeting in Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium.

He feels the club is now able to run as a “normal” business after four years of soft loans totalling over £30m from King and the so-called “Three Bears” group comprising Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor.

King said: “We’ll do one more major fund-raise now. That squares everything away. I’m not going to go into the math but we’re going to raise more than we need.

“If I complete the fund-raising the way I want to, the club will be in the best state it has been in for 40 years.

“Other people will judge my legacy and I guess the job is not finished yet. The mere fact that I can consider stepping down shows to you that the club is in its healthiest financial position for years.

“I’m not just talking about since regime change happened, I am looking at when I first sat on the board. We owed the banks £35m back then.

“So once we have squared away what I call the legacy debt, we will no longer need to run the club on an ad hoc basis.”

King claimed Rangers had now drawn level with Celtic in many commercial aspects, with the notable exception of their transfer dealings.

“If you look at the revenue streams, the commercials sales, season ticket sales, we’re pretty much the same as Celtic,” the Ibrox chairman said.

“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.”

The issue with Mike Ashley’s Sport Direct still grates and King will continue to fight the retail tycoon as a member of the Rangers Retail board.

“Sports Direct remains a source of huge frustration because it’s been the one, big failure,” King said.

“I thought we were on top of it, I thought we had nailed it. I thought the second agreement was workable, but they are persistent chaps.

“They look for angles and they find angles and we obviously don’t agree with them all.

“I’ll certainly be sticking around as director of Rangers Retail Ltd because I want to see a conclusion to this.”

King also said that he had contacted HMRC as a shareholder over a report which claimed the Revenue had miscalculated Rangers’ tax liability, and that this had been central to the club being liquidated in 2012.

HMRC denied any mistake had been made but King said: “I have already asked for further information regarding the HMRC situation… because the real victims here would the supporters and the shareholders.

“What I would be looking to do, as a shareholder, is find other supporters to join me in an action against them. I think it is a shareholder/support issue, it is not for the club to do.”

It would seem that Douglas Park will take over as Rangers chairman next year. King said: “The board will have to decide and Douglas, of course, will have to decide whether he wants to step up.

“I have told him it’s a great honour to be chairman of Rangers but it’s not a lot of fun. It’s something he has to think about it.”