Dave King believes Steven Gerrard can turn the balance of power in Scottish football back in Rangers’ favour by stemming the steady flow of Champions League money into Celtic’s bank account.
Rangers chairman King has predicted it will require just one Premiership title win for the Ibrox club to make Celtic’s current dominance of the domestic scene fall like “a pack of cards”.
The ambitious appointment of Gerrard as the new Rangers manager comes at a time when Celtic have posted a record turnover of £90 million and have reached the lucrative group stage of the Champions League for the past two years under Brendan Rodgers.
King admits that Rangers, with a turnover of just under £30 million last year, will never be in profit unless they qualify for the Champions League.
The South Africa-based businessman insists he remains “happy” to continue advancing loans to the club, while a new share issue is expected to be launched in June which he believes will raise between £6m and £8m.
But King believes the gap which currently exists between Celtic and Rangers, both on and off the pitch, can be quickly addressed by Gerrard leading them to the Premiership crown.
“We appoint a manager who can win games and we take one league away from Celtic,” said King. “We only need one league. We don’t need two or three. We need one. Once we take one away, it’s a pack of cards.
“One would expect a reaction from Celtic to the appointment of Steven – we will have to wait and see what it is. But with all of Celtic’s resources at the moment, they are not a million points away from Aberdeen or Hibs, who have resources that are far less than what we have at the moment.
“We are bringing in a manager we think can tip the balance in our favour. Celtic might be over-resourced but you can still only play 11 players. They have a big squad earning a lot of wages but these wages are not all getting on the pitch.”
Scotland’s champions now face four qualifying rounds to reach the group stage of the Champions League but King is unfazed by that scenario.
“If it’s harder to qualify, then it’s harder for both of us,” he added. “We don’t have to guarantee it, we have to narrow the gap against Celtic. So if Celtic are not getting into the group stage, then that’s fine in that sense. It’s bad for Scottish football but it doesn’t create a gap between us. Celtic’s costs structure is more like we were ten years ago. We needed Champions League football and if we went into the Europa League we were in trouble because the cost structure was so high.
“Take that away for one season and it will change the numbers in the Celtic side very, very quickly. They have the comfort levels we once had of knowing we were going to get Champions League money. We have to take that away from them and hopefully we have started that process on Friday by appointing Steven.”
The importance to Rangers’ finances of reaching Europe’s premier club tournament was not underplayed by King.
“We are not going to run it to make a profit in the foreseeable future,” he admitted. “I would expect us only to start making a profit when we are back playing Champions League. Until that point, I think we are going to have to continue funding the deficit every single year.”
King, meanwhile, has defended Rangers’ treatment of former manager Graeme Murty who was sacked last week in the aftermath of the record 5-0 Old Firm league defeat at Celtic Park.
“Graeme certainly wasn’t undermined by anything I did,” said King. “My relationship with him remains good.
“Every time we met it was always clear to him that he was an interim manager and very unlikely to get the job. He understood that. He certainly wasn’t treated shabbily by the club and we are honouring every obligation to him.
“You are getting outside influences suggesting that but it’s not an internal issue. As far as what went on inside with some of the senior players, do I think he was treated shabbily? I think some of his senior players didn’t show him the level of respect for what he was doing for the club at a very, very difficult time. He wasn’t coming in as a complete, accomplished manager, he was coming in to do us a favour and he was undermined partly by some of his own senior players.”
Veteran duo Kenny Miller and Lee Wallace are both currently suspended by Rangers after an alleged dressing-room bust-up with Murty after the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic.
Managing director Stewart Robertson confirmed the club’s investigation into the matter is nearing completion with an outcome expected to be announced soon.