DAVE KING has claimed Sandy Easdale’s determination to retain his place in the Ibrox directors’ box was a prime factor in Rangers’ decision to reject a proposed £16 million investment by the South African-based businessman last month.
Former Rangers director King was responding to an accusation by current football board chairman Easdale that he made a “phantom bid” which was “designed as a vehicle for self-promotion”.
The Rangers plc board, on which Easdale’s brother James sits as a director, turned down both King’s offer and an alternative £3m loan from Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy. Instead, they accepted Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s £2m credit facility – which last week was increased by £1m to address the ongoing financial crisis at the club.
David Somers, the Rangers plc chairman, stated this week that King’s proposal was turned down because he failed to provide either proof of funding or the identities of other members of his consortium until he received assurances that the 26 per cent shareholding controlled by Sandy Easdale would not block his bid.
King now claims Greenock businessman Easdale’s priority was to ensure both he and his brother held on to their current positions at Rangers.
“It remains interesting that Sandy continues to take the lead on public company affairs,” King said.
“The truth is, when I spoke to Sandy on my recent trip to Scotland, his main concern was whether, after investment by our consortium, he would still be able to stay involved with the club.
“He indicated that Mike Ashley would look after him if he assisted Ashley in protecting his commercial rights. The new investment proposed by Paul [Murray], George [Letham] and I was seen as a threat to Sports Direct’s desire to extend its influence over the Rangers brand in all its forms.
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“After discussion with Paul and George, I confirmed by email to Sandy that we had no immediate intention to remove him or his brother from board involvement at Rangers.
“This concession was clearly not enough to gain his support and the board approved the inferior offer presented by Ashley.
“Furthermore, in my meeting with the Rangers board I confirmed that I could give proof of funds within 24 hours of the board accepting our proposal in principle.
“I was never asked to do this.”
Easdale was quick to respond last night, through a statement from his spokesman, denying King’s claims and challenging him to provide documentary evidence of them.
“There was no conversation between him and Mike Ashley about being ‘looked after’ or about Mr Ashley’s ‘commercial rights’,” insisted Easdale’s spokesman.
“There has been no discussion between Mr Easdale with Mr King on the matters mentioned in his latest statement.
“If Mr King has any proof of such conversations and when and where they took place, he should produce it and, if he is suggesting any improper conduct or motive, he should make his position clear.
“Anybody who knows Mr Easdale would find it risible that he would have adopted such a subservient tone with Mr King.”
Meanwhile, King has also been criticised by former Rangers chairman and owner Sir David Murray for his legal challenge over the £20m investment he made in the club back in 2000.
King is the third largest unsecured creditor of RFC 2012 plc, the operating company currently in the process of being liquidated by BDO following Rangers’ financial collapse two years ago, and could recoup at least £3m when the process is completed.
He also intends to continue his case against Murray on the basis of non-disclosure from the Edinburgh-based businessman of Rangers’ true financial position 14 years ago.
“I don’t understand where he [King] is coming from,” said Murray.
“There’s no foundation at all to it whatsoever. There’s been no financial information held from him.
“In all the times he was a director and I was chairman he had every opportunity to participate in regular board meetings and when he wasn’t there he could have phoned in.
“He had the chance to approve annual audited accounts. He received the board papers always in South Africa and he had all the detailed financial commercial information.
“He had every opportunity to either attend the board meetings or phone in with any questions. On not one occasion did he ever question anything.
“In the period of time I was chairman, there would have been 32 or 33 board meetings, all minuted, all detailed – and not one note of complaint.”
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