Dave King today held a press conference which left many supporters perplexed and exasperated as to why no appointments have been made with only a month to go before the survivors of last season’s now squad report back for pre-season training.
While many journalists neglected important issues such as the appointment of a CEO, a financial director or the implementation of a scouting structure, he did give a progress update on various issues – even if they were somewhat vague.
The rumour mill had spun into overdrive in the past 24 hours after some bookmakers moved Mark Warburton into heavily odds-on favourite to be the next Rangers manager while others even suspended betting. However, King gave little away, simply stating that we have a five man shortlist who the committee (presumably Paul Murray and John Gilligan) are interviewing and an appointment will hopefully be made next week.
Many are unhappy with that timescale but I think it is vital that we do our homework on the candidates as thoroughly as possible as this appointment is paramount to returning the club to the top of Scottish football. We don’t want to rush the process and then in a year’s time be back in the exact same situation having to rebuild yet again as that would be catastrophic for a club our size.
King reiterated his previous statement with regards to the creation of a Director of Football role by saying that he feels it would be “counterproductive” to employ someone in that position at this present moment due to the uncertainty and unstableness of the footballing side of the club – this to me suggests that Warburton is their preferred choice as he has previous experience in a similar role at Brentford and would come with knowledge of player development, youth structure, recruitment and a sound understanding of the economics and budgetary limitations at football clubs.
The main reason for calling the press conference was to announce the launch of the 2015/2016 season tickets. A modest 5% price increase will see juveniles pay £53, concessions £210 and adults £312 for the eighteen Championship home games – hopefully the play-off debacle will be an irrelevance this time round. I think this is a reasonable ask of supporters as we clearly have to subsidise the loss of revenue promotion would have guaranteed by altering our pricing strategy accordingly.
King claimed that he hopes to sell out all season tickets. The only worry I have is that there wasn’t a hook contained in the presser which would entice disillusioned fans back to Ibrox. But if we can shift 36,000 season tickets with Charles Green in charge then we should be able to reach near that figure with Rangers minded people patrolling the marble staircase.
Another less pressing matter, but something that Mike Ashley has taken umbrage with, is the issue of the club’s parent company being delisted from the AIM stock exchange. King declared that further talks with presumably the ISDX – the market which the oldco’s shares were traded on and the market Arsenal are currently listed on – have taken place. As he admitted, this can be a complicated and protracted process especially after the turbulence surrounding the company’s share price but he seemed confident that this is a mere formality.
Renegotiation talks have begun with Sports Direct over the onerous contract entered into by the previous board, which in the short-term has to be high on King’s agenda.
With no mention of the old buzzword ‘war chest’, King did say we would spend “whatever it takes” to win promotion this season, which struck me as an ill-advised comment considering the tens of millions the charlatans haemorrhaged previously.
The eleven out of contract players: Robinson, Simonsen, McCulloch, Faure, Foster, Smith, Mohsni, Hutton, Black, Daly and Boyd, have left the club which leaves a depleted squad in great need of quantity as well as quality.
However, King was clear that there is a three year plan in place, during which he and the other investors such as the Three Bears will cover the annual deficit. When questioned on his projected level of investment, King didn’t stray from his earlier figure of £30m, but did say the rate at which the funds are invested may have to be accelerated to ensure we win promotion and have a squad capable of challenging Celtic in a year or two.
The investment will not be limited to just the playing squad and bridging the financing gap, there will be an overhaul of the scouting department and practically every area which has fallen into a state of desuetude. The ultimate aim however is to have a self-sustainable model at the end of the three year period, echoing Paul Murray’s sentiments some months earlier.
With a mobilised fan base stretching into every corner of the globe, season tickets and merchandise should be the cornerstones of any self-sustainable business model, not a reliance on a sugar-daddy. This is why it is vital that fans return in their droves and support schemes such as Buy Rangers and Rangers First as, although we trust that King and the rest of the new board have the club’s best interest at hearts, it is still important that we have a say in the running of the club and hold those in charge accountable.
There wasn’t much concrete information to be gained from the press conference but it did give the fans a degree of transparency which we have been craving for a long time now.