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New era at Rangers?

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The Dave King consortium has acquired control of Rangers leading to hopes of a new era at the troubled club.  King is an exiled Glaswegian living in South Africa, where he has pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion.  He is generally seen in a favourable light by supporters given the performance of the old board.    He will, however, have to pass a fit and proper person test.

Industrialist Sir David Murray bought a controlling interest in the club for £6m in 1988.   Star players were brought in on high wages, but by 2002 Rangers were £80m in debt.   It has been suggested that Murray adopted the right strategy in the wrong country.   Satellite television turned the Premier League into a big business, but Rangers had become over leveraged within the smaller market of Scottish football.

Murray's company suffered severe losses in its property portfolio in the global financial crisis.  In May 2011 he sold Rangers to Scottish businessman Craig Whyte for £1.   At first, Whyte appeared to be like Murray, but with more money.    However, promised investment did not occur and the club ran up a tax bill of £9m.   This was what led to Rangers entering administration in 2012.

Administration, followed by the liquidation of the old company with debts of £124m, left the club in a void in the boardroom, through which passed a succession of businessmen claiming to be 'Rangers men'.  In the words of Henry McLeish, former Scotland first minister, the new incarnation of the club, placed in the Scottish fourth division, has 'been unable to attract stable finance backed by stable personalities.'

Mike Ashley's associates were dispatched with 'brutal efficiency',  Chief executive Derek Llambias and finance director Barry Leach were voted off the board.   Ashley was recenly fined £7,500 by the Scottish Football Association for exercising 'undue influence' at the club but, given his resources, that amounted to a slap on the wrist.   This is a bigger setback for the Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner.

However, Ashley is still well entrenched at the club.   In additiion to a 8.92 per cent shareholding, he controls 75 per cent of the club's merchandising through Sports Direct.  His retail business has also extended the club a £10m loan facility, secured against the club's assets including its training ground and trademarks.

Dave King said that the club would need more than £20m of investment. 'The club is pretty much broken.   It's broken in many areas.  Pretty much everything within the club has to be looked at.'