By Tony Attwood
And so back to Rangers, with my normal caveat that I am writing from a long way south of the border, and simply observing from far away.
But as with all the articles before, I think the observations are worthwhile, not least as a warning to us all as to what can happen to our clubs, and how the media will mislead, mislead and mislead again when the crooks and racketeers cosy up to them and the fans are left out in the cold.
So we covered the news that Newcastle loaned Rangers a whole raft of players a while back. Not long after, Arsenal played Newcastle and Newcastle claimed they only had 13 fit outfield players.
To be fair to Newcastle, the way they played in the second half it looked like they had a decent crop of players – and I am not sure more than one of those who went to Rangers would have been considered anyway – but it seemed an interesting twist in the link between the clubs.
Now we have have found out that Rangers are not only paying the wages of the five loaned players, but they will have to pay £500,000 to Newcastle United for the loan if Rangers win in the play-offs and get back into the Scottish Premier League. And they have to pay this whether the players played for them or not.
The person who made the arrangement was Derek Llambias, a one time MD of Newcastle, and for a while a member of the board of Rangers, appointed by Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle and now unappointed following the latest coup at Rangers.
But the deal is valid, so it has to be paid unless Rangers spend another season in the First Division. Not a bad move for Newcastle (now in profit).
Ashley owns about 9% of Rangers and runs the club shops following a deal with the old now removed board. But more changes could be on the way at the new chairman has yet to come up with all the money needed to keep Rangers going.
As I have noted before, they have been living hand to mouth for some time, for example bringing in season ticket money early, in order to keep the club going through the summer etc.
The loss of £2.6m for the second half of last year doesn’t seem much in relation to Premier League clubs, but in the case of Scottish football in general and Rangers in particular it is huge – they simply don’t have the money.
And although Ashley doesn’t have control of the boardroom or the voting shares, he actually has total power. His £10m loan could be demanded back at any time, and Rangers absolutely don’t have £10m, nor anyone who would lend them £10m.
All of this is happening alongside another sideshow – but actually a very important sideshow.
It is reported that a founder of Rangers Supporters Trust bought a Sports Direct share which then allows him to ask for the register of shareholders and write to them.
Now I am not an expert on this area of company law, but my understanding is that the availability of a list of shareholders is a fundamental within company law in the UK, so that we can know who we are dealing with.
Sports Direct have, apparently, now applied to the Companies Court in London to refuse the request and all future requests “where the only purpose given for the request is to enable members to be contacted, without identifying the subject matter and purpose of such contact”.
Hmmm… I don’t know about that, and if that does go to Court it could be an enormously important ruling. The hearing is due for April 14.
But matters are complicated by the fact that the fan has declared what he wants to do with the data, in this case to, “canvass my fellow shareholders as to whether they would be willing to support resolutions to end the use of zero-hours contracts and to review the terms of the retail agreements with Rangers International Football Club plc to ensure that these generate sales revenue that benefits shareholders rather than the current agreements which whilst appearing to be favourable are generating low sales volumes due to the level of hostility amongst the public to what are viewed as unfair terms.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, Sports Direct is “facing a claim for millions of pounds from nearly 300 workers who were left out of a multi-million bonus scheme because they were on zero-hours contracts.
“Up to 90 per cent of the workforce of 20,000 at Sports Direct are estimated to be on zero-hours contracts, which do not come with sick pay, holidays and do not guarantee a set number of hours a week.”
You can imagine how this has gone down with Mike Ashley – who of course owns Sports Direct, Rangers Retail and some of Rangers trademarks.
I am sure Mr Ashley is a jolly nice fellow, and a perfectly straight businessman. But these days you really do have to be careful who you get into bed with.
Arsenal Anniversaries: a warning note.
I’ve spotted a number of Twitter accounts and blogs suddenly running “On this day” articles in relation to Arsenal. While of course anyone can do as the Arsenal History Society has done and research Arsenal anniversaries, several of these commentaries contain language identical to that used on the anniversary files that we publish.
Naturally I’ve taken an interest, and in doing so found myself under attack from a virus. I’m not saying all sites that have recently started “On this day” listings are doing something naughty, but it might be worth taking care.
I can assure you that Untold and the AHS site go to great lengths to stay clean and clear of infestation.
- How a 14th monk described Arsenal’s failure to buy Moisés Caicedo and Mykhailo Mudryk
- The January transfer window moved few players around: but did any club benefit?
- Are Newcastle United really in financial difficulty? And what about Arsenal?
- Did Arsenal want Mudryk and Caicedo, and was it just luck that they didn’t sign them?
- Is the Premier League getting more exciting or simply ever more predictable?