Fear and loathing in Ibrox

As a rule I generally don’t intrude upon private grief.

However, for this one today I think I’ll make an exception.

It is the inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Rangers International Football club.

I know this is old ground for regular readers here, but once more for the hard of thinking: Rangers International Football Club (RIFC), a publicly listed company on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), owns The Rangers Football Club (TRFC), formerly known as Sevco Scotland Limited.

This convoluted corporate structure is the earthly representative of the celestial entity known as ‘Rangers’.

Today is the first Annual General Meeting (AGM) of RIFC since it was created in 2012 by Charles Green and his colleagues.

It isn’t up for debate that the wholly owned subsidiary TRFC is burning through money like white phosphorus through tissue paper.

What is worse is that the Ibrox outfit does not have a credit line from a bank and that the cost base is far too high for the revenue streams – it is that simple.

As all of Planet Fitba is aware there have been some fine men in brogues called ‘Requisitioners’ who wish to save the new club from the current dastardly regime.

On Tuesday night the BBC stated (gasp) told the world that the incumbents would carry the day at the AGM.

The response across social media to the very unsurprising news that the current regime at Ibrox was going to remain in control did actually surprise me.

I was surprised that some of The People were startled by the news that the folks with a majority of the shares in the company were calling the shots.

Dear reader that is what usually happens.

An Ibrox source confirmed to me more than a week ago that the current board could definitely count on 54 per cent of the votes.

Moreover, I was told that the remaining 46 per cent were not united.

In the end the ‘Requisitioners’ proved to be little more than corporate tyre kickers.

People get control of a publicly listed company by buying shares, lots of them.

Their strategy, such as it was, appears to have been to attempt to use the mainstream media to spook institutional investors into changing sides in the boardroom battle.

Last night they were given another opportunity, this time by STV, to regale the nation with their grand plan.

Malcolm Murray’s performance has to be seen to be disbelieved.

In one sense it doesn’t really matter who wins as anyone sitting around the table in the Blue Room after the AGM today will have to deal with the serious financial issues that have plagued Project Sevco since the start.

However, the facts on the ground remain that no matter the personnel inside the Blue Room from today onwards, 2014 will either see massive cost cutting or the new clumpany will be perilously close to insolvency.

At the start of this year when I was suggesting such a scenario I received the usual abuse from the online klan.

It was clear that they were still in denial.

It would appear that even they now seem to get it.

For RIFC/Sevco ‘good corporate governance’ in 2014 will mean bringing in an austerity programme that will look very much like administration.

Even if Jim McColl, Alex Wilson, Paul Murray and Malcolm Murray had triumphed today they still would have been facing the same dire financial situation.

There has been some huffing and puffing across social media about The People not renewing their season tickets.

I think when it comes down to it; the Ibrox faithful will remain so.

The deference drug problem at Ibrox was an issue when Rangers were alive.

As long as the home crowd got their fix of ersatz supremacism to tell them that they amounted to something special then they were easily enough corralled and controlled by the denizens of the Blue Room.

One caller to Clyde 1 Superscoreboard two nights ago epitomised the post-David Murray post Rangers zeitgeist at Ibrox because he just wanted to know who would invest in the club.

His yearning for a new sugar daddy was almost palpable.

Convicted criminal Dave King appears to be the man that many Sevco customers believe is their only hope.

It won’t be ‘billionaires’ or ‘tycoons’ who will bankroll Sevco going forward, but the fans.

Although it is easy to take a pop at the sometimes uncomprehending loyalty of the Sevco support, I do find it impressive.

I certainly got it wrong when it came to the numbers of season tickets that would be sold as the new club started out in the bottom tier of professional football.

Once again, for this current campaign the numbers of season tickets sold has impressed me.

Next season will almost certainly require a hike in prices to balance the books as well as the austerity programme already mentioned.

The size of the proposed price increase, if my information is correct, may take some by surprise.

Will the regular customers endure a 100% price rise?

Some of them will and as cost isn’t the reason for any boycott so raising the price is a smart move.

If half walk and half remain then it will be revenue neutral.

However if the strike isn’t that well supported then the price hike will produce an increase in revenues.

What the folks who run the Ibrox outfit have to work out is just how much cash can be extracted from The People by emotionally squeezing them.

The home crowd at Ibrox are in a bind and, I suspect, that the smart chaps around the Boardroom table know that.

In that sense it is game on time.

They wouldn’t sweat the assets so publicly, would they?

The customer base is, in a sense, an asset that can be sweated.

Then there are events that can appear from left field and blindside everyone.

The claim by Neil Alexander may lead to a ‘diligence upon the dependence’ as the late great Paul McConville tutored me on during the Martin Bain case in 2011.

That led to a freezing of the amount under dispute in the club bank account while the issue was being debated within the legal process.

You could say this is a case of very poor timing on the part of the ex-Ibrox ‘keeper.

Alexander’s legal counsel will only have to be able to show a prima facie case and show the possibility of RIFC/Sevco running out of money.

That could lead to an interesting day in court.

As I was writing this, once more, Paul Murray had a fairly clear run at stating his case on BBC Radio Scotland.

The status of this ex-Rangers director within the collective consciousness of the Ibrox home crowd is rather curious.

If he was successful in getting on the RIFC board then he would have as much impact as he did on the board of Rangers (1872-2012), which is the square root of zero.


Because he didn’t own any shares sizeable amount of in Rangers.

Subsequently if it came to a vote Paul Murray’s view counted for little.

Sir David Murray ran the show and latterly it was Lloyds Bank through their guy Donald Muir.

The Easdales are in the building because they invested money, they bought shares so they’re in the game.

This is starting to have the feel of late 2011 for me with just one thing after another and the underlying cash crisis putting strains on the entire operation.

If the new CEO Mr Graham Wallace turns the ship around then it will be because of brutal cost cutting and eye watering price hikes.

It really is now game on for the current board.

They will soon find out how much the Sevco customer base will pay to keep the show on the road.

I think the people at the top of the Magic Staircase will be pleasantly surprised at just how much revenue they can extract from The People.

It is worth remembering that the Ibrox outfit, at the earliest, will not see a Champions League cheque until season 2016/2017.

Until then it is the fans who will have to be bled for cash.

There is an interesting sociological treatise to be constructed on the changing nature of large football clubs and the relationship they have to their fans.

It was once the norm for the owners of British football clubs to be the local business class.

The supporters of the team were often the customers of the denizens of the boardroom on weekdays as well.

The continued anonymity of some of the major shareholders at RIFC/Sevco and the possibility that shady characters might be involved means that the only leverage available to the Ibrox home crowd is to refuse to buy season tickets.

If this boycott was widely supported then insolvency would be almost guaranteed.

That appears to be their only option to punish the current board for having the confidence of the major shareholders.

There is a lot of impotent anger out there among the Sevco customer base at the moment.

They don’t know what to do next and they’re in a quandary.

I suppose I really should look the other way.

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