Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Malcolm Murray: Rangers won't survive unless I'm voted back

Former chairman's stark warning to Ulster-based fans

Listen up: Sammy Douglas MLA has the attention of the audience in Belfast
Former Rangers chairman Malcolm Murray

Former Rangers chairman Malcolm Murray has raised fears over the long term future of the club if the consortium that he is part of fails to win the approval of shareholders at this month's AGM.

He and ex-board member Paul Murray – who is also a member of the group that is trying to win control at Ibrox – met with representatives of 60 Rangers supporters clubs in Belfast last night.

And he didn't sugar coat the message that an institution that had designs on being kings of Europe less than 20 years ago remains on the precipice – 18 months after it entered administration.

The future can be bright, however, with ambitions to play in a European Super League down the line – but only if the club is on a secure footing.

"I personally think that the club is in danger if we don't get a win here," said Malcolm, who is likely to return as chairman if the vote on December 19 goes the way of his group rather than the current board being re-elected.

"I don't see how it's going to be funded. The official statement from the last fans meeting with the current board said that they would have £1m cash left in April.

"They spent quite a lot of that already in pay-outs so I don't know how much longer it will be before it runs out – probably before Easter if things don't change dramatically or unless they have investors lined up, which they haven't said they have.

"We do have, both private and institutional investors, who will back us."

The picture in Govan has never looked bleaker. Craig Whyte bought the club for a mere £1 in May 2011 from David Murray. By February the following year it was in administration and within six months Rangers found itself in the Scottish Third Division for the first time in its illustrious 140 year history.

While things are improving on the pitch after last season's promotion success, off the field uncertainty remains. Paul and Malcolm are working to put Rangers back on an even keel and rallying the support of the club's Northern Ireland fanbase is crucial to them – hence the reason why they made the trip across the Irish Sea.

Paul Murray said: "These are the customers of the club and unlike an English club, in Scotland the fans are the lifeblood of the club with the money they spend on season tickets, merchandise etc.

"What I find disappointing is that last Thursday in Glasgow nobody from the current board came to address the fans and they didn't even reply to the email invite to come to Belfast, which I think is a really shoddy way to treat the customers.

"The fans saved the club last year and to not engage with them just isn't right."

Their attempts to gain control of Rangers have met a number of barriers already. Paul was removed from the board almost three years ago. Malcolm was ousted as chairman earlier this year. They are, however, refusing to give up. Even in the last few weeks they have to go to the Court of Session in Edinburgh to win the nominations at the AGM.

"I want to get involved to help save the club," said Malcolm (pictured).

"This time last year there was a short period when we thought that things were looking pretty good. We raised £22m, had a clean balance sheet, had full asset ownership. Unfortunately with all of our difficulties most of that cash has disappeared on non-investment activities.

"Investment activities mean spending money on the stadium or players – that's what a football club does – but the money has been spent elsewhere and it needs tight cash control for the future, new funding – which we have access to -and get the faith of the fans back."

"This puts us in a position to go to any of the institutional investors who are still wavering and say we have the customers overwhelmingly behind our group to clean this up for the future. That's why it's important.

"I was an institutional fund manager for over 30 years. In 30 years of trying to sort companies out this is the most complex situation I have ever seen, Ending up in the Court of Sessions in Edinburgh to get nominations at an AGM is outrageous and a waste of company funds. It could have been done months ago."

It's only five years since Rangers were in the Uefa Cup final. Twenty years ago this season they were in what was effectively a Champions League semi-final against Marseille.

Those days can return according to the Malcolm.

He said: "Anything can happen, but we have to be in financial health to be involved."

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