As the new season approaches, Glasgow Rangers seem to be a team on the brink. The brink of what is yet to be decided but Fraser Law tries to explain.
As Rangers arrived in Australia on 21/07/2010 to participate in the Sydney Festival of Football alongside Blackburn Rovers, AEK Athens and host club Sydney FC, what will the forth-coming season bring for reigning Scottish Champions?
When the Ranger’s party set out from Glasgow to Sydney there was only 13 senior pro’s in the group. Six First Team players have left Ibrox for pastures new, Kris Boyd and Kevin Thomson have left to join Gordon Strachan’s Scottish revolution at Middlesbrough, Nacho Novo has returned to his native Spain with Sporting Gijon, Stevie Smith has joined Paul Lambert at Norwich City, DeMarcus Beasley has left after his contract expired and Danny Wilson recently departed to join Liverpool.
With no players coming into Ibrox, Rangers fans are very worried and they have every right to be. The rumour mill is not offering much hope. With Rangers only target so far this summer, Chris Eagles of Burnley, tuning down the Glasgow club, fans must be wondering who wants to sign for Rangers and what is REALLY happening behind closed doors.
On 22nd of July, the Daily Record quoted chief executive Martin Bain saying:"As things stand right now, we need three new players - guys of a decent standard.”
"At the moment, we have a couple on the radar, players we are looking at. It's two at the moment but by the end of the transfer window, I hope to have signed three."
This would take the 1st team squad to 16, which is bare minimum for a match to go ahead, plus youth players. Players like striker Brett Holman of AZ Alkmaar have been linked with Rangers but is the uncertainty of the clubs future being a major stumbling block for attracting new blood to Rangers?
Rangers are about to play in the Champions League for the fourth consecutive season but Eagles still said no. It was reported that he was unable to agree personal terms but either the uncertainty of the future put him off or is it that the Lloyds Bank business plan agreed earlier in the year is more catastrophic than fans thought? It would embarrassing to the club, to Scottish football and to the competition as a whole if Rangers entered the Champions League with a bare minimum squad. Rangers are being ravished by a bank and are literally on their knees. And Rangers fan or not, everyone will agree that it’s a sad day to see one of Scottish Football’s giants in such a state. They are not a club with lack of income, the revenue of qualifying for the Champions League is worth a minimum of £10 million to Ibrox club. The wage bill has been driven down, a slight silver lining on the departure of the best players. But the question remains, who will come in to replace them and how will they be financed?
With the financial constraints surrounding the Ibrox club, fans will now be putting hopes and dreams into the Murray Park youth system. So far John Fleck and Danny Wilson have made an impact on the first team and more youth players will receive the same chance over the forth-coming season. In the first pre-season game of the season against Queen of the South, youngsters like Andrew Shinnie, Jamie Ness and Thomas Kind Bendiksen all got the opportunity to impress and other players of the Under 19 team will do so as well. The facilities are world-class and will give youngsters plying their trade at Murray Park the best chance to achieve their dreams. But the under lying question needs to be addressed. Sir David Murray has said he cannot find a buyer. Surely between Murray and Bain they can hire someone to find a buyer? Liverpool appointed Martin Broughton, the chairman of British Airways to sell the Merseyside club. The bank involved with Liverpool has been mandated to sell the club.
Donald Muir has been appointed to the Ibrox board by bank chiefs in 2009 to recoup debts of up to £30million from Rangers but not to find a buyer? In the best interests of the club and the debt due to bank, a new buyer needs to be found or Rangers will only slide further down the rabbit hole. Andrew Ellis and his company, RFC Holdings have been the only confirmed consortium to have held talks with Murray over the sale of Rangers but alas no deal could be reached. Rumors were persistent that Murray was holding out for an unrealistic payoff for his controlling stake in the club
The Sydney Festival of Football will provide good preparation for the most grueling season in the club’s history. But underlying issues need to be addressed, David Murray had taken Rangers forward since he took over from Nevada-based Lawrence Marlborough, for a sum of £6 million in November 1988. But the days of Dick Advocaat’s big spending and offering big wages to players like Andrei Kanchelskis are long gone and now Rangers are paying the highest price for its overspending.
Rangers’ fans want to look forward to and not fear what the new season holds. Let us all hope they return from Australia with youth players given a real chance to impress and let fans forget for 90 minutes about dire straits the Ibrox club is in.