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Rangers FC In Financial Mire


Rangers manager Walter Smith has claimed that Lloyds Banking Group is effectively overseeing the club's spending. Rangers are £25 to £30m in debt and Lloyds recently appointed their own representative to the club's board. The club's plight has become a political issue with the Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy, demanding assurances from Lloyds that it had not threatened to put Rangers into administration. The club's decision to sell the rights to its shirts and other merchandise to JJB Sports for a one-off payment and an annual licence was once seen as a master stroke, but has turned out to be a disaster. The club has also been hit hard by the collapse of Setanta. The club is looking for a buyer but so has far received only 'tentative' enquiries. South African businessman David King is the most likely buyer, but haggling about figures is ongoing. The Glaswegian-born millionaire invested £20m in Rangers in 2000. Since 2002 King has been the focus of South Africa's largest fraud and tax dodging case, but it is yet to come to trial.

Talk of Scotland's smaller clubs eroding the gap between them and the 'Old Firm' is clearly exaggerated. However, despite substantial spending, at least until the recent past, Rangers has never been able to achieved the coveted and lucrative prize of Champions League success. The fact is that the Scottish Premier League is 'Premier' in name only. Faced with lower television revenues and falling attendances, the long-term solution for Rangers (and Celtic) is to get out, either into the Premiership or to a European Super League made up of clubs from smaller countries. The latter solution is favoured by Rangers and might avoid difficulties about the Scottish national team.

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