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The Whyte Elephant and those El Dorado millions

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El Dorado, the legendary Lost City of Gold, which has eluded explorers since the days of the Spanish Conquistadors looks to have been discovered by Craig Whyte, the new Rangers owner, as he has now came up with an extra £15 million transfer kitty for manager Ally McCoist on top of the initial £5 million.

Since the New Year, Craig Whyte has declared that he would give the Rangers manager a transfer kitty of £25 million over the next five years and he continued this declaration in the Shareholder’s circular at the start of June. But now it seems he has plucked an extra £15 million out of thin air – unless during his six years in exile/holidaying in Monaco he has found a secret treasure map to El Dorado.

Whyte’s company Tixway which last year was quoted as having a capital of £1 billion has now seen a 100% increase in capital over one year to just over £2 billion. So unless he is Scotland’s answer to Bill Gates with such a huge increase in fortune, he must have found El Dorado because Rangers and its assets are certainly not worth £1 billion.

The Jim Traynor article in the Sunday Mail which reported the £15 million additional transfer kitty is not surprising really. After the run-in between Keith Jackson and Rangers FC over his Daily Record piece, which allegedly led to the journalist being banned from Ibrox and Murray Park, it is not surprising that Traynor – who was labelled a puppet of Rangers FC last season by fellow BBC Radio Scotland employee Chick Young – has written such an article that not only comes up with this imaginary number but does not back it up with facts or figures.

Whyte told the Sunday Mail: “I am prepared to take our spending way above what was originally budgeted for if that’s what is required and again the fans should know that. But what I won’t do is sign players in a panic.”

Since the end of last season, Rangers have lost out on four summer signing targets – Craig Conway, Tomer Hemed, Neil Danns and Kamil Glik. They have also seen bids snubbed for Lee Wallace, David Goodwillie and Raul Rodriguez – with the offers ranging from insufficient to derogatory according to the players’ clubs. But they have re-signed Steven Whittaker, Allan McGregor, David Weir, David Healy and Salim Kerkar – the latter after only playing one game in the seven months he was at the club last season. And bought Ortiz from relegated La Liga side Almeria. While negotiations are on-going to extend Steven Davis’ contract at the Ibrox club and after seeing a £2 million accepted by Aston Villa are reportedly in talks with former Ibrox defender Carlos Cuellar.

The re-signing of Weir and Kerkar could be seen as panic buys just to make up the numbers, as I cannot see them anything more than squad/back up players. The other re-signings have been good pieces of business, while Ortiz has still a lot to prove after a lacklustre and uninspiring pre-season so far.

But despite that, Whyte must still be questioned on where this £15 million has come from? Certainly Albion Rovers manager Paul Martin must be asking himself that when he is still waiting on the £90,000 owed to him by Whyte.

Nowhere in Jim Traynor’s article does it mention £15 million other than in the title – so how could he come to such a nice round figure? Guesswork or was it written on a bit of paper and slipped to him across the board room table?

The figure set to be handed to McCoist has changed dramatically since the New Year. Initially reports stated that it was £25 million, then when looked at closer that figure was spread over five years – so McCoist would be handed £5 million. The figure then jumped to £7 million as negotiations continued in the takeover deal and as the deal was struck the transfer kitty jumped up a further £3 million to the nice round figure of £10 million. But weeks later that figure dropped once more to £5 million, and now it has trebled to £15 million.

With all due respect, it sounds as though someone is rolling dice to come up with how much Ally McCoist will be given to spend.

Another question does the fabled £15 million include wages? Has some of the £15 million already been spent in re-signing Whittaker, McGregor, Weir, Healy and Kerkar?

Certainly Whyte’s language within his own circular states that the company did not have the £25 million they stated they would spend over the next five years. He used the phrase ‘procurement of investment of a further £20 million up to 2016’. That was out with the initial £5 million investment for this summer – some of which has already been spent on the signing of Ortiz from Almeria.

Will this £15 million be added to the debt that Rangers now owe Craig Whyte and The Rangers Group, rather than Lloyds Banking Group? Or is it investment from a silent partner?

Rangers and Craig Whyte continue to publicise the transfer targets they are going for from Day One, a risky venture in today’s game and which has proved a mistake in four out of five players, with only Ortiz the success story. Steven Thompson, the Dundee United chairman lambasted Rangers for the way they have gone about the David Goodwillie transfer saga and they continue to do likewise in the race for Carlos Cuellar as Getafe, Villareal and Espanyol sniff around the Spaniard also. Walter Smith and the previous Rangers board kept their transfer targets a closely guarded secret up until the 11th hour, and for the most part it worked but to officially publish article after article on the official club website on transfer targets even before an official bid has been tabled is not only risking the chance of someone coming in to snap that player up, but also to infuriate their present employer to hold out for more money just for the hell of it.

Craig Whyte intimated, that in his short few months at Rangers, his eyes have been opened up by the workings of the game. That is a huge admission from the man, who claims to now have a business with a capital of £2 billion. In fact before the hiring of Director of Football Gordon Smith and Commercial Director Ali Russell – two other pieces of good business – Whyte himself was negotiating with agents, players and their respective clubs. Definitely a mistake when he didn’t know the way the game worked and was proven to be so, when players turned their backs on Rangers for the likes of Leicester City, Cardiff City and Real Mallorca.

Rangers will sign a number of players before the window closes, that I am certain of, but six players as Whyte intimated through Jim Traynor? Highly unlikely.

With the El Dorado millions in the bank, will Craig Whyte continue to peddle the excuse that they will not pay over the odds for David Goodwillie at £2 million? Will they offer more than the insufficient £400,000 for Raul Rodriguez? or will they stump up close to £3 million for Lee Wallace after only offering less than £1 million initially.

It is also reported today that Bursaspor have accepted a £1.1 million offer from Rangers to bring back Kenny Miller to Ibrox after six months in Turkey. While Miller has proven to be a deadly finisher in recent years with Rangers why not pay the extra £900,000 for Goodwillie who is nine years younger than the Bursaspor striker, and who will have a sell-on value in a number of years. Miller will probably be at Rangers for a further two years, if he does indeed re-sign for the Ibrox side, while Goodwillie could stretch his time at Rangers beyond the years Miller could provide top quality performances in matches and could cash in on the Scotland international after four or five years – when he will potentially be at the top of his game.

The smart money and sensible money would be on Goodwillie being signed, but it is now clear that it looks as though Rangers, Craig Whyte and Ally McCoist do not want a total revamp of the playing squad in McCoist’s first season. A revamp that proved costly over at Parkhead over the past few seasons.

The facts are evident though. There is nothing in the Rangers accounts, nor the The Rangers Group Limited accounts, or the Shareholders circular to state where this £15 million is coming from. There is also the fact that Jim Traynor does not even quote Craig Whyte as stating that there is £15 million available. And on top of that previous figures being banded about as well as failures in the transfer market to date and penny-pinching in deals for some of Scotland’s top talents must go to show that there is no extra windfall for Ally McCoist.

Either Craig Whyte has a mysterious benefactor that does not want to be known – and why not? or the number was blatantly plucked from thin air and is another case of a story being sensationalised by someone labelled a Rangers puppet by a fellow BBC Radio Scotland employee to sell newspapers to reach the masses of Rangers fans to quell their displeasure at the lack of signings so far after a very poor pre-season tour of Germany and days before they kick off their Champions League and SPL campaign.

Former Rangers Chairman Alastair Johnston’s comments back at the end of May are still very relevant: “I will say – as a lifelong Rangers fan and a real one – that the 26,000 other shareholders in Rangers, as well as the hundreds of thousands of other supporters need to remain vigilant and continue to exert pressure on Mr Whyte to support the club financially as he has publicly committed to do.”

The times for talking and for boasting is now at an end Mr Whyte, the time for action is now. If you have the funds stump up the cash, or as the Rangers fans commented on a banner some months back ‘Step up and pay Mr Whyte.’

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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