The Somers Dynasty of the second Rangers Empire has come to an end. Just like his predecessors before, Somers has walked away from his throne within the Ibrox boardroom to save himself the wrath and the anger of the marauding hordes at the gates baying for his blood.
Somers did not want to become a modern-day Honorius, watching on as the Visigoths stormed the walls of Rome, so he fled before shareholders and supporters alike could see him skulk out of Ibrox for good. Following in the footsteps of James Easdale who had jumped ship last week.
His departure ahead of this week’s EGM signals what must be another regime change at Ibrox and for Rangers fans they are hoping that Dave King’s dynasty can be one of enlightenment as well as powerful.
The result of the EGM must surely now be a foregone conclusion as shareholders officially vote out the current board,including Derek Llambias and Barry Leach – two of Mike Ashley’s generals – to surrender Ibrox and all its relics to the new rulers.
While the vote of the EGM should see King take to the throne, the media have ramped up articles with former Rangers players and coaches backing King’s new era before he has even been given the keys.
They claim that he will be good for Rangers as he was good for the Ibrox club first time round when he was a director – at a time when Murray racked up huge bank debt buying domestic silverware and failing to buy European glory.
At a time when Whyte was owner and who failed to pay HMRC money due to them in terms of PAYE and National Insurance – not to mention the small tax case bill.
And when the administrators arrived through the open gates of Ibrox, King was still a director looking on from his kingdom abroad in South Africa, staying silent.
Only when Charles Green came on the scene did this good Rangers man stand up and speak out. But while he criticised and hit out at the Yorkshireman with the big hands, King failed to turn his words into action, he failed to pull out his wallet and pay for the assets of Rangers Football Club when they were being sold for a pittance as they lurched into liquidation.
This good Rangers man resorted to trying usurp regime after regime thereafter, hoping that the shareholders and fans would rise up and rebel against them and install him as the new ruler. But despite all the bluster, all the sabre rattling this good Rangers man sat back and did nothing as the share price dropped dramatically, money raised via share issues disappeared as quickly as a South African businessman calling for a season ticket boycott and the club were embarrassed and mocked on the front and back pages of major newspapers in Scotland and beyond.
King finally put his money where his mouth was and bought out those shareholders who wanted rid of their shares, fed up and disgruntled with the current regime and their Nero complex. The rebels celebrated, even more so with the Three Bears buying shares before King.
The end was in sight for those rebels who had endured so much in the short number of years since starting again in Scotland’s lowest tier of senior football.
Now all eyes will look beyond the EGM this Friday and to what happens with the new regime controlled by majority shareholder Dave King and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley – who has Rangers over a barrel. Loans amounting to over 10 million pound are due to be paid back to him or he can keep the keys to the club’s training ground ‘Murray Park’ or as the rebels call it Auchenhowie. He can also keep the keys to the former ticket office Edmiston House, Albion Car Park and more importantly the rights to the Rangers badge.
Ashley’s stranglehold on advertising and retail at Ibrox is also one that sees the revenue of the new regime cut dramatically already – and despite claims that these contracts are erroneous I doubt very much that a successful businessman in the guise of Ashley would sign contracts that can be ripped up very easily. His lawyers are significantly better paid and more experienced than those at the disposal of the new regime in waiting.
So this new regime will have to pander to Mike Ashley until such time as they can pay him off and wave goodbye to his influence in the corridors of Ibrox for good.
The EGM on Friday will most certainly see the end of Derek Llambias and Barry Leach’s time at Ibrox – BUT remember that Ashley still has those two board room places to fill. Llambias and Leach were not Ashley’s appointments as per the terms of the loan deals – so there is nothing stopping Ashley to appoint Llambias and Leach to the Rangers board just days after the EGM vote ousted them from the throne room.
That decision would certainly go down well with the rebels and would keep the boardroom at Ibrox – divided. And there is nothing that Dave King or his supporters can do unless they want to see Mike Ashley call in his loans following a breach of contract.
King is certainly a wealthy man, the South African Revenue Service know this for a fact, but would he honestly stump up the money necessary to pay off Ashley in one lump sum? Even if he banded together with the Three Bears and fans groups – what money would be left to sort out the maintenance of Murray Park and Ibrox stadium – both severely neglected under the previous and current regimes.
What about re-signing or hiring new players to replace those players whose contracts are up in the summer? Following Darren McGregor signing a new deal – – that leaves around 12 players who can walk away for free come the end of this season. The majority all first team players.
And what if Rangers fail to make the playoffs or even gain promotion through the playoffs this season? Another year spent in the Championship paying out big wages to those players remaining – can the club continue to run all the while money is heading out of Ibrox to Mike Ashley and to cover other costs?
Or would administration be best for the King regime? Of course Duff & Phelps would not be the first choice of many round Ibrox way, but with the expertise of BDO in recent years preventing the likes of Dunfermline and Hearts from following Rangers’ road of liquidation and rebirth they could certainly be an option.
King’s takeover is not the end of Rangers’ problems – it may be the beginning of the end of them or it may just be a continuation of them. For we don’t know what his actual plans for the club are, we also don’t know for sure what the Scottish FA will do when it is time for them to look at King’s dodgy past and convictions in South Africa.
But after all Scottish football has been told for the past four or so years that we need a strong Rangers, that we need Rangers in the top flights. For it is the only way that the Scottish FA and more importantly the SPFL can actually do business and sell sponsorship, advertising and TV deals – if both Celtic and Rangers were at the highest tier of our game.
While the Scottish FA, hypothetically, may look upon their bank balance and all the former Rangers legends saying how they should accept Dave King and wave him through the fit and proper person criteria – the city is a whole different matter indeed.
He may have a letter from SARS stating that he is not banned from being a director after pleading guilty to charges of breaching South African tax laws – but his and Paul Murray’s part in the previous Rangers in the months and year before it went into liquidation under Whyte could prove more troublesome despite King’s assurances and sweet talking at a recent press conference organised by the former Daily Record journo & Rangers director of communications Jim Traynor in front of a salivating Scottish press pack.
Will this new regime be better than the previous regimes? Who knows, but as the rebels claim this new regime are all good Rangers men and whatever they do it will be for the good of Rangers Football Club rather than for their own pockets.
The rebels will hopefully see King and co. put significant funding into the club interest free like current club chairman Sandy Easdale as done previously. The rebels will hopefully also see the new board of directors – including Dave King and Paul Murray not take a penny if wages [like James Easdale eventually did after paying back his initial wage]and the rebels will be hoping that King is not all mouth and no trousers when it comes to strengthening the playing squad in the pursuit of domestic glory and silencing the Celtic supporters who have reveled in the misfortunes of their city rivals for years.
What the rebels won’t hope for is a mirror image of what happened at Hearts when the Jambos bit off their nose to spite their face, when they backed one Vladimir Romanov over the hated figure of Chris Robinson. Romanov was full of bluster also and look how that turned out.
The fleeing David Somers’ own epitaph at Ibrox, read: “I have resigned as chairman of Rangers International Football club plc. I have worked in the city of London, the world’s greatest financial centre for decades and enjoyed considerable success.
“When I was approached about the chairmanship of Rangers, friends warned me that the world of football has different rules and codes of behaviour. I now know that is a gross understatement. I am a non-confrontational man and have always tried to bring harmony to boardrooms and with stakeholders.
“At the risk of antagonising my army of critics I would point out that Rangers managed to pay its bills and avoid going under during my tenure. These critics might not agree with how we achieved this. I look forward to alternative solutions from whoever is running the club in the future.
“Despite the personal attacks on me from various sources I genuinely wish the club the very best in the future and I am confident that with such a passionate and vociferous fan base they will be restored to their former glories.”
But once the rebels have won officially on Friday and taken up residence in the throne room, Somers’ legacy will forever be remembered as ‘one of the most inept and embarrassing’ in the club’s history. If there were statues created in his image and honour they would have been pulled down and destroyed.
The question now turns to how King can keep the rebels sweet? Can he work on a day to day basis with those fans groups wanting their cake and looking to eat it also?
These fans groups so venomous in their attacks on ‘enemies of Rangers’ as well as the enemies within the board room over the years hope King won’t be another Marie Antoinette throwing the peasants scraps ,all the while shouting ‘Let them eat cake’ – for he will also be facing the chop sooner rather than later.
The saga continues….