On Air Now
5 January 2015, 10:19
The extent of Rangers' immediate financial problems has been highlighted after they announced they needed a loan of up to £500,000 from shareholder Sandy Easdale to provide "working capital'' in the coming days.
Rangers announced a new loan deal to the stock exchange as they confirmed that Robert Sarver, the majority owner of the Phoenix Suns NBA basketball team, had made an approach that may or may not lead to an offer to buy the club.
Sarver's interest had emerged on Sunday but his approach to the Rangers board came before almost a third of the club's shares were snapped up by a combination of Dave King and the so-called Three Bears - George Letham, George Taylor and Douglas Park.
Easdale's loan will be secured on income from the recent sale of Lewis Macleod, who signed for Brentford on Friday for an undisclosed fee that was reported as £1million.
Macleod has been the team's most impressive performer this season and his displays earned the 20-year-old midfielder a place in the most recent Scotland squad, but his exit came as Rangers bid to recoup annual losses of £8.3million.
Rangers previously announced his sale had been necessary to provide funds for working capital and the urgent nature of those needs was laid bare in their most recent statement, which revealed that football club chairman Easdale's interest-free loan of up to £500,000 would be used for "general working capital purposes over the next few days''.
The statement added: "Alexander Easdale will make available to the company up to £500,000 on a fee and interest free basis and it will be secured against the income from the sale of player announced on 2 January 2015.''
Rangers also confirmed they had received an approach from Sarver in the wake of reports detailing how the 53-year-old American businessman planned to launch an £18million bid.
Rangers said his approach "may or may not lead to an offer being made for the company''.
Their statement added: "There can be no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which an offer may be made. A further announcement is expected shortly.''
The statement added that Sarver must make an offer or withdraw his bid by 5pm on February 2.
Sarver's attempt was since made far more difficult by the recent deals which saw King and the Three Bears take their combined holding to almost 35 per cent, although they have stressed they are not working as a group.
The Three Bears have also offered £6.5million to underwrite a planned share issue.
Sarver would need to persuade 75 per cent of shareholders to back plans for a share issue to allow the board to offer him newly-created shares. A similar resolution was defeated at the club's annual general meeting on December 22.
It is understood that Sarver has had tentative talks with the Three Bears but it appears unlikely that they and King would walk away after finally getting their hands on a significant tranche of shares in the ongoing power struggle at Ibrox.
Their recent share purchases have begun to shift the balance of power, along with the Scottish Football Association's rejection of a plea from Mike Ashley to increase his shareholding to almost 30 per cent.
The Newcastle owner's influence is limited to a 10 per cent stake under an agreement with the SFA and he and the club face disciplinary action from the governing body after the club installed his close associate, Derek Llambias, as director and chief executive.
Ashley, whose Sports Direct company control the club's retail division, had strengthened his grip on Ibrox with loans totalling £3million late last year, but the fact that the latest loan came not from him but Easdale appears to show that his interest and influence is further on the wane.