Rangers players should not be singled out

HAVING worked in business for nearly 40 years, Alex Wilson understands that difficult decisions have to be made at Rangers.

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Brian Stockbridge came under fire from Alex Wilson
Brian Stockbridge came under fire from Alex Wilson

The Ibrox club is currently living outwith its means - and financial forecasts for next season are concerning.

Not even the most deluded supporter would deny that evasive action needs to be taken and needs to be taken quickly.

But the revelation last week that the players had been asked to take 15% pay cuts has still alarmed the lifelong Gers fan.

Wilson, the former HR director at BT who failed in his bid to be voted on to the board at the AGM last month, questions the wisdom of the move.

He feels that focusing on the first-team squad at the SPFL League One leaders first is the wrong way to alleviate their problems.

And he would like other areas of the business - which are responsible for more than two thirds of current outgoings - to be looked at.

Wilson said: "We have been talking about the need to control spending, understand where the money has gone, identify where the money is leaking and try to remedy that for months now.

"Graham Wallace, the chief executive, has embarked upon a 120-day restructuring project. So it is not really a surprise that cuts are now being proposed.

"But that is not really the point here. I would like to know why the people who draw in the crowds and who have given us on the field success are being singled out?

"These, after all, are the people who are going to take us through this league and the next league and get us back into the top flight."

He added: "The club on the other side of Glasgow will in all likelihood continue to win the Scottish title and appear in the Champions League in the next season or two.

"And they will continue to bank the money from those competitions. But Rangers will be expected to compete with them when they return to the top flight.

"So why weaken that area? The players' wages are already under 30 % of the turnover. That is a ratio that other leading clubs can only dream about."

Like many Rangers fans, Wilson has been impressed with the conduct of Wallace since he was appointed chief executive back in November. The former Manchester City financial director and chief operating officer has made creating a sustainable business model his top priority at Rangers. And this week SportTimes confirmed that Wallace would, as he promised at the AGM, engage with fans by holding meetings with representatives of the three mains supporters' organisations.

Wilson said: "Graham Wallace was the only member of the current board who came out of the AGM with any degree of credibility.

"One thing that events at the club have underlined is that Mr Wallace accepts there is a problem, that he is prepared to address it and that he is going to front it.

"At least there is somebody involved who has an honest realisation that something has to be done and who has squared up to it."

Wallace revealed this week that Rangers would wait to speak to potential investors - including former director Dave King - until after he had streamlined the operation.

Wilson, though, feels senior officials at his boyhood heroes should be trying to line up institutions and individuals who are prepared to plough money into the Ibrox club now.

He said: "The club could go to potential investors just now and outline that they are in the process of restructuring the club.

"They could ask if they would be interested in coming on board in principle if a sustainable business model can be put in place.

"If they say no then it gives them time to consider their next step. If they don't, the club is another three or four months down the line without investment.

"When Malcolm Murray was speaking to potential investors before the AGM he asked if they would be interested in putting money in if proper governance was put in place.

"The prospect of having, in principle, proper governance in place, was enough for some of them to buy into it."

Wilson continued: "I think Mr Wallace could be doing that now - not waiting 120 days to speak to potential investors and wealthy individuals, like Dave King, about putting money in.

"If his objective is clearly stated, which it is, then why not sound out people now? He can make having a sustainable business model in place a condition of them investing.

"We had investors lined up before the AGM based on the principles of proper corporate governance that we had. We had them ready."

Wilson and his fellow-requisitioners were highly critical of Rangers financial director Brian Stockbridge in the build-up to the AGM in December.

He is surprised that Stockbridge remains in his position with the Glasgow giants, who banked £22million for a share offering little over a year ago, in such a precarious financial state.

He said: "The chief executive and the financial director of any company that I have ever been involved with would have paid the price for such a disastrous financial performance.

"It seems to be everybody else's fault but his (Stockbridge).

"One thing that he said at the AGM was that he wasn't here to win a popularity contest. Well, he's certainly achieved that!

"How did Rangers take in two year's worth of season ticket money, as well the cash from a share flotation and other commercial deals, and end up in the position they are in now?

"That is in the region of £50million.

"His job is to look at the books and make sure that the accounting is being done properly.

"Not only that, he has to present to the board what is likely to happen in the next six to eight months.

"If Mr Stockbridge felt that he was being overruled and the company was heading for a bad situation when they made their nine signings in the summer then he could have resigned."

Wilson continued: "I have been disappointed to read the reports of this farce at the club in the papers in the last week.

"But it is not just from a PR perspective that this is bad. It is a bad way to run an organisation.

"I am afraid I am really fearful, worried and despondent for the future."

Finance

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