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Mike Ashley tightens grip on Rangers with £10m loan

In return for the money – which will be paid to Rangers in two £5million tranches – Ashley will be able to nominate two more directors to the Light Blues board. His associates Derek Llambias and Barry Leach are already serving as chief executive and financial director.

As well as that, Rangers will transfer 26 per cent of its holding in Rangers Retail Ltd (RRL).

RRL was a joint venture set up by the club and Sports Direct, with Rangers in control of 51 per cent and Ashley’s company controlling the rest. Fans, however, were already concerned that it was overly beneficial to Ashley.

Now as part of the new loan deal, the club has also agreed that from the 2017/8 season, for the duration of the loan, any future shirt sponsorship proceeds “will be for the benefit of RRL”.

Ashley has now strengthened his grasp on the money streams entering the club, but the balance of power could yet swing away from him in the coming weeks if Dave King succeeds in routing the board at the general meeting he has called.

In a lengthy 7am statement to the Stock Exchange, the board said: “The Board of Rangers announces that Rangers Football Club Limited has entered in to agreements with SportsDirect.com Retail Limited and associated companies, to provide a long term on-going credit facility of up to £10m.

“The Company’s financial condition has been perilous for a number of months exacerbated by lower than expected match attendances. The Directors have implemented a cost cutting program with which they have made significant progress.

“There is however an immediate need for a substantial injection of capital, and the Directors have considered a number of options.

“The terms negotiated with SD (which are reversible in respect of the Facility) represent the optimum combination of quantum and duration of funding, allowing the Company time to arrange permanent capital which can be used for strengthening the playing squad.

“The Facility is structured in two separate interest free tranches. £5million will be available immediately for working capital purposes and for the repayment of the credit facilities with MASH Holdings Limited which was entered into on 27 October 2014.

“All rights and security associated with the MASH facility will be cancelled.

“The Club will transfer 26 per cent of the share capital in Rangers Retail Limited to SD for the duration of the Facility, which will be transferred back, at no cost, upon repayment of all outstanding sums owed by Rangers and its subsidiaries to SD. There is no specified repayment period for the first tranche of the Facility.

“The Facility is to be secured by (1) a floating charge over the Club’s assets and (2) fixed charges over Murray Park, Edmiston House, Albion Car Park, and the Club’s registered trademarks.

“None of the security that is being given to SD covers Ibrox Stadium, which is specifically excluded and remains in the full ownership of the Club, free from any security.

“SD will also have the right to nominate two directors to the board of Rangers for the duration of the Facility, any such nomination will be subject to regulatory consent pursuant to the AIM Rules and other regulatory bodies.

“If the entire sum drawn down is repaid, the Facility will be deemed to be terminated, all security will be released, the 26 per cent of RRL will revert to the Company and all rights of SD to nominate Directors to the Board of the Company will cease.

“The second tranche of £5million, which repayable five years after drawn down, will be used, if required, for working capital purposes and is subject to due diligence by SD prior to drawn down.

Chill winds: Rangers are in financial trouble

“The Company has also agreed that from the 2017/8 season, for the duration of the Facility, any future shirt sponsorship proceeds will be for the benefit of RRL.

“RRL will declare a dividend of a total of £1,610,000 prior to the Transfer.

“The Club will use the proceeds of its share of this dividend, inter alia, to repay sums owing to SD in respect of the cessation of onerous leases on unprofitable stores entered into by a previous Rangers management team.

“The Directors would like to thank all the Rangers Stakeholders who showed an interest in helping the Company.”

Chairman David Somers said: “The Board has sought for some time to establish a long term funding solution for the Company in order to create a platform of stability to build for the future.

“This Facility begins this process and we very much hope that it will be augmented with further permanent capital in due course.

“In addition, the executive team have made strides in addressing the cost base of the Company in order to improve our financial condition and working capital profile.

“We very much hope that we can now move away from having to seek short term funding solutions and can focus our efforts towards investing in the first team playing squad, a return to profitability and to re-establishing Rangers in the top league in Scottish Football and in due course, to European competition.

“The Board now calls upon all shareholders to rally together to achieve this goal.”

[…]

Ashley offers £10m loan to Rangers

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Rangers: Mike Ashley seeks security over Ibrox for £10m loan

By Chris McLaughlin and Richard Wilson BBC Scotland

BBC Scotland has learned that the Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is ready to provide a loan of about £10m to Rangers but wants security of Ibrox Stadium and the club’s Murray Park training ground.

The so-called Three Bears consortium, led by the businessman Douglas Park, is believed to have offered a counter loan of about half that amount.

That group wants two seats on the club board and security over Murray Park.

However, it is thought the Rangers board feel the £5m loan is not enough.

The club needs a major injection of cash within the next few weeks just to continue as a going concern.

Rangers released a statement last year assuring fans that the club’s stadium would never be used as security.

Negotiations between the board and the Park consortium – comprising Park, George Letham and George Taylor – have been ongoing since they took their shareholding in the company to about 20% at the end of last year.

However, so far, no agreement has been reached.

The board are understood to favour a joint funding package including cash from Ashley, who has already provided a total of £3m in loans.

Rangers have paved the way for the acceptance of Ashley’s loan by lodging advance notices of security against Ibrox and Murray Park on behalf of Sports Direct, Ashley’s sportswear company.

The notices, lodged with the Register of Scotland on 15 January, mean that only Sports Direct can be granted security on the properties for a 35-day period.

The Murray Park training ground at Auchenhowie has six full-size pitches among its list of facilities

They also have the effect of making it impossible – for the next 35 days – to accept the security condition of the Three Bears’ offer.

The group would look to convert their loan funding into equity at a later date, but this avenue is not open to Ashley after the Scottish Football Association rejected the Newcastle United owner’s request for permission to raise his stake in the club above 10%.

As well as chairman David Somers’ assertion that Ibrox would never be used as security against a loan, a request for it by Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy was denied when he offered a £3m emergency loan late last year.

The Ibrox directors instead opted for a £2m loan – later raised to £3m – from Ashley, who owns 8.92% of Rangers.

His long-time associate Derek Llambias has since been appointed chief executive, while Barry Leach left his role as an executive at Sports Direct to become finance director at the club.

“The board has given public assurances that Ibrox would not be used for any type of security,” said Chris Graham of the Rangers Supporters Trust.

“We will be liaising with other shareholders to see what legal remedies are available. This is precisely why we campaigned so hard to protect our stadium.

“It is quite clear that Mr Llambias and Mr Leach are only in place to ensure that Mike Ashley retains power.

“This board has to be removed immediately and the fans have to make their feelings known in the strongest possible terms. This is the final straw.”

Rangers have yet to comment.

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Rangers need more cash to pay for day-to-day expenses

RANGERS last night revealed they will require “significant further funds” to meet their day-to-day costs by the beginning of next year.

The club posted an £8.3million loss in their latest financial accounts, published last night. Figures for Rangers International Football Club plc to June 30 this year show losses have almost halved from around £14million last year but again laid bare the precarious cash picture at Ibrox.

The accounts showed that former chief executive Graham Wallace, who received a £100,000 pay-off when he left the club following the completion of Ashley’s loan deal, picked up nearly £380,000 between November last year and June 2014.

Former finance director Brian Stockbridge, who became a hate figure for fans due to his relationship with Charles Green, pocketed nearly £220,000, while Craig Mather got a bumper £350,000 golden handshake when he resigned as chief executive in October last year.

While there was £4.6m cash in the bank on June 30, just over £3m of this is related to Rangers Retail Limited and “not immediately available as working capital”.

There were also increases in money received from sponsorship and advertising and broadcasting rights but there was a £323,000 reduction in commercial revenue.

It leaves Rangers facing another cash shortage unless they can source more outside investment, with the board set for a stormy shareholder summit when fans and investors gather at Ibrox for the AGM next month.

Auditors Deloitte warn that the firm “requires additional funding to continue to meet its liabilities as they fall due”.

But Rangers say they have “several options open to them to raise the required funds and have been approached by several parties wanting to offer funds on a secured basis”.

Most of the cash, which is likely to come from a fresh share issue if the motion is agreed by shareholders at the AGM on December 22, will be required in the early months of next year as the board continues to face significant funding issues while Ally McCoist’s side bid for promotion back to the Premiership this season.

The Ibrox hierarchy have come under huge pressure from supporters in recent months and will again face tough questions after posting accounts that also show that:

l Revenue is up from £19.1million to £25.2m;

l Staff costs were down from £17.9m to £14.7m;

l Revenue from season tickets dropped from £8.1m to £7.7m;

l Cash at June 30 was £4.6m;

l Retail revenue rose from £1.6m to £7.6m;

Rangers have faced a number of cash challenges in the last 12 months and, after repaying loans to Sandy Easdale, chairman of the club’s football board, and fan George Letham worth a total of £1.5m, the Ibrox side had to take out two loans totalling £3m from Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley while an open share offer raised £3.13m.

In his report to shareholders, RIFC plc chairman David Somers again outlined the reasons behind the board accepting a deal from Ashley in favour of a £16m bail-out from Dave King’s consortium and an offer from businessman Brian Kennedy, a call which infuriated supporters.

Somers admitted there would be more “testing times ahead” for Rangers but said he was “confident we’ll continue to successfully clear every hurdle put in front of us”.

The club last week confirmed that 10 members of behind the scenes staff at Ibrox had been made redundant and overall staffing levels and costs have been reduced in the last 12 months.

A total of £1.9m has been saved on wages, with manager McCoist’s decision to half his annual salary and a reduction in the cash paid out to players playing a significant part.

The ratio of first team wages to turnover has been reduced from 43% to 26% but season ticket sales and average attendances fell by around 2000 and 4000 respectively.

Somers said: “Some fans decided not to renew their season tickets but stated that they will continue to support the team by attending on a match-by-match basis. We respect everybody’s decision to make the choice they feel is right for them although, at the time of writing, the number of fans attending our home league games so far this season is down year-on-year.

“This has had a large negative effect on our balance sheet and reduces our ability to move forward with the desired momentum and the club has been compelled to seek additional funding.”

chris.jack@eveningtimes.co.uk

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[…]

Rangers reject season ticket cash plan

The Rangers board have rejected Dave King’s plan to ring-fence season-ticket cash, the former director claims.

King met with the ruling Ibrox regime on Friday for showdown talks about the club’s worrying financial state.

The club responded 24 hours later with a statement describing the meetings as a “helpful, open and honest discussion”.

But the South Africa-based businessman’s proposed scheme – that would have protected season-ticket cash from being used to repay a controversial £1.5million loan handed to the new League One champions by investors Sandy Easdale and Laxey partners – was knocked-back by the board.

The loan agreement is secured against the Albion car park and Edmiston House facility and will earn Laxey a £150,000 profit in either cash or shares when it is repaid next year.

King says the board have addressed many of his concerns about the fallen Glasgow giants’ future but revealed the two sides could not find common ground on the topic of season-ticket revenue.

In a statement issued to Press Association Sport, the Castlemilk-born multi-millionaire said: “The only significant issue that I discussed with the board that is not contained in the board statement is the Laxey loan facility.

“Mr [Norman] Crighton, on behalf of the board, made a forcible argument as to why the board considered and approved the terms of the Laxey loan.

“The board considered that a combination of legal risk and the current financial position justified the loan terms.

“I replied that a consequence of the board’s view of the high risk to anyone advancing funds to the club is the board’s fiduciary responsibility to ring fence any season-ticket money that is received (even if fans don’t request this) unless sufficient committed financing is in place at that time.

“The board did not agree with me on this logical consequence but I believe that my observation is correct.”

King looked set to go to war with the board when he advised fans to withhold season-ticket cash and instead pay it into a trust fund which would then drip feed the money to the club.

He made his original call after complaining about a lack of transparency about the club’s financial state following last year’s £14.4million loss and rumours of downsizing to boss Ally McCoist’s squad, which King feared would allow Celtic to rack up “10 in a row”.

On top of his concerns about season-ticket cash, the former director – who lost a £20million investment when the club was liquidated in 2012 – also expressed fears that the board would mortgage off Ibrox and Murray Park to secure fresh finance.

But he added: “The board has now publicly dealt with each of the above. The board has affirmed that it regards competition with Celtic and in Europe as being its continued aim and that this outlook will be reflected in the business review that will be published within the next month.

“Crucially, that will allow fans sufficient time to consider the review prior to investing in season tickets but it is also important that the board has now confirmed categorically that they will not use Ibrox or Murray Park as security for any form of fund raising.

“No one should be in any doubt that this public statement and commitment is significant and should be appreciated as such.

“Statements from a public company board are intended to be relied upon so in a couple of weeks we can expect a business review that will reflect the board’s ambition and a funding plan to achieve this.

“We can also rely on the fact that if circumstances change the board would be bound to advise the public in advance of this.”

He added: “The board has now communicated with the fans and has committed to do so in more detail within a month.

“Let us give the board time to comply with its commitment.

“I advised the board that I would wish to be a part of the required fund-raising as a component of a united fan group investment vehicle. This will require further discussion after release of the review in the next month.”

[…]

Scottish Football – Cash-strapped Rangers agree new loan

The cash-strapped Ibrox outfit made a £14.4million loss in the 13 months up to last June and failed in a bid to persuade Ally McCoist’s squad to accept a 15 percent wage cut as they looked for a solution to their money woes.

But now Easdale has stepped in to offer up a £500,000 sum on a no-fee and no-interest basis, while Laxey Partners will lend the club £1million, with both sums secured against the Edmiston House and Albion car park facilities near to Ibrox.

Both loans are repayable by September 1, while Laxey Partners, the club’s single-biggest shareholder with an 11.64 percent stake, stand to make a £150,000 profit on their part of the deal.

The Isle of Man-based hedge fund may opt to take repayment in the form of fresh shares, but that would require shareholder backing at an AGM.

Rangers say the cash will be used for working capital over the “next few months”.

The League One leaders’ raised £22million when they were floated on the stock market in December 2012, but former financial director Brian Stockbridge sparked concerns the club might be heading for administration for a second time last year when he claimed the club would be down to their last £1million by April after burning through the rest of their eight-figure stockpile in little more than 15 months.

But the money loaned to them will now tide them over until season-ticket renewal fees start arriving at the end of the season.

A club statement said: “The board of Rangers is pleased to announce that it has entered into two secured short-term credit facilities for an aggregate of up to £1.5m.

“The credit facilities are being provided by Alexander Easdale, a shareholder in the company and director of The Rangers Football Club Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary of RIFC, and Laxey Partners Ltd (‘Laxey’), a substantial shareholder in the company.

“These credit facilities will be used by the company for general working capital purposes over the next few months.

“Alexander Easdale will make available to the company up to £500,000 on a fee and interest-free basis (the ‘Easdale Facility’).

“Laxey will make available to the company up to £1 million, with a premium payment equal to 15 percent of the nominal amount of the facility (the ‘Laxey Facility’).

“The Easdale Facility and the Laxey Facility (together the ‘Facilities’) are both secured against the company’s Edmiston House and Albion car park properties. The principal amounts of the Facilities are repayable no later than 1 September 2014 from a variety of potential sources.

“The premium on the Laxey Facility is payable in cash or, at Laxey’s discretion, in ordinary shares of 1p each, at any point between the date of the facility agreement and the first anniversary of the date of the facility agreement.

!The number of ordinary shares of 1p each which may be issued will be calculated using the lower of either 26.5 pence, being the mid-market closing price of the company’s shares on 21 February 2014, or the lowest price at which any equity fundraising is carried out prior to the first anniversary of the date of the Laxey Facility agreement.

“The issue of any ordinary shares of 1p each in payment of the premium is subject to the company obtaining authority from its shareholders at a general meeting of the company.

“Under the AIM rules for companies, the Laxey Facility is a related party transaction under rule 13 of the AIM rules.

“The directors of Rangers, having taken advice from their nominated adviser, Daniel Stewart & Company plc, believe that the terms of the Laxey Facility are fair and reasonable as far as shareholders are concerned.”

[…]

Mets owners refinance $250 million loan

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Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014, 9:41 AM

The post-Madoff Mets have managed to survive, yet again.

In refinancing their $250 million loan, the New York Mets have addressed their biggest off-field issue, according to the New York Post’s Josh Kosman.

More

:

Wlimer Flores could see time at shortstop

After their books were devastated by Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz had to sell 40 percent of the team and scale back the club’s budget for player payroll.

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However, the new terms of their loan could ease the stress on ownership by alleviating them of the requirement to make a massive cash payment. This could mean the current owners will be able to continue to maintain their majority stake in the team.

There is something of a “silver-lining” for fans. Under the previous framework of the loan, the club was prohibited from significantly increasing payroll, but that is no longer the case. It could still be a while before the Mets return to their $140 million pre-Madoff heyday.

New York is likely to increase payroll slightly over 2013 this season. That kind of incremental advancement in spending appears to be the best-case scenario for fans hoping their team will return to their upper-tier spending habits. In the end, the new details of the loan are just another step in the team’s recovery from an embarrassing, and very public, loss that could have signaled the end of the current ownership group.

One of Kosman’s sources called the team’s recovery a “miracle.” It might not be as exciting as the 1986 World Series, but for Wilpon and Katz, the new details of the loan are pretty close to miraculous.

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This article originally appeared on SBNation.

Click here for the full article » […]

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Daggers’ trip to Morecambe re-arranged

Friday, December 28, 2012
2:22 PM

Club disappointed with two long journeys in space of four days, plus the loan of AFC Bournemouth midfielder Josh Wakefield extended.

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Dagenham & Redbridge will now travel to face Morecambe on Tuesday, January 8 – despite raising their concerns to the Football League.

Daggers head to Accrington Stanley on the Saturday before, January 5, and it was thought the club were unhappy with two lengthy trips in the space of four days.

But the Football League pointed out regulation 28.1 with this being the first available date and it’s the preference of the home club from a cash flow point of view.

Alongside that, Daggers have extended the loan of midfielder Josh Wakefield until January 1.

The 18-year-old arrived on a youth loan from AFC Bournemouth just before the loan transfer window closed at the end of November.

Wakefield has been a named substitute for games against Fleetwood Town, Bristol Rovers and Barnet, but is yet to get any minutes under his belt.

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Newcastle's Wonga Deal: When Did We Start Caring About Exploiting Fans?

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Newcastle fans recoiled in abject horror last year when St James Park, their home since 1892, was re-branded as the Sports Direct Arena.

This impious promotion of owner Mike Ashley’s sportswear empire had no financial benefit for the club, it was merely used as a means of attracting a major naming rights sponsor. That day has now come, with short-term cash loan provider Wonga agreeing a four-year £24m sponsorship deal.

In addition to becoming shirt sponsors next year, Wonga have committed a public relations masterstroke by forgoing naming rights and officially reverting the stadium name back to St James Park. Champagne corks have literally been popping in celebration.

Yet reaction to the Wonga deal has been almost universally damning.

Dismissed by most as legal loan sharks, Wonga offer an eye-watering annual interest rate of 4,124% to those who need emergency cash. Their business model is seen to exploit their customers, many of whom could be supporters of Newcastle Utd.

(Getty)

Local MP and season ticket holder Ian Lavery has said he will not set foot in the stadium while Wonga adorns the team’s shirts. A recent survey revealed 41% of the fan base is unhappy with the deal. Newcastle’s Muslim players have been told their new sponsor infringes on Sharia Law.

The merits of championing a payday loan company are clearly a sticking point, but this Wonga deal raises a very important question: when did Premier League football suddenly start caring about exploiting its fans?

Newcastle’s recent sponsors have included Virgin Money and Northern Rock. The former encourages credit card borrowing, while the latter had to be propped up by public money after its model of offering exploitative 125% mortgages collapsed. Where were the complaints about money lending then?

Did many anti-alcoholism campaigners complain when Newcastle Brown Ale were the club’s proud sponsors between 1995 and 2000?

How much outcry has there been about the copious amount of gambling advertising on show at every Premier League ground?

(Getty)

This isn’t even Wonga’s first foray into football sponsorship. This much controversy was not stirred up when they became Blackpool‘s inaugural Premier League sponsor in 2010, and little fanfare has been raised by the fact that the Seasiders extended their Wonga deal this week.

Complaining about football sponsors who promote fiscal irresponsibility seems utterly futile when the top teams in the UK play in a league sponsored by Barclays, a company who were fined this year for their part in the Libor rate-fixing scandal.

This is a league where ticket prices are so prohibitive that fans can pay up to £126 to watch a game. This is a league where teenagers earn enough money to drive ––and crash–– luxury sports cars.

Addressing the legitimacy of a sponsor like Wonga is a perfectly reasonable pursuit. But this issue is just a drop in the ocean of football’s moral bankruptcy.

[…]

Debt-ridden Glens to get IFA loan

The Irish Football Association is preparing to help ease Glentoran’s cash flow crisis that has left players without their wages for April.

BBC Sport understands the association will provide a short-term loan, with agreement expected within days.

Unlike previous cases, it is not thought to be an advance payment of prizemoney, but instead a short-term loan that will be repaid by the club.

Meanwhile, Colin Nixon has signed a new one-year deal with the club.

The 33-year-old, who has made 772 appearances for the Glens, winning 24 trophies including four league titles, has shaken hands on a deal and is expected to put pen to paper soon.

The issue of overdue pay had caused unease in the Glens dressing room, but senior players have been assured all wages owed will be paid within the next week to 10 days.

Glens captain Colin Nixon told BBC Sport: “I have met with the chairman and vice-chairman and they have told me the situation is now under control.”

Last year, the Irish FA lent £233,000 to a number of Irish League clubs which was in effect an advance of prizemoney up to May of next year.

The Glens avoided being wound up last year thanks to a donation of around £450,000 from a mystery benefactor.

Glentoran needed that money to pay debts which included a huge tax bill.

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