New board ready to appoint Nomad on Monday
King hints at inviting US basketball boss Sarver to help finance Rangers
King, who yesterday won his battle to oust the former board and install new directors, Paul Murray, John Gilligan – together with Douglas Park from the Three Bears consortium – said he would be discussing investment with various parties.
He told a media briefing: “There are people out there…the American has indicated (interest).”
This is taken to be a reference to Mr Sarver whose £20 million takeover offer in January – his second bid – was knocked back by the former board who refused, he said, to engage in any meaningful negotiations with him.
Sarver, who has a personal fortune of $400m and is owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team in Arizona, had offered to wipe out Rangers’ debt, including paying off shareholder Mike Ashley’s loans.
Significantly, despite withdrawing his offer, he said in a statement to the stock exchange:
“I wish the club and fans the best of luck. If they want my support in the future, then they only have to ask.”
Mr King, who needs to raise finance quickly, now seems to be suggesting that he will take up Mr Sarver’s offer and engage in discussions to bring new capital into Ibrox.
Mr Sarver has no direct connections with the club, nor Scotland. His involvement was inspired only through a friendship with former Rangers player Davie Robertson who persuaded him to make an approach to the Ibrox board.
Mr King’s other immediate task will be to appoint a new nominated adviser or Nomad as required by the London Stock Exchange. The club’s shares were suspended on the Alternative Investment Market on Thursday after WH Ireland resigned as broker.
Mr King made it clear that new Nomad is waiting in the wings to be appointed on Monday.
Because of his convictions over tax offences in South Africa he must also pass a fit and proper person test before taking his seat on the board and said that if the decision went against him he would just operate as an investor and shareholder.
“I am either fit and proper or I am not. I would not have engaged in this process and cetainly start re-investing in the club if I did not think I passed the fit and proper test,” he said.
“I have had no serious discussion with Nomads or other financial services parties that indicated concern. The only concern I have heard has come from the other side who seem to find a need to flag this as a mechanism to try and deflect my objectives in the resolutions.”
Mr King added: “If I am not found fit and proper then I will not sit on the board. I will invest and will support it. I must have 40 companies back in South Africa that I control and I do not sit on the boards. To me, being on the board is not critical. I do not think it will be an issue, but if it turned out to be an issue it would not make any difference to Rangers going forward.
“The issue is not about power. My position is no different to Paul (Murray) and John (Gilligan). We are all trying to achieve the same thing. Maybe there has been a confusion between what is right for the company and what is right for individuals.
“If, for any reason, a regulator said ‘Dave we believe you are not fit and proper’ and I had an opportunity to make appropriate representations, and they still concluded that, then I would accept that.”
Asked whether ousted chief executive Derek Llambias and finance director Barry Leach – both allies of Mr Ashley – would continue to have a role in the company, Mr King replied: “I would not think so.”
He also said there would be a review of the “appropriateness and quality” of some of the negotiations discussed and implemented with Sports Direct, the company controlled by Mr Ashley. Sports Direct has a merchandising deal with the club.
He said he had “reached out” to Mr Ashley at shareholder level , but he had declined to engage with him.
“As far as Sports Direct is concerned I would encourage them to work with the board. I understand they want to be part of the football club.”
On the playing side, he said the board would seek a “coach rather than a manager” and that the club needed a “different type of manager”, a hint that former managers would not be considered for the position.
He said that “by taking the club forward we want to take it back”, in other words to a club it used to be.