Charles Green has expressed frustration over the negativity surrounding his attempts to revive Rangers – but the key issue is whether it will be enough to force him out of Ibrox.
Green completed his £5.5million purchase of the 140-year-old club’s assets yesterday on what he described as a bittersweet day.
Attempts to avoid liquidation formally failed in a creditors vote but he succeeded in ensuring the business would at least continue in some form.
However, Green was soon left with a further sour taste as Walter Smith, winner of 21 trophies as Rangers manager and an icon for supporters, launched a last-minute bid with local businessmen including Douglas Park and Jim McColl.
The circa-£6million bid, announced about an hour before confirmation of Green’s bid, was doomed to failure given the last-minute nature.
But the timing crucially further undermined the credibility of Green’s newco club and McColl later issued a public plea for the Yorkshireman and his investors to sell his company, which will be called The Rangers Football Club.
Green countered by offering Smith a role as chairman of his football club board but he exhibited signs of exasperation over his difficulties in winning over supporters.
“All this negative energy dealing with this bid and that bid is diverting away from resolving outstanding issues with the SFA and sitting down with members of the SPL and asking them if we can come back in their club,” Green said. “No-one had confidence we would buy the club. I’ve got confidence in Charles Green.
“I knew on February 20 we would buy the club. That’s why I’ve been working for four months.
“All we have is distrust, that I’m Craig Whyte’s man or that we haven’t got any money, or that we’re going to use season ticket money. It just goes on forever.”
One of Green’s partners, Imran Ahmad, claimed the true cost of their purchase was £10million with professional fees and operating costs included and that the investors would only consider an offer in “multiples” of that total to walk away quickly.
However, making a long-term return on their investment requires the financial backing of fans and the Rangers Supporters Trust last night raised the prospect of a season-ticket boycott.
Fans are angry over the failure of a creditors deal and sceptical of unknown owners following years of financial recklessness from Sir David Murray and Whyte. Pressure continued from other sources.
Entrepreneur McColl said: “Mr Green does not have the backing of the Rangers support and the longer he delays, the harder the situation will become.”
One of the investors named by Green, Glasgow businessman Ian Hart, categorically denied being part of Green’s consortium and backed Smith.
Meanwhile, Dundee United and Aberdeen followed Motherwell and Inverness in pledging to consult fans over Green’s application to join the SPL with the Dons citing sporting integrity as the main criteria for their decision.
SPL clubs, already under pressure from their own fans to reject a newco application, would find it hard to justify backing a club that has little support from within, despite the commercial concerns.
Players are also free to leave Ibrox under employment law and Green could find himself without a team as well as a league to play in, especially given he barely appears to be on speaking terms with manager Ally McCoist.
Green was ultimately driven out of his job as Sheffield United chief executive by fans angry over the sale of key players.
And while he does not appear concerned at winning popularity contests, he needs some goodwill to allow his newco club to make money for himself and his investors in the long run. The key question is how much money it would take to persuade him that the negativity is not worth fighting.