Ahmad's Group To Return?
- 02 August 2013
Rumours of Charles Green’s possible return to Ibrox moved up a notch yesterday after reports online from a blogger close to Imran Ahmad. Like the Great Oz, Ahmad does his best work from behind the curtain, using messengers to carry his word, but it is clear to whom he is feeding his information. This is no longer an issue of blogger’s personalities, who can reveal the latest salary or who the latest name in the frame to buy shares is. It has become about whether or not any of this information can be trusted and whether fans are being misled to further the aims of those behind the reports.
A number of claims have been made recently, via bloggers and BBC Scotland, by the Ahmad faction. We were told last week Craig Mather was going to be taking a salary of £500k. We were told today that several well-known businessmen had been attempting to buy up shares. Both of those claims later had to be retracted by the blog in question because they just weren’t accurate. So why would Ahmad want this misinformation spread around Rangers fans? After all, he is still a shareholder, despite having been relieved of his duties after being caught posting sensitive club business on Rangers Media under a pseudonym - something which to my knowledge he has not yet been taken to task for by the Stock Exchange. Surely as a shareholder he would not want to destabilise the club further, just after it has started to get back onto its feet following the turmoil caused by Craig Whyte’s allegations and the actions of Green and Ahmad themselves.
Let’s examine a few of the claims being made to justify the return of Green to the board, because frankly they just don’t stand up to even basic scrutiny. First of all we are told that Ahmad’s investors are concerned about the level of expenditure at the club. I am sure I am not alone in saying that this is a concern shared by supporters. However, it is incredibly misleading for the Ahmad camp to attempt to absolve themselves of the blame for this.
The highest paid players at the club were given their salaries when Ahmad’s group were running the show. It’s not immediately apparent why some of them were signed and they would appear to have now been told that if they can find another club they can go. Were they Ally McCoist’s choices or were they found by friendly agents? Either way they were given the contracts they are now on by Ahmad and Co. and they will be difficult to budge.
The commercial contracts, kit deal and Sports Direct deal were signed when Ahmad’s group was running the club. On the face of it these were heralded as great successes but do we know if these deals were improvements? We’ve seen no real detail on the Sports Direct deal so it is difficult to judge it but until we do then it is valid to question whether it is of most benefit to Rangers or Sports Direct.
An issue was raised last week by a blog close to Ahmad about the payment of £120k a year to a PR firm who don’t appear to actually do any work for the club. The contract for that PR firm was signed when Ahmad’s group were in charge. It now appears they are attempting to use it is a stick to beat the current board with. They seem unwilling to take any responsibility for current costs or indeed for legacy costs from which the club have had no benefit. It would appear their tactic is that, having incurred these costs, they then use them as an instrument to attack the current board, then take a short sabbatical and return to claim credit for costs being brought under control. Do they think the fans are so gullible they will not realise how so much of the IPO money left the club and on whose watch?
Craig Mather has been criticised, again by the Ahmad camp, for taking what they have reported as a £500k salary. Now firstly, as those of you who listen to the CROpod will know, I don’t believe that is accurate, but even if it is, Charles Green is believed to have made £720,000 from Rangers last year through salary and bonus, on top of his shares. How can a camp which was willing to sanction that salary and the huge salaries of Imran Ahmad and Brian Stockbridge (Stockbridge’s again with a 100% bonuses attached) claim to be appalled at anyone’s salary? Many fans believed those bonuses were only due on exiting the SFL (in other words on promotion to the top league in Scotland), not per season for almost automatic promotion.
Do salaries need to come down? Yes. Does the Ahmad camp have a track record of doing anything other than awarding themselves huge salaries? No. It is almost as if it’s fine to pay huge salaries as long as they are going to the ‘right’ people. The hypocrisy is astounding.
The Rangers fans have been through a lot and sifting through the claim and counter claim on the internet has been tiring after things appeared to be back on track. However, some things are crystal clear. They don’t need inside information or inside misinformation. People like Walter Smith, who have an emotional attachment to the club, will not do anything to intentionally harm it. Yes they might make mistakes, and they are certainly not above examination or criticism, but it is worth thinking about the motives of those doing the criticising. Is their motive the club or the money to be made from it?
If Charles Green does attempt to return we are told by those close to Ahmad that two board members would oppose him. It does not take a huge leap to suggest one of those board members would be Walter Smith. Now why would that be? Essentially it would appear that we are being asked to choose between Walter Smith and Charles Green. For me that is not a difficult choice and I would suggest that those implying that Ahmad’s group have thousands of fans desperately hoping for their return have absolutely no way of knowing if that is true or not. I’ve seen no banners at games calling for their return. In fact all I have seen is a few anonymous message board and social media posts.
Some people claim that those who seek to make money from Rangers would not want to harm it either but there are plenty of ways to make money from a club and then leave it in a weakened state when you eventually sell up and pocket more money from selling your shares. If the IPO money has dwindled away then most of it went out the door when Ahmad’s group were in charge and yet they are now attempting to blame it all on those whose job it is to rectify the damage and slowly get costs under control.
If Ahmad and his group are so concerned about spiralling costs, perhaps they could explain the astronomical payoff that Ahmad attempted to extract from the club prior to his removal? Why would you do that if your main concern is over the club losing money? Also perhaps they could clarify if such a payoff now would remove the need for Charles Green to be reinstalled? They seem to want to ask lots of questions of the current board without answering any themselves.
I can understand why some people would like the see Charles back. He is a charismatic figure. He won the fans over and he did a good job with the IPO. He also took the fight to some of the people who went after the club when it was on its knees. However, he has been handsomely rewarded for that and will be again when he sells his shares. He has millions of shares which he received for a penny and which at current market value are worth 45 times more than that. Reports from the Ahmad camp today suggest that they want £1 a share to sell up. That not only smacks of greed but also flies in the face of the value of a club with no credit facilities and which is rapidly burning through money. The shares are simply not worth, and never have been worth £1.
The bottom line is that you don’t get Green without Ahmad. If we want to go back to the days of the BBC getting exclusives through Chris McLaughlin, of club business being posted on forums and blogs and of zero oversight of where the money the fans plough into the club is going then there is nothing to be concerned about. But be careful what you wish for. Yes we might get another public fight between Charles Green and the SFA, and yes it might be justified, but it is window dressing for what will really be happening to the club. We need people we can trust in the boardroom and I simply don’t trust Ahmad or those who represent him, whether they are bloggers or board members. If others, on the internet or in the boardroom, choose to do Ahmad’s bidding then history will judge them on why they gave that support and where it led this football club that we all love.