Football is a funny old game, and a funny old business too. Yesterday, just as one Glasgow Rangers director made the club a £500,000 emergency loan to keep it in business, the famous old institution became one of the first companies of this New Year to become subject to a City takeover bid.
The club’s board announced to the London Stock Exchange that it had received an £18m takeover bid from the owner of an NBA basketball team. Indeed the bid from Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver could be worth a good deal more, if he gets the support of shareholders. Sarver has said he will pay up to £15m more to buy out remaining shareholders in order to get a 100 per cent stake in the group.
The truth is that although Rangers is currently on its knees, financially, it could yet be worth a small fortune if it can overcome its current difficulties. The club, which has won 54 league titles ands a host of cup competitions, was drawing crowds of almost 50,000 in its first season after demotion to the lower reaches of Scottish football as a punishment for getting into financial trouble.
True, its crowds are currently a more modest 30,000 or so as a significant number of season-ticket holders appear to have been turned off by constant poor boardroom performances.
Sarver’s seemingly opportunistic bid comes after recent share-buying by a fan-backed consortium headed by Dave King. Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley is also in the mix with his holding and others associated with him speaking for around 30 per cent of the shares.
Rangers fans and shareholders have a mutually common hope that the three groups of wealthy bidders work out sooner rather than later who will take the club towards its next phase.