Rangers fan group Club 1872 have been urged to take up new shares in the Ibrox club and ensure they money goes straight to helping Steven Gerrard’s team.
Former chairman Dave King announced earlier this month he had struck a £13million deal to sell his stake to the supporter organisation.
Club 1872 have three years to raise the money and – once complete – will become the largest single stakeholder in the club.
But there have been concerns that the cash would go to King rather than filling the club’s coffers at a time when it is staring at a £24million black hole in its finances over the next 18 months.
Now vice-chairman John Bennett has invited the group to plough its funds directly into the club instead after revealing they have knocked back offers to invest over the past 12 months.
Speaking to the club’s virtual AGM, the director – who along with chairman Douglas Park has vowed to cover the club’s cashflow shortfall – said: “There’s obviously been a lot of talk about fan ownership and I can give my perspective on that.
“I’ve said this to my colleagues as well – when you look around that board table, it’s fan ownership.
“When you look around the other investors in the club, that could be Stuart Gibson and others in Asia, it could be George Letham here in Scotland, it could be George Taylor and many others: loyal fans, loyal investors. The very embodiment of fan ownership.
“Someone said to me the other day, ‘I’ve done a bit of analysis and I reckon 95 per cent of this club is owned by its fans’.
“I don’t think we needed that analysis. But sometimes when you just take it as a given you forget that this is the case.
“There is obviously a lot of talk right now about fan ownership and investment. Clearly the funding gap is there in the annual report and clearly there will be more capital-raising coming.
“I’ve been asked the question about Club 1872 participating in that and if that’s what we would like. Of course that’s what we would like.
“Club 1872 in 2020 were offered participation at different times in the equity issues and they didn’t take up those offers. But I’d like to think that they can take up the very firm commitment that we’ve made to Club 1872 to come and join us with direct investment into the club.
“And we’ve made that offer at a set price for the first half of 2021 and as far as I’m concerned they can have as much as they can raise if they would like to take up that offer.”
Gers recently unveiled plans to celebrate the club’s 150th anniversary in 2022 with the construction of a museum and a new Edmiston House.
Bennett also hinted at ambitions to increase the current 50,000 capacity of Ibrox – and managing director Stewart Robertson says supporters will be given the chance to play their part in paying for those new projects as well as beefing up Gerrard’s playing squad.
He told shareholders: “There’s going to be a requirement for further funding going forward and we do have some exciting projects which we really do want the fans to get involved in directly.
“We would like to see fans invest directly into the club because we know it will go directly into investing in the infrastructure and the playing squad.”
And Bennett revealed the club had secured fresh investment in recent weeks following a number of mystery share transactions.
He said: “Everything we’ve got requires investment. As you can see from the annual report, substantial investment is required and we need absolutely every shareholder to stay aligned and help us deliver.
“I think I’m right in saying that since March 2015, the current group of investors have invested around £65million – and rising.
“In recent days and weeks the chairman, Jullien Waldhart, myself and Alistair Johnston have all invested further.
“We’ve recently been joined by three successful businessmen here in Scotland so again it’s a broadening church.
“But if you look at that group of investors and what they’ve committed – and continue to commit – it’s very sizeable.”
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1