"We'll get £7.5m for Barry Ferguson. Not a penny more not a penny less." Incredible as it may seem that's what our honorary chairman said whilst holding court in The Tivoli Gardens after we had qualified for the CL in Copenhagen back in August.
I thought it was an outrageously stupid statement at the time and even now I still want to know why the man responsible for the debt that is plunging Rangers ever nearer the abyss was happy at not getting pennies MORE for Ferguson. In fact forget the pennies, I want to know why Murray was happy at receiving £4.5 m LESS than what Ferguson was valued at when his new contract was signed only three months earlier?
We didn't know it at the time, but should have guessed given his previous on the subject, that Murray's ramblings that night were to set the tone for another season of absurd talk regarding the monetary issues that overshadow the club like a volcano waiting to erupt. But hey financial gobbledygook was always par for the course at Murray's Ibrox.
Mr Murray was ably backed up just a few weeks later in September when his chairman (and John McClelland most assuredly is a Murray possession) said in the light of last season's operating figures being announced that; 'There is no financial crisis at Rangers.' Not content with bamboozling us all with that one he also said; 'Speak of £68m, and yes that is a big number, but Rangers are a big club. Put it this way we have NO INTENTION of eliminating that debt.'
Fair enough you think, these people are well versed in the ways of big business and we should trust them. But at the end of November the Rangers chairman completely contradicted himself and said that the debt was a big worry and he'd like to see 'the big number' that is £68m cut down to around the £40-50m mark, which apparently is more manageable. Will the real John McClelland stand up here please? The one who says he has no intention of eliminating the debt or the one who thinks it is a real worry?
Now if you're not already confused by the conflicting signals being sent out by the chairman. Then consider that he has also this season admitted that the three-year financial plan the club is half way through implementing at this moment in time, is in his humble opinion, having a negative effect on all aspects of the Ibrox operation. But don't fret folks because it will be business as usual in the transfer market by the end of season 2004/05
On and on it goes. The stumbling over previous announcements, the contradictions, the lies and the subterfuge. You have to wonder if the Rangers hierarchy honestly believe we are that daft we can't remember their last pronouncement on any given subject. Or are they so bumbling, shamatuerish and incompetent as individuals that they can't remember what they say at any given time themselves? But as you all know we're nothing if not fair-minded here at FF so let's look more closely at what John McClelland has said about getting the debt down.
At this moment in time Rangers are believed to be around £68m in debt. But according to the Chairman of Rangers FC by the end of next season, 2004/05, that debt will be down to between £40-50m. So that means if we take the yearly operating figures out of the equation (and you can't) the club will need to make a profit of between Eighteen and Twenty-eight MILLION pounds. At best John McClelland is talking through a hole in his Fedora.
In this, the second year of the three-year plan to cut our operating costs we have gained around £10m in the transfer market for the sales of Ferguson, Amoruso and McCann. By qualifying for the group stages of the CL we have probably also raked in around £6m. That is £16m more in the kitty than we had last season. So it goes without saying that we will not make the same horrendous operating losses as last year.
But here's the worrying thing. Despite this extra £16m in the club's coffers this season the club still expects to make an operating loss. So to my rudimentary way of thinking that means the club's debt will assuredly not be any smaller.
Now I'm going to be very, very generous to the Chairman here and make believe that next season will see the club operating as successfully in the financial markets as this season. That means that at best we will be standing still. So perhaps either he or his honorary chairman can tell us where the extra £18-28 million pounds profit needed to bring the debt down is going to come from?
Last season was successful beyond our wildest dreams domestically yet we still made some horrendous operating losses. If we cannot make a profit in a year when we win a domestic treble then how the hell can we make between 20 and 30 million pounds profit in an ordinary year? It simply cannot be done.