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Gers chairman cool on fans buyout

Rangers shareholders gather for the annual meeting
Johnston addressed Rangers shareholders at the annual meeting at Ibrox

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston has voiced scepticism about the ability of a fan-based buyout to achieve success.

Florida-based businessman Graham Duffy recently outlined his plans for a possible takeover involving supporters.

Johnston told Rangers' annual meeting that he was not opposed to the idea of fans groups becoming involved in the Scottish champions' ownership.

But he questioned whether a model similar to Barcelona would work without the Spanish level of media money.

Rangers are about £31m in debt and owner Sir David Murray, who stood down as chairman in August, is looking for a buyer for his majority shareholding.

US-based Johnston, a director at the club for the last five years, was picked to replace Murray at the Ibrox helm.

With Murray apparently struggling to offload his stake, there has been increasing talk of fans investing in collective ownership.

I am very sceptical about any scenario which relies on these stalwarts allocating more of their limited resources by writing a cheque each year to fund our ambitions.

Alastair Johnston

"I had a meeting several weeks ago with the senior officers of the Rangers Assembly and I told them that I was not in any way alien to the concept of a Rangers' supporters' sanctioned group participating in ownership of the club and that the board would entertain proposals from legitimate and credible parties representing such interests," said Johnston.

"The Rangers board and I, as chairman, are less concerned with the price of the club and much more concerned about the ability of the new owners to continue to finance the ambition of the club on an ongoing basis.

"An ownership change with a commitment by a stable owner to a source of reliable and regular source of unencumbered cash is vital to the club moving from the surviving to a thriving mode."

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston
Johnston took over from Sir David Murray as chairman

More than 2,000 shareholders attended the annual meeting at Ibrox, with many expressing fears about the club's ability to compete in their current cash-strapped predicament.

"Rangers supporters are the lifeblood of the club, they dig deep and finance the club," added Johnston.

"This commitment is hugely important to the club. I am therefore very sceptical about any scenario which relies on these same stalwarts to allocate more of their limited resources by writing a cheque each year to fund our ambitions.

"There has been much talk about the Barcelona members' model but we must keep in mind that in Spain and in Germany there is a significant underpinning of media rights to fund club operations.

"This is luxury that cannot be exported to Scotland.

"In summary, it is relatively simple to promote the rights of ownership.

"However, it is far more challenging to activate the obligations of ownership.

"Supporters' groups acquiring the rights without the corresponding ability to underpin the working capital of our club is like paying a transfer fee to another club to bring in an impact player then not having the funds to pay his wages."

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see also
Rangers boss to work without deal
07 Dec 09 |  Rangers
SFA to sound out Gers boss Smith
04 Dec 09 |  Internationals
Gers coach fears talent drought
04 Dec 09 |  Rangers
Clarity required for Rangers sale
27 Oct 09 |  Rangers
Smith admits he could leave Ibrox
26 Oct 09 |  Rangers
Rangers' Sale of the Century
28 Oct 09 |  Rangers
Johnston reveals Gers objectives
28 Sep 09 |  Rangers
Murray relinquishes Rangers role
26 Aug 09 |  Rangers

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