AS somebody who can struggle to keep count in a high-scoring match at times (Saturday evening’s goal fest between Hibernian and Celtic at Hampden was testing for your intrepid correspondent) deciphering a football club’s annual accounts presents its challenges.

Operating expenses excluding amortisation and impairment of players’ registrations? Earnings before interest tax and depreciation? Significant non-statutory measures? Material foreign exchange risk? It is all best left to the boffins on the business desk in my considered opinion.

The public response to the latest financial results which Rangers posted on Friday afternoon certainly followed an all too familiar script and offered little if any helpful insight into their current state to a layman like me.

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Fans of their opponents, not least Celtic, pounced upon the fact they had made a loss of £11.3 million for the year ending June 30, 2019, require £10 million from shareholders going forward and confidently and gleefully predicted they are facing impending oblivion. They’re skint! They’re going to die! Again! Tick tock!

Rangers supporters, meanwhile, focused on more positive aspects of the figures. They had banked £14 million from their involvement in the Europa League, increased their turnover by over £20 million and reduced their losses by over £3 million. There’s nothing to see here! The Steven Gerrard revolution continues! In Dave King we trust!

Mercifully, in this line of work you can always ask somebody who is a qualified professional in a specific field to provide some much-needed clarity and a little impartial analysis. After consulting with an expert it would appear the situation is actually, amid all of the conflicting claims and mixed messages, fairly straightforward.

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The Ibrox club will be absolutely fine – as long as their wealthy benefactors continue to offset their losses with soft loans which will be converted into equity somewhere down the line.

That, though, is not quite as simple as it sounds.

King, the major shareholder and chairman, admitted shortly after the current regime seized control from their despised and distrusted predecessors back in 2015 that their business strategy is unsustainable in the long term. But here we are four years down the line and it remains in place. How much longer can their backers continue to reach into their pockets?

They might, unlike many of those who occupied the Rangers boardroom before them, be bone fide fans who are admired, successful and respected in their respective spheres. However, they don’t have limitless funds.

Living within their means, then, should be as great an ambition for Rangers as ending their city rivals’ unprecedented spell of domestic dominance.

Progress both on and off the park has, as the latest set of annual accounts show, certainly been made since King and his associates came in. Winning the Ladbrokes Premiership this season would bring undoubted financial benefits, not least the chance to qualify for the Champions League group stages, and improve their liquidity.

Then there is Alfredo Morelos. The Colombian striker admitted last week that he is open to a January move to a“bigger and more competitive league” in an interview with a radio station in his homeland. That is very unlikely to happen with Rangers challenging Celtic strongly for the Scottish title. But next summer is another matter altogether.

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How much will the South American, who took his tally for the 2019/20 campaign to 20 with a second-half double in the 3-0 Betfred Cup semi-final win over Hearts at Hampden, bank his current employers when he goes? If he stays injury-free and keeps scoring with such regularity it will be a significant sum.

Cashing in on such prized assets has certainly allowed Celtic to balance their books in recent years. Would the Parkhead club, who have failed to make it through to Europe’s premier club competition two seasons running, be in such rude good health without the sales of Moussa Dembele to Lyon for £20 million last year and Kieran Tierney to Arsenal for £25 million this year? It is a sensible and shrewd policy.

But you don’t need to be Bill Gates to know that parting with more money than you take in is untenable. Rangers have suffered so much from spending recklessly in the past decade and more. Speculating to accumulate is a risky and rash road to go down. They should endeavour to achieve self-sustainability with as much vigour as they strive to land the Scottish title.

Their fans deserve to be repaid for their unstinting loyalty throughout all of their troubles with a stable and solvent club as much as with sporting success and silverware.


Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom was quite right to be miffed with referee Bobby Madden and his assistant Douglas Ross for failing to spot that Odsonne Edouard had been in an offside position before the second Celtic goal in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden on Saturday evening.

But suggesting that decisions always went against the Easter Road club? He was well wide of the mark with that claim. Shortly before Callum McGregor took advantage of the linesman’s error and made it 2-0 to the defending champions, Heckingbottom’s side should have had a penalty awarded against them.

Christian Doidge clearly handled a Mohamed Elyounoussi cross into his area. The Welsh striker’s arm was above shoulder height and was making his body unnaturally bigger. Stonewall doesn’t begin to describe it. Hibs, who were well beaten over the 90 minutes, got lucky and don’t have much cause to complain