Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mike Ashley: What's the cost of a £2 million loan?

Tough times at the Ibrox at the moment, will Mike Ashley be the saviour?
As news was announced that Mike Ashley would be providing Rangers with a £2m crisis loan, the magnate's first order of business was to cull Graham Wallace from the chief executive's position. Wallace, who had been at the club for 11 months, will most likely be replaced by Mike Ashley's good friend Derek Llambias, who has been a long-term associate of the Sports Direct owner and has already been installed as a consultant at Ibrox.

Mike Ashley, the current chairman of Newcastle United, played the hero last Saturday and provided the struggling Rangers with a £2m interest free crisis loan. Not only does he own a 9% share of Rangers, but he also has naming rights to the stadium and will propse replacements for two members of the board who are set to move in.

Does that seem like a pretty fair deal? What's the true cost of this £2m interest free loan?

Well, according to an agreement with the Scottish Football League, Mike Ashley cannot own more than 10% of Rangers while he owns Newcastle United. With other shareholders having more voting rights (as they own more of the club), Mike Ashley needed a way to swing power his way. The loan, presented as an act of generosity, is more likely a political move. The club now has this loan swinging over its head like a weight and Ashley, if needs be, can threaten to drop it when he pleases.

Furthermore, Brian Kennedy, who offered a similar package worth £3m, was quickly met with stern words from Mike Ashley's solicitors. Mike Ashley seemed hell-bent on pushing this deal through and he did, using any means possible.

So, what does this mean for the financially struggling Rangers?

With all this political nonsense going on in the background, it cannot be easy for Ally McCoist to concentrate on what's important: the football.

Rangers currently sit second in the Scottish Championship, seven points behind current leaders Hearts and with a game in hand. A recent 3-0 win against Dumbarton, with goals from Boyd, Wallace and Miller, kept Rangers in touch but Hearts remain undefeated while the Ibrox side have slipped up against both the leaders and fellow promotion contenders Hibs.

It may show that, although things were falling apart in the background, Rangers, who should be up there at the top, can manage with the pressure of their current financial climate. It can't make easy viewing at the moment for Rangers fans, who don't know whether or not their club is going to plummet into administration at any time. This loan from Mike Ashley should be quash those fears for now but raises even more questions about the future.

They next face Dumbarton again, this time in the Scottish Cup. Although on paper it looks an easy game for the Glasgow giants, but that it doesn't make it easy when it comes to football betting.

Could the recent changes create a real stir in the Rangers camp?

St Johnstone couldn't capitalise on any financial fallout on the pitch at Ibrox as Rangers progressed in the League Cup quarter final last night night.

Will a Scottish Cup trip to Dumbarton be trickier? It probably shouldn't be. But you just never know.

Written by Gordon Milligan for the Scottish Football Blog.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Homeless World Cup: Chile look for home double

It's the final day of the Homeless World Cup in Santiago and the host nation are aiming for a 2014 double.

Chile will face Bosnia & Herzegovina in the men's Homeless World Cup final and Mexico in the final of the women's tournament.

The 2014 Homeless World Cup at the Scottish Football Blog.
The men got there with a last-gasp winner against Brazil in a 8-7 victory. It was tight in the other semi-final as well with the Bosnians eventually closing out a 5-4 win over Poland.

Chile's women's team also faced Brazil in their semi-final but enjoyed a slightly more comfortable 4-1 win.

They'll face an on-form Mexico though, with Hungary brushed aside 13-1 in the other semi-final.

The Chilean men will be looking for a second Homeless World Cup in three years having won the tournament in Mexico in 2012 while Bosnia & Herzegovina get their first taste of a Homeless World Cup final.

Having lost the final to Russia last year, Chile's women's team are on the hunt for a first title while Mexico will be looking to win for a second time have lifted the trophy in Rio de Janeiro back in 2010.

Scotland's bad run in Group D ended on Friday with further defeats to Bosnia and Peru.

That left Scotland progressing to the Municipalidad de Santiago Cup.

Defeat to Germany and a win over Austria yesterday mean the Scots face a Municipalidad de Santiago Cup 5th place play off against Greece today.

Eight trophies are up for grabs across the men's and women's tournaments today with every team involved in the final day of action.

And you can watch all the action live at the Homeless World Cup website

Are you in?

The tournament week is just one part of the work the Homeless World Cup does around the world throughout the year.

By joining the Homeless World Cup Supporters Club you can help that work - and be part of something special.

Join now to help beat homelessness through football.

Homeless World Cup Supporters Club

Hibs v Hearts: Here we go again

Jason Cummings is "buzzing". Prince Buaben is ready to face the "chaser." And Fraser Aird would rather be watching Coronation Street.

Hibs and Hearts meet at Easter Road, by Tom Hall at the Scottish Football Blog.
Bad news for Fraser. The omnibus of goings on in Weatherfield will finish on ITV2+1 a full ten minutes before kick off at Easter Road. Maybe there's a soap opera closer to home to distract him.

The second Edinburgh derby of this Championship season is upon is.

The form book is supposed to crash out of the window. But the bookies still have Hearts as favourites.

I don't understand how the bookmakers calculate such things. But I'd reckon the 14 point lead Hearts have over Hibs has something to do with it.

And their 10 game unbeaten run. And three wins from the last three derbies.

Hibs themselves are four games undefeated since their 3-1 win at Ibrox. But last week's 4-0 win at Livingston followed two home draws with Raith Rovers and Dumbarton.

Nine wins from ten games is good going. Four wins from ten games isn't so much.

And Hibs have made a stuttering start to the season, handicapped by a disrupted summer.

History doesn't much help either.

This week Pat Stanton told the BBC:

"Too often, Hearts just seem to brush Hibs aside, there's no real resistance. It's almost been inevitable that Hearts would beat us, and Hibs have accepted it."

And on his blog David Farrell wrote:

"I never felt as a team we were ever as fired up as Hearts were. They were snarling and scratching at you from the tunnel onto the pitch. They were pressing all over us, people like Sandison, Black, Kidd, Mackay, Levein and Robertson galvanising and pushing each other. Make no mistake, they were angrier than us. They were ready for a derby, ready for a scrap."

That sums up the historical drift of these games. Recent history too: Hibs have won just 10 of the last 44.

It's true that this season's opening derby at Tynecastle might have been a very different game if Liam Craig had scored his first half penalty.

He didn't. And Hearts, as so often before, took advantage.

So, having left myself thoroughly depressed, what do I see happening at Easter Road today?

I'll be looking to see that form book hurled through a window. I'll be looking to see Hibs play with a pace and incisiveness that hasn't always been evident at Easter Road this season. Too often at home Hibs have done right the things but at such a pedestrian speed that they've been rendered blunt.

I'll be looking to Hibs give their fans something to cheer about.

And, at the end of 90 minutes, I'd be happy to see a draw.