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John Bennett addresses Rangers loan offers and makes Ibrox cash pledge

JOHN BENNETT insists potential lenders can’t match the terms granted by Rangers’ band of benefactors after revealing the champions had received a handful of loan offers from potential outside investors.The Ibrox deputy chairman was speaking at the RIFC…

JOHN BENNETT insists potential lenders can't match the terms granted by Rangers' band of benefactors after revealing the champions had received a handful of loan offers from potential outside investors. The Ibrox deputy chairman was speaking at the RIFC plc Annual General Meeting on Tuesday as shareholders gathered in person once again after a virtual event last year. Rangers reported an operating loss of GBP23.5million for the financial year to June 30, 2020 as the cost of the Covid pandemic hit hard despite their on-field success and 55th Premiership crown.

Bennett and chairman Douglas Park committed to cover the required GBP7.5million shortfall before the end of the current campaign and it was confirmed at the AGM that deficit had already been met. Rangers have converted several tranches of shareholder loans into shares in recent months and Bennett is thankful for the continued backing of the wealthy supporters that still fund the Ibrox operation. Bennett said: "You may have seen in the last week that we have issued GBP3.5million of new equity.

That is existing investors converting to equity. "Some of it secured against Edmiston House. That is a piece of security that has been given before.

"There is no new security on any of the club's assets being given against the updated numbers. I will give you those updated numbers: GBP13million has gone in as loans. "Now, I don't know about you, but Edmiston House alone, as security for that, Edmiston House is not worth that to any lender.

"I think you would agree with that. You are only able to do that because it is friendly lenders, including myself. "The other thing about the six per cent, that is the lowest coupon that this company has been paying.

"It was paying nine, you may remember that we had a relationship with Close Brothers and that was nine-and-a-bit. "We repaid a loan to the former chairman that was eight, it is now at six. That is the benchmark.

"We alluded to it in the annual report and referenced that we have had a number of approaches from players that you might see down south, for example. "You might see Watford Football Club in the last month, for example, and a good source for all of this is Kieran Maguire at Price Of Football because he picks it all up. "We have had numerous approaches, including in November.

It is so interesting, they come to you and it could be equity, it could be family offices, it could be banks such as Macquarie Bank and they are active in the football space. They can't touch our terms. "What I have been saying, and a number of us have been saying is 'OK, these are interesting approaches'.

I can tell you that one of them was at 13 per cent per annum. "We're not paying that. We are no longer paying nine, we are no longer paying eight, six is the new benchmark.

"If those providers can come in and beat that at two levels - a lower coupon, because six is the new benchmark and we have driven the cost of funding down to six. "I think that is one of the lowest numbers in the whole of football in Britain for loans. But also on security.

I can assure you they want a whole lot more security, and a higher coupon."