UPDATE 2-Scottish soccer club Rangers plans stock market return
By Christine Murray
LONDON Oct 11 (Reuters) - Glasgow soccer club Rangers launched a campaign on Thursday to raise 20 million pounds ($32 million) through a London stock listing, aiming to help the former champions to rebuild from the bottom tier of Scottish soccer.
Rangers, Scottish champions a record 54 times, said that it would raise new funds through a placing with institutional investors and a limited public offering on the junior AIM stock market before the end of 2012.
The club had been listed on the PLUS Stock Exchange before it collapsed under the weight of debt earlier this year.
Charles Green, who led a consortium that rescued the club in June, said that the new listing would give fans a chance to invest while the club was still relatively cheap.
Rangers, which remains one of the best supported clubs in Britain, is aiming to return to the Scottish Premier League in the next three years through successive promotions.
"Why do it now? We will deliver, and in two years' time the price of entry for the fans would be three or four times higher," Chief Executive Green told a news conference.
The club said that the new funds will be used for strengthening the squad, restoring stadium facilities and working capital.
However, listed soccer clubs have proved a poor investment and few of the major clubs are now on the stock market.
The exception is Manchester United, which was valued at $2.3 billion when it listed in New York in August. However, its shares have dwindled since and were trading at $12.81 on Thursday.
Justin Urquhart Stewart, of Seven Investment Management, said that Rangers fans should be wary.
"Investment is not about emotion. Fans should only invest in things where they think there is a sound return, not the emotional love of their club," he said. "They should buy the scarf, drink the beer, but don't buy the shares."
Green admitted that there are no institutional investors on side yet, but that he has several lined up.
Fans, meanwhile, seem to be behind the plan, despite many of them losing their investment in the old club only a few months ago.
"I think the fans will accept this, and that can only be a good thing. Whether they will reach to 20 million (pounds) or not I don't know, but the potential is there," John Macmillan, General Secretary of the Rangers Supporters Association, told Reuters.
Rangers began the season as overwhelming favourites to win promotion but have struggled for consistency away from home, slipping to third in the table.
Speaking at the Leaders in Football business conference in London, Scottish Premier League Chief Executive Neil Doncaster said that other clubs had adjusted quickly to Rangers' absence and that its financial backers had continued to give their support.
"I think people sounding the death knell for Scottish football were acting a bit hastily," he said. "What happened to Rangers is a lesson for all of us."
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