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'It will take Gers five years to catch Celtic'

Dave King (inset) has been warned it could take him five years to bridge the financial gap separating Rangers from Celtic - and longer if his vow to spend big this summer fails to clinch the Ibrox side promotion to the Premiership.

The Gers chairman announced yesterday he was prepared to spend "whatever it takes" to make sure the Light Blues fight their way out of the Championship next season.

He claimed he was ready to "over-invest" in the coming weeks to make sure Rangers do not suffer a repeat of the humiliation heaped upon the club by the play-off final defeat to Motherwell which now leaves them staring at another 12 months in the second flight.

But with the club already losing £1m a month, football finance expert Neil Patey has warned even with King's strategy, Rangers are likely to be left sitting in Celtic's shadows for years to come.

He said: "The longer they stay down, the bigger and more entrenched that financial gap with Celtic becomes.

"How long will it take them to get back competing with Celtic? It's difficult to put a figure on it but I would say it is at least five years.

"The longer you stay in the Championship the bigger that gap becomes to bridge."

King has previously said he would be prepared to invest £30million in the club to put it back on an even keel with their Old Firm rivals.

But so far all the Gers chief, who expects to appoint a manager next week, has handed over is a £1.5m unsecured loan.

And Patey, a partner with Ernst & Young, said: "Long term it's not a sustainable model for a club to spend more than it is making.

"What Rangers can do in the short-term is invest in the hope that they will get promoted and get a return with Premiership money and then ultimately access to European football.

"But that relies on the fact they get promoted because you can only make losses for so long.

"So it's a gamble. We see this a lot down south - clubs investing up front but then failing to win promotion while continuing to make losses. In extreme cases some clubs can end up in administration if they don't have a wealthy backer prepared to fund those loses.

"So as a short-term plan, what Dave King is suggesting can work - as long as they get promoted.

"If they didn't, it would be a serious set-back. One additional season in the Championship is not great - another raises long-term questions about whether they can get out of the division, which would be a bit of a disaster really.

"The question for Dave King and the other Rangers backers is how long are they going to keep putting money in before seeing the club return to profit?

"A lot has been said about the wealth of Dave King. Can he continue to support it beyond one-year losses? I suspect he can but as yet, we have not seen a significant amount of money going into the club since Dave King took over."


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