Dave King proved the haters wrong and did everything he said he would

Rangers are heading in the right direction.

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After Craig Whyte and Charles Green, the bar was fairly low, to say the least, for Dave King as Rangers chairman upon taking over at Ibrox in May 2015.

The Govan club had attracted no shortage of vultures in the years preceding and following their financial meltdown and some believed King, once convicted in South Africa of not paying tax, to be another such figure.

The applause King was given on Tuesday upon the surprise announcement of his decision to step down after the new year demonstrated how Rangers fans now see the 64-year-old.

King had always said his stint as Rangers chairman would be a relatively short one and so it has proved. “I would not step down if the club continued to need my services and support,” he told shareholders. “But it doesn’t.”

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Depending on who you ask, King either saved Rangers or put them on a path that will one day lead them back to financial ruin.

Indeed, questions remain over the significant losses charted by the Ibrox club over the past few years, with the most recent accounts showing an annual loss of £11.3m – up 63% from the year before.

But, King always admitted that a certain level of investment would be required to lift Rangers off the floor. He spoke many times about an acceleration in the amount of money being pumped into the club.

The tens of millions King has put into Rangers represented that acceleration, as did the money used to lure Steven Gerrard north of the border.

He stuck to his word and proved his doubters wrong.

King said Rangers would qualify for Europe again under his stewardship, and they did – twice. He also said he would take the club back to the top of the Scottish game.

Of course, King didn’t quite see this one through, but Rangers are this season genuine title challengers for the first time in years. If Gerrard and his players get their hands on the Scottish Premiership trophy next May it will be on the back of King’s investment.

There can be no denying that Rangers are in a far better place now than they were when King took over four-and-a-half years ago. Back then it seemed that the Ibrox club were being sucked back into the black hole they’d only just emerged from.

Mike Ashley appeared to be winning a power struggle for the soul of Rangers. It was only a matter of time until Ibrox was just another branch of Sports Direct.

Now, they are in the midst of a top-flight title race, tied on 34 points with Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership and are in contention for a place in the last 32 of the Europa League with one of Britain’s best young managers (Steven Gerrard) in the dugout.

That’s certainly better than struggling past the likes of Alloa Athletic and Cowdenbeath.

Yet there is still a lot of work to do in establishing a sustainable future for Rangers. King admits this, but it will now be up to his successor, whoever that may be, to deliver it.

Gerrard has been bullish in demanding significant transfer market investment during his time as Rangers manager. That cannot continue.

Rangers must aim to emulate Celtic in the way they have become shrewd transfer market operators, both in the buying and selling of players.

A fresh share issue planned for January will open the door for new investors at Ibrox. With this will come opportunity for further growth.

Rangers must be wary, though. In King they found a man who for all his obvious problems has the Ibrox club’s best interests at heart. Finding the right successor will prove difficult, but it’s only through this that King’s Rangers legacy will be determined.

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