THE Rangers supporter behind Saturday’s red card protest against the current board of directors is hopeful it will help persuade the club’s largest shareholder to give its backing to the four requisitioners seeking election at next week’s annual general meeting at Ibrox.
Craig Houston, spokesman for the Sons of Struth fan group which organised the red card displays that took place in the 18th and 72nd minutes of Rangers’ 3-0 home win over Ayr United, is confident there is “still all to play for” at the much anticipated agm on 19 December.
The Sons of Struth announced yesterday they are writing to the 50 leading investors in Rangers, who control around 90 per cent of shares in the club, asking them to recognise the strength of feeling amongst the support over how the club is being run.
A sizeable majority of the 45,277 crowd at Ibrox on Saturday participated in showing the red cards.
Laxey Partners, the Isle of Man-based hedge fund company which has the largest single stake of almost 12 per cent in Rangers, last month declared their intention to back the current board following the appointments of chairman David Somers, chief executive Graham Wallace and non-executive director Norman Crighton.
Previously, Laxey had indicated they would fall in line with the wishes of the fans but changed that position, indicating that the various supporters’ groups held differing views.
“I feel that anyone who has either seen the photographs in the newspapers or the videos online from Saturday’s display at Ibrox will now have a better idea of how the fans feel,” Houston told The Scotsman.
“There was a large shareholder who initially declared they would go with the fans’ view, but then they reneged on that because they felt the fans were fragmented.
“That was one of the main reasons for doing what we did on Saturday, to prove that the vast majority of Rangers fans have no wish to see the current board remain in place.”
Representatives of the London branch of the Rangers Supporters Association are due to meet with Laxey Partners today to canvas backing for the four “rebel” shareholders – former chairman Malcolm Murray, former director Paul Murray and businessmen Scott Murdoch and Alex Wilson.
The quartet were the target of a stinging attack by Somers last Friday, in which he branded them “fanatics” and repeated the current board’s opposition to their nominations as directors.
Houston regards Somers’ comment as a clear sign that the current board are not as assured in their own minds of success at the agm as has been suggested in some quarters.
“If they were as confident as they lead some people to believe, I don’t think the statement which came out on Friday from the so-called independent chairman would have come out at all,” added Houston.
“If they felt it was job done and game over in their favour, statements like that wouldn’t be getting released. So I don’t believe they feel they are certain to win the day at the agm. It is still all to play for on 19 December. The chairman’s statement has made me feel even more strongly that it’s still in the balance.
“I could actually see both parties have some kind of success at the agm. I can accept that some shareholders, for one reason or another, want to support the current board because there are directors on there they have helped to put in place.
“However, one thing these shareholders need to appreciate is that there are another four directors with excellent CVs, contacts and investment behind them who can be brought to the party on top of the existing directors.
“Even if you are happy with the current board as an institutional investor, it would be foolish to discount ticking the other four boxes. Because you will be getting these four guys free of charge. If, after the agm, the current board were all to remain and the four nominees were all rejected, I feel the Rangers board would still need extra personnel on it. So when there are four good candidates being put forward, why not take them on when there is no cost involved?”.
The Sons of Struth are also considering further protests against the current board in the build-up to the agm, starting at Saturday’s League 1 fixture away to Stenhousemuir. “We have one more game before the agm and we are currently putting together some ideas of what we could and couldn’t do at it,” said Houston.
“There is also some talk about doing something at Ibrox on the day of the agm, but we are very conscious of the name we have chosen as a group and of what we should and shouldn’t do to blacken that name. So if we do anything at all at the agm, it will be very low key.”