THE Rangers Supporters Trust has taken its holding in the Ibrox club to over half a million shares after buying 200,000 this week.
The stake is still less than one per cent of the total but Trust chairman Gordon Dinnie is confident the organisation can keep on increasing its stake and, in time, elect a director to the Rangers board.
The successful purchase by the Trust’s BuyRangers scheme throws doubt on the viability of a similar plan, which will see an unnamed group of Rangers
supporters meet Supporters Direct Scotland (SDS) head Paul Goodwin for talks tomorrow.
Dinnie declined to criticise his potential rivals but insisted that the Trust would continue its efforts undeterred. It acquired the latest batch of shares for 26p each and still has the ultimate aim of controlling the club. Dinnie yesterday admitted that was still some way off, but said he was confident his organisation could at least begin to influence the direction of the club, even with a relatively small shareholding.
“There is still a long way to go,” said Dinnie, whose group now owns 557,856 shares and has one million as its next target. “We started our direct debit scheme just before Christmas. If we can get enough interest going in that, then we can buy shares on a monthly basis and build up our stake. We can also borrow against that money coming in and use it to buy more. However, the big issue is availability of the shares.
“With the current price being so low, when you try to buy them on the market folk are asking for a few pence more. So it’s not a case of buying £1m worth of shares if there is £1m worth of shares available. But, then again, we don’t need to aim for anything like a 50 per cent stake in the club. Because of the fractious nature of the shareholding, a ten per cent stake could give you a major say in how the club is run.
“James Easdale had just one more share in the club than the RST following the IPO [initial public offering], yet he was appointed to the board. If we get to five per cent, we would hold the right to call an AGM, and the things you are able to do increase as your stake goes up from that point.
“We need to take it slow. But, if we can generate enough interest, then, hopefully, we can look towards taking our holding past one per cent then five then, as our stake in the club grows, we can think about getting a director on to the board of
the club that has been elected by the fans.”
Shares are now considerably cheaper than they were in the IPO and, if the price remains low, the Trust could soon reach the million mark. “It’s a tremendous achievement for our members to reach this level of ownership through our BuyRangers scheme,” Dinnie wrote in an email to Trust members.
“The next target is to own a million shares. The addition of a direct-debit option to BuyRangers will be a great help and enable us to buy more shares as and when they become available.”
It is thought some of those who attend the other group’s meeting with Goodwin will be former Trust members but Dinnie insists recriminations would be counter-productive.
“They say their meeting is a consultation process and not a new scheme, so there is no need for us to stop doing what we’re doing,” he added. “In fact, we’re now cracking on with BuyRangers. But the long-term aim is to see fan ownership realised at Ibrox. That has been our raison d’etre for the last 10 years.
“Their new scheme could have have worked alongside BuyRangers. However, I won’t condemn it. It would be ludicrous for me to condemn it when they are working towards the same thing as we are. However, we will carry on with BuyRangers because we think it is the best way forward.”