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“Majority” of Rangers support back board - Somers

Chairman David Somers says the Rangers board now has the backing of the club's support. Picture: SNS

Chairman David Somers says the Rangers board now has the backing of the club's support. Picture: SNS

Rangers chairman David Somers believes the “majority” of the Light Blues’ support trust the board despite the stormy scenes at the club’s annual general meeting at Ibrox on Thursday and recent fans’ protests.

The Rangers board were booed on to the stage at the AGM but emerged triumphant after all five directors were re-elected and their four opponents failed in their bid to be appointed.

Under-fire finance director Brian Stockbridge, who received a particularly rough ride from those who attended the AGM, received 65.3 per cent backing from shareholders while his four colleagues, Norman Crighton, James Easdale and chief executive Graham Wallace, who subsequently won over most of the body of the meeting, all secured more than three-quarters of the support.

The four so-called requisitioners - former Rangers oldco director Paul Murray, former chairman Malcolm Murray, Alex Wilson and Scott Murdoch - all polled close to 30 per cent of votes to scupper their hopes.

However, despite a clear mandate from shareholders, the fall-out from the meeting had Gers supporters and fans’ representatives talking about boycotts and refusing to renew season tickets amid general disgruntlement.

Asked if he accepted there was a lack of trust in the board from the fans, Somers said: “Just at the beginning (of the AGM) there were boos but the rest of the meeting was very orderly.

“I was pleased that I got a nice round of applause after my speech which I thought was very generous of them.

“I thought the questions were fair and overall, I thought the mood of the meeting was very positive.

“Hopefully it cleared the air and we can build on that and take the club forward in terms of stability.

“I think there is trust from the majority of the fans but having looked at the dark corporate history of the club, I understand why, for some of the fans’ groups, there is some distrust. It is our job to build up the trust but it will take time.

“And actually, if we look at the result of the AGM, you can see quite clearly that were massive support for the board.

“It is also interesting to see that the requisitioners didn’t have the level of support from the fans that they were saying they had got - we can see that from the numbers.”

Protest

Somers, whose position was made permanent last month after he was given the chairmanship on an interim period, dismissed the fans’ red card display at the last home game against Ayr United.

In the 18th and 72nd minutes of the match, the majority of the 45,227 crowd held up cards which had written on them ‘get out of our club’ and ‘vote out the current board’.

“I wasn’t at that particular one but I have had several emails from people who said they were led to believe that the red card display was about apartheid so there seems to be some confusion among the fans as to what they were displaying,” said Somers.

“But we have taken on board that we have got to engage with the fans, the supporters groups and we have plans to do just that.”

Indeed, one of the biggest gripes of Paul Murray and the fans’ representatives in the acrimonious lead-up to the AGM was the failure of the board to enter into dialogue with supporters.

Somers, who revealed he had been appointed to the chairman’s post by Stockbridge and Easdale after being recommended by club advisors Daniel Stewart, explained his reticence.

“A lot of it has been time-related,” he said. “I have only been on the board four weeks, Graham has only been on the board three weeks.

“I spent the first two weeks interviewing nine or 10 CEOs and also interviewing a bunch of non-executive directors and that took up quite a bit of time.

“We knew the AGM was important so it meant we went round all the institutional shareholder groups and said, ‘Here we are and this is what we plan to do’ and we were using up time that should have been used in normal circumstances for the fan groups.

“I think we reassured the fans (at the AGM) that we have to engage much more with them than we have been doing.

“Some (meetings) have already taken place. Graham has already had two or three meetings.”

Somers, however, admits there are no plans to invite a fans’ representative on to the board.

“I think a fan on the board would be a very singular situation,” he said. “We are looking to set up a mechanism by which we can engage more democratically with the fans and get more fan representation.

“That is something that we will be talking with the fans groups about.

“There are various options. One option is to have a fan advisory board where we have a number of supporter groups on it. “

Somers also confirmed that there were no plans to invite any of the requisitioners on to the board.

He said: “Not at the moment, no. The shareholders have made their decision so we have to respect what the shareholders have said.”

 

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