ALLY McCoist’s decision to give the proxy vote for his Rangers shares to his local supporters’ club has been hailed by former Ibrox director Paul Murray as an example of solidarity with the fans that others should follow.
Murray, one of the so-called requisitioners who are locked in a power struggle with the present Ibrox board, has also announced that he will give up the fight to get back on the board if Thursday’s annual general meeting goes against him and his colleagues.
“Ally McCoist’s decision to proxy his shares to the fans is a fantastic gesture and typical of the man,” Murray said in a statement released yesterday. “We urge the board and all shareholders to listen to the views of the fans. They are the lifeblood of the club and cannot be ignored.”
Rangers’ share prospectus last year listed McCoist as the holder of more than one million shares in the company, and said he was in the process of adding another 70,000 to that total in a new share issue. The manager’s stake in the club is less than two per cent, and may have no influence on the outcome of Thursday’s annual general meeting.
But his gift of the proxy to the Calderwood Loyal Rangers Supporters’ Club in East Kilbride could bring him into conflict with his employers. Every organised Rangers supporters’ group is against the current board, whose re-election is being proposed at the agm – and opposed by Murray and the other three requisitioners, ex-chairman Malcolm Murray, Scott Murdoch and Alex Wilson.
Rangers declined to comment yesterday on McCoist’s action, but downplayed a claim by Malcolm Murray that the manager’s future was in doubt for as long as the present board remained in place. “I know him not to be favoured by some among the current incumbents,” Murray said, leading a Rangers spokesperson to retort: “Ally was told only yesterday by CEO Graham Wallace that the board are 100 per cent behind the manager.”
Should the board question his actions, McCoist could claim to be merely honouring a previous commitment to the East Kilbride club, with which he has longstanding links. Last week he admitted he would be “committing suicide” if he voted against his employers, but refused to say how he would use his stake at the agm.
“I’m not 100 per cent certain what I’m doing yet regarding my vote,” he said. “Everything’s a possibility at the moment. Of course I’ve thought about it, but I’m undecided on my decision.
“My vote will 100 per cent be used. It’s really vitally important; the most important agm in the club’s history.”
Explaining why he would step aside from the current conflict if Thursday’s vote went against the requisitioners, Murray said that his main aim in taking legal action to call the agm was to ensure that all shareholders had a voice on how the club was run. Even if those shareholders voted against his own views, he said he was entitled to regard his campaign as having already been a success.
“The reason we went to the Court of Session was because we felt it was important for the shareholders to be given the chance of a democratic vote at the agm,” Murray said. “I will stand or fall by that democratic vote. The shareholders have the right to vote for the board they want and I will stand by their decision, whatever it is. I feel as though I have a lot of support.
“But if I don’t get enough votes I have to accept that, and I will accept that. I would walk away, because I don’t think there is much more that I can do.
“As [businessman and Murray ally] Jim McColl said a few weeks ago, our campaign, if you like, has already been a success. When we started this process, of the six directors who were on the board at the time, only two are left. We have raised all the issues and fears to the public. Everyone can see for themselves what the issues are at Rangers.”
To be elected on Thursday, every candidate for the board – either a member seeking re-election or a new prospective director – needs a majority of the voting shares.
The spokesman for the Rangers Supporters Association has also praised McCoist for handing his share proxy votes to the Calderwood Loyal Supporters’ Club. The RSA’s Drew Roberton also believes that McCoist has taken himself out of the firing line by doing so.
“He’s obviously spent some time deliberating over what he should do,” he said. “There had been some speculation that he might give his proxy to a fans’ group but we didn’t see this coming. I believe Ally’s father was a member of the Calderwood Loyal. I dare say whether or not you believe this is a good thing depends on what your view is of the current board.
“What he has done is take himself out of an awkward position. The majority of the support aren’t happy with the current board but they are still his employers. By handing over his proxy he has removed himself from any controversy.”