THE first tangible sign that those running Rangers recognise their time is up arrived yesterday with the resignation of James Easdale from the Ibrox club’s plc board.
The departure of the McGill’s bus operator, a week before the General Meeting called by Dave King to remove him and three fellow directors from the Rangers International Football Club board is scheduled to take place, can be read as a man falling before he was pushed. James Easdale – far lower profile and in control of a far lower shareholding than his brother Sandy Easdale, who is chairman of the football club board – is believed to have long since lost the appetite to be a target of supporters’ anger over the siblings’ alignment, first with Charles Green and more recently with lender-of-last-resort Mike Ashley.
In his statement to the Stock Exchange, the resigning director essentially acknowledged that the present RIFC board have become obstacles to the club achieving the “harmony” with a fan base required for the necessary financial support for the club to extricate itself from the position of living on the breadline with loans giving Ashley his powerbase. Chairman David Somers and Ashley placemen Derek Llambias and Barry Leach are obstacles who will be removed from the plc board at the GM on 6 March because requisitioner King, who holds 14.5 per cent, can now muster more than the 50 per cent voting threshold he required courtesy of support from the 19 per cent holding of the Three Bears consortium, two insititutional investors and various fans groups and individual supporters.
Easdale, in maintaining he has made no personal gain from his involvement in the club, presented himself as a man only interested in the greater gain of the club in the thought-processes that caused him to step down. “When I joined the board of Rangers Football Club I knew this wasn’t just another business,” he said. “In reality it is so much more to many people all around the world.
“After what the fans have been through with previous owners and managements it is hardly surprising they are heartily sick of the whole affair and they now seek another way forward. I drew great comfort from the shareholder votes in my favour at the AGM on December 22 – almost 90 per cent – however it was clear that this cut little ice with the fans who attended Ibrox on that day.
“I personally feel to remain on the board even after securing shareholder backing once more, would be a hollow victory for me without the fans’ support to help the club go forward.
“If a pragmatic solution is not achieved we will see this endless acrimony continue and it would make the job of attracting fans back to Ibrox even more difficult. The club requires big match-day attendances and big investment to thrive, or in turn the performance on the pitch will continue to suffer.
“I also want to dispel any remaining doubt that I received any remuneration from Rangers. I did not. Instead I chose to work for free to benefit the club. I want to see Rangers flourish again with both fans and shareholders working in harmony.
“To help achieve that objective, I think it is in the best interests of the Club that I step aside and resign from the board of Rangers FC. I have formally tendered my resignation to the chairman today and I would like to thank all the shareholders and fans who gave me their support and I look forward to seeing Rangers becoming once again the force it should be in football and supporting them on the journey.”
The club’s statement to the stock exchange stated Easdale leaves with “immediate effect...having never received any remuneration, bonus or compromise payment during his time at the club.”
Easdale’s decision to bite the bullet raises the possibility of the General Meeting not being required for King to form a new board with fellow requistioners Paul Murray and John Gilligan. If, by the closing date next Wednesday for all postal votes and proxies, it becomes clear the current plc board have no prospect of winning the day then Somers, Llambias and Leach, who hold excutive positions at Rangers as chief executive and finance director respectively, may resign ahead of the scheduled date for the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Rangers Supporters’ Trust have aquired a further 514,345 proxy votes. Their accumulated voting number now amounts to 4.4 per cent of the total shares in Rangers.
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