The power struggle at Rangers looks to be over for the time being after reports last night that the current Ibrox board has won enough support by proxy ahead of tomorrow’s agm to remain in control of the club.
Shareholders including former chairman Malcolm Murray and former director Paul Murray had been seeking election to the board. They formed a group known as the requisitioners along with Scott Murdoch and Alex Wilson. However, the status quo is set to remain in place with yesterday’s deadline for sending proxy votes having now passed.
Figures indicate that chairman David Somers, chief executive Graham Wallace and three directors – under-fire financial director Brian Stockbridge, non-executive director Norman Crighton and James Easdale, will remain in situ after tomorrow’s meeting with a tranche of institutional investors having already voted in favour of the current board. These include Laxey Partners, Artemis and Zeus, with the support understood to be worth nearly 60 per cent of the voting share.
BBC Scotland reported that figures of the proxy votes already cast indicate that Somers, Wallace and the three directors will be re-elected at what is likely to be a stormy meeting.
Fans’ groups have warned against supporters becoming complacent in expectation that the current regime already have enough support and have urged shareholders to still cast their vote in person tomorrow.
In an increasingly bitter battle for control of Rangers, the requisitioners emphasised that the very future of the club is at risk under the present regime. The requisitioners’ group had promised to “restore trust and transparency” if they were voted on to the board, although this now seems increasingly unlikely.
Indeed, the Murrays, Murdoch and Wilson had even gone to the Court of Session to have their nominations added to the agm agenda, something which resulted in the meeting being delayed until tomorrow from last month. Paul Murray has already indicated that he would walk way after two and a half years spent trying to effect change if the agm vote should fall in favour of the current board. He was unavailable for comment last night.
The assurance issued earlier this week by chief executive Graham Watson to manager Ally McCoist regarding his position will now be put to the test. In a surprise move, McCoist has gifted his vote to the Calderwood Rangers Supporters Club in his hometown of East Kilbride. The club’s all-time record scorer owns one million shares – giving him a stake of nearly two per cent. He handed the voting rights to the supporters group, who are set to cast the ballot in favour of boardroom change.
A major Rangers fans’ group yesterday called on the rest of the Ibrox board to now echo Wallace’s support for McCoist. The chief executive assured McCoist that he will not pay a heavy price following his proxy move, even though it had seemed to threaten the survival of the current regime.
However, Gordon Dinnie, chairman of the Rangers Supporters Trust, said his solitary pledge from Wallace was not enough. It has to be backed by others on the board. “It is excellent news that Wallace is backing the manager,” said the fans’ spokesman. “However we have seen the situation of one board member being outvoted in all major decisions twice before.
“Our members’ agm voting poll shows a complete lack of trust in the current board besides Wallace. We would love to hear the remaining members of the current board say they are 100 per cent behind our manager at Thursday’s agm.”
Wallace’s support for McCoist comes after the manager has led the club to the top of League 1 with 15 straight wins. “I have told [Ally] that he has that support – that unanimous support from the existing board,” he said.
“It’s an interesting one. If you look at Alistair’s position, he was here as a player for 15 years. He has been here as coach and manager for nearly seven years.
“The one consistent thing through all those years has been the support of the fans. His desire is to do the best thing for the club. And I think the rationale in his proxy going to his local supporters group is that if anyone has the best interests of the club at heart, that supporters group does.”
The agm will be held at Ibrox at 10:30am tomorrow but the club issued a statement urging stakeholders to arrive by no later than 9:30am.