THE battle for control of Rangers intensified again yesterday, with chairman David Somers dismissing the four rebel shareholders seeking election to the board at the upcoming agm as “fanatics” who are “driven by their own personal self-interest”.
The Paul Murray-led group, referred to by Somers as the “Gang of Four” but who call themselves “requisitioners”, had earlier launched a renewed attack on the current regime, warning that the end of Rangers is nigh under their stewardship and making numerous promises to the club fanbase as to how they would manage the stricken club if they were to win the backing of voting shareholders on 19 December.
But Somers, who has been at the helm for less than a month, accused the quartet of spreading fear in the same way adults tell children “bogey men” tales to frighten them into compliance.
The English accountant, unlike the vast majority of individuals embroiled in this turf war, appears not to have any emotional connection to Rangers. In a recent interview given to the Sussex Courier he revealed a lifestyle as far removed from esoteric dealings in Glasgow as can be imagined, and in a strong response to innuendo linking him with former Ibrox owner Craig Whyte, chief executive Charles Green and director Imran Ahmad, he insisted that he would not “recognise them if I passed them in the street” and had never even heard of the trio before taking up office last month.
Countering “wild accusations” over his lack of independence, Somers said: “When I was approached to join the Board, the Company had only two directors and the immediate priority was to preserve the AIM Listing. Surely it is naïve to think that there is any way the Nominated Adviser could have allowed anyone not totally independent to take on this position at that time?
“I have now read over two years of board minutes and they make very depressing reading in terms of the scale of their lack of professionalism and worse. The minutes make it clear, in my mind, that the boards of recent years have been totally unfit to run this club.
“The mystery to me is why people should now be considering that members of these boards, which presided over the problems we face today, should be considered for re-election.”
One supporters’ faction made a small protest against the Rangers board at the Murray Park training base yesterday, and three groups sent out a joint statement threatening “disengagement with the club” if regime change was not forthcoming, Somers addressed this matter in his open letter when he said he was working hard with chief executive Graham Wallace on “improving our communication and engagement with all Rangers supporters”.
Somers sought to downplay a number of concerns voiced by the rebels, including the fear of the club going into administration and of Ibrox being sold. He also defended finance director Brian Stockbridge, who has been the target of much of the invectiv. “Even the requisitoners must understand that finance directors are members of boards and their actions are largely dictated by the board,” said Somers.
“Without Brian,” he added, “the club would, in my opinion, have been de-listed months ago and ironically the club should owe him a debt of gratitude for holding things together.”
The rebels, made up former oldco director Murray, Malcolm Murray, Scott Murdoch and Alex Wilson, told fans they would restore “trust and transparency” to the board if given the chance.
As well as guaranteeing that Ibrox would never be sold on their watch, they pledged that there would be fan representation on the board, that directors and close associates should have no interest in any club contracts and that executive pay should be properly controlled and independently benchmarked.
In their letter to shareholders, the group, who each need 51 per cent backing from shareholders to secure their place, say: “The very future of your club is now at risk.”