Dave King last night called a general meeting to ask Rangers shareholders to oust the entire Ibrox board, and the meeting must now take place within the next 42 days.
The former oldco director will call for the departures of chairman David Somers, chief executive Derek Llambias, financial director Barry Leach and director James Easdale. In their place, he plans to nominate himself, former Blue Knight Paul Murray and John Gilligan – the one-time managing director of Glasgow brewer Tennent’s – as their boardroom replacements.
King’s move came shortly before fans staged a loud and angry demonstration outside the main stand at Ibrox, minutes before Rangers’ match against Hearts, which was subsequently abandoned after 25 minutes due to an unplayable surface.
The final straw for many supporters was Thursday’s news that the unpopular current board was considering mortgaging off Ibrox and Murray Park in return for a £10 million loan from Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley. Several hundred supporters vented their anger in the snow by shouting ‘sack the board’, and boycotted the doomed match when it kicked off.
King – who is now the club’s biggest single shareholder with a 16 per cent stake after buying up Laxey Partners – is now hoping he can pull together a majority coalition to force through sweeping boardroom change.
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In a statement, the South Africa-based millionaire said: “I confirm that a requisition for a general meeting has been hand delivered to Ibrox Stadium. The requisition consists of four resolutions for the removal of the incumbent board and three resolutions for the appointment to the board of myself, Paul Murray and John Gilligan. The resolutions do not seek to review the employment of the two executive directors presently on the board. They will merely be removed as directors.
“I would not have called for a general meeting if I was not confident, from my review of the present shareholder register, that it will be supported by more than 50 per cent of the total registered shareholders. While many of the shareholders hold differing views as to what is right for the club, I believe that a clear majority are like-minded on one key point – the need to remove the incumbent board and to replace it with individuals who can gain the trust of fans, sponsors and the shareholder community.”
If the board is axed, it is understood King – who is working alongside the Three Bears partners Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor – also wants to carry out a forensic examination of contracts signed by the club over the past three years, including the deal with kit suppliers Puma. Between them, King and the Three Bears have 34 per cent and now face a race against time to gather enough support to reach 51 per cent.
Rangers have staggered from one crisis to another since they were reformed in the Third Division after being liquidated in the summer of 2012. As fans were arriving for last night’s ultimately abandoned match, Letham was already inside Ibrox negotiating his group’s bid to arrange its own loan offer with the board – which would not involve the historic ground or the training base being used as collateral.
But Castlemilk-born King – who lost £20m when the oldco club went under – has now upped the ante on Ashley by calling on shareholders to force the directors out. The Sports Direct tycoon – who owns 8.92 per cent of the club – has been able to lock the club in an iron grasp since giving an emergency loan late last year. He placed Llambias and Leach on to the board and now wants the existing board to hand him even more power by accepting the terms of his loan while he seeks to protect the retail deal he struck with former chief executive Charles Green at favourable rates to himself.
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