THE embattled board of Rangers have turned to a yachting enthusiast to try to guide them through the choppy waters leading to the club’s much anticipated annual general meeting, which they have announced will take place at Ibrox on 19 December.
David Somers, a vastly experienced chartered accountant and investment manager, was appointed acting chairman of Rangers yesterday. As an independent non-executive director, he joins finance director Brian Stockbridge and major shareholder James Easdale on the current board of directors.
A statement by Rangers to the stock exchange indicated Somers’ role would be to oversee the appointment of a “high-calibre” chief executive and additional non-executive directors to the club “to form a unified board and provide stability for Rangers”.
Somers, along with Stockbridge and Easdale, will be subject to re-appointment by shareholders at the agm, which was postponed last month after former Rangers director Paul Murray and businessman Jim McColl won a Court of Session ruling which will see their group’s nominees for the board also on the voting papers at the meeting.
With another former Rangers director, South African-based businessman Dave King, having failed to broker a compromise agreement between the rival factions in the battle for control of the club, an acrimonious agm is now in store.
But Somers, whose current other directorships include roles at Europe Arab Bank and insurance firm ACE Europe Life, has expressed his desire to restore unity at the club. The Sussex-based 65-year-old, who may find he has less time to spend on his yacht over the next few weeks, intends to earn the trust of a sceptical Rangers support.
“I felt it was really important that, until the shareholders have the chance to vote on me, that I should take the title of acting chairman,” said Somers.
“I appreciate some supporters have been unhappy with events at the club in recent weeks and months. However, I have taken the position of acting chairman and non-executive director as I believe this club has a bright future and we can achieve great things if we all work together for the good of Rangers.
“It’s kind of a three-legged stool. You need strong, passionate fans – which we’ve got. You need a really successful team – which we’ve got. You need a professional board which is doing a good job in terms of setting strategy for the club -–that’s the third leg we need to put in place.
“It should not be about individuals, it is the club that is important and I hope everyone with Rangers’ best interests at heart can work together in order to take us forward.”
The Murray-McColl group have lined up former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow as chief executive in the event that they can take control of Rangers but Somers is determined to fill the position, vacated by Craig Mather’s resignation last month, before the agm.
“We have started to interview some really good quality candidates,” he added. “We are very much focused on that process and also on bringing in more non-executive directors.”
Somers says that he was approached by Daniel Stewart and Company, Rangers’ nominated advisor in London, about the role.
“I’ve never met anybody from the club before until very recently,” said Somers. “That’s the first time. I have been to Ibrox to a number of games in the past but only as a football supporter. It is a huge honour and privilege to be appointed acting chairman and non-executive director of Rangers Football Club. I know from my visits to Ibrox Stadium – including a number of Champions League games I attended in the past – that the club has a tremendous fanbase.
“Ally McCoist has the players performing well on the pitch so my task now is to strengthen the board to the level that Rangers Football Club deserves.
“This 141-year-old institution is on the road to recovery and I will do everything in my power to help take this great club back to the very top of Scottish football where it belongs.
“I have a strong background in finance and corporate governance and while there are challenges ahead I am confident they can be overcome and Rangers can rise again.
“Rangers is a global brand and I would urge everyone associated with the club – players, staff, sponsors and most importantly our supporters – to pull together and help take the club forward.
“Ally McCoist and his squad have enjoyed a positive start to the season and we are in a terrific position at the top of the league.
“My priority is to help oversee the recruitment process for a high-calibre chief executive and further independent non-executive directors to strengthen the board and provide long-term stability for Rangers.
“The club has confirmed it will hold its Annual General Meeting on Thursday 19 December and we hope to make significant progress before that date.”
Somers becomes Rangers’ third chairman in the 17 months since the club was placed in liquidation following the calamitous tenure of Craig Whyte.
Malcolm Murray, now part of the Paul Murray-Jim McColl group and seeking re-election to the board, was named chairman of the newly constituted club in June 2012 and resigned in May this year. He was replaced by former manager Walter Smith but he stood down after just three months, labelling the board as “dysfunctional”.
It now falls to the previously unheralded Somers to try and put together a board over the next six weeks which will be accepted by the club’s shareholders as fit for purpose.
In full: Rangers LSE statement
The Board of Rangers announces that it has appointed David Somers as an independent non-executive director and acting Chairman. Mr Somers is an Honours Economic Studies graduate and a qualified accountant (Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). He spent all his career in Fund Management and in addition has considerable experience in matters of corporate governance. Mr Somers will oversee the current process of appointing a high calibre Chief Executive Officer and further independent non-executive director(s) to form a unified board and provide stability for Rangers. In order to allow time for the process outlined above to be progressed, theCompany will hold its Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) on Thursday 19 December 2013 at Ibrox Stadium, 150 Edmiston Drive, Glasgow G51 2XD.
Mr Somers will, in accordance with Rangers’ Articles of Association, be subject to re-appointment by an ordinary resolution of the shareholders at the AGM.
Mr Somers is currently a Non Executive Director of ACE Europe Life, part of the ACE Group of insurance and reinsurance companies; Non-Executive Director and Chairman of Audit & Risk Committee of Europe Arab Bank; Independent Trustee & Chairman of the Investment Sub Committee at Fujitsu Technologies International Pension Plan and, Chairman of the Investment Committee at TCF Investment Managers Ltd.
Mr Somers is not currently beneficially interested in the issued share capital of the Company.
There is no further information required relating to Mr Somers to be disclosed under paragraph (g) of Schedule 2 of the AIM Rules.