Influential Rangers shareholder Sandy Easdale insists Charles Green is pulling no strings at Ibrox.
Former director Paul Murray, who is seeking a place on the board, recently expressed concerns that Green was still trying to exert his influence behind the scenes after being told the former chief executive had visited a shareholder about next week’s annual general meeting.
Easdale secured a deal to buy some of Green’s shares and holds voting rights over 26.8 per cent of the total shareholding of the club, 4.5 per cent of which he owns himself.
However, the Greenock-based businessman, who sits on the football club board but not the PLC board, refuted the claims that Green retained a say after his controversial return as a consultant was short-lived in August.
“In no shape or form is Charles Green pulling any strings,” Easdale said. “Charles has nothing to do with the club. If you look at the statement when he left and was handing the shares over to me, he said he had no influential powers at the club and that’s the way it is today.”
Easdale, who was allocated the voting rights of secretive early investors Blue Pitch and Margarita holdings, also denied that former Rangers owner Craig Whyte had any influence in the new company that was set up to keep the club going following liquidation.
Easdale, whose brother and McGill’s bus firm co-owner James sits on the PLC board, said: “I have never met Craig Whyte, never had a conversation with Craig Whyte, so let’s get this clear – it would be wrong of me to say all that and then have any dealings with Craig Whyte.
“I don’t think there is secrecy. You have private investors who wants to stay anonymous, like any fund in London. As long as the transparency is given to the fans from the club, it doesn’t matter who owns the shares. Ultimately, it stops at the executives of the club and they are the decision-makers so, unless you own 51 per cent of the shares, you wont be making those decisions.”
The most contentious and controversial figure remaining in the ongoing Ibrox saga is Brian Stockbridge. The club’s financial director was revealed to be on a £200,000 bonus for Rangers winning the third tier of Scottish football last season – a sum of money which sparked outrage among the supporters and which he has said will be repaid.
While Easdale backed him up, saying “Brian has been found not to have done anything wrong”, he acknowledged his continuing presence would be “a problem” going forward if the board remains intact at the agm.
“I think the fans would then have to look to us and trust us with out judgment,” said Easdale, who believes season tickets should go up in price next term. “I think Brian knows he is not only under the microscope with the fans – he is under the microscope of the board.
“It is safe to say that in any of the businesses I run, nobody, not even myself, would get a £200,000 bonus. But Brian is paying that back from his own volition. I know it has been only put in the media in the last few days, but that decision was made several months ago.
“I think Brian should have announced it then, but it was announced at a later date and he may have lost the momentum of it. We have to bring Rangers back to that reality of normal business practises. He has given his money back. A lot of people will have the opinion that it is too late, and I can understand that. Going forward, I can assure you this kind of conduct won’t be happening.”
Easdale has no immediate ambition to join the PLC board but is confident that it has enough shareholders on its side to see off the requisitioners at the agm.
“I believe we have a lot more than that (51 per cent) but I wouldn’t like to put a figure on it,” he said. “I’m confident that we’ll win the day and I’m confident the votes will go our way because of the board that we have put together.” While Thursday’s agm is dominating life at Rangers right now, manager Ally McCoist will be relieved to get back to the football when his side take on Stenhousemuir in League One this afternoon.
McCoist expects a tough test after two contrasting meetings with the Ochilview side this season. Rangers thrashed Stenhousemuir 8-0 at Ibrox in their league clash but then needed a Jon Daly header to triumph 1-0 at Ochilview in the Ramsdens Cup semi-final.
McCoist said: “That was a really difficult game for us. We knew it would be and I don’t expect the weekend to be anything other than that.”