It seems that the current Rangers board may have pulled off a masterstroke in what looked like their final days in power with the requisitioners and their blogging militia ready to storm the gates. With the appointment of David Somers as chairman, Graham Wallace as chief executive and the news that offshore hedge fund firm Laxey Partners and secured a further three million shares on top of their initial investment – it must surely deal a major blow to Paul Murray and Jim McColl’s chances of ousting the board from power and replace them with good proper ‘Rangers men’ who have not stumped up any cash for the club.
The past two years at Ibrox could be straight out of a drama written for prime time viewing and given that Craig Whyte was reportedly selling ‘The Rangers Story’ to Hollywood, who would play Whyte? Steve Buscemi?
But could this particular storyline be coming to an end? It has certainly dragged on longer than an Eastender’s storyline. Could Rangers have finally secured the stability they need off the field?
After the surprise appointment of David Somers as Rangers chairman, next to take a seat within the board room was former Manchester City chief operating officer Graham Wallace. We had obtained information that former Premier League chief Rick Parry was interviewed for the position – but his wages were not within Rangers’ price range.
Wallace, who states he intends to bring stability to the club could do just that, scuppering not only the hopes and prayers of some Celtic fans who long for Rangers to go to the wall once again but also the requisitioners and their rag-tag militia of bloggers and journalists who they feed little tit bits without having to do any of the leg work.
Speaking on his first day on the job, Wallace told Sky Sports News: “I think the club needs some stability, it needs some leadership, and I’m very much looking forward to working with the board and the management team here to take the club back to where it should be, providing some expertise, some focus, some stability. I’m looking forward to meeting all my new colleagues and everyone that’s here so we’ll speak a bit later on.”
However with the Rangers AGM set for the 19th December Somers, Wallace and the rest of the Rangers board could ultimately be forced out of office by shareholders voting them out, led by good Rangers men like Jim McColl and Paul Murray – part of the requisitioners and two men who have not put their money where their mouths are currently.
BUT here comes what could be the death knell to the requisitioners planned coup d’etat – three million shares were sold and then bought by Laxey Partners, who have become the largest shareholder at the Ibrox club. They took their holding to just under 12% after shelling out £1.3 million for the shares on Wednesday.
Laxey Partners have already announced what side of the fence they are sitting on and they have fallen on the side of the current board. Which is a major blow to those Rangers fans who are wanting the current board out.
The offshore hedge fund were buoyed by the appointments of Somers and Wallace, also with non-executive Norman Crighton giving them fresh impetus to shell out more money, increase their investment in the club and turn their back on the requisitioners and vote in favour of the current board.
Colin Kingsnorth, founding partner at Laxey, told the Daily Record: “From our side it’s clear – we will be voting for all of the directors at the agm. In August we indicated we would do what the supporters’ groups wanted to do. But things have changed. Firstly, it has been quite hard to gain a consensus from the supporters’ groups. If there are 101 supporters’ clubs, there are 102 different opinions.
“None of them speak for a very significant number of people. It surprised me to find how relatively few supporters are represented by the various supporters’ bodies. Also, the requisitioners have never put forward any teams of people they believe can take the club forward, other than Paul Murray and Malcolm Murray.
“I am not sure they are the strongest people to take the club forward. I’m not in one camp or another. I have looked at it dispassionately and believe appointments have been made that give me confidence in the board. The appointment of Graham Wallace as CEO was also significant. We were not involved in that but we see the merit in that appointment.
“I met Graham within 24 hours of his appointment. We had a very positive meeting and I believe in his ability to run Rangers professionally. Our investment reflects that belief. We are also impressed with the calibre of the people recently brought on to the board. David Somers and Norman Crighton will bring expertise and experience.
“The days of wheeling and dealing, of Green and Ahmad, are gone. I can understand why the requisitioners and everyone else wanted that lot out but the picture has changed. The requisitioners have done a power of good because they have forced the pace of change. They claimed the former board was not fit for purpose and they wanted people out and people in.
“This should now be the end of the requisitoners because they’ve got what they said they wanted – a far more professionally run club. It has happened more quickly because of their actions. They should be happy with that. The new board are good people and I find it pretty straightforward to support their re-election.”
Despite the fans groups claiming they are against the board – they do not hold the cards in terms of the voting at the AGM as those with the majority shares do – those being Laxey Partners, Easdale brothers, Mike Ashley etc – all who are expected to vote in favour of the current board.
With the club looking as if they are going to be stable off the pitch – despite the rumblings from the militia – Rangers manager body swerved questions on what way he would vote at the AGM given his own shareholding at the club. Although citing that if he did vote against his current employers then it would be ‘career suicide’ for him.
McCoist said: “That would be committing suicide if I did that. I’ve got to be as positive as I possibly can. The fact we’ve a new chairman and chief executive is great and I look forward to working with these guys. We’ve not had any stability. We’ve had one non-executive director, one director, no chief executive, no chairman on and off for two-and-a-half years. We’re crying out for – and that’s staff, supporters, shareholders – stability within the boardroom so we can move on.
“The only assurance we would all require – myself, staff, players, shareholders – would be that everyone has the club’s interests at heart. It’s safe to say that might not have been the case with some previous people who have been here. That’s the only assurance I’d hopefully get from the new board.”
So McCoist is sticking his flag firmly in the corner of McCoist. Voting for whoever he expects to win.
The 19th December will be compelling viewing for all including those of us dubbed with being obsessed at all things Rangers. Just like a car crash on the motorway everyone rubber necks as they drive past to see the extent of the damage. Rangers were that car crash waiting to happen under Sir David Murray, Craig Whyte was the driver who ultimately was blamed for the accident, while Imran Ahmad and Charles Green were the ambulance chasers looking to cash in on the wounded and dying.
Will this current car crash continue to see more pile-ups or will it finally clear and everyone can then get on about their normal day-to-day business? In the meantime everyone will continue to rubber neck at the state that Rangers are currently in.