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Rangers First pull plug on loan offer despite overwhelming support

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Rangers First have dropped their proposed offer to lend Rangers £500,000 despite nearly 97% of members supporting the idea.

Just under 3% of the Rangers First membership rejected the proposed offer, however, the group has shelved it in the wake of the club rejecting the loan offer and the group’s own board in disarray following one of the directors quitting over the issue.

The group, in a letter to members, said: “The vote has seen overwhelming support for the principle of the loan. Following the club’s announcement last week regarding our proposal, we will continue to examine ways to assist and support our club and in so doing, pursue the objectives of Rangers First.

“In future, if the members of Rangers First wish to revisit this idea then we will manage this and other major decisions in a different way with greater direct involvement of the members before any vote.”

There had been criticism of the group’s rushed proposal, the short time frame in which to vote in and not being discussed with members previously before a vote took place. With one founding member demanding board member James Blair resign over his part in proceedings.

An open letter directed to Blair demanded that the offer to loan Rangers £500,000 be ‘put on hold with immediate effect’.

It added: “This request is 100% to question and challenge the diligence, lack of process and lack of detail and transparency given to the hard working Rangers supporters that put the money in the Rangers First account expecting it to be used to buy Shares.

“I want to point out to you that as a member of Rangers First I request a full open meeting to discuss implications of this loan in full and it is paramount that all Rangers First members be allowed to ask as many questions relating to this loan in as much detail as required to allow ALL to make a clear informed decision on what is best for Rangers First.

“Rangers First has an upcoming AGM at the end of January or early February 2016, At this AGM the Rangers First members should be given the respect deserved by discussing this loan proposal at the AGM and then deciding what type of person we want to vote into office as a Director of Rangers First. Individuals that will never be disrespectful to our members or enter into discussions without 100% Transparency.

“I have had discussions today with Rangers First Board members James you being one of them and it is clear there is discord regarding Rangers First and its direction. One Rangers First Board member has resigned and others have agreed that it might be the correct decision to suspend the vote on giving this loan until the internal politics of Rangers First is discussed and a harmonious Board invite our member to a meeting to discuss all the detail of this UNSECURED LOAN.

“I want to put it on record that I am appalled that you think putting this vote on a website with only 4 days till it closes and with no real detail or discussion showing a total lack of respect to our members. This is a HUGE DECISION and must not be rushed through.

“All our Members must be informed immediately that a Director has resigned as a matter of principal regarding the lack of diligence and Transparency and other Directors are not comfortable with the workings of Rangers First or your position at Rangers First.

“This leads me to another request that you James Blair must resign from Rangers First with immediate effect as there is a clear conflict of interest in your role as Rangers First Secretary and also the Secretary of Rangers international.

“Rangers First must always be 100% INDEPENDENT and have no Board Member with a split Loyalty.”

In terms of the ‘split loyalty’ comment, Blair is both a board member of Rangers First and also company secretary of Rangers International Football Club – following March’s AGM when Dave King and Paul Murray ousted the previous regime with the support of shareholders.

The proposed loan offer led to another board member William McIntyre, one of five directors of the group, to quit over the issue.

Rangers First’s letter continued: “We are disappointed to confirm that we have received the resignation of William McIntyre, a director who was directly elected by members in our inaugural poll. The Rangers First board would like to put on record our thanks to William for all of his time and effort in helping to move Rangers First forward. Like all Rangers supporters we stand Ready to help and support the club as it rebuilds.”

Rangers had last week rejected the fan group’s offer even as the voting began, in a statement published via the official website, they said: “The Club is not considering further loans at this time beyond what has already been committed and announced. However, any offer from Rangers First will be considered as part of any future fundraising.”

Rangers First board member Ricki Neill on his own twitter account, was asked if chairman Dave King would match the group’s £500k loan, which he confirmed:

rickineill

However. the club dismissed ‘reports’ that chairman Dave King would match the level of funding that Rangers First would provide the club.

Rangers’ statement continued: “It should also be understood that Rangers First was not approached by the Club for funding and, despite what has been incorrectly reported, had no discussion whatsoever with the chairman, Dave King, that their funding, if accepted, would be matched by Mr King.”

So are the club lying? Is Neill lying? Or was the answer lost in translation between South Africa and Govan? After all those long distance calls can be dodgy at times.

If the loan had been accepted by the club, it would have been converted into shares at a future date which would increase the group’s shareholding and having a greater say in the running of the club.

The club’s rejection of the loan was a clear u-turn on what King said in November’s AGM when he was asked what ‘the best way we can give Rangers money?’

King replied that the ‘most profitable to Rangers is direct expenditure at the club. Using its facilities etc’. And that he hoped ‘investors are willing to put hands in pockets’ and that the ‘fans can continue to as well…. clearly the club will welcome all contributions from fans. Every pound counts’.

So what changed in less than two months?

According to the Ranger’s boards own comments – following the £6.5 million loan being raised from a number of investors at the end of December [with £5 million going to pay off Mike Ashley’s loan]the club still have a shortfall of £1 million.

Was the loan being ‘converted into shares at a future date’ the problem?

I wouldn’t have thought so, given King and the other board members were very vocal pre-March AGM that they would be 100% transparent and that they would be open to fan representatives on the board having a greater say in the running of the club.

Or has that changed also?

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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