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Bruising clashes at Ibrox AGM showdown

The four men seeking election to the Rangers board face decisions about whether to continue campaigning for change at Ibrox after they were defeated in their attempts at the club's annual general meeting.

Nominees Paul Murray, a former director, Scott Murdoch, former chairman Malcolm Murray and Alex Wilson were unable to stop the club's five directors being re-elected by a significant margin at a sometimes fiery shareholders meeting at Ibrox.

Graham Wallace, who was re-elected as chief executive and impressed shareholders yesterday, described the result as "a clear and decisive mandate to prove a platform for stability".

Brian Stockbridge, the finance director, was the target of most of the anger and also received the lowest vote, of 65%. His fellow directors, chairman David Somers, Wallace and the non-executives James Easdale and Norman Crighton, all received more than 75% backing from shareholders.

Of the nominees, only Mr Murray and Mr Murdoch received 30% backing or more. Later, the pair, along with Malcolm Murray and Mr Wilson, said that they will need to take time over the festive period to consider their next moves, although Paul Murray had previously indicated that he would step back if defeated.

Mr Wallace appeared confident and authoritative about the challenges that face Rangers International Football Club. He said the business will need to be streamlined because "operating costs are too high, even for the top division, never mind the lower leagues", while fresh funding will be sought. Wallace is conducting a review of every area of Rangers' business, and this will include the playing staff, with the assistance of the team manager, Ally McCoist.

"Part of my challenge with the manager is looking at the level of footballing resource that we need to continue to play attractive, successful football, but also to have it financially positioned for the division we are in now, our aspirations for the Championship next season and the Premiership after that," Mr Wallace said. "Looking at the cost base of the playing squad, it is way too high for what we have got in the current division.

"The board recognises that improved engagement with supporters is a major area of focus and is committed to reviewing how the club engages with the wider supporter base. We now require a period of stability to take the business forward and I encourage everyone with the best interest of Rangers at heart to support the new board."

Mr Stockbridge endured the fiercest criticism fielding most of the questions from the shareholders.

They included queries about the high costs of last year's initial public offering of shares, and his £200,000 bonus for the team winning the title last season - which he insisted he had paid back.

He also asserted that Charles Green, the former chief executive and Imran Ahmad, the former commercial director, are not earning any income from the club's commercial deals.

Mr Stockbridge said that he was not there "to win a popularity contest", although he was essentially a scapegoat for the actions of the previous board.

In a radio interview, Paul Murray described Mr Stockbridge's position as untenable. Earlier, Mr Murray said Mr Wallace would only be able to take the club forward if he was not an isolated voice on the board.

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