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After the hurt, the healing: New Rangers board must start to win the peace with a divided support

The Rangers International Football Club annual general meeting on Thursday cannot be all things to everybody.

There are too many factions with opposing views for the event at Ibrox to be an end in itself. What remains to be seen is whether a working peace can be delivered, one that might restore stability to the club.

Much of the narrative has become unnecessarily personal. Emotions are running high, too, which means perspective is often lost. Shareholders have a straight choice to make when they cast their votes for the five current directors - chairman David Somers, James Easdale, Norman Crighton, chief executive Graham Wallace, and finance director Brian Stockbridge, - and the four nominees seeking election to the board, Paul Murray, Malcolm Murray, Alex Wilson and Scott Murdoch.

Various permutations are possible, since not all of the shareholders will approach the vote entrenched on one side or the other. It seems likely, though, that the current directors will be re-elected. Sandy Easdale, who last Friday was named the chairman of the Rangers Football Club board, holds the voting rights for more than 26% of the shares, and they are further supported by Laxey Partners, who own more than 11%, and Mike Ashley, who owns more than 4%.

Those figures alone provide the current directors with almost 44% backing. With around 12% of the shares in the hands of individual fans and the Rangers Supporters Trust, only 44% are left in play for the nominees to potentially carry into the vote held at the AGM on Thursday. There is much confidence emanating from Ibrox, and most of the major and institutional shareholders will have registered their votes already.

A mixed board is a possibility, but may lie beyond the reach of the nominees. Whatever the outcome, the democratic process has been served, and the onus then shifts to more critical issues. Namely, the streamlining of the business, seeking more funding and finding a way to reunite elements of the support with the club. The Easdale brothers have generally kept their counsel, but a series of interviews on Friday re-emphasised the reality that they are influential figures at Ibrox.

Sandy Easdale has an agreement in place to buy Charles Green's shares, and currently holds the voting rights for a block of shareholders. The Easdales will be a part of the club's immediate future, and it is generally accepted their motivation has always been simply that: involvement. Wallace, who has kept a low profile since being appointed chief executive, emerges as the key figure.

Highly respected at Manchester City, where he was chief financial officer then chief operating officer under Garry Cook, Wallace is considered an independent, strong-willed, shrewd and ambitious individual. Friends and former colleagues have spoken of his integrity and authority. He might not have anticipated the full extent of the situation he was entering, but remaining in place after the AGM provides a mandate for him to address issues he believes need to be tackled. It will fall to Wallace to move Rangers on, which will require winning over the supporters who have taken to protesting.

"I've met Graham on a number of occasions," said manager Ally McCoist. "He's very early into the chief executive's role. The truth is we've got on very well. I'm aware of the fact that I seem to be getting on well with everybody, but I can only tell you how it is. His CV is as impressive as that of any chief exec we've had in the past. The conversations and the meetings I've had with him have been very encouraging."

McCoist finds himself in an awkward, even vulnerable position, since he is also a shareholder. At every opportunity, he is asked how he will vote on Thursday, and on each occasion he politely but firmly replies he has not yet made up his mind. He has previously said that it would be "suicide" to vote against the current directors, but McCoist is also finely attuned to the mood of the support. "I don't know which way I'll vote yet," McCoist said. "The AGM is, I'd argue, the most important in the club's history. You could argue it's unfair to ask me to vote, but I wouldn't shirk it. Everything's a possibility at the moment. Of course I've thought about it, but I'm undecided. My vote will 100% be used. The reason I haven't said anything regarding my own vote is because I realise how important and delicate the situation is.

"I don't know if I'll go public. I'll have to give it serious consideration. I'd be lying if I said people hadn't had discussions with me, but they haven't been chipping away at me or bending my arm, and it wouldn't work anyway because I'll make my own mind up. Emotions will be running high. Our supporters deserve this AGM more than any other AGM. I hope it's very well attended and very well behaved."

McCoist will deliver his own address, and he will also face questions from shareholders about football matters. He has made a heartfelt plea for the AGM to bring an end to the turmoil, and there is certainly anxiety in his voice when he says it is a "concern" that it might not be. Some fans have begun to talk about further protests, about boycotts of merchandise and tickets, initiatives that would harm the finances at a time when the club already need to seek fresh funding to provide the investment in McCoist's team to prepare for the likely return to the top-flight.

It is a delicate scenario, and one that is only likely to divide the support. Nobody gains, since there is no endgame, although it is the ultimate sanction for supporters still unhappy with the situation. While parts of the shareholder base remain divided into two camps - those around Easdale and those behind the nominees - then stability will never truly be found. Only someone buying a significant stake and then seeking control would eventually ensure a long-term period of calm.

"My only hope is we could all be united in taking the club forward," said McCoist. "I 100% back the fans in voicing their opinions. For the support they have given the club, it's the very least they deserve."

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