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'Credible' Wallace will do little if isolated at Rangers

PAUL Murray last night warned that Graham Wallace's attempts to take Rangers forward will be meaningless if the chief executive is an isolated voice on the board.

Paul Murray is to consider abandoning his long-running attempt to deliver regime change at Ibrox after failing at the agm. Picture: SNS
Paul Murray is to consider abandoning his long-running attempt to deliver regime change at Ibrox after failing at the agm. Picture: SNS

As Murray considered his own position after his four-man Requisitioners group failed to secure a single directorship at Rangers' annual general meeting yesterday, he praised the impression made by Wallace. The incumbent five-man Rangers board was re-elected yesterday, securing a landslide on the institutional shareholders' vote while most of the supporter-shareholders wanted some or all of them ousted. Wallace has made a positive impression since arriving last month and he was returned with the highest vote of all, 85.5%.

The former Manchester City chief operating officer is regarded as a possible unifying and progressive presence for the club and supporters but Murray said that would depend on whether chairman David Somers and fellow PLC directors James Easdale, Norman Crighton and Brian Stockbridge were prepared to support him.

Wallace is likely to become a more prominent figure at Rangers in the coming weeks as the club considers how to improve its dreadful image with fans before season-tickets go on sale around April.

"One of the problems is that if you're in a voting minority on the board there's no point being there," said Murray, whose own hopes of becoming a director were extinguished when he secured only 31.7% support from shareholders. "Graham Wallace is a credible, competent guy and if he's sitting there trying to get things to change and he doesn't have the votes on the board, then how do you change things?

"Walter Smith [who was formerly chairman at the club] said to me many times that his biggest frustration was that he just kept getting out-voted. I was offered a board seat on four different occasions, with various conditions, but why go on and be a talking head without changing anything?

"Graham Wallace said quite clearly that the club needs more money. The question now is how they raise that money, against a backdrop of uneasy fans who are the main providers of income? There are not many businesses in the world who can fall out with their customers."

The voting results amounted to a deeply painful defeat for the Requisitioners, albeit not an unexpected one, and Murray admitted he would now consider whether to accept that his long-running attempt to deliver regime change at Ibrox was at an end. "I've tried on several occasions to help the club and if people don't think I can do that then maybe I have to accept that."

The Ibrox agm amounted to a long-awaited opportunity for individual shareholders to unload their anger at the Rangers board, and in particular finance director Stockbridge. Murray said he was most concerned about Wallace's claim that the club's costs were currently so high they would not be sustainable even if they were already in the SPFL Premiership.

"He effectively said that the budget/cost base will have to come down between now and the SPFL Premiership entry," he said. "[That] means they will be spending less on the team, which I think raised a few eyebrows because the team is going to have to be competitive in the Premiership and challenge Celtic.

"The other thing I was disappointed not to have answered moreclearly was how much cash was left and how much will be left in the springtime. Brian Stockbridge has said before it will be £1m but they didn't answer that question, which I was surprised about.

"It's quite clear that the playing budget will have to come down. The problem the club has is that having spent that [IPO] money and being on the threshold of the top flight in 18 months, the team has to be made to compete with Celtic. So how are they going to square the circle?"

As for the other three members of the Requisitioners group, Scott Murdoch received 30% of the vote, Alex Wilson 29.9% and former chairman Malcolm Murray 29.8%. Some unhappy supporters discussed a possible boycott of games, season-tickets or merchandise after the agm

but Murdoch said he could not support staying away from matches.

"I remember going to Ibrox years ago with seven-and-a-half thousand fans there and it was

a pitiful sight," he said. "We are very happy not to be on the

board if Rangers is run with no mysterious things going on."

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