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Easdale strengthens his hand as Rangers campaigning continues

Sandy Easdale has consolidated the Rangers International Football Club shareholding for which he controls the voting rights, as the two sides continue to campaign for representation on the board ahead of the annual meeting.

Steven Smith visits kids at the Southbank Child Development Centre
Steven Smith visits kids at the Southbank Child Development Centre

An announcement to the Stock Exchange revealed Easdale, who sits on the football club board, acquired the voting rights for 3.1% of the shares, effectively giving him control of 26.62%.

No shares were bought or sold in the deal, and it is unclear which individual shareholders granted their voting rights to Easdale, and on what terms. With voting at the agm on December 19 likely to be extremely tight, a swing of a small percentage in favour of the incumbent directors, who are all up for re-election, or the four nominees seeking a place on the board would be significant. However, there were no indications that the rights were from shareholders who support the nominees.

"The Company announces that it was notified on 9 December, by Beaufort Securities ("Beaufort"), that further voting rights on 2,036,337 Ordinary Shares of 1p each in the Company held by its clients had been assigned to Alexander Easdale," read the Stock Exchange statement. "As a result, including the shares held directly by Mr Easdale, being 4.52% of the issued share capital, Mr Easdale now holds voting rights over, in aggregate, 26.62%."

It is estimated that along with the 26.62% represented by Easdale, the current directors are backed by Laxey Partners, who hold 11.64%, and Mike Ashley, who holds 4.61% and whose Sports Direct company has a retail agreement with Rangers. The four nominees are backed by the institutional shareholders, and the vote is expected to be so closely run that the 12% held by a combination of the Rangers Supporters Trust and individual fans could be critical.

Ally McCoist, the club's manager, also revealed yesterday that he has received "no indication at all" from his discussions with various directors and the club's new chief executive, Graham Wallace, that any of his players need to be sold next month. Lee Wallace, in particular, has been impressive, and McCoist wants to retain the services of the full-back.

"We want to keep our best players," McCoist told the club's website. "Lee comes into that category. The fans deserve the best team we can afford to put on the park. Lee's well respected here and the way he conducted himself last year would indicate he's happy and he'd want to stay. He has enjoyed the responsibility of being one of the older one and he's running the left-hand side of the park."

One consequence of that is Stevie Smith has struggled for game time. The defender has not played since a substitute appearance in the 4-0 win over East Fife at Bayview in October but he has no complaints given the form of Wallace. "Whenever a chance comes along I will be ready," he said. "It is hard to get in ahead of Lee. But I knew that would be the case before I came. I trained with the squad last year and know how good he is.

"When the chance comes along the manager knows I am good enough to play. I have no regrets about coming back and I'm sure I'll feature."

Even Smith's place in the squad has been in doubt at times because of the performances of youngsters such as Fraser Aird, Robbie Crawford and Lewis Macleod. The full-back has been hugely impressed and believes they have grown used to turbulence around the club in recent times but he also insists the experienced men in the team have played their part.

"I noticed the difference from when I was here last year training because there wasn't a lot of senior players," he said. "But the manager made eight or nine signings and that has helped everybody. You have to work harder to get your chance but the likes of Fraser and Lewis are proving that if you do you will get your chances."

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