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King called to the throne as chairman bites back

The conflict between Dave King and the Rangers board continued yesterday with David Somers, the Ibrox chairman, issuing a curt summons to the South African-based businessman.

David Somers has asked King to meet with the board. Picture: SNS
David Somers has asked King to meet with the board. Picture: SNS

King has released two statements in recent days asking several questions of the Rangers directors, most recently raising the prospect of former chief executive Charles Green still being an influence behind the scenes, and Somers responded with a challenge.

The chairman suggested that King was deliberately causing problems for Rangers, and urged him to attend a meeting with the board. Somers did not, though, respond to the questions King and the Union of Fans - a collaboration of supporters groups - issued last weekend, or provide an explanation for what has happened to the shares Green held in Rangers International Football Club.

King does intend to fly to Glasgow shortly, to engage with fans and other interested parties, but given the tone of Somers' remarks it seems unlikely there will be meaningful dialogue with the businessman, who wishes to invest in the club having provided £20m to Rangers when Sir David Murray was the owner.

"The board of Rangers International Football Club has noted your astonishing press releases over the past few days," Somers wrote in a letter to King. "These statements and innuendos are very damaging to the club, which we can only assume is your intention. We wish you to attend a meeting to explain your allegations in more detail as soon as possible. Please confirm your availability."

The contents of the letter were released yesterday, less than 24 hours after the Ibrox club issued a denial of rumours that RIFC was about to enter administration.

King, too, believes that an insolvency event is not imminent, and he will press ahead with plans to set up a season ticket trust fund for unhappy supporters to pay their renewal money into in a bid to gain security over the assets and influence at board level in return for releasing the funds.

"I don't believe that it is likely that the club will go into administration at the present time," said King, who also backed Ally McCoist's decision to step back from commenting on the club's business affairs.

"I believe that it is the manager's job to focus on team affairs and to stay away from the corporate activities that he has no influence over," he said. "Ally has always demonstrated his loyalty to the club and will, no doubt, continue to put the club ahead of any individual."

More questions were raised, though, about the board's decision to borrow £500,000 from Sandy Easdale and £1m from Laxey Partners, with the loans secured against property assets - Edmiston House and the Albion car park respectively - and Laxey also receiving a 15% premium, or £150,000, in either cash or shares. Two Rangers shareholders have claimed that they spoke to Daniel Stewart, the nominated advisor to RIFC, offering an alternative loan, only to receive no response. "We approached Daniel Stewart on 20th February to discuss reports that a loan was being considered," said John McClure, of Unicorn Asset Management, to The Rangers Standard website.

"The next thing we knew, the loan had been announced. We were never given the opportunity to offer formal terms. Daniel Stewart asked if we could provide the money that day but obviously that wasn't possible.

"We told them we would need a few days, which is perfectly reasonable in a transaction of that size, but they seem to have pressed ahead regardless. In our opinion the board and the NOMAD did not open this up to other shareholders as they should have."

George Letham, a Scottish businessman, said that he was prepared to offer the £1m made available by Laxey Partners, the largest single shareholder in RIFC.

"When the terms of the Laxey loan were announced I was horrified," he said. "If I had been offered even half of Laxey's interest rate with the security being given, I would have provided the whole loan myself in a heartbeat."

Having spent last weekend back in Scotland, the former Rangers defender Lorenzo Amoruso has backed the move by fans to put their season-ticket money into a trust fund. He also supported King's decision to campaign for change.

"The fans are not happy," Amoruso said. "That's not what Rangers deserve. At the moment, it seems Dave King has the favour of the supporters, because he has been there before and he knows what it is about being a Rangers man and to be part of a winning club.

"I believe that the supporters are always right, because they are the heart of the club, they are the people paying money every weekend."

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