Events during last weekend and into Monday brought matters to a head, and the consequence was that decisions had to start being made. Craig Mather's departure is a consequence of that, since the chief executive would have understood that there was no future for him at the club whatever the result of the forthcoming annual meeting. What is at stake now is the stability and future governance of Rangers.
First, there was confirmation last Saturday that Mather had held talks with Dave King, the former Ibrox director, about returning to the club as chairman. Despite suggestions to the contrary, King is unlikely to be blocked by the Alternative Investment Market regulators after agreeing a £43.7m settlement with the South African tax authorities earlier this year, nor would he be expected to fail the Scottish Football Associations' fit and proper person criteria.
Then on Monday, Rangers lost a Court of Session hearing brought by a group of disgruntled shareholders whose valid nominations for four new directors to be appointed was incorrectly left out of the agm notice sent to shareholders. The QC for the petitioners, who were successful in having an interim interdict served to prevent the agm taking place on October 24 and forcing new notices to be sent out ahead of a rearranged meeting, described the actions of the individual directors as "unlawful".
With King's popularity among the fans, his individual wealth, business expertise and long-standing commitment to the club, there was suddenly a credible alternative to the contest between two groups of shareholders. The only doubt was whether or not his appointment would be welcomed by James and Sandy Easdale, who own or have a proxy for almost 25% of the shares and sit on the plc and football club boards respectively. Then the Court of Session ruling meant that the agm could no longer be stalled, and with the vote so tight between the Easdales' backing and the support for the shareholdings proposing that Paul Murray, Malcolm Murray, Scott Murdoch and Alex Wilson join the board, decisions need to be made.
For now, the onus lies on Daniel Stewart, the RIFC nominated advisor (NOMAD), to bring some order to the situation. Under AIM regulations, the plc can continue to operate with just two directors - the non-executive James Easdale and the finance director, and company secretary, Brian Stockbridge - but that is not sustainable. Representatives of Stewart spent yesterday trying to arrange meetings with leading shareholders, mostly institutional investors, but it is a relatively small firm and the scale, and difficulties, of the task facing them are significant.
The RIFC board has the power to bring in a new chief executive or chairman, but approval would need to be sought from the shareholders or the appointments would just be overturned at the agm. For that reason alone, credible candidates are unlikely to consider taking either role while uncertainty continues to be entrenched. AIM will monitor the situation, but suspending the shares is an available option if they believe that the Nomad has not adequately ensured "the efficacy of the board as a whole for the company's needs".
Horsetrading is all that is left. There have been discussions between the Easdale and Paul Murray camps, while King remains willing and able to bring his expertise and wherewithal to Ibrox. It is understood that the Easdales have no desire to run Rangers on a day-to-day basis, but they will not want to weaken their position in the boardroom. Stockbridge is currently thought to have the backing of the Easdales, although the fans have been voluble in their disdain for him.
The Easdales will also be acutely aware of the mood amongst the fans. Protests against the remaining directors are likely to continue during Saturday's visit to Brechin City, or even be intensified since the dysfunctional nature of the board was only emphasised by Bryan Smart resigning after he learned of Mather's decision. The Easdales will also know that filling the board themselves with figures unknown to the support will only prompt further unrest; the motives and intentions of the brothers are under scrutiny.
The shareholding they represent includes their own shares as well as those of the group of investors once represented by Charles Green. The beneficial holders of the shares in the name of Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita Holdings remain unknown, yet both granted their proxies to the Easdales. The terms of that agreement are not known.
However, the Easdales' shareholding is essentially matched by the investors behind Paul Murray and Jim McColl, the Glasgow entrepreneur who was assisting the process of seeking boardroom change. Neither side will want to compromise, but neither side will want to lose at the agm either, which leaves room for some negotiating. A shadow board is effectively lying in wait in the two Murrays, Murdoch and Wilson, with Christian Purslow believed to be ready to take on the interim chief executive role. But this would need the Easdales' assent.
The brothers are successful businessmen but they do not have the personal wealth to sustain Rangers. The fundamental need is to find additional revenue, since the cash reserves are diminishing steadily. King remains the most likely source of fresh finance to return Rangers to the top flight strong enough to challenge Celtic.
The supporters want King and Murray, the Easdales want to remain in place. The alternative to reaching an agreement is a crisis for Rangers, since the Nomad will have failed to address the boardroom issues and the agm will be required to bring the situation to a close. The second week of November seems like the earliest date that it could be held, but it may be delayed until December. In the meantime, the Easdales have become more exposed.