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Requisitioners move debate from boardroom to the stands

LESS than two weeks remain until Rangers' annual meeting and the jockeying for position is intensifying.

While relatively content with the appointment of Graham Wallace, left, as chief executive, the requisitioners do not support Brian Stockbridge
While relatively content with the appointment of Graham Wallace, left, as chief executive, the requisitioners do not support Brian Stockbridge

While the incumbent directors have chosen not to engage directly with supporters beyond the occasional statement or article on the club's official website, the group of requisitioners looking to bring about a change of power in the Ibrox boardroom have been more active in lobbying for support. There is an argument that their need is greater.

In an ever-shifting landscape it is difficult to say with any great degree of certainty just how much backing either group can lay claim to, although a recent report that the current board could call upon the proxy votes of up to 70% of the shareholding has been dismissed as inaccurate by the requisitioners. What is apparent, however, is that, with so much potentially at stake, the chase for the hearts and minds of swithering or apathetic shareholders will escalate ahead of the meeting on December 19.

The four requisitioners up for election - Scott Murdoch, Alex Wilson, Paul Murray and Malcolm Murray - can at least state with authority that they have taken the fans' views on board. As well as holding a recent open meeting where they took questions from the floor, Murdoch and Wilson have granted interviews with fans' websites.

In these, there was an acknowledgment that Graham Wallace, Rangers' recently-installed chief executive, has an impressive pedigree, although there were still question marks over who was behind his appointment and those of David Somers as chairman and Norman Crichton as a non-executive director.

"Wallace does look very credible," Murdoch told TheCoplandRoad.org. "We were in discussions with him to be our CFO [chief financial officer] to replace Brian Stockbridge, with Christian Purslow as our CEO [chief executive officer]. You do have to question why someone would take board representation now with an agm in a few weeks where they could be kicked out but he does appear to be a good guy on the face of it.

"The problem is we've all been duped by one or two of the people involved. I even met Stockbridge once and he seemed okay but clearly that hasn't turned out to be the case. He's one of the worst we've ever had up the marble staircase. If I was Graham Wallace then I'd suggest to Stockbridge that he falls on his sword. He is without question directly linked with Imran Ahmad and Charles Green and he's got to go.

"We're all sceptical of anyone coming in without having their true independence verified. With these three new appointees, nobody knows who appointed them. We've asked them and they apparently can't remember, which is interesting. It was a few weeks ago but it's amazing how their memory has faded."

Murdoch hopes to count on the backing of the supporters with a financial stake in the club. "Roughly 12% of the shareholding is held by fans," he said. "We are hoping to get something in the order of eight percent because there will be some people who just won't use their vote. There are lots of people who might not realise how important their vote can be. It's going to be a very close fight and every vote will count."

Wilson admitted that perhaps the requisitioners could have done more to engage with ordinary fans but hoped their message had reached enough of the support. "We've published our Rangers Constitution which is putting into print some of the pledges we made last week," he told the Rangers Standard. "We'll also publish our own 1000-word statement for the agm which we are entitled to have sent to shareholders. That will talk about the case we have and we're prepared to meet people between now the agm.

"Paul, Malcolm and I have met fan representatives quite extensively over the past two to three months. Maybe we should have made that more public and held more public gatherings. It's a fair point but I hope we've done enough to get the case across on the need for change."

Murdoch also explained why his group had not bought more shares. "The stock market rules are that if you are above 30% then you have to make a bid for the business. As we technically represent about 28% it becomes very tricky for us to buy up more, which could cause issues with concert party rules. Also, like many of the people who wish to invest, I want to invest with a clean board in place and not just be handing my money over to Charles Green."

There was also an admission that, should they get into power, they are not sure what they will find when they open the books. "We know how we want to operate but when we lift the lid on it we have no idea what is going to come out. What worries us is that there is a cash outflow which has not been explained, so we need to look at what we have and then start to address it urgently.

"We can't say specifically who will invest. We have three or four people who are wealthy individuals who have approached us and said they will put money into the club if the board is trustworthy and clean. We've also had some institutions tell us they will put more money in."

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