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Spiers on Sport: a bird's eye view of the Rangers AGM

An intense Rangers AGM at Ibrox, with an unpopular board and factions of supporters at loggerheads, warranted the following notes.

Picture: Colin Mearns
Picture: Colin Mearns

1. A "listed" football club makes for a flawed democracy.

They used to say a football club belonged to no-one if not the fans…well, not any more. The current situation at Rangers FC makes that very plain.

This was an AGM where some obscure and little-known investors - hedge fund holders and the like - ruled the day. To the dismay of many Rangers fans, institutions such as Laxey, Zeus, Artemis, Blue Pitch and others could trample over the wishes of many fans - though by no means all - by dealing their cards.

Most Rangers fans want boardroom change - but the institutions have sided, after much politicking, with the current board. Rangers right now is a clear case of a club being at the mercy of the market, where the supporters' wishes are of decidedly secondary importance.

2. The current Rangers board might come good.

It is foolish to think that the current board of the Easdale brothers, David Somers, Graham Wallace and Brian Stockbridge cannot deliver on behalf of the club. As unpopular as they are, this reshuffled Rangers board has fresh talent, and dissenting fans may be wrong in their "sack the board" petition.

Somers won a few critics over at the AGM, while Wallace is clearly a man of substance. The Easdales, viewed as "dodgy geezers" by many fans, come with an unwanted image, but even they might show their business mettle at Ibrox.

Stockbridge, an FD who presided over a disastrous 2012-13 financial performance, remains the most vulnerable. If he hangs on, he needs to prove all over again that he has the nous to steward Rangers.

3. The Rangers support is chronically divided.

Paul Murray, a wannabe Rangers director, stated on BBC Radio Scotland that the Ibrox support was united like never before. It was a claim immediately scoffed at by more measured Rangers fans.

Clearly, Murray spends little time trawling the internet, and so has been spared the bitching, smearing and name-calling that has gone on among Rangers fans who take their disagreements over their club to new heights of abuse. It is pretty startling to witness.

There is a groundswell of fans who deplore this current board. But there is also a robust and persuasive element who have not been impressed one bit by Paul Murray and his requisitioners.

Throughout this saga the passion of the Rangers fans has been remarkable. If they could somehow pull themselves together politically as a force - a noted failure so far - they would be a formidable group.

4. The problem with Malcolm Murray.

This louche character is what you might call "multi-faceted". Murray is seen as a gifted city player, though this mystifies some, given his other indulgences. The incident when he was deliberately filmed while drunk last year was deplorable, but it also served to cruelly highlight how a Rangers chairman should not behave in public.

Equally mysteriously, Malcolm Murray, who was a disastrous Rangers chairman every bit as much as Stockbridge was a poor FD, is being held up by the requisitioners as a man to come back to Rangers' rescue. It is a notion for which some fans have open contempt.

5. The Dave King scenario.

King was a surprisingly silent subject at the AGM though it is inconceivable he will not return to try to plough money into the club and assert some control.

The most likely way for King to do that, via a share-placing, is to simply build up his equity and thus his seat of power.

There may be issues with King's suitability, in terms of his recent Income Tax indictment in South Africa, as well as the reservations of the Rangers nomad, but most Rangers fans care not two hoots about any of that.

King is super-rich. That is all. They want him back.

6. The precarious place of Ally McCoist.

McCoist is a crowd-pleaser to a tee. Speaking to the fans he said: "Quite simply, you have been our inspiration." What else but much whooping and cheering would this statement elicit?

The Rangers manager is a legend among the Ibrox support, and with absolute justification. But McCoist is starting to look vulnerable in other ways.

He has been receiving a ludicrous salary from the club - circa £800,000 a year - and that has still not been addressed. McCoist is also seeking new players, while Graham Wallace is talking a fiscal policy in precisely the opposite direction.

McCoist received lavish support from the recently-departed Craig Mather, an unqualified and weak Rangers CEO. Not so with the new man. He also proxied his vote out to fans, in effect providing a vote against his own board.

Some believe that, sooner rather than later, McCoist and Wallace will cease seeing eye to eye.

7. Rangers FC…loss-making for the next two years.

Graham Wallace made it very plain at the meeting that the cost-base of the club was unsustainable.

The new Rangers CEO has quite a job on his hands. Added to the daft coaching and player contracts, it is almost impossible to keep a club with Rangers' overheads on an even keel in the lower divisions.

The chances are Rangers will post losses for the next two years, at least, unless Wallace and Stockbridge can pull off a minor miracle.

Wallace may have little option but to proceed to squeeze the club until the pips squeak.

8. Jack Irvine has won.

This Rangers PR guru, hated by some elements of the club's support and totally ignored by others, has certainly won the current battle.

Irvine effectively got rid of Jim Traynor, Rangers' head of communication, and was charged with shoring up the current board's standing, aiding in the search for new boardroom recruits, and seeing off Paul Murray and Co.

There is no other way of putting it - Irvine has won and the rebels have lost.

He is expected to leave Rangers over the next few months, job done and happy with his lot. Many Rangers fans will shout "good riddance" in his wake.

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