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Wallace denies any cash concerns but admits Rangers must engage with fans

GRAHAM WALLACE, the Rangers chief executive, has denied the club is heading towards administration and has refused to condemn Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager, over his decision to give his shares proxy to a supporters' group who are likely to vote against the incumbent board at the annual general meeting on Thursday.

Graham Wallace: "The manager has the full support of the board, the unanimous support of the board.  I have told him that personally"
Graham Wallace: "The manager has the full support of the board, the unanimous support of the board. I have told him that personally"

The chief executive was also bullish over his strategy for Rangers and the prospect of success for the board at the agm.

In an attempt to seize the initiative in a crucial week for the club, Wallace was conciliatory over meeting the concerns of fans who staged a mass red card protest at a recent match against Ayr United and some of whom have threatened to boycott buying season tickets.

"We need to look at how we are engaging with the fans. We need to understand what the issues are. We need to think about how the club can recognise those and, probably more importantly, how can we work together to address them," he said.

The club posted an annual loss of £14m and there have been huge concerns over the "cash burn" at Ibrox, but Wallace insisted: "In the short to medium term there is sufficient cash within the club in order for it to continue trading on a normal basis. There has been speculation externally that we are teetering on the verge of another administration and I can tell you categorically that [the club] is not."

He admitted, though, that there were "challenges" over attracting blue-chip investment when "all they are reading in the business pages is Ibrox turmoil, boardroom battle".

This battle continues on Thursday, when shareholders can back the five directors - chairman David Somers, James Easdale, Norman Crighton, Wallace, and finance director Brian Stockbridge - or elect all or any of four nominees. They are Paul Murray, Malcolm Murray, Alex Wilson and Scott Murdoch.

Wallace dealt briskly with the decision of McCoist to give the proxy of his shares to his local supporters' club. Calderwood Loyal will wield the power of a million shares, just less than 3% of the club's stock. The club is a member of the Rangers Supporters' Association, who are against the re-election of Stockbridge and Easdale.

The chief executive said his manager had informed him of the decision before it was made public, adding: "You need to look at Ally as an individual and what is important to him. He has been at the club for 15 years as a player and seven years as a coach and manager and throughout that time, what has been consistent for him is the support of the fans.

"They have been behind him as a player, behind him as a manager. He feels a strong obligation that those with the best interests of the club at heart are those who have supported him as a player and as a manager. His decision to give his proxy to his local supporters' group I completely understand."

There has been speculation that the manager's job is under threat with members of the board seeking to replace him, possibly after a successful vote for the incumbents on Thursday. However, Wallace said: "The manager has the full support of the board, the unanimous support of the board. I have told him that personally. There is no reason for him to be looking at his tenure as being under question from any of the existing directors."

McCoist's decision, though, brought praise from one of the requisitioners, Paul Murray, who said in a statement: "This is a fantastic gesture and typical of the man. We also note the comments of Richard Gough, another Rangers great, who has called for further board changes. We urge the board and the shareholders to listen to the fans. They are the lifeblood of the club and cannot be ignored."

Murray also listed a series of questions for shareholders to consider before the vote, including why the board "was refusing to disclose who is behind Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita Holdings, the original backers of Charles Green and Imran Ahmad?".

Wallace would not try to predict the outcome of Thursday's meeting but said that he had held talks with various groups of shareholders and if "the positive feedback" from them was represented in votes, "I would think we would be in a reasonably strong position".

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