Time for Blues board to name big investors... [Evening Times (Glasgow, Scotland)]
(Evening Times (Glasgow, Scotland) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) THE group of dissenting Rangers shareholders led by Paul Murray and Jim McColl has urged the Ibrox board to disclose the "outside influences who are pulling the strings" at the club.
The plea came after former oldco Rangers director Dave King warned that failure to reach a workable agreement at the annual general meeting will mean administration is a "distinct possibility".
King held talks with a number of key parties involved in the ongoing boardroom battle, but has returned to South Africa saying that "certain influential shareholders are unwilling to compromise" and predicted an "acrimonious" annual general meeting.
Former director Murray and ex-Rangers chairman Malcolm Murray - as well as allies Alex Wilson and Scott Murdoch - are backed by wealthy businessman McColl and hope to win directorships when the club finally holds an AGM, which must occur before December 31 under Stock Market rules.
A statement on behalf of the group which says it has the backing of 28 per cent of shareholders, claims the board - which is comprised only of finance director Brian Stockbridge and non- executive director James Easdale - has failed to reveal who is behind major institutional shareholders Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita Holdings.
The statement from the group, which took successful legal action against the board to force an AGM vote, read: "Paul Murray had a private conversation with Dave (King) this morning when Dave updated him on his position following the various meetings and calls he has had in the last week.
"For the avoidance of doubt, we remain fully supportive of Dave King's involvement in the club going forward.
"As we have been saying for some time, and is evident from Dave King's statement, it is now clear that there are outside influences who are 'pulling the strings' at Ibrox.
"Over the last couple of weeks we have attempted to clarify the identity of who is really behind Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita Holdings.
"Having now reviewed the information supplied to us by the club, we are unable to identify who is really behind these two companies.
"To avoid a further messy and expensive legal process for the club, we are now calling upon the board to do the right thing and disclose to everyone who is really in control.
"If the board have any desire to rebuild trust with the fans then, in the interests of transparency and in light of everything that has happened in the last couple of years, surely they must realise that they must do this as soon as possible.
"If they will not disclose this information then all of the stakeholders in Rangers should ask themselves two simple questions:
"Why will the board not disclose this information?
"What do the board have to hide?
"This situation can be easily resolved by the board disclosing the necessary information. The fans deserve nothing less. In the meantime, we are considering all options to ensure that there is full disclosure."
King revealed he would continue to seek a solution and would not rule out a takeover attempt, but he is resigned to a stormy and indecisive AGM.
The Glasgow-born businessman said he felt Rangers needed two more rounds of fund-raising before being able to challenge Celtic, and that administration was "not an imminent threat" but still a "distinct possibility if the AGM results in a continuing lack of continuity on one side or the other".
King said: "Certain influential shareholders are unwilling to compromise at this time and it seems inevitable, unless there is a change of heart, that an acrimonious AGM lies ahead. In my view, the AGM will not be decisive irrespective of its outcome.
"A continued polarisation is what I was desperately trying to avoid. For the avoidance of doubt and to avoid speculation, I advise that Paul Murray and Sandy Easdale both displayed a constructive and flexible attitude during my discussions with them."
King added: "I'm going to continue looking for opportunities between now and the AGM to get a compromise situation. I will re- assess my position depending on the outcome of the AGM, particularly if I believe short-termism remains. I will be prepared to reconsider my current position, and could possibly intervene in the market."
While the Rangers PLC board only has two directors, Easdale sits on the football club board and claims to control the largest individual shareholding, whether by ownership or proxy.
King said: "The board desperately needs governance, and I'm sure Sandy Easdale would acknowledge that they've ended up in an uncomfortable position.
"It's very important that the board gets professional governance involved, with financial and business plans that take into account the need for fresh investment to take into account the funding shortfall that will come if the team is to compete again in the top flight, which is what we all want.
"In my view, there will be a need to two rounds of additional funding between now and then."
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