06 December 2013

The Miseducation of David Somers

by Alan Clark | Assignments Editor

The chairman.

Usually a man that the shareholders of a company can trust to oversee board meetings and lead with dignity. In a football sense, this works with supporters placing their trust in a reliable figurehead of their football club.

Walter Smith agreed to take over as Rangers chairman earlier in the year but as we all know, the former manager at Ibrox left not long after. He attributed the “dysfunctional” nature of the company's board as one of the reasons for leaving. This was early August.

After much discussion about extraordinary general meetings and the like, the chairman's position was left unfilled. Craig Mather had come and gone as chief executive and other board members resigned following the requisitioners' successful court action regarding being allowed director nominations at the annual general meeting. The board was left to be made up of Finance Director Brian Stockbridge and director James Easdale – with his brother Sandy sitting on the RFC Ltd board.

Then, David Somers was appointed chairman. This came out of the blue as it were but was portrayed as an appointment that was necessary given the company had no chairman or CEO in place at all. Your typical Rangers fan had never heard of Somers – he was another English businessman coming in giving us the big talk on his debut interview with Rangers TV.

Although his CV appeared to be credible, much scepticism remained from some supporters surrounding the appointment given it was clearly made by the three that were left in power – Stockbridge and the Easdale brothers – and at the behest of the shareholders they represent.

Soon after a CEO was recruited in the form of Graham Wallace (That would be Graham, not “Grant” as some bloggers and PR gurus believe his name is.) and another director was brought on – Norman Crighton. We have been told that interviews were conducted for at least the chairman and CEO roles.

Today's mind-boggling statement from Somers has left many supporters scratching their heads in disbelief. Somers begins his statement, posted on the club website, with: “As a listed company, the members of the Rangers Board have to be very careful and professional in the way in which we communicate information.” You wouldn't find many disagreeing with that sentiment.

However, “professional” is definitely not the word that would be realistically attached to what comes next in his 900-word “Open Letter”. He goes on to attack the four requisitioners using language completely unbefitting of a chairman at Rangers Football Club. He refers to the four nominated directors as the “Gang of Four” - as if they are some sort of posse that are intent on taking money out the club and have no passion for the good of Rangers. (Wait, who are we talking about here again?)

If he was truly independent and a professional chairman, why wouldn't he meet with the requisitioners on more than one occasion - try to come to some sort of compromise, have friendly and worthwhile discussions instead of publicly berating them like they are trouble makers? Wouldn't it be worth his time to assess their attributes and credentials of joining the Rangers board?

He claims that the allegations about the board and himself are akin to the “bogey men” of his childhood – and promises to address these issues but actually doesn't at all. He tries to put out the fire of him not being independent of the board but in actual fact what he does is completely embarrass himself. He states that until his appointment four weeks ago, he had “never heard of Charles Green, Imran Ahmad, Craig Whyte, or any of the other characters in Rangers’ history.”

There we have it. Our club has a chairman at the helm who had never heard of the figure who took the club into administration for the first time ever less than two years ago – the figure who brought shame upon a true Scottish institution and then fled to Monaco. He also claims to never have heard or met Green and Ahmad in the past – which is either a blatant lie or he genuinely has “no knowledge of it”. Strange one.

The quote “or any of the other characters in Rangers’ history” is also a very telling one. Remember earlier in this piece I said we were all told interviews had taken place for the Chairman's role? Well ask yourself this: how on God's earth did a man who had no prior knowledge of the company he was trying to get a job for, get hired?

Is it just me who, in the best possible interests of the club I support, wants a chairman who has an extensive knowledge of Rangers' past, present and the correct schemes to put in place to ensure a successful future?

This isn't just a slip of the old finger today from Somers. He is adamant that he had no knowledge of Rangers. It is quite staggering. He told the Sussex Courier at the end of November: “When I was first contacted [about the role] I said, 'but I don't really know anything about Rangers', they told me that was perfect, they wanted someone completely separate from the club.”

“They told me that was perfect.”

This is the board members ( Stockbridge, Easdale(s) ) that we are being told by PR 'guru' Jack Irvine are doing the best they can for the club. Or perhaps it was their PR guru doing the interviewing himself? In any case, these are the men that we should hold forever in our debt for keeping things together. Oh wait, that's just Stockbridge we should be grateful to, as Somers also tells us today.

A finance director that earns £200,000 at a Scottish third-tier football club, a man that awarded himself a 100% bonus for that club's football team winning the fourth-tier title, the man that oversaw a £14 million loss and tried to claim it was “part of the plan”, the man that filmed our former chairman drunk, the man that refuses to answer fans questions then tells a tabloid a few days later, the man that oversaw a £22m windfall be spunked away in less than a year, the man that can't or won't explain absurdly high IPO costs, the man who promises a breakdown of IPO costs but never comes forward – the list goes on.

Somers says “Graham Wallace, needs time to evaluate the whole structure within the business and the people within it. This will be true for Brian as for everyone else.” Well my reaction to that would be if Wallace had any sense, which a lot of people are saying is true, then he would see straight through Stockbridge et al.

He'd also abolish Irvine, a very divisive figure but he someone that is still floating under the radar of the support at large. He regularly attacks fans on forums, Twitter and today on Sons of Struth's Facebook page. He is the exact opposite of what any decent-minded person would want as a public relations employee. Somers tries to deny the wage packet that Irvine is on but do you know what? The figures don't matter to me. Irvine could be paying his own money to Rangers for the PR privileges and I still would want this man as far away from Ibrox as possible.

With this embarrassing statement all that Somers has achieved is alienating the supporters even more. Rangers fans expect dignity and certain standards from people connected to the club – not statements attacking others who want positive change for the club, not hiring a PR 'guru' to inflict dirty tactics on those individuals and also on supporters online.

Yes, there will be some that are taken in by what he has said. But more fool them. When he was appointed I thought to myself “Let's give the fella a chance” and hoped he'd be the go-between in the middle of the warring factions as it were. As the chairman, that was his duty.

He has failed spectacularly and I for one will not be voting for his re-election at the AGM.

1 comment:

  1. i was prepared to give him a chance if he had persuaded stockbridge to walk but after this statement he can hold hands on the way out with him . bb

    ReplyDelete

Keep it civil, lads.