08 October 2014

Never a Dull Day Round Ibrox Way

by Ross McAdam | Contributor

Another day, another new drama in the Rangers story. We awoke to the news this morning that Mike Ashley, through his investment vehicle MASH holdings has called an EGM to remove Graham Wallace and Philip Nash from their positions. 

I suspect that Ashley won’t be forthcoming on his reasons for this move given he very rarely talks to the media. It is an open secret that the boardroom at Ibrox is split and that this move will remove the two individuals who appear to favour investment from Dave King whilst the Easdale proxy, including Blue Pitch and Margarita, appear to favour investment from Mike Ashley.

The question must be asked why Ashley has decided to call an EGM rather than propose the same resolutions at the AGM which must be before 31 December where Nash will be up for re-election given it is his first AGM as a Director. 

He may be using it as a way to pressurise the two individuals to resign rather than face the EGM, especially given the cost implications of hosting an EGM, something the club can ill afford at this time and like last year, it would be preferable if an agreement can be arranged to combine the resolutions at the AGM to try and save costs.

Ashley’s intentions for Rangers will make for a lot of debate. Newcastle is relatively well run but this is largely predicated on player sales and the large TV money of the EPL. Their commercial revenue has decreased over time. His primary concern is his Sports Direct business and as we know this is where Ashley’s interests in Rangers are. All Rangers shops are now under his control with staff having been told that they work for Sports Direct now. 

He also has the rights to name Ibrox and in recent discussions he explored the possibility of owning our trademarks, such as our badge. This is something we will have to accept if Ashley continues to exert control.
Another interesting point is that the SFA have imposed a 10% limit on Ashley’s ownership of the club. However, this is only an agreement and as far as I understand has no legal substance to it. Ashley’s pockets are certainly deeper than the SFA’s and he will wipe them under the table if need be.

In terms of voting nobody really knows what will happen. The shareholding has changed considerably since the last AGM where the current board defeated the requisitioners fairly comfortably. It is assumed that the Easdale proxy group will back the proposals so added to Mike Ashley that would equal around 36%, despite the claim in the announcement to the Stock Exchange that “The Board is united in its support of the executive team” and that “the Directors intend to recommend that Shareholders vote against the proposed resolutions”. 

Laxey, with their 16% will then have a key vote. If they support the proposals then Wallace and Nash will be packing their bags. It is particularly difficult to guess what Laxey will do but it is believed they are broadly supportive of Wallace and Nash.

It once more however, shows that if you want to ensure change at the club, the best way to do it is by buying shares, Ashley has done just that and now finds himself in a position to call this EGM. We have found out recently that Dave King, Paul Murray and George Letham have been in talks with the club about an investment proposition. There is not much details forthcoming from this so far so we will await developments. The power struggle that we saw last year looks very much like it will happen again this year.

We are still awaiting the annual accounts which should not be too far away and the AGM afterwards. The AGM is crucial to discerning how the much needed investment is going to come in. There certainly are people willing to do so but it is essential that the special resolution to remove pre exemption rights passes, requiring 75% of the vote. Should that pass, then King will have no excuses left. His opportunity to invest will be there.

Subsequently this morning, Jack Irvine spoke to the Press Association as ‘Sandy Easdale’s spokesperson’ so it can be assumed that Mr Easdale has reappointed Irvine as his spokesperson (no laughing at the back) which is another blow to the Rangers support. Sandy has in the past released a statement distancing himself from Irvine and he also told a room of Rangers fans that he had no association with Irvine.

There is never a dull day in this saga.