Perhaps the Rangers Board thought that a flurry of good news in the form of the accounts together with lots of positive words would distract from detailed analysis of the figures (which I have not done for myself yet and therefore am NOT suggesting that the sums do not add up).
Perhaps they thought that refusing the Rebel demands for consideration of 4 new directors would calm things down.
Perhaps Craig Mather thought that calling the Rebels’ application vexatious and frivolous would see them off.
Perhaps they thought that the apparent flurry of lawyers’ letters and emails to prominent Rangers-supporting bloggers would calm the Fury.
Mr Mather is quoted in the Scotsman saying, with reference to the Rebels:-
“My ultimate concern is that a lot of these fans are being lied to. There is no sale and leaseback on Murray Park or Ibrox. Categorically, that is not the case and the club isn’t running out of cash.
“There are people out there who want to use smoke and mirrors. I can’t change that. I one hundred per cent believe in freedom of speech and that the fans should have a voice.
“But one concern I do have is that I’ve had a number of people e-mailing and speaking to me, saying they are not going to bring their kids to the game because of this, because of some of the protests and the language.
“We don’t want to starve the club of the next generation and it’s important that the message is delivered in a sensible fashion. I’ve already had an email from some of the fans groups asking if I’ll meet them ahead of the AGM and I’m happy to do so.”
The figures include £6.7m spent on the assets and business of the club when Charles Green’s consortium completed their deal for Rangers with administrators Duff & Phelps. Mather firmly rebutted suggestions that cost was paid with money raised from the share issue.
“That’s categorically untrue,” he said. “It’s just mischief making. The club was bought by the Green consortium and I wasn’t part of it at that juncture. Monies were paid in good faith for those trading assets, full stop.”
Mather was initially introduced to Rangers as an investor by Green, but insists: “I haven’t spoken to Charles Green in a long time.”
“Lies” – “Smoke and mirrors”?
The suggestion that people won’t bring children to the games because of the language of the protesters? (Rather than, you know, the tea at the vicarage language which normally prevails at football games?)
This is fighting talk from Mr Mather.
And you note he says he has not “spoken” to Mr Green for a long time. Maybe someone can ask Mr Mather (a) when he last spoke to him and (b) whether he has been in touch, by email for example, as it is alleged that emails were passing between them in August.
The Rebels came out fighting too with a statement released yesterday via PA and reported here by the Scotsman:-
“We note the statement issued by the Rangers Board to AIM this morning.
“The consistent objective over the last 2 months has been to achieve a higher level of corporate governance and financial transparency from the Board. At all times our proposals have sought to strengthen the Board which is in the interests of all stakeholders.
“As we said previously, when we submitted the request for a General Meeting, we tried to achieve a compromise with the Board which was ultimately blocked by the company’s Nomad, Strand Hanson, for reasons that have still not been explained to us. We note today that Strand Hanson has been replaced as Nomad by Daniel Stewart, which has become the third Nomad in 10 months.
“We submitted a section 338 notice to the company on Friday evening requesting the inclusion of four additional non-executive director nominations at the AGM, Paul Murray, Malcolm Murray, Scott Murdoch and Alex Wilson. These men are all successful professionals who are life-long Rangers supporters.
“We confirmed to the Board that we would meet the reasonable additional costs and expenses of including these nominations in the AGM notice.
“We heard nothing from the Board all weekend until their lawyer, Field Fisher Waterhouse, was in contact at lunchtime on Monday requesting a large volume of information to authenticate our notice and to inform us that, in any event, “the AGM documentation was sent to the printer for printing and posting on Friday”. This is despite the fact that we now know that the accounts were not signed until Saturday and the results not announced to AIM until this morning!!
“For the avoidance of doubt we have submitted our notice using a perfectly valid legal process. The process of authenticating the notice could have been discussed at any time over the weekend and the process of printing and posting could have been adjusted at any time especially given the fact that we agreed to meet the additional costs. Since yesterday we have provided all the relevant authenticating materials we believe are required. In addition we have even offered to pay for an additional document to be sent to shareholders after the main notice has been posted. The Board and their advisers have blocked these offers.
“In our opinion the Board has acted in a wholly unreasonable fashion by denying the shareholders the right to vote on new directors who would undoubtedly strengthen the Board.
“At all times we have sought to minimise the cost and disruption to the Club from this process. We agreed to combine the AGM and GM and we agreed to try and find a compromise with the Board on appointments. The current directors and their advisers blocked those moves and are now blocking this latest attempt to strengthen the Board.
“It is extremely disappointing and frustrating that matters have come to this point. You have to ask the question why this Board is so hell-bent on denying the shareholders a democratic vote on who they want as directors at the AGM? We will consider our position and make further announcements in due course.
“Finally when our proposals were leaked to social media channels last night there was a suggestion that we were considering a sale and leaseback of Ibrox and Murray Park and also a “staff cull”. These stories are wholly inaccurate and those who spread them have been totally irresponsible.”
I think that it is fair to say that the Rebels are not going quietly!
It opens up the possibility that the AGM could be subject to a legal challenge, if the Rebels consider that they made a valid and timeous application and that the Board have illegally barred this from the meeting. I suspect that they would not go down that road – after all, better to be able to claim to have been blocked than challenge this in court and have a judge rule against you.
In the court of public opinion, and especially in those made up of Rangers supporters and institutional investors, who has the upper hand?
The saga, remarkably, continues.
Posted by Paul McConville