Scottish Daily Mail
‘We have to ensure there is no repeat of this mess’
RANGERS Sup - port er s ’ Trust spokesman Chris Graham last night praised fans for the part they have played in forcing change at Ibrox — then warned them: ‘The hard work starts now.’
The RST and Rangers First, another group aimed at fan ownership, had amassed almost 19,000 registered members between them going into yesterday’s extraordinary general meeting.
A combination of s hares purchased by each organisation, using cash raised from that backing and from proxies, saw them hold around 10 per cent of the voting power at the meeting.
Graham is delighted the club’s followers have performed such a significant role in getting Dave King, Paul Murray and John Gilligan on to the board and overthrowing previous incumbents Derek Llambias and Barry Leach.
But Graham insisted there is still much more to do.
He has now urged supporters to keep investing in the two fan movements to ensure there is never a repeat of the financial turmoil experienced at Rangers in recent years.
‘The response to both schemes has been amazing and crucial, not just in winning the EGM but also in moving forward,’ he said.
‘It is important the fans want to have more of a shareholding in the club. I believe we can trust this board and I think they will run Rangers properly.
‘We don’t know what will happen in 10 years’ time, though, so it’s vital the fans have a big enough say to stop anything like we have seen in the last three or four years from happening again.
‘They now have that and, if there is a new share issue, I think it’s important they continue to up their shareholding to a more significant portion.
‘It has been brilliant seeing how people have risen to the challenge. The Trust has been plugging away at this for 12 years while Rangers First is a more recent thing. But it’s just great to see the fans getting behind the same objective.
‘What the supporters have done has been crucial in winning the vote. Going forward, it’s really important we get working as soon as possible. Obviously, there will be a couple of days of celebration but there’s going to be a huge rebuilding process at the club.
‘It has been ripped apart over the last few years, so the priority is to get the hard work started straight away. Some things can be done quickly and others will take a bit longer
‘I can understand where Kenny McDowall (caretaker manager) was coming from when he said it would take five years to fix the club.
‘I think he was talking about t he f ootball i nfrastructure. Things such as scouting and youth development take a long time to come through.
‘But Dave King was right, too, in the sense there are things you can do in the short term, which would immediately improve the situation.
‘Even just getting the fans back in the stadium is an improvement because there will be increased revenue from that alone.
‘On the football side, appointing a new manager will be an improvement and we’ll possibly be able to bring in players in the summer who can improve the squad.
‘What matters most is there are guys in the boardroom now who actually care about the club. They aren’t just there to feather their own nests.’
Llambias and Leach are no longer on the board, but they remain employed by the club as chief executive and financial director, respectively.
Severance deals must be struck and, although both men have dug in their heels this week, Graham thinks it’s only a matter of time until they are driven out.
‘Leach and Llambias can make it a bit difficult in terms of getting them to leave and I’m sure they will make it as hard as they can,’ he said.
‘Obviously, they are in this for themselves, so they will try to get what t hey can out of t he situation.
‘The Sports Direct contract is something which still needs to be looked at and there are question marks over how a lot of contracts came to be, latterly.
‘That will need to be examined closely but I don’t think there is anything that’s insurmountable as long as the people in the boardroom want to get it fixed.
‘ That’s the big difference. There’s nothing the club can’t do as long as everybody is pulling in the one direction.’