Rangers majority shareholder Dave King seeks to remove club board
Businessman is seeking to oust Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and his allies
Dave King has called a general meeting of Rangers shareholders and plans to ask them to vote to remove the current Ibrox board, he has confirmed in a statement. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
King — who is now the club’s biggest single shareholder with a 16 per cent stake after buying up Laxey Partners — is now hoping he can pull together a majority coalition to force through sweeping boardroom change.
In a statement handed to Press Association Sport, the South Africa-based millionaire said: “I confirm that a requisition for a general meeting has been hand delivered to Ibrox Stadium. The requisition consists of four resolutions for the removal of the incumbent board and three resolutions for the appointment to the board of myself, Paul Murray and John Gilligan. The resolutions do not seek to review the employment of the two executive directors presently on the board. They will merely be removed as directors.
“I would not have called for a general meeting if I was not confident, from my review of the present shareholder register, that it will be supported by more than 50 per cent of the total registered shareholders.
“While many of the shareholders hold differing views as to what is right for the club, I believe that a clear majority are like-minded on one key point — the need to remove the incumbent board and to replace it with individuals who can gain the trust of fans, sponsors and the shareholder community.
“It is also desirable to partner a Nomad (nominated financial adviser) that is willing to move forward and away from the recent poor governance at the club. I have already had initial discussions with potential Nomads on the basis of two key conditions.
“Firstly, that the resolutions at the AGM are passed. Secondly, that the board is expanded as soon as possible thereafter to incorporate experienced independent non-executive directors such that the highest level of corporate governance is achieved and maintained.
“That is exactly what all stakeholders should want to happen after experiencing so many years of different boards that have lurched from one crisis to another. In advance of the general meeting, I will further engage with Nomads willing to embrace the standards that we will set for the future and ensure that an appropriate arrangement is in place to be adopted immediately on conclusion of a successful vote at the general meeting.
“The most pressing task for the incoming board will be to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the club. A secondary important task will be to conduct a forensic audit of the management and commercial contracts undertaken over the last few years to determine whether they are truly arm’s length and whether the affairs of the company have been pursued in accordance with the fiduciary obligations of those entrusted with that responsibility. Any malfeasance will be pursued aggressively and transparently.
“I call on all shareholders to vote for all resolutions when the general meeting is convened.”
The meeting must take place between three and six weeks from now. If the board is axed, Press Association Sport understands King — who is working alongside the Three Bears partners Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor - also wants to carry out a forensic examination of contracts signed by the club over the past three years, including the deal with kit suppliers Puma.
Between them, King and the Three Bears have 34 per cent and they now face a race against time to gather enough support to reach 51 per cent.
Rangers have staggered from one crisis to another since they were reformed in the Third Division after being liquidated in the summer of 2012. But the final straw for many supporters was Thursday’s news that the unpopular board was considering mortgaging off Ibrox and Murray Park in return for a £10 million loan from Mike Ashley.
The Rangers Supporters Trust has threatened legal action, while hundreds of supporters gathered outside the front doors of the stadium to chant ‘sack the board’ after the Union of Fans called for a protest ahead of Friday’s crucial Scottish Championship clash with title rivals Hearts. As fans were arriving for the match, Letham was already inside Ibrox negotiating his group’s bid to arrange its own loan offer with the board — which would not involve the historic ground or the training base being used as collateral.
But Castlemilk-born King — who lost £20 million when the club went under — has now upped the ante on Ashley by calling on shareholders to run the directors out of town. The Sports Direct tycoon — who owns 8.92 per cent of the club — has been able to lock the 54-time Scottish champions in an iron-clad grasp since handing over an emergency loan late last year.
He placed Llambias and Leach on to the board and now wants the existing board to hand him even more power by accepting the terms of his loan while he seeks to protect the retail deal he struck with former chief executive Charles Green at favourable rates to himself.