The Fans' Opportunity
- 14 December 2012
Those of us who attended the Rangers AGM in 2009 will remember, for the first time in my lifetime, a majority of shareholders voting against a motion proposed by the Rangers board. It was whether Donald Muir should continue in his role on the Rangers board. There was a slight buzz around the AGM as those officiating scurried around to find additional voting cards as a vote was more likely in North Korea than at a Rangers AGM.
A show of hands was nigh on unanimously against re-electing Donald Muir and the paper vote was the same. Then the Murray International representative (I cant remember who) placed his vote and the motion was passed and Donald Muir resumed his role on the Rangers board. Nobody reading this will need to be told what has happened to our club since.
But looking back through the past 2 years what was the turning point where things really started to go wrong? It was Murray, under huge pressure from Lloyds bank, selling the club to Craig Whyte for £1 despite being warned by other board members through an independent report he was not fit and proper person to own our club. Donald Muir was the Lloyds man on the board at Ibrox.
Now imagine our club was 51% owned by supporters. The Rangers AGM and all major decisions such as electing board members would be a democratic decision. In 2009 Donald Muir would not have been allowed the Ibrox board room. Lloyds TSB would not have been able to exert the pressure they did on Murray to sell. Craig Whyte would never have owned our club. Last year Rangers would have been going for 4 in a row and with the “big tax case” going our way our debt would be manageable. The Rangers IPO, which closes Tuesday, is our chance to take the first steps towards a fan owned members club.
We will not own 51% of the club on Tuesday. It is a difficult time of year and in times of austerity many supporters do not have the cash readily available to invest right now. However, as we now know, it is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to take a great leap forward only to stumble back.
Many of us thought Whyte was a great leap forward but now look where we are. It has taken Swansea supporters 9 years to own 20% of their club but now look where they are. German clubs are all 51% owned and look where they are (successful in Europe, highest attendance in Europe & cheapest season tickets in Europe). Barcelona and Real Madrid are based on democratic principles and look where they are. Fan ownership does work.
BuyRangers.org is a Community Share scheme which has been set up using the legal status of the Rangers Supporters Trust. Its aim is to pool together the investment of numerous Rangers fans under the one body giving fans a more powerful voice than previously where scattered small shareholders had no say. The minimum investment is a more affordable £125 and it is open to all.
You may not have agreed with everything the RST has said in the past but if you believe in the principle of fan ownership and representation please read the prospectus and visit BuyRangers.org. Investing before the IPO deadline on Tuesday either directly at www.rangersshareoffer.com or through the RST is the only way to ensure your money goes directly to Rangers.
Gordon Stewart is the Secretary of the Rangers Supporters Trust