With the RIFC AGM just over a week away, the Rangers Observer is taking a look at the issues and key decisions to be made during the meeting and what topics are likely to be front and centre of supporters’ minds going into next week.
With the RIFC accounts already released and analysed, financial considerations are obviously a large part of the AGM. What is clear from the accounts is that the club is on a sound financial footing and that Dave King in particular is continuing to show his willingness to make up any shortfall as the club builds its way gradually back to traditional levels of revenue.
King himself has committed £7m worth of financial guarantees through his family trust, New Oasis for the coming years. This effectively means that should that cash be required by the business then he will personally provide it. These type of commitments have previously been made by a pool of investors including Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor but it is now clear that King is willing to shoulder the burden on his own if required. That is not to say that other investors will not put in further funding, but King has been the one to provide that degree of comfort to supporters on this occasion.
King also provided a £2m guarantee for the past season to meet the requirements of the UEFA licensing procedure - thus allowing the club to participate in European competition. Going forward, supporters will hope that participation in Europe will become another important part of progress on the pitch and financial growth off it.
The conversion of debt will be another important issue at this AGM with Resolution 11 allowing the board to allocate shares without offering them to all shareholders. With the Club 1872 purchase of shares from Mike Ashley, this resolution is much more likely to be passed than in 2016 and Club 1872 members have voted in favour of it.
If passed, this will allow the board to clear a portion, if not all, of the current soft loans which have been the main method of investment to date. It is not clear how many shares will be offered but it is likely that supporters will have the ability, through Club 1872 at least, to invest through any Resolution 11 share offering. Club 1872 has already confirmed it expects to be able to participate and thus maintain or increase its shareholding. This participation could provide required funds for progress on the pitch but it is likely it will only be the first of a number of fund raising exercises. Supporters will be keen to hear about these plans from Dave King when he gives his address next week and lays out the vision for the future.
Our first glimpse into what might happen with the resolutions in general has been published in the form of a Club 1872 members’ poll which replicates those resolutions exactly. With over 7000 Rangers fans already part of Club 1872, this is probably the most accurate gauge of fan opinion that we’ll receive during the AGM process - with many of the other large shareholding blocks consisting of individuals.
The most obvious point to take from the result of the poll is that all the Rangers directors have been voted back in by a very large majority of supporters. With 85% in favour of his re-election, Graeme Park is the least popular amongst Club 1872 members, due in part perhaps to his perceived role in appointing Pedro Caixinha. However, the occasional clamour on social media for Rangers fans to take a confrontational position with the board appears to be unsupported by the evidence of this poll.
Yesterday one of the main protagonists of that agenda in the media, Graham Spiers, was trying to recruit Rangers fans to attack Club 1872 based on his assessment that they should be publicly criticising the Rangers board. It is clear from their own poll results that were the Club 1872 board to do so they would be ignoring the wishes of the overwhelming majority of their members.
It is always worth remembering that social media is a bubble. The handful who flocked to Spiers yesterday would do well to take heed of the Club 1872 poll. They would also do well to remember that if they find themselves agreeing with Spiers on anything regarding Rangers then they are on shaky ground.
Nobody is saying there should not be criticism where it is warranted. Club 1872 is in an excellent position to articulate the concerns of supporters on an ongoing basis and in a way that is likely to actually get results within Rangers. Outraged tweets from anonymous keyboard warriors are unlikely to have a similar effect.
Supporters will quite correctly have their own individual views on what they feel the club is doing well or not. However, when a large number of verifiable Rangers fans are polled, the views of the likes of Spiers and those willing to ride on his coat tails are shown to be totally and consistently unrepresentative of the vast majority.
The AGM is a good forum for Club 1872 and others to ask questions over issues they feel have not yet been addressed or require clarity. It is clear for example, that supporters are anxious to hear an update, in general and financial terms, on how the Rangers board plans to close the gap on Celtic.
The managerial position is bound to be a hot topic and, if no appointment has been made by the AGM, supporters will expect to hear what progress has been made and why the process appears to only have started in earnest after Caixinha exited Ibrox.
The Rangers board may also be asked what level of funds will be available to the new manager after a very large outlay on players in the summer. It is unsustainable to continue to hand a succession of managers those type of funds to then simply rip it up and start again each summer. The next appointment will be crucial and although the new manager will almost certainly be expected to get the most out of as many of the existing squad as possible, he will also require some funds to stamp his own ideas on the team.
Other topics of interest and concern might include what progress has been made on retail side following the cessation of open hostilities with Sports Direct and Mike Ashley, progress on bringing Ibrox and the surrounding area up to scratch and perhaps more detail on the work of Mark Allen given recent announcements on scouting and analysis.
So next Thursday promises to be an interesting day. Plenty of questions to be answered and no doubt plenty of headlines generated from the responses. We’ll bring you the best analysis and overview of the major talking points in the days following the AGM.