Rangers Meeting Hit By "Threats"
18 February 2015, 07:40
The Rangers board has blamed "threats'' for the failure of its quest to stage a crucial general meeting in a London hotel.
A second hotel cancelled the club's booking on Tuesday, only hours after the replacement venue had been announced to the stock exchange.
The meeting - which will determine the future composition of the board - will now be held at Ibrox as normal, something the club directors were keen to avoid after they were subjected to a hostile reception during the club's annual general meeting in December.
A statement to the stock exchange on Wednesday morning read: "It is with regret that the board must announce that, following threats from persons unknown, the Grange Hotel at Tower Hill in London has informed the company that it is no longer willing to host the general meeting on 4 March 2015.
"Accordingly, the new venue for this general meeting will be Ibrox Stadium, in Glasgow, at a date to be determined.
"The original London venue was selected for the general meeting because the board felt that previous general meetings held at Ibrox had been disrupted by chanting and other shouting and accordingly had sought a business venue where a meeting could be held with more decorum.
"Following threats it was decided to seek a second London venue, not least because, for legal reasons, this would have preserved the ability to continue to hold the meeting on 4 March. Unfortunately, these efforts have now been thwarted.
"A further announcement will be made as soon as possible once a new time and date for the general meeting have been established.''
The original venue, the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Kensington, cited concern over "significant disruption to guests and neighbours'' when it cancelled on February 9.
Grange Hotels took a similar stance on Tuesday, with a spokesperson saying: "There is no question when it comes to the comfort and security of our guests and staff.
"We do not compromise on this and therefore the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel has declined the opportunity to host the proposed Rangers FC EGM.''
The hotel chain also tweeted: "Jelly and ice cream is off the menu at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel on 4th March, 2015. #EGM #RangersEGM'' - referencing a song sung by Celtic fans that mocked their Old Firm rivals during the Light Blues' liquidation meltdown, although the tweet was later removed.
Major shareholder Dave King, who called the meeting, earlier urged Rangers supporters to stay away from the general meeting, even though it will be held at their preferred Ibrox venue, to ensure there is no further delay.
King believes he can secure success in his resolution to remove David Somers, James Easdale, Derek Llambias and Barry Leach from the board and install Paul Murray, John Gilligan and himself long before the meeting takes place.
In a statement on Tuesday night, the South Africa-based businessman said: "There has been coverage in the media alleging concern by club directors about their personal safety and verbal abuse from Rangers fans and, while unrest is understandable, any anger must be peacefully channelled towards the removal of directors from the board.
"It is not the Rangers way to threaten individuals on a personal basis and there should be zero tolerance for this.
"I have already expressed my views on the decision to have the general meeting in London and I was appealing to fans not to travel.
"However, while Ibrox can easily accommodate everyone who wants to go I believe fans who are also shareholders should still ensure that a properly completed proxy is in place beforehand. The meeting will last only a few minutes as there is no debate beforehand.
"It was always my intention to vote by proxy and not travel to London and it remains the case that I will be in Glasgow with my fellow directors ready to commence the business of the day.''
Stock market rules ensured Rangers had to call the meeting before March 6 and it is unclear whether they will attempt to use the delays to argue for a date beyond the initial deadline.
King added: "With a second London hotel declining to host the general meeting members of the Rangers board and the company's Nomad must now accept Ibrox as the best and obvious venue.
"They all have a profound responsibility to the shareholders and fans to hold this meeting within the suggested time frame and so the proxy process must continue as planned.
"Therefore it is absolutely vital that Rangers fans, who are shareholders, and all other shareholders continue to follow procedure.
"Votes must be cast with Capita by 10am on March 2 and hopefully we will then be able to confirm that the resolutions have been approved well in advance of the actual meeting.''