Rangers Supporters Trust
The Rangers Supporters Trust was formed in 2003, borne out of a heartfelt desire by some committed Rangers supporters to see their club fulfil its potential and bridge the gap, which had assumed chasm-like proportions, between the Club and its largest investor, the Rangers support.
Supporters Trustshad been formed at the majority of clubs in Britain since the dawn of the new millennium, and Supporters Directin Scotland, the umbrella body for supporters trusts, hosted an Open Day at Tynecastle Parkin Edinburghon Sunday 10 January 2003. There were several distinguished speakers there from both the football authorities and national and local government, as well as office-bearers of some of the already established supporters trusts in Scotland and members of the media. Aside from the addresses from the main platform, there was a whole series of simultaneous plenary sessions, so three of the Trust’s four original founders – Colin Glass from Bearsden, Gordon Semple from Bearsdenand Mark Dingwall from Glasgow– attended these different sessions, before concluding that the formation of a Supporters Trust for Rangers would benefit the Club as a whole.
The fourth founder member – Stevie Tyrie from
Ayr- was invited to join them at a meeting a few days later, and the four founders then set about (a) forming a Steering Group, and (b) adapting the Model Rules kindly supplied by Supporters Direct for a club as large, and unique, as Rangers Football Club.
The need for confidentiality at this point was paramount, as it was felt by all concerned that the Club would be hostile to any attempt to alter the status quo – as other Trusts had found in their formative stages. After ongoing discussions on a weekly basis – often held in either Annie Miller’s or the Glaswegian pubs – and with welcome input from other Steering Group members such as David Tweed from
Bothwell, Scot van den Akker from Glasgow, Allan O’Brien from Old Kilpatrickand Derek McAvoy from London– the following objectives were agreed:-
i. to strengthen the bonds between the Club and the community which it serves and to represent the interests of the community in the running of the Club;ii. to benefit present and future members of the community served by the Club by promoting encouraging and furthering the game of football as a recreational facility, sporting activity and focus for community involvement;iii. to further the development of the game of football nationally and internationally and the upholding of its rules; iv. to encourage the Club to take proper account of the interests of its supporters and of the community it serves in its decisions;v. to encourage and promote the principle of supporter representation on the board of any company owning or controlling the Club and ultimately to be the vehicle for democratic elections to the board;vi. to promote, develop and respect the rights of members of the community served by the Club and people dealing with the Trust as set out in the
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, having regard in particular to the need to provide information to members and conduct the affairs of the Trust in accessible and appropriate ways;vii. to encourage support for, and promote the name of Rangers Football Clubboth nationally and internationally;viii. to encourage greater ownership of ordinary shares in Rangers Football Club plcby individual Society members in their own right.
A date for the Launch Meeting was set for Saturday 5 April 2003, and being ever-conscious of the need to avoid doing anything to jeopardise the Club’s progress towards a historic treble that season, the inaugural Chairman, Colin Glass, formally briefed the Club in a two hour meeting on 5 March 2003, exactly one month prior to the formal launch of the Trust. During that meeting, the following advantages to the Club were fully covered:-
1. Initial Board comprises respectable, mainly professional, fans – not militants.2. The increased take-up in ordinary shares will help increase the share price.3. The increased take-up in ordinary shares will make it easier for the right climate to be achieved to go for full flotation, if that is what the Club want.4. A good point of contact with the fans, which is not seen to be controlled by the Club.5. Access to a dedicated group of fans, one of whose objects is stated as “to help promote the good name of
Rangers Football Clubboth nationally and internationally.”6. Dealing with a non-profit industrial and provident society, who have a duty to be run on democratic lines, with expenses kept to a minimum, and independently audited.7. Dealing with a member trust of Supporters Direct, whose aims and objectives are in turn supported by the UK and Scottish Parliaments.8. The Trust Board members recognised the reality of David Murray’s controlling shareholding, so were not plotting revolution, but assistance.9. A real opportunity to unite the fans with the Club, and therefore bridge the chasm which had opened up in recent years.10. A link from the Trust’s new website, which went live that day - http://www.rangerssupporterstrust.co.uk to the official club site.
The Trust also sought the Club’s assistance with the insertion of a short Media Release in the club paper, The Rangers News, as well as the attendance of a former player at the Launch Meeting. Such requests were declined by the Club, but, in spite of this, the Trust held a very successful Launch meeting in Partick Burgh Halls on Saturday 5 April 2003, where the Guest of Honour was former
Rangers, Liverpooland Aston Villawinger, Mark Walters, who stated that day, “Good Luck to the Rangers Trust. I encourage every Rangers fan to join a great cause.”Since then, although the Trust Board has evolved, with a third of the elected members retiring every year, the Trust has regularly shown the way for the Club to improve its poor media relations, via powerful and thought-provoking media releases, developed a Sharesave scheme which has seen the Trust invest money in the Club in exchange for previously unissued shares, and maintained regular dialogue with the Club’s directors, although at this time, despite a commitment from the Chairman over a year ago, there is still no sign of a member being invited on to the Board of Rangers Football Club.Since the formation of the Trust, the Club’s overall debt has been reduced by over £50 million, and the plans for the proposed sale/leaseback of Ibrox Stadiumhave been permanently scrapped. Every existing RST member has been given a share in Rangers FC plc in their own name, thus allowing their attendance at the Club’s own AGM, and access to the Club’s annual accounts. The gift of a share to each member is not common with other Supporters Trusts – more information on www.supporters-direct.orgThe Trust is run on completely democratic lines, with an AGM for members held during the third quarter of each calendar year. Further details can be found on the Trust’s website – www.rangerssupporterstrust.co.uk/rstsite
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