Bitter shareholders in Mitchells & Butlers called one after another yesterday for the heads of the pub group's chairman, Roger Carr.
They also demanded the resignations of the non-executive directors and, once, the entire board at a prickly annual meeting coming two days after M&B announced it had lost £391 million unwinding financial hedges taken out to pave the way for a £4.55 billion property deal that had to be abandoned in the credit crunch.
Tax relief reduces the loss to £274 million - 89 per cent of last year's operating profit.
Only Tim Clarke, chief executive, came in for a sprinkling of sympathetic applause from small shareholders, many with long-term investments dating back to M&B's origins in Bass and Intercontinental Hotels.
Several insisted they wanted steadily growing dividends and a rising share price, not a killing raised from the value of M&B's freehold pubs.
Mr Carr said afterwards, though, that traditional shareholders, like those at the meeting now account for about 40 per cent of the share register. They were outnumbered by 60 per cent with "other ambitions". These include Robert Tchenguiz, who built up a substantial stake and was M&B's partner in the property joint venture. The directors had a fiduciary duty to take account of this.
At the meeting shareholders accused the board of "a flight of financial madness" and "going to Epsom races" with the company.
Finance director Karim Naffah has resigned and will be paid his contractual entitlement of one year's salary plus his share options, Mr Carr said. Mr Clarke had also offered to quit, but the board rejected his resignation. The executive directors have all waived the bonuses they would otherwise have been paid. Asked outright why he was still there chairing the meeting, Mr Carr said: "My instinct in times of trouble is not to desert a ship."
He was keen to stress the company's strong prospects and performance in a difficult market, and explained that the loss from interest rate and inflation hedges arose from unique events which nobody had foreseen.
But shareholders were unimpressed.
Aubrey Franklin said: "These are very fine words but they butter no parsnips. You have made a right mess of this company, this year has been an absolute disaster.
"You have obviously taken your eye off the ball. Your job isn't running a hedge fund, it is to run a pubs and restaurant business."
Mr Carr replied that the company faced conflicting interests from those shareholders looking for long-term returns and those seeking a short-term gains from a property deal, which would have yielded around £3 a share if it had gone through. Last July the shares had risen to over £9 in anticipation, from about £5 a year earlier.
On Wednesday they shot up by 72p to 473p amid talk of a bid approach.
Yesterday, though, they fell back to 445.75 after Mr Carr said interest expressed was "very preliminary".
He insisted the board had gone about its plans in a professional way.
One shareholder John Farmer compared the situation to that at Northern Rock, where the chairman and chief executive had both quit.
"This has happened on the board's watch and the finance director receiving compensation suggests to me he is being made a scapegoat," he said.
"In the manner of Northern Rock this board has got things wrong, and at Northern Rock the chairman, chief executive and a lot of other directors resigned.
"Your emollient remarks this morning are almost insulting," he angrily told Mr Carr to general approval from the meeting.