RANGERS manager Ally McCoist has backed his players after they rejected a 15 per cent pay cut.
Chief executive Graham Wallace proposed the idea on Thursday as he seeks to cut costs at Ibrox.
McCoist said at a media conference on Friday: “I can assure everyone that the players have my 100 per cent backing.”
And the Rangers boss stressed that the players were not the ones to blame for the club’s ongoing financial woes.
McCoist, who recently accepted a 50 per cent cut to his £825,000 salary, said: “I don’t know who is responsible but I do know who is not responsible and that’s the players and supporters, who have given us two years of 36,000 season tickets.
“I have my own ideas about who is responsible, but I would rather keep them to myself.”
McCulloch tasked with outlining proposals
It is understood that club captain Lee McCulloch was charged with the task of outlining the drastic proposals to his team-mates at Murray Park, only to be told in no uncertain terms that the players were unwilling to take any more cuts to their salaries.
Manager Ally McCoist, who has already agreed to a reduction of around 50 per cent in his annual earnings of £825,000, gathered his squad together for the crisis talks, before he bowed out and left the talking to his captain.
Wallace has decided savage cutbacks are needed to prevent the runaway League 1 leaders lurching towards the threat of administration, despite a £22 million cash injection just 13 months ago through a share issue promoted by his departed predecessor Charles Green.
Wallace also admitted at the club’s agm last month the club’s cost base was too high, “even for a top-flight club”.
Over the past week McCoist has held a series of budget meetings with Wallace and was warned he faced further cuts as the new Ibrox chief continues to undertake a root-and-branch survey of the club’s financial predicament.
The news of impending cuts came on the same day that Guernsey-based hedge fund group Damille Investments Ltd confirmed it had purchased two million shares in the club from former investor Richard Hughes of Zeus. With the Ibrox wage bill estimated at between £6m and £7m, Wallace has demanded expedient action to slash costs.
A source said: “The players were shocked when [McCulloch] outlined what was being asked for. They were asked for a simple yes or no to the demands – and the response was no.
“Many of the younger players couldn’t afford to take a hit like that. They had been warned something was in the pipeline but no one expected [this].”
A Rangers spokesman did not confirm the talks but said: “The manager and chief executive continue to examine ways as to how Rangers can live within their means.”
£14.4m loss in 13-month period up to July
Rangers announced a £14.4m loss in the 13-month period up to July.
In addition to McCoist volunteering to a pay cut to help steady the flow of cash running out of Ibrox, finance director Brian Stockbridge was also forced to hand back a £200,000 bonus awarded to him after the club lifted the Third Division title last year. But even these concessions have done little to help improve Rangers’ balance sheet.
Wallace told a heated shareholders’ meeting on 19 December that Rangers would require more investment if they were to compete with Celtic on their return to the Scottish Premiership, although he insisted there was no immediate threat of the £22m share-issue pot, which was raised a year ago, running out.