ALLY McCoist will remain in charge of Rangers for Saturday’s Championship fixture against Livingston at Ibrox as he continues to serve his notice at the club.
Following a meeting which lasted around 45 minutes yesterday with Rangers plc director Derek Llambias and football club board chairman Sandy Easdale, McCoist’s position as manager was unchanged for the time being.
The 52-year-old tendered his resignation last week, triggering a 12-month notice period, but refused to confirm or deny it to the media after Rangers’ 2-0 defeat to Queen of the South in Dumfries on Friday night. Rangers formally confirmed McCoist’s resignation to the stock exchange on Monday morning and also revealed that his annual salary would be increased to £750,000 for the period of his notice, having been cut by around 50 per cent earlier this year.
It had been widely speculated that yesterday’s meeting would bring an end to McCoist’s tenure, either by a negotiated financial settlement or by placing him on “gardening leave”.
But a club source insisted shortly after the meeting, which was said to be “cordial”, that it was “business as usual” and McCoist would take the team against Livingston. He is scheduled to hold his pre-match media conference at the club’s Murray Park training ground tomorrow.
Easdale, who was heckled by an angry supporter when he arrived at the Argyle House offices at Ibrox before the meeting, refused to comment afterwards when asked if McCoist would continue as manager beyond the Livingston fixture.
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“Ally is here and we are looking forward to Saturday to the game,” was Easdale’s brief response as he left the stadium.
Rangers, who need to raise £8 million next month to continue trading as a going concern for the rest of the season, would face a bill of around £1.5 million to pay off McCoist, assistant manager Kenny McDowall and first team coach Ian Durrant.
Any such action would have to be sanctioned by Mike Ashley, the Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct tycoon, who is now effectively dictating financial policy at Rangers through his lieutenant on the plc board, Llambias.
Rangers will hold their annual general meeting at Ibrox next Monday when McCoist, as manager, will traditionally take his seat at the top table alongside the directors to whom he has indicated his intention to quit in 12 months’ time. It is understood those directors have already started to identify potential successors to McCoist, among them former Ibrox players Billy Davies, Rino Gattuso, Stuart McCall and Terry Butcher.
For the moment, however, McCoist remains at the helm in a season which has seen his team severely criticised for their style of play as Rangers’ projected pathway back to the top flight of Scottish football has stalled. They are currently nine points behind Hearts in the race for the Championship title and automatic promotion to the Premiership.
McCoist’s team are still in the League Cup and Scottish Cup, having beaten top-flight opposition in both competitions, but they suffered a humiliating 3-2 defeat to Alloa in the semi-finals of the Petrofac Training Cup after leading 2-0. McCoist still enjoys the backing of many within the Rangers support, including the irate fan who accosted Easdale on his arrival at Ibrox yesterday.
“Ally’s the only honest person in that place – dedicated,” she said. “Not like you, only there for the money. Sleazebags. Money, money, money. I hope you’re all gone come January – every one of you.”
But while much of the supporters’ discontent is focused on the way Rangers are being operated from the boardroom, there have also been increasing levels of unhappiness at McCoist’s management in recent weeks.
A statement from the Union of Fans umbrella group of Rangers supporters bodies earlier this week insisted McCoist had made the “correct decision” to resign and also urged him to “do the right thing” and reach a solution beneficial to both him and the club.
Craig Houston of the Sons of Struth fans’ group, who was among those waiting outside Ibrox during yesterday’s meeting, expressed surprise that McCoist remained in place.
“It seemed that he handed in his notice and there was going to be some negotiations done today,” said Houston. “Everyone was under the impression that it would be on his package to terminate his employment.
“I am a bit surprised that it was not the outcome today and, hopefully, we’ll hear more from the club to firm that up. There are more important issues at the club right now, so I would rather it was sorted one way or another.
“Whether or not Ally McCoist is known through time as the worst manager in Rangers’ history remains to be seen. But I would hope he is not the last manager of Rangers Football Club and that’s a bigger concern to me right now and to a lot of other fans.”
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