ALLY McCoist has insisted he held no fears for his job as Rangers manager in the immediate aftermath of Mike Ashley securing increased influence at the Ibrox club and the departure of chief executive Graham Wallace.
Following the 7am confirmation to the stock exchange yesterday that Newcastle United owner Ashley’s £2 million loan offer had been accepted by Rangers’ plc board, along with Wallace’s resignation, rumours were rife in Glasgow that McCoist was set to be sacked.
Derek Llambias, the former managing director of Newcastle and a close confidant of Ashley, is poised to replace Wallace as chief executive and become one of two new plc board appointments nominated by the Sports Direct businessman.
McCoist was contacted separately yesterday morning by both David Somers and Sandy Easdale, chairmen of Rangers plc and football club boards respectively, to outline his position following the still-financially-troubled club’s decision to reject a rival 11th-hour £3 million loan offer from Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy, in favour of Ashley’s funding proposition.
Having been told it was “business as usual” in terms of his job as manager, McCoist then met the media ahead of tonight’s League Cup quarter-final tie against St Johnstone at Ibrox. Asked if he had been concerned Somers or Easdale were going to inform him he was being dismissed, McCoist stressed it had not crossed his mind.
“No, and I don’t say that meaning to be blase about it,” replied McCoist. “Every manager knows how precarious the job is. But I genuinely thought two board members were phoning to give me an update on what has been happening.
“I spoke to the chairman [Somers] first thing and then Sandy just before training. The chairman was great. We had a 15 to 20-minute conversation – the majority of which will remain private – but he was kind enough to explain the board’s views and opinions on taking the Mike Ashley offer.
“The two gentlemen didn’t need to phone but took the time to do so. Sandy phoned basically to say much the same and to tell me to concentrate my thoughts totally on Tuesday night’s game and indeed the upcoming fixtures. His words were ‘just concentrate on your job as the Rangers manager’. Both of them effectively echoed those statements and that is where we are.
“Both made it clear they were very happy in terms of the investment coming into the club and the longer-term view of moving forward. They feel we are in a better place, and are going to be in a better place, which was obviously encouraging.
“I have been told by both gentlemen to concentrate on my job, which is as Rangers manager. The only thing that was underlined was that from our point of view it’s business as usual. That’s what I have been doing and will absolutely continue to do.”
McCoist had developed a solid relationship with Wallace, who was appointed chief executive in November last year, and now finds himself waiting to deal with yet another new face in the role which was previously filled by Ali Russell, Charles Green and Craig Mather during his turbulent tenure as Rangers manager.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank Graham for the working relationship we had and, indeed, for all his work for the football club,” added
“I wouldn’t comment any further [on his resignation]. That is maybe for Graham or the board. But in my position as manager, and on behalf of the staff and the players, I’d like to thank Graham for his efforts to help the club.
“We have to wait and see what develops now. But I have to be encouraged by the fact the board is encouraged. I can only take my lead from them. Having spoken to the chairman and Sandy this morning, both gentlemen feel we are in a better place. I’m always glass half-full rather than half-empty. I’ll continue to take my lead from the board. They will have to appoint a chief executive and the chairman has told me he is working hard to find that solution. The board are continuing to work in the way they see to move the club forward.”
Sandy Easdale, whose brother James is a director on the plc board, insists Ashley’s increased involvement at Rangers should be welcomed and claimed McCoist’s position is not under threat. “He is the manager and he continues to be the manager,” said Easdale. “We’ve not got any ideas of changing the manager so that’s not on the agenda.
“Mike is a very wealthy individual and he really does want to help the club. I can only see it being a good thing. As far as I’m concerned [Ashley]wants to help the club. He has not intimated [that he wants total control] to me. The plc board did their duty and their due diligence accordingly and I would say they’ve done what’s in the best interests of the fans, the club and the shareholders.
“I would hope [it will bring stability], we’ve got to look forward now. The fans have heard so much over so many years but I can only say we’ve got somebody who is interested in helping the club and we can only look at it as a positive thing.”
In confirming details of the £2 million loan from Ashley’s MASH Holdings company, Rangers revealed it was being secured against their Edmiston House and Albion car park properties at Ibrox.
“The board is pleased to announce that the company’s subsidiary, The Rangers Football Club Limited, has entered into a credit facility agreement with MASH Holdings Limited pursuant to which MASH shall make available the sum of £2million for drawdown by the company,” read the statement to the stock exchange.
“The facility shall be secured by standard security granted by the company over Edmiston House and Albion car park. The facility shall be for a six-month term and is interest-free. The facility will be used by the company for general working capital purposes. Under the terms of the facility, MASH has the right to appoint up to two directors on the board of directors of RFCL.”