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Ally McCoist: ‘Accountability gap’ at Rangers

'Staggered': Rangers manager Ally McCoist. Picture: PA/Rangers

'Staggered': Rangers manager Ally McCoist. Picture: PA/Rangers

  • by ANDREW SMITH
 

CONTRADICTIONS never cease to abound at Rangers. And there were plenty in Ally McCoist’s passionate defence of the employees under threat at his football club yesterday, even as the Ibrox club’s manager presented them as victims of an enrichment culture that resulted in the club burning through nearly £70 million in the 18 months covered by the recent review.

“[It is] terrible, absolutely terrible. If people at our football club lose their jobs because of that ridiculous sum of money that’s gone, then the people should be held accountable,” he said, with a moral certainty reminiscent to his reprehensible “who are these people” utterances about the SFA judicial panel two years ago.

“There’s no doubt about that. Absolutely no doubt. And the fact I keep hearing … that players who came to the club were responsible for it …

“You know what, they might be responsible for it. But by that much [holds thumb and forefinger an inch apart]. We brought in nine players who didn’t cost a penny in transfer fees. We brought nine players in on a wage bill which came down from the previous year.

“Looking at our wages, ratio to turnover, I think it’s below 30 per cent, which would be the envy of any club in Britain, possibly Europe. I just checked all the English Championship clubs and last year our turnover and the lowest one of Blackpool was at 53 per cent. So, I will not accept the players getting any blame attached to them at all. They effectively did what any player would do and that’s try and get themselves a deal to suit them and their family.”

All perfectly reasonable, though the 30 per cent ratio only works if you discount the £5.6m “other football related payroll costs” itemised in the club’s 120-day review. However, it does not seem to register with McCoist that he is railing against an overspend in which he has been the largest beneficiary. His £760,000 salary, before bonuses, made him the highest-paid individual at the club across the 18 months covered by the review. Even allowing for his near-50 per cent pay cut – which is temporary – he may still be in that position now.

Rangers no more needed to pay players and coaches the sums that they have raked in across the past two years for the straightforward task of winning lower-tier part-time leagues than they needed to lavish fat-cat salaries on any directors or executives. It is bizarre, then, for McCoist to seek to set himself and his football department apart.

Moreover, yesterday he did not seem to see a conflict in talking at length of the need for bolstering the medical, sports science and scouting departments at a time when other workers are facing the axe.

Asked if sorting out these football departments would take precedence over signing new players for a Championship tilt, the Rangers manager said: “I would like to think it could walk hand-in-hand and the two could work together.”

Something surely has to give, though, with the club on the way to going bust if, because no merchant lender would offer the club credit, supporters can’t pay-up season tickets in full across the next month in similar numbers to the manner they did using direct debit facilities these past two seasons. McCoist said he could “understand” why current sales had been slow, but appears hopeful the support will not shun the club.

“I want as many people to watch Rangers as humanely possible, if I could change it, [the uptake] I would change it, but we just have to play the cards we’re dealt and get on with it. We’ve got to remain half full rather than half empty. We’ve got a great game to look forward to [away to Dunfermline] and then, what a league we could be in next year, so that keeps us going.”

Queen of the South won Scotland’s third tier and the Ramsdens Cup last year with a £650,000 football budget. With ten times the outlay this season, Rangers could not even do that double. McCoist was asked if he felt he played a part in the unsustainable player-wage windfall at the club because he set out the need for the nine players that were signed last summer.

‘That’s totally unfair. I told them the boys I wanted to sign – and they went and got them. That was it,” he said.

Accountability is hard to come by.

“I don’t know who is accountable. I don’t. We can all have a guess, of course we can. But I don’t know. I don’t know contracts, I don’t know who did this or that. It’s just not my department. But it’s definitely not down to a Jon Daly or Dean Shiels, boys who have been given a contract and are doing their best to honour it.”

A section of the support dishonoured their club with a number of seats damaged at Celtic Park following the Glasgow Cup final on Tuesday evening that McCoist attended.

The poisonous atmosphere led Rangers under-17s coach Billy Kirkwood to offer a chilling appraisal of what could lie ahead should Rangers complete their journey up the leagues.

“There is going to be a time when Rangers play Celtic at first team level and all I can say to that is, oh dear.”

McCoist was unaware of any trouble, and refuses to consider any future hostilities between a Rangers and a Celtic so bleakly.

“I didn’t see any of it although I heard about five bangs, I saw some flares,” he said. “It’s disappointing. It really is disappointing, particularly at a young boys’ game.

“[In term’s of Billy Kirkwood’s quote] there’s always a concern. There’s always been a concern when Rangers and Celtic have played. But you just hope as time goes on that people do get better and I actually do believe that before we went into administration, the Rangers and Celtic game were getting better.

“I’m not the police and don’t know the figures, but I just felt there was a better feeling – the atmosphere was great and I did think there was a better feeling within the stadiums when they played.

“The vast majority of Old Firm fans are brand new and they are people who know what’s right and what’s wrong. I know both clubs do everything they can to make watching the Old Firm games as comfortable and enjoyable and as electric as possible and that will continue to be the case.

“If someone had a magic wand and knew what to do, we would do it. But I just think we must continue to do our best and educate.”

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BT Sport Q&A: Rangers | Hibs | Neil Lennon

THIS week’s BT Sport video Q&A looks at whether Rangers fans will buy season tickets and if the club’s supporters will force a change of ownership.

The form of Hibs under Terry Butcher is also examined following the Easter Road side’s derby defeat while the future of Neil Lennon is also considered following the announcement that his assistant Johan Mjallby is to depart at the end of the season.

Email your Scottish football question for the BT Sport panel to answer. The next show will be recorded on May 7 after St Johnstone v Celtic with the video available on The Scotsman website the following day. You can also tweet us @TheScotsman.

A line-up of experts will handle your questions after each BT Sport game. Most match days, the team includes Darrell Currie, Derek Rae and Gary McAllister.

Over this season, BT Sport will air 30 SPFL matches plus 10 Rangers games from the SPFL League One.

• T&C We can not guarantee which presenters will answer your questions. Questions are vetted and no correspondence will be entered into.

 

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