ALLY McCoist has praised Rangers fans for their “staggering” support of the club’s share issue, and hailed the venture as further proof of chief executive Charles Green’s trustworthiness.
The flotation raised more than £22million, of which £17m came from institutional investors and the balance from private individuals, many of them Rangers supporters. McCoist has been promised £10m for starters when the club’s current transfer embargo ends, and although it will be January 2014 before the manager can buy new players, he was clearly delighted yesterday by what he saw as the fans voting with their wallets to express confidence in the current administration at Ibrox.
“It’s been a great boost for everybody,” McCoist said. “The last four or five days would tell anybody who supports the club or who is involved in the club that there’s real positivity that hasn’t been there. I’m quick to say there’s still miles and miles to go, but we can now maybe see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
“The money raised at this particular time of the year I find staggering. The investors have obviously put up a great share of the investment, but for the fans again to put up so much money at a short space of time in a recession the week before Christmas, I find absolutely staggering. For us to have an attendance of 42,000 a week before Christmas on a Tuesday night against Annan sums it up for me.”
The transfer ban lapses at the end of August 2013, but as the window will then be closed, more than a full year still has to elapse before normal rules again apply. Even so, the extent to which the club’s share offer has been backed has persuaded him that a programme of sustained improvement can be implemented.
“That money will obviously be a fantastic boost and we will certainly be very prudent in the way we spend it in terms of the business side of things, because we’ve obviously not had any degree of money to spend like that before. That said, we’ve not got it yet and we can’t get it yet – or it’s no good to us yet – so we have a lot of work to do before then in terms of strengthening the squad.
“So we have a couple of different scenarios to look at now in terms of the scouting system. We’re looking at free transfers now and boys who come out of contract in the summer, and then with a bit of luck we can continue the development at the same time and when that money is ready and available to us, we can then move on to that option.”
It is not that long since McCoist received similar promises of a multi-million-pound fighting fund from previous owner Craig Whyte. The fact those promises were not realised might make the manager somewhat cautious this time round, but he explained that he and Green had gradually grown to trust one another.
“Obviously there was a lot of things said the last time which didn’t really come to fruition, so without calling me an old sceptic, I’ll wait to see what we get. There’s a lot of work to be done beforehand, but I’m encouraged that Charles went public with it.
“I think the best way to put it is that he is actually doing what he said. He’s obviously very proud of the fact he’s a Yorkshireman, and they’re a different breed.
“So I think our own support and staff have to be encouraged that he is backing up what he said he’ll do. And certainly attempting to do what he said he will do.
“And that’s not something we’ve had recently, so that certainly has to be encouraging. He’s come in and all of a sudden the staff have got somebody that they can see is fighting their club’s cause, so that has to be positive.
“I would have to say that Charles has been very, very pleasantly taken aback by the size and the support of the club. Obviously, he came in and he was honest enough to say that he hadn’t been a Rangers fan, but I don’t think there’s any doubt now that he’s as big a Rangers fan as there is going.
“There’s a lot of reasons for that, but I would have to say one of the major reasons is the support and the faith the fan base have put on him.”
“In my opinion we certainly have a really good working relationship. He knows the business side. And he obviously knows the football side of it as well – although probably not just as well as he thinks he knows the football side of it, as I have to tell him on one or two occasions. I think it’s really encouraging from my point of view to have someone that is as enthusiastic about his business side of things as about the football side of it as well. And he’s 100 per cent behind me in that every footballing decision within the club is mine.
“He’s not slow to tell me his opinion on players and stuff like that, but I’m not slow to tell him that I sometimes don’t agree with his opinion on players. Maybe that’s just the Yorkshireman in him coming out again, but I don’t mind that at all.”
While Green appears to have won over the support on most issues, the possible sale of naming rights for Ibrox remains divisive, and was the subject of a protest at the ground on Tuesday. McCoist has yet to commit himself, and may not have to do so until he learns how much the club would stand to gain from any deal to give Ibrox a new name.
“I’m 100 per cent behind them [the fans] in terms of voicing their opinion as long as it’s done in an organised, legal way. I’ve gone on record as saying we must listen to the fans. My opinion on it hasn’t changed. I’m relatively open-minded. I can understand the business and financial side of it, but I can also understand the history and tradition.
“I would have to see what’s on offer, what it means and what it would affect before I gave an opinion. I would back that up by saying I think the fans should be listened to.
“There will be times where we’ll have to make decisions about the club that will not please the fans. I understand that, but that doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t listen to them.
“It has to work both ways. I’m sure the fans understand that too. We all have to have a healthy respect of each other’s opinions and I am completely open-minded about the situation.”