ALLY McCoist has admitted to a sense of relief that his time as Rangers manager is coming to an end – but remains prepared to see out the full 12 months of his notice period.
Speaking for the first time since it was confirmed he had tendered his resignation last week, McCoist described it as the hardest decision of his career but also insisted it is the right decision.
The 52-year-old declined to provide a specific reason for the timing of his resignation which he discussed at a meeting earlier this week with football board chairman Sandy Easdale and plc director Derek Llambias, who was yesterday appointed as the new chief executive of the Ibrox club.
Rangers, who publicly announced McCoist’s annual salary will rise to £750,000 for his notice period, are not presently in a position to fund an early settlement agreement for him to leave sooner.
McCoist will take charge of Rangers for today’s Championship fixture against Livingston at Ibrox, ahead of Monday’s annual general meeting at the stadium where Llambias and his fellow directors will seek approval for a fresh share issue. The club need to raise £8 million in January to see them through to the end of the season as a going concern.
Turmoil off the field has provided a consistently unsettling backdrop for McCoist’s managerial tenure since he replaced Walter Smith in the job three and a half years ago.
But poor results and performance levels by his team in recent weeks, leaving them nine points behind Hearts in the Championship title race, have intensified critical scrutiny of his managerial ability.
A thoughtful but relaxed McCoist certainly looked as if a significant weight had been lifted from his shoulders when he spoke to reporters at Murray Park yesterday.
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“I have to be truthful and say that once I made the decision there was a sense of relief there,” he said.
“I have made a decision that I won’t be here in a year. But the way I felt after I made the decision was effectively relief in the knowledge that I won’t be here in a year.
“The last three years or so has certainly been taxing and difficult at times. So the relief is probably there because I know I will definitely be able to spend time with my family and do things that I want to do myself.
“Without doubt, it was the hardest decision of my life to hand in my resignation. It is definitely a lot harder than the decision to take the job in the first place, that’s for sure. But it is the right decision.
“I had been thinking about it for a considerable time, for weeks. I just thought this was the right time to do it.
“I really wouldn’t comment on why I reached my decision. I just don’t think it would be helpful if I said what brought me to my decision, other than I’m looking forward to a year down the line when I can spend more time on myself and my family.
“I went into the meeting (with Easdale and Llambias) on Wednesday looking to discuss me handing in my notice. But at no time did I think I wouldn’t be walking out of it as Rangers manager. I was expecting to walk out of it as Rangers manager for the next 12 months and that’s the case.
“The meeting was very amicable as you would expect and hope. I think the amicable agreement is that I’m going to work my 12 months.
“How would I describe my relationship with the board? Absolutely fine. I attend board meetings, I’ve done a football report at every board meeting they’ve had recently, going back to when Graham Wallace was chief executive and all the way back.”
When it was put to him that many observers, including a sizeable contingent of the Rangers support, believe it would be best for him to leave immediately, McCoist replied: “I can understand that opinion and I respect it, but I have got a contract to honour and I’m not walking out on a contract because it’s not the right thing to do.”
The appointment of Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s right-hand man Llambias as chief executive increases the influence of the Sports Direct tycoon at Ibrox. In a statement to the stock exchange, Rangers said Llambias will be paid a “significantly lower” salary than previous chief executives in line with the current cost-cutting programme at the club.
David Somers, who had been acting chief executive but will now revert to his previous role as non-executive chairman, said: “I am delighted that Derek has agreed to step up to the chief executive role.
“This is a successful outcome to the process, announced on 27 October 2014, which involved interviewing a number of high-calibre candidates. Derek has impressed us with his grasp of the issues since joining the group and brings a wealth of experience, particularly from his time at Newcastle United, which we feel confident will be invaluable to Rangers.”
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