Rangers deny making Ian Cathro approach

Ian Cathro: Rangers target. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Ian Cathro: Rangers target. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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Rangers have denied making an official approach to Valencia to speak to assistant head coach Ian Cathro following reports yesterday linking the Scot with the Ibrox club.

The 28-year-old is currently assisting Nuno Espirito Santo at Valencia and together they have helped lead the club to fourth place in La Liga, just five points behind leaders Real Madrid.

Cathro is becoming hot property in coaching circles and one report yesterday morning claimed that his name was being discussed at boardroom level at Ibrox. A later report from a radio station in Spain claimed an approach from Rangers had already been received by Valencia.

Despite his youth, Cathro is already regarded as an up and coming coach in Europe. He is credited with revolutionising the youth set-up at Dundee United after being brought in six years ago by then manager Craig Levein.

He had already established a Cathro coaching clinic on Tayside credited with unearthing such talents as former United starlet Ryan Gauld, who has since moved on to Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon.

Cathro followed Levein to the Scottish Football Association after the latter’s appointment as Scotland manager.

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He took up a youth coaching role within the SFA’s regional performance school programme but moved abroad to take up a position with Portuguese side Rio Ave, where Santo, who he met at an SFA coaching course, recruited him as his assistant. When Santo was appointed manager of Valencia after helping Rio Ave qualify for the Europa League, he turned again to Cathro.

While Cathro may well return to Scotland at some point, Rangers reacted last night after the report on Spanish radio claiming Valencia were already considering an official approach from the Ibrox club. A Rangers spokesperson denied this was the case.

Kenny McDowall is currently manager of Rangers on a caretaker basis following last month’s decision to place Ally McCoist on gardening leave. During the club’s AGM in December Ibrox chief executive Derek Llambias stated that McDowall would remain in position until the end of the season, “possibly longer”.

However, the financial position at Rangers remains an ever-present concern, with Llambias having been asked to assure SPFL officials the Ibrox club can even survive as long as the end of the season. The SPFL was moved to act amid reports HMRC issued Rangers with a winding-up order for unpaid National Insurance fees.

Llambias is understood to have guaranteed their survival while also alleviating concerns over the National Insurance payment. While fellow Championship club Livingston were handed a five-point deduction and £10,000 fine by the SPFL after pleading guilty to defaulting on payments to HMRC, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has already denied that Rangers breached rules, specifically rule E20 which concerns tax obligations in relation to payments made to players.

The SPFL were unaware that a situation with HMRC had occurred despite an early warning system being in place which clubs must agree to as part of their membership of the league. There was no contact from HMRC regarding the Ibrox club an SPFL spokesperson confirmed yesterday. “All 42 clubs give express permission for HMRC to inform us if there was any fault on tax due, but there was no notification [from HMRC] received,” the spokesperson said.

Rangers football chairman Sandy Easdale has already given the club a loan of £500,000 to avoid a winding-up order from HMRC. Rangers announced the interest free loan earlier this week in a statement to the Stock Exchange.

This loan has been secured against the transfer fee, estimated at £1 million, from Brentford following the transfer of midfielder Lewis Macleod. Rangers recently rejected a possible takeover bid of £18.5m from American banker Robert Sarver, believing it “undervalued” the Ibrox club.

But in a statement to the Stock Exchange earlier this week the club stated further funding will be required by the end of this month. Llambias was summoned to Hampden Park on Tuesday amid concerns the Ibrox club might again enter administration. Llambias gave an assurance this was not the case and payments such as the one due to HMRC were now in hand.

Llambias and chairman David Somers are also currently in investment discussions with the consortium of wealthy fans headed by Douglas Park. The Three Bears, as the consortium is known, purchased 16 per cent worth of shares in the club at the end of last year.

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