DCSIMG

McCoist frets over ‘fragile’ Rangers

Rangers shareholders James, left, and Sandy Easdale at Ibrox with Graham Wallace. Sandy Easdale is worried about the clubs finances. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS Group

Rangers shareholders James, left, and Sandy Easdale at Ibrox with Graham Wallace. Sandy Easdale is worried about the clubs finances. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS Group

  • by ALAN PATTULLO
 

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has admitted major shareholder Sandy Easdale’s description of the Ibrox club’s finances as “fragile” is a significant concern ahead of today’s publication of a 120-day business review.

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has admitted major shareholder Sandy Easdale’s description of the Ibrox club’s finances as “fragile” is a significant concern ahead of today’s publication of a 120-day business review.

McCoist was visibly taken aback when he heard Easdale had already given an interview to BBC Scotland yesterday, ahead of the manager’s own press 
commitments before tomorrow’s final home league of the season against Stranraer. Although Rangers will be presented with the League 1 championship trophy after the game, it is today’s long-awaited business review, prepared by chief executive Graham Wallace, that dominates the agenda at Ibrox.

Staff at the club are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the review and whether it will impact on their jobs amid fears of further cost-cutting. McCoist said that the welfare of employees was of paramount concern.

“Nothing’s changed in my opinion with regards the livelihoods of the staff,” he said. “That’s arguably the most important thing. Obviously the future and health of the club is of vital importance, but without doubt the people within the football club and their livelihoods are extremely important.”

Easdale, who is also chairman of the club’s football board, yesterday admitted Rangers were “at a crossroads”. The businessman urged supporters to keep buying season tickets. The most recent set of interim accounts published by the Ibrox club saw accountants Deloitte note that “the company has made key assumptions in relation to the timing of season ticket monies”, adding that uncertainty over the receipt of season ticket income indicated “the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

Compromising the club’s plans is a strategy of some fans, backed by former Ibrox director and potential investor Dave King, to withhold season ticket money in a fund. The sum will only be released when certain conditions are met by the board.

Season-ticket sales to date were described as “slow” by Easdale. Also concerning for McCoist was the major shareholder’s sopinion Rangers could not survive another administration.

“In 140 years, the club’s gone into administration once,” said Easdale. “I don’t think it would survive a second one. So I would ask every loyal Rangers fan – and I pick my words correctly in saying ‘loyal Rangers fan’ – supports the club at this time and gives it a chance.”

It was this kind of rhetoric McCoist admitted was troubling, although he had not yet been fully briefed on Easdale’s comments. “He told the BBC that?” asked McCoist. “That’s news to me. I wouldn’t react to it until I had time to digest it to be honest. But if that’s what he’s said then that would be a little bit concerning.”

The manager, who had a series of meetings yesterday with club hierarchy, was cautious when asked to comment on what he expected would be the contents of the review.

“I would be hopeful of non-negative news,” he said. “We will react accordingly to the news we get. I don’t want to pre-empt this. There is no point in guessing what might or might not happen.”

Earlier in the day Easdale had admitted he was uncertain what the future held for Rangers. “At the end of the day, the club is at a crossroads at the moment and a fragile position,” he said. “It can either go forward with a strategic view, with a long-term view, steady as she goes, or be pulled apart in other directions.”

The bus tycoon also outlined his concern over season ticket renewals. He said: “I don’t actually know the figures but I think there are a couple of situations there; we’re a couple of weeks early. People are waiting for a report. At this moment in time, ticket sales are slow.”

McCoist, meanwhile, is braced for being told there are limited funds with which to strengthen his current squad, who have gone through the current league season unbeaten. He said that being challenged to win the Championship title next season with an equal or even lesser budget would “go with the territory” of being Rangers manager in the current times.

“It’s not a concern because I accept it,” he shrugged. “Whether I like it or think it’s right or wrong is immaterial – I accept it. It goes with the territory and I’ll have to handle that.

“The budget has dropped in the region of 70 per cent of two or three years ago and it’s dropped again this year from last year. But what everyone needs to realise is that I don’t set the budget. I didn’t give the new players their wages, I had nothing to do with that, that was the previous regime, so you’d have to ask any questions relating to that to them. I was only working within the parameters that were given to me. I wasn’t the one who offered them x amount of thousand pounds a week. That wasn’t my gig. I just wanted to play them and thankfully I got the players.”

McCoist is relieved that at least his options, if he has any, will become clearer by the end of today when it comes to the matter of signing players. The club have been linked with moves for Motherwell defender Shaun Hutchinson and St Mirren midfielder Kenny McLean, as well as Gavin Gunning and Kris Boyd, of Dundee United and Kilmarnock respectively. More crucial, McCoist pointed out, is the need to sort out the futures of players nearing the end of their contracts. “I’ve still only spoken to two players but in the crazy situation we are in, I haven’t been able to offer them anything,” he revealed. “If I get the go-ahead we would be interested in talking to them.

“That’s all I can say to them,” he added. “It’s anything but ideal. My priority is to speak to the guys here at the club first. That’s the very least they deserve.”

The Union of Fans, a coalition of Rangers supporters, issued a statement last night hitting back at Easdale’s comments. It said: “The financial position of the club is not down to lack of support or loyalty from any of our fans, it is down to two years of mismanagement and the squandering of huge sums of money.

“We would like to know why Mr Easdale is being pushed out to speak on behalf of a PLC board he is not part of. Mr ­Easdale’s comments about the financial position of the club are share-price sensitive, as are his comments about possible ­administration.

“These comments directly contradict those of the CEO, Graham Wallace, who is on record as saying that a second administration is not a possibility.

“Once again huge question marks are raised over corporate governance at Rangers by Mr Easdale’s role at the club, which has never been clarified.”

 

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