Ally McCoist has had a few bad days at the office since he took charge of Rangers, and just days after his side were crowned Third Division champions, storm clouds again circled the Ibrox manager at another uncomfortable press conference.
First, McCoist revealed that he would ask Rangers chief executive Charles Green to give supporters “the answers they deserve” over Craig Whyte’s apparent claims that he was involved in the new company that initially took control at Ibrox last year. Then, to cap a torrid week, the manager publicly appealed to his players to behave responsibly in the wake of Francisco Sandaza’s sacking over a hoax phonecall.
The claims concerning Green caught McCoist by surprise.
Green confirmed to a newspaper yesterday that Whyte was threatening legal action against him and former Rangers director Imran Ahmad, demanding a quarter of Green’s shares or £1 million a year for life. The legal action reportedly centres on Whyte’s claim that he was behind the Sevco 5088 company which bought the assets and business of administration-hit oldco Rangers, of which he was majority shareholder, in June last year.
The assets, which were bought for £5.5 million following the failure of a Company Voluntary Arrangement proposal to creditors, were soon transferred to Green’s Sevco Scotland company, which later became The Rangers Football Club. Whyte reportedly argues that this transfer was illegal.
When his consortium was named preferred bidder by administrators Duff and Phelps in May 2012, Green confirmed he had met Whyte and secured an agreement to acquire his shares for a nominal fee. But McCoist admitted he had been unaware of any of the new claims. Speaking at his pre-match conference ahead of Rangers’ clash with Queen’s Park tomorrow, McCoist said: “On that, I’ll be completely honest with you, I only read it this morning, I didn’t know anything about it last night.
“It’s complete news to me so I’ll definitely be meeting Charles and having a chat with him. The real people I feel sorry for are the supporters. The supporters have kept this club going in the last 18 months and I definitely feel for them. Just when they seem to be getting a bit of clarity, something else comes out of leftfield. I would be very hopeful that our supporters can get the answers they deserve.”
When asked whether he trusted what Green told him about the club, McCoist said: “Of course I do. I don’t think he lies to me. Not at all. I’ll just have a chat with him. I’ve had reassurances and we do chat on a regular basis. I don’t have any doubt that he will sit down and tell me the truth of what’s been happening and, as importantly, where we see the club going.”
Green was quoted in the newspaper report as saying “we needed to keep him [Whyte] sweet to prise the club away from him” but last night released a statement in which he insisted there was never any possibility of Whyte being involved in his consortium.
“We all need to be absolutely clear on what is happening,” said Green’s statement. “These are distorted and malicious allegations coming from a man who is completely discredited and now under police investigation. I am happy, as is Imran Ahmad, to become the subject of any investigations and we are more than willing to answer any and all questions about our conduct while communicating with Mr Whyte in attempts to take ownership of his shares in the club.
“Of course there were discussions and agreements with regard to his shares and debenture release... however there was never any possibility of him being involved with us in the ownership of this club.”
McCoist began the week by reflecting on Rangers’ title win, secured last weekend, but the Sandaza episode and the departure of chief scout Neil Murray, not to mention the Green-Whyte row, have overshadowed that.
Sandaza was initially suspended while the club investigated comments the Spanish striker made in a conversation with someone masquerading as an agent, which was subsequently broadcast online. Sandaza, who revealed details of his salary during the call, had his contract terminated this week after Rangers claimed he was in breach of the contract. McCoist is keen to avoid a repeat of the incident and, particularly in an era of social media, wants the rest of his players to act with care.
He said: “My views on modern technology, in terms of Facebook and Twitter, is that I do believe it has a lot of positives. But, sadly, it has a lot of negatives too. Everybody has to be careful and has a responsibility to do and say the right thing. We’ve got a real responsibility to behave in the correct manner.”
Rangers also parted company with chief scout Murray earlier this week. McCoist confirmed last week that his former Ibrox team-mate had been suspended, before Rangers, who refused to expand on the reasons for Murray’s departure, insisted it was not because of any “scandal”.
Yesterday, McCoist said: “Neil is actually still there for us and has been kept on in a consultancy capacity. I have nothing other than the utmost respect for Neil Murray and the work that he did, and the help that he gave me personally, at the football club. I think Neil is content with the way things have worked out.”