ALLY McCOIST has rebuffed accusations from Dundee United owner Stephen Thompson that Rangers were guilty of stifling Charlie Telfer’s talent.
Thompson made the claim this week while bemoaning the £204,000 compensation fee that an SPFL tribunal ordered the Tannadice club to pay Rangers for the 19-year-old midfielder.
United offered a £100,000 training fee for a player who made only one competitive appearance for the Ibrox club – as a substitute in a League One encounter. Since his move to Tannadice under freedom of contract in the summer Telfer has established himself in Jackie McNamara’s senior side, and last week earned the young player of the month award for November.
Thompson stated the “prohibitive” cost to United of Telfer’s move “protects clubs even in the event that those are responsible for players’ careers being stifled at a critical stage in their development”. He added it would deter sides from offering players an escape route to a “club where they have been offered a genuine first team opportunity.”
However, ahead of his team’s trip to face Queen of the South tonight, McCoist rejected any suggestion that Rangers were negligent in failing to give Telfer a platform to flourish. The Ibrox manager maintained that the midfielder did not enjoy the same first-team trajectory as Lewis Macleod, a regular since the club started out again in the fourth tier in 2012, because he needed protection from the physical environment within the lower tiers. The teenager “absolutely” would have been given games in the Championship this season, McCoist stated.
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“Charlie is an excellent talent, of that there can’t be any doubt,” the Rangers manager said. “One of the reasons we felt Charlie didn’t come in at the same time at Lewis Macleod – as talented as he was – was that we had to look after Charlie a little bit more.
“Lewis certainly handles the aggressive side of the game a lot better. But that should not be to the detriment of how we felt about [Telfer], or what hopes and aspirations we had for him at the football club.
“In the last couple of years, the standard of the leagues is such that the younger ones would certainly have needed protected, particularly in the first season. If we’d fielded a team of youngsters we wouldn’t have won the league. I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t think it would have happened.”
McCoist also questioned Thompson’s right to “moan” about the outcome of the tribunal process which is designed to compensate clubs who have spent time and money nurturing young talent.
“We spent a lot of time educating Charlie in the previous ten years or so,” McCoist said. “These are rules and regulations that are laid down. Everybody knows the rules. We know the rules, Charlie knows the rules, Stephen Thompson knows the rules. So I am not so sure I can understand people complaining about the rules when they know the rules. Very, very seldom will you get two clubs coming out of a tribunal happy with the situation. That is just not going to happen. I can understand Dundee United and Stephen Thompson’s frustration, but we are happier with the outcome of the tribunal than they are.”
Meanwhile, the Rangers manager acknowledged that there has been little happiness around the financially-stricken Ibrox club in recent times, with more job losses expected on the back of the ten redundancies made last month. The club have scrapped the giving of a £50 voucher and Christmas party for all staff, as attempts are made to address an £8 million black hole that requires Rangers to attract additional funding within the month to remain solvent.
“I can obviously understand there are few people within our staff who feel like having Christmas party with the redundancies and jobs losses we’ve had,” McCoist said. “At the same time I can understand the counter argument, which would be, let’s go and have a day and a couple of drinks as it is Christmas after all and we should spend some happy times together.
“But my overriding feeling is genuine concern and sadness that a lot of people have lost their jobs. Any time of the year is not a good time to lose your job, but going into the festive period probably makes it a little bit more difficult for everybody. After what we’ve been through in the last three years I’m not sure you could feel it much more, but I have to be honest and say I detect a relative sadness about the club when people have lost their jobs. That’s natural.”
• Lee Wallace will return for Rangers tonight at Queen of the South after missing the weekend win over Cowdenbeath for personal reasons.
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