Rangers chairman Dave King was “not surprised” that Mark Warburton had handed in his resignation in what has been a whirlwind few days at Ibrox.
In a statement on the Rangers website King confirmed that the club had accepted the resignation of Warburton, David Weir and Frank McParland, only for the trio, via a representative, to request that the resignation be deterred until the trio found a new club.
Last night’s revelations prompted much speculation, with the statement confirming the trio’s departure coming out of the blue before it appeared to have been removed from the club’s website. it was no more than a crash but only added to a fiasco as Warburton told reporters that the resignation was news to him.
King spoke of Warburton’s ambition to manage in the English Premier League using Rangers as a stepping stone, while outlining a number of issues that have arisen over the season, including concerns over recruitment and leaks within the club.
“There were rumours that the management team (presumably their agent) was negotiating with English clubs and, in one instance, I was informally approached to ask if the club would waive compensation if the management team was to leave,” King said. “While this was unsubstantiated by direct confirmation from the club in question, I was alert to a conversation that Mark Warburton had with me after joining the club in which he advised me that his long-term ambition was to manage in the EPL and he viewed Rangers as a stepping-stone to achieve this. His comments to the media simultaneously reinforced his present unhappiness at the club.
“I was therefore not surprised when the management team’s agent approached the club’s Managing Director Stewart Robertson to request a meeting which was held in Glasgow on Monday this week. The outcome of this meeting was that the agent subsequently offered that Mark, David and Frank would resign with immediate effect without compensation as long as the club, in turn, agreed to waive compensation from any new Club that they signed for. After discussion the Board accepted this offer and employment was immediately terminated. In order for us to achieve our ambitions we need employees that, like your board members, will always put Rangers first.
“While we were dealing with the admin and press releases relating to the resignation the agent again contacted us and asked to defer the resignation until the management had secured a new club. I assume that the new deal had somehow collapsed at the last minute. The Board met to consider this request but resolved to hold them to the original agreement.”
King outlined the key elements for progressing the club after taking over, stating this season’s ambition was to be competitive on the club’s return to the top-flight and to qualify for Europe before investing further next season to build a squad which could compete for the title and progress in Europe.
King confirmed that £18 million of the estimated £30 million that would be needed has already been invested because the club did not stick to their outline. He went on to say that it is likely that more than £30 million will have to be spent.
“We hired, at short notice, a relatively untested management team that recruited a number of players and introduced a style of play that was pleasing to our supporters. Significant investment was made on and off the park and the Championship was ultimately won in some style. The season was an unqualified success and the management team was rewarded with a vastly improved contract.
“This season we did not stick to our plan of signing five or six players because the manager appealed to the board for additional signings. Despite the concern about departing from our plan of prudent phased investment, the board backed the manager’s request for accelerated investment. This placed us significantly above the football resources available to our competitors (other than Celtic) and was expected to ensure that we finished a strong second in the league and had a squad that could be added to, close season, to make a strong impact in the Europa League qualifiers. While I still believe that we can finish a strong second, I am stating the obvious to admit that we are not where we anticipated we would be at this stage of the season and we have not repeated the success that we had with our signings from the previous season.
“It is the duty of the board to take steps to get things back on track. That is what our supporters trust us to do and rightly demand that we do. We remain 100 per cent committed to the plan we commenced with and that the supporters continue to endorse resoundingly.”
“£18 million of the originally estimated £30 million investment has already been made. Ultimately, the overall investment in any football team is driven by the net player spend and, given that we are behind target with our squad, there may be a further need to accelerate investment at the end of this season. It is my present personal view that we will, in all likelihood, invest more than £30 million before we are where we want to be but this will be revisited once we have a new permanent management team in place.”
King spoke of Warburton’s inexperience dealing with certain situations, including facing questions from the board with regards to his signing policy.
“Ahead of the Board meeting at the end of January, I advised the manager that the board wished to review our recruitment plan and performance over the previous two windows. This was a routine request and was timely given the concerns that everyone at the club has with regard to the high level of wages we were paying relative to the performance on the pitch. In particular, a large portion of our wage bill was not even seeing regular playing time.
“Under normal circumstances such a review would remain confidential. However, in this instance, your board’s routine questioning of management was leaked to the media and conveyed as being a negative reflection of the board’s attitude to the manager and the recruitment department. It was confirmed to me that the leak did not come from a board member.
“Irrespective of who leaked confidential information, it is clear from subsequent media comments that the manager did not respond well to the board reviewing his recruitment activity. This is a strange position to adopt and, in my personal experience, is not a position that a more experienced manager would adopt. No manager in the world can reasonably expect to be beyond scrutiny.”
The process is now underway to recruit a new management team to take Rangers forward.
“We are now in the process of reviewing the best interim and long-term solution for ensuring that a modern and robust footballing structure is put in place that will continue with and entrench the footballing philosophy that we have in place. We also must protect and support the marvellous work that has been achieved by the Academy over the last two years.”