HE does not seem to care for the fact, but it is surely inarguable that Rangers manager Mark Warburton has profound financial advantages over other rivals for the Championship. The club’s £5 million budget is ten times the average outlay elsewhere in the league and around double that of anticipated closest challengers and opponents at Ibrox today, Hibernian.
Although the wording may have been a little clumsy, the basic contention of Easter Road manager Alan Stubbs that brought a bite-back from Warburton amounted to it being very easy for the Rangers manager to improve last year’s shoddy Ibrox side owing to the calibre of player the club’s wage level allowed him to attract.
Warburton has no issues with Stubbs but the former Brentford boss seems to have an issue over anyone daring to suggest that there should be a correlation between outcomes and football spend. It is hardly a revolutionary concept – just as it is hardly unfair on the Rangers manager to expect the Ibrox team to be able to breeze their way to the top flight in operating with the second highest wage bill in the country.
The failure to do so last year represents one of the most monumental muck-ups in Scottish football. That and Warburton’s experiences in leading Brentford to the English Championship play-offs last season he deployed as evidence that it is not simply the case that money buys success in football.
“I think if you look around the football market, it’s littered with teams that have spent money badly,” he said. “It’s not the size of your budget, it’s how you use your available budget. Last year I had one of the smaller budgets and performed well. It’s about your homework, your research, your diligence to make sure you take the right characters to your football club. So I’m not having that one. You can spend £50 million on a player and get it completely wrong. You can spend £500,000 on a player and they get on great.”
Warburton suggested that what could be “overspend” afforded to him by chairman Dave King has been greatly exaggerated. Yet he did not dispute the £5m budgetary figure directly, when it was put to him how much more his club’s investment in the first-team squad is compared with the sums typically forked out by other sides in the Championship.
“That’s presuming people know what our budget is,” he said coyly. “I’ve heard some wild figures about our budget and how much our players earn. You have to laugh. You have to laugh at some of the figures being bandied around. It’s far from true. I think some people add nought on some occasions or two noughts. The fact is we’ve used what money we have, I think, wisely.
“I think the players that have come in have made an immediate impression and they will be valuable balance sheet items for the club going forward. That’s how I see it. It’s not about me talking about other people’s budget. Just worry about your own budget and get on with it. That’s not directed to anyone in particular. That’s just football. It’s not about me worrying about other people’s budgets. What do I have to spend? How do we spend it? Is it done wisely. If not, we lose our jobs.
“The backing has been tremendous. The dialogue within the club has been very good and the passion for the club is very evident. We know there are changes to be made and they have been very helpful in implementing these changes. I’m really happy that we have the support we need.”