RANGERS will stand by manager Ally McCoist, despite the club’s humiliating capitulation to Alloa in the Petrofac Training Cup.
It is understood that the financially-struggling club are unable to seriously contemplate a change of manager at this stage as they would need to find severance packages of an estimated £1.4 million for McCoist and his backroom staff. Rangers recently announced losses of £8.3m and, in October, were forced to accept a £2m emergency loan from shareholder and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.
It is also believed the weight of Ashley’s influence over Rangers’ affairs will help keep McCoist in his job as he attempts to salvage something from what has been another turbulent season on and off the pitch.
Rangers are lagging nine points behind Hearts in the Championship and, although they are in the League Cup semi-finals and last 16 of the Scottish Cup, Tuesday’s humbling 3-2 defeat by Alloa was a new low. Rangers had led 2-0 but shipped three goals in the final 18 minutes to crash out at the semi-final stage and leave McCoist facing another wave of criticism from fed-up fans.
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However, former Newcastle United and England defender Steve Howey reckons McCoist can thank his lucky stars that Ashley is calling the shots at Rangers – because that means his job is safe. Howey said: “I’d be very surprised if Ally McCoist is sacked. Mike Ashley just doesn’t do knee-jerk dismissals.
“Look at Alan Pardew at Newcastle. The fans at St James’ Park have wanted him out for well over a year and results weren’t going our way for a long time. But Ashley stuck by him and it has proved to be the right decision because he has turned things round.
“Obviously, Ally will be hurting at the moment after losing the other night – especially since they lost in the final last season – but that’s football. Everyone loses at some stage.
“He’ll be feeling devastated at the moment but Ally has been the one constant at the club since they went bust in 2012.”
So, even though fans are starting to turn on McCoist and there are fears that just 10,000 will turn up at Ibrox for the match against Cowdenbeath tomorrow, Howey argues that Ashley will tough it out.
“You can say many things about Mike Ashley but he’s definitely a good businessman and he’s spotted an opportunity at Ibrox. Newcastle fans give him grief but they’re one of the few clubs down here who record a profit every year.
“However, Ashley knows that he’ll never get to the Champions League with Newcastle so I think that, fairly soon, he’ll sell the club and concentrate fully on Rangers. Once they’re in the Premiership, he knows that they should have a 50-50 chance of winning the title so he’ll throw a bit of money at them, with European success being his aim. Ally has stuck with Rangers through thick and thin – and the thin has been proper thin – so being able to go out and buy players will be lovely for him.”
In another twist, it emerged yesterday that Rangers’ bid to catch Hearts in the race for the one automatic promotion spot will now be interrupted by an idle Saturday on 4 April – because Alloa need the day off to play Livingston in the Petrofac final 24 hours later.
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