Ally McCoist airs Rangers finance fears
ALLY McCoist has expressed his unease after fresh doubts were raised over the ability of Rangers to continue trading without the threat of liquidation.
The publication of Rangers’ interim accounts on Thursday was accompanied by warnings from chairman David Somers, endorsed by accountants Deloitte, that “material uncertainty” existed in relation to the Ibrox club’s financial operations if season ticket income for the 2014-15 campaign is not forthcoming.
The Union of Fans, a coalition of Rangers supporters’ groups, are backing a proposal from former director Dave King to set up a trust fund in which season-ticket money would be held until they were satisfied by the strategy of the current board.
Rangers manager McCoist stopped short of urging supporters to renew their season tickets directly to the club as usual but admitted his uncertainty over how the trust-fund concept would operate in practice. “At this moment in time I’m not going to get involved in it,” said McCoist. “We are no different from any other club in the respect that season-ticket sales are a massive part of the income and the turnover.
“I don’t know the exact ins and outs of the problems that would happen if money was put into bank accounts and the club weren’t to get all the money.
“All I would say is that the Rangers supporters have supported this club unbelievably. Never mind for the last couple of years, but for the last 140 years, and I believe they will continue to do that and they will make the right decisions.
“Of course [Somers’ doubts about the club continuing as a going concern] would worry me, both as manager and as a supporter. That would be a concern for everybody who has anything to do with the club.
“If the chairman feels that has to be said, it is probably an unpleasant reminder to everybody involved at the club that we have a long, long way to go.”
In his statement to shareholders, Somers had also criticised last summer’s recruitment of nine new players by Rangers at a time when they already had the second-highest wage bill in Scottish football while operating in the third tier.
“I don’t think that is a criticism of me,” added McCoist. “The chairman obviously knows I don’t do the finances at the club. If indeed it is a criticism, you’d have to ask the chairman who it is a criticism of. If he thought it was to the adverse effect of the club, then he is entitled to make that view known.
“We felt we needed to bring a lot of players in to win the league, to get to the final of the Ramsdens Cup, to get to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup. We have done that.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve looked at the interim accounts but I’ve not had a lot of time to digest them. I have been concentrating on the football and will continue to do so. We now have a board and a chief executive more than capable of handling the other side of things.”
Former board member King, now back home in South Africa following his recent trip to Glasgow to meet the current Ibrox regime, claimed earlier this week that around £50 million of investment in Rangers would be required to allow the club to challenge Celtic at the summit of Scottish football and compete regularly in Europe.
Rangers chief executive Graham Wallace is nearing the conclusion of his 120-day review of the club’s financial operations and McCoist remains hopeful that common ground can be found between King and a board he has repeatedly challenged.
“I’ve said all along that we need investment to get back to the top, there’s no doubt about that,” added McCoist. “Graham and the board have said that too, so it’s good that everybody feels like that and shares that opinion.
“Where the investment comes from, we will have to wait and see. In the meantime it’s good everybody agrees investment is needed. We lost millions when we lost the players we did after administration two years ago. To get back to the standard of where we were, investment is needed.
“The fact that Dave King and the board agreed with each other’s philosophy of where the club would hopefully be in the next couple of years is a good thing. I think that’s a communal thing with all Rangers people. Everybody shares the same hope and belief of where we want to be and how we’ll get there.
“I am currently sitting down with Graham Wallace three times a week, speaking about a full range of topics involving the football side of the club. We talk about the squad, potential changes to the squad, scouting and team analysis. All these talks are ongoing and that’s an important message to get out there.
“There are also a lot of issues going on outside my domain, involving the board, Dave King and the supporters. All three of those parties are happy for me to concentrate on the football.”