Ally McCoist attacks ‘unfair’ SPFL scheduling

ALLY McCoist has accused the Scottish Professional Football League of unfair treatment towards Rangers and their supporters as they prepare for a third away fixture in seven days tomorrow.

Manager hits out as Rangers face third away game in seven days. Picture: Robert Perry

The Rangers manager claims the SPFL, formed last summer after the Scottish Premier League subsumed the Scottish Football League, ignored a request for the rescheduled League 1 fixture against Stenhousemuir at Ochilview to be played next midweek instead.

McCoist, who previously accused the SPL of having a “hostile agenda” towards Rangers when the newly constituted club were refused a place in the top flight following their financial collapse in 2012, sees no improvement in relations with the new league governing body.

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“It’s different initials but the same old story in the way our club is treated,” said McCoist. “This game against Stenhousemuir shouldn’t be played on Sunday, it should be in midweek. It will be our fourth game in 11 days and third away game in seven days, after playing at Dunfermline on Monday and Airdrie on Thursday.

“I think there’s something not right about that. The club had our say before they re-arranged the Stenhousemuir game, so it shows you how much they listen to us. To make matters worse, they are also sending our fans away up to Forfar on a Monday night for our next away game on 20 January.

“There’s no point in us raising the issue with the SPFL again, because they knew we weren’t happy with it. We asked them beforehand. At this time of the year, when money is scarce for everybody, they ask our fans to travel to a third away game in seven days. As I say, different initials, same old story.

“I just feel sorry for our supporters. It’s incredible – Dunfermline on a Monday night, Airdrie on a Thursday night, Stenhousemuir on a Sunday. At least they’ve got Forfar on a Monday night to look forward to. Our supporters are again not being treated well.”

Tomorrow’s match was originally due to take place on 14 December but was called off two hours before kick-off because of storm damage to a temporary stand at Ochilview built to house Rangers supporters.

“Stenhousemuir’s preferred option was to play it on Sunday which I can understand for financial reasons,” added McCoist. “But we made our feelings absolutely clear, we did not want to play on Sunday, we wanted to play on the following midweek when everybody had a free midweek.

“Four games in 11 days for any set of players is very, very difficult. We’ve been reasonably lucky with injuries, but Lewis Macleod went down against Airdrie and we’ve been suffering a little bit with one or two knocks. Ian Black has picked up a couple of kicks against Airdrie too. In an ideal world, they would have a longer time to recover. But it’s not really the players, although I’m obviously disappointed for the players, but I just think it’s really poor for the supporters.

“I definitely think our supporters are being taken for a ride. I understand more than anybody that we have to attract sponsors for the game and attract television audiences, I do appreciate that. But I just feel once again our supporters are being asked to go the length and breadth of the country where that shouldn’t necessarily be the case all the time. It’s just as well the Rangers supporters are a strong bunch.”

Rangers’ 1-0 win at Airdrie on Thursday maintained their comfortable 14-point lead at the top of League 1. McCoist is still waiting to learn what impact potential cost-cutting measures at Ibrox under new chief executive Graham Wallace may have on his first-team squad during the January transfer window.

He is due to meet Wallace early next week and remains hopeful he will not be forced to lose any of his key players, such as left-back Lee Wallace who has been linked with a move to Nottingham Forest.

“Until I’m told otherwise, it’s not a concern,” said McCoist. “I’m looking at our squad just now and I’m the same as any other manager. I’d obviously be looking to add bits and pieces to it. Listen, I haven’t had the conversation yet with the chief exec so until that happens, there’s no use worrying about something that might or might not happen and hopefully won’t happen.

“We have got players lined up in the event we can add to the squad. We wouldn’t be doing our job otherwise.

“It’s been extremely difficult because obviously it’s a specialised job for a chief scout and we don’t have one at the moment. Effectively, we are going by word of mouth from agents and other coaches and scouts who watch hundreds of games all over the place. It’s far from ideal and the sooner we can remedy that, the better.

“But if we got the green light to go, then we certainly have possible signing targets. I’ve got a Plan A and a Plan B – probably a Plan C as well. I’m planned out my nut at the moment!”