Ian Black: The fans will save Rangers

IAN BLACK has backed the Rangers support to rally to the cause if the off-field turmoil at Ibrox takes another turn for the worse.

Ian Black at training as Rangers prepare to face Falkirk. Picture: SNS
Ian Black at training as Rangers prepare to face Falkirk. Picture: SNS

The club’s board was forced to call an emergency share issue earlier this month as they sought to plug a £4million black-hole in their budget.

They fell £900,000 of their target and will now be forced to turn to investors again before the year is out.

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However, chief executive Graham Wallace met with Ally McCoist, his players and members of the Glasgow giants’ backroom staff on Friday to reassure them that the club was not in imminent danger.

But that has done little to placate angry supporters, who have already called for football board chairman Sandy Easdale to be sacked. Around 15,000 of the club’s followers have also refused to renew their season tickets in protest at the way the club is being run.

Even so, Black believes the Ibrox faithful will not allow the club to be put in danger again.

The former Hearts midfielder - who was forced to take up a part-time job as a painter and decorator during Vladimir Romanov’s chaotic spell as Jambos owner - said: “These off-field matters can be distracting if it goes too far and gets to the situation when you don’t get paid. That’s when it certainly affects you.

“But it’s not going to get to that stage. It’s too big a club. The fans have helped out and stood by us through thick and thin. They won’t let us go into that situation.

“The board have told us as it stands it is going to be fine. We can’t affect that so I don’t want to pay any attention to things that will interfere with my performances.”

Boss McCoist also addressed the club’s staff at last week’s meeting and insisted he and Wallace were delivering a positive message.

“Graham met with everybody - not just the players,” he explained. “We had a staff meeting at Ibrox, which we have been known to have in the past, and it involved the staff from the stadium, the players and a lot of the staff from Murray Park.

“I did read somewhere that it was a secret meeting. It was not a secret meeting, that’s for sure. All the staff knew about it and were going to it.

“It was fine. Graham addressed the staff, as did I for five or 10 minutes. That’s all there was to it.

“There was nothing at all said that would scare anybody. Quite the opposite.

“We just wanted to keep everybody informed of what the plans and hopes are for the future and I would safely say it was very beneficial.

“It wasn’t so much that people wanted reassurance. They just wanted information and a chat about what direction the club was going.

“It was nothing more than that and it was a good idea. It’s something Graham is keen to do again in future.”

McCoist was speaking just hours after Rangers confirmed to the London Stock Exchange that the stake held by Mike Ashley in the club had fallen from 4.56 per cent to 3.68 per cent.

The Newcastle United owner decided against taking part in the open offer - which raised £3.13million after 15.6 million new shares were sold - meaning his holding was diluted. He does, however, retain three million shares.

Investment group Laxey Partners strengthened their stance as Rangers’ single biggest stakeholder after buying up more than five million shares. They now control just over 13 million shares - or around 16.3 per cent of the club.

Meanwhile, Black has urged his team-mates to shake off Saturday’s sloppy display against Alloa.

Rangers could only draw 1-1 with Barry Smith’s part-times at the Indodrill Stadium but now travel to Falkirk on Tuesday looking to claim a League Cup quarter-final slot.

Black said: “We came off the game against Inverness last week buzzing that we had knocked out a top-flight team, so it was disappointing the way we started against Alloa.

“We picked up in the second half but obviously we have come in and we’ve spoke about it, we know what we did wrong and where we can improve. We’re ready to go again and the gaffer’s got us sorted.”

Rangers have been hit with a double injury blow ahead of Tuesday after Lewis Macleod and Nicky Clark were both ruled out.

Midfielder Macleod limped off with foot and ankle damage during the first half of the draw with Alloa, while striker Clark - who was also replaced before the break - has a shoulder problem.

Both men could also miss next Monday’s league clash with Hibernian, while keeper Cammy Bell (shoulder) and frontman Kenny Miller (calf) are also out. But Lee Wallace should be fit to face the Bairns after he was rested at the weekend after complaining of a stiff calf.

Provisional squad: Simonsen, Wallace, Zaliukas, McGregor, Mohsni, Shiels, McCulloch, Law, Black, Templeton, Peralta, Boyd, Smith, Robinson, Faure, Crawford, Daly, Foster, Aird.