Rangers target Derek McInnes appears to have taken a major step towards his Aberdeen exit after holding showdown talks with Pittodrie chief Stewart Milne.
The Dons boss and his assistant Tony Docherty did not take their team’s training session on Wednesday morning and instead headed for a face-to-face meeting with Milne after the Reds chairman rejected Rangers’ request to speak to McInnes.
Rangers finally made it clear they want the 46-year-old to be Pedro Caixinha’s replacement at the helm after six weeks of rumour and speculation.
But their opening approach was immediately knocked back, with the Dons saying on Tuesday night that “permission has been refused”.
It now appears that the ball is in McInnes’ court, with reports suggesting he may have to consider resigning from his Pittodrie post in order to force through a move to his boyhood heroes, who he served as a player between 1995 and 2000.
Rangers decided to wait until last week’s doubleheader with the Reds was out of the way before making their move.
The Dons lost both clashes to their arch rivals and now face a huge fixture at Dundee on Friday night as they look to reclaim second spot in the Premiership from the Ibrox men.
The disruption caused by McInnes’ constant links with the Rangers vacancy has frustrated and angered both the Dons boss and his chairman.
And Milne’s patience will be tested further after preparation for the Dens Park showdown was left in the hands of first-team coach Barry Robson and under-20s boss Paul Sheerin on Wednesday.
Rangers will need to pay a fee in the region of £1million to prise both McInnes and Docherty out of the new contracts they signed back in the summer which tie them to the Granite City until 2020.
But Rangers insiders insist the two clubs have yet to even discuss compensation figures.
A Rangers source told Press Association Sport: “This whole matter is now in Aberdeen’s hands.
“Rangers have made their move but they now just have to wait and see what happens.
“The outcome of Derek’s meeting with the chairman up there will decide the next move.”