Rangers chairman Dave King has revealed he is considering legal action against former manager Mark Warburton over his contentious departure from the Ibrox club last month.
King believes there is “no case” for the League Managers’ Association to pursue Rangers, as has been mooted, over the exit of Warburton, his assistant David Weir and head of recruitment Frank McParland on 10 February.
All three men have subsequently moved to Nottingham Forest, which King feels was an “engineered outcome” of the events which led to Rangers announcing they had accepted the resignation of Warburton and his colleagues. Through an LMA statement, the three men then denied they had resigned.
But King, who in a withering assessment of Warburton has also suggested he was too “thin-skinned” to cope with the job at Rangers, is adamant he was provided notice of their intention to quit. The South Africa-based businessman, in Glasgow this week to meet Warburton’s replacement Pedro Caixinha, remains irked that Rangers missed out on compensation from Nottingham Forest for the remaining two and half years of the Englishman’s contract. Rangers also had to pay compensation in order to recruit Portuguese coach Caixinha before his contract at Qatari club Al-Gharafi expired in May.
“I’d have been surprised if he [Warburton] didn’t end up at Nottingham Forest,” said King. “My disappointment is that the way it was managed resulted – as matters stand at the moment – in Rangers not getting compensation which normally we’d have been entitled to if the management team had walked out. Once again we’re on the wrong side of the cashflow, through no fault of our own.
“There is no case (for the LMA). The case really is what Rangers now do. I’m going to have a legal discussion. On the face of it, whether it’s Nottingham Forest or the management team, it’s a possibility but we just have to see how we feel about that.
“It certainly appears to me that what you’ve got now is an engineered outcome, to the benefit of Nottingham Forest. I was approached directly, when they [Warburton, Weir and McParland] were in negotiation with Nottingham Forest to ask if Rangers would waive compensation. That was the first I was aware they were even talking to Forest.
“My response is the same as I am saying today, that we would not waive the compensation because if the management team does walk out and we have to replace them, we might have to pay compensation for our new manager.
“But I said I’d be flexible in how they paid the compensation. They might not have to pay it all up front but maybe spread it over a period of time. That was taken out of our hands with the whole resignation debacle and they’ve all ended up at Nottingham Forest without us getting compensation and we’ve had to pay compensation. That’s exactly where I didn’t want to be.
“You can’t un-resign. They resigned, we accepted the resignation, they decided to un-resign. We said ‘you can’t un-resign’ and they have all ended up at Nottingham Forest. I think one can join the dots quite clearly.”
King admits his own relationship with Warburton had deteriorated over the course of this season.
“It just changed a little bit towards the end because, quite frankly, I didn’t appreciate some of the comments that I felt were getting into the media that were emanating from Mark,” he added. “So I wasn’t as confident having a confidential conversation with him, quite frankly.
“He didn’t owe me anything but I just think he came into the club and the club gave him a chance to showcase himself. He did very well for the club and the club did very well for him. Things were going well but I think it could have been handled a lot better. If Mark really felt he wanted to get away he could have had that conversation with me or with [managing director] Stewart Robertson or whoever he wanted to speak to. He could have said ‘look, it’s not working, I’m finding Glasgow very tough’, or whatever the reason was, and we could have planned the exit. We could have done it differently. But I don’t think it should have happened in such a ramshackle manner.
“I don’t think it was a mistake appointing Mark. He did a lot of good at the club. If I look at what Pedro is inheriting in terms of the academy and the structures he likes, Mark was very instrumental in putting that in place. I just think the step up was very difficult for him this year.
“Some of his player choices – and remember they were his choices – proved difficult for him as well. Only Mark can really answer it, but I just think it got tough for him and he didn’t see his future here. Mark’s temperament is different, as you know. It’s not a criticism. He is a little bit thin-skinned. In an environment like Glasgow, having a thin skin is certainly not an advantage.”