Warburton said on Sky Sports late on Friday that he had not chosen to terminate his contract. Yesterday, in a joint statement with his assistant, David Weir, and the club’s former head of recruitment, Frank McParland, and released through the League Managers Association, that contention was placed in writing – which it would appear is not how the deposed trio ended their time at the Ibrox club.
It was always likely that there would be some comeback from the trip in the wake of Rangers chairman Dave King’s rambling press release on Saturday evening that contended the management team’s agent had effectively tendered their resignations in a meeting a week past Monday.
Warburton, Weir and McParland have batted the ball into the court of Rangers – now looking for a director of football as well as a manager as they seek an internal restructure – by putting on record that their former employers have failed to answers questions the LMA have put to them over the end of their employment at the club.
Sources close to the trio and their agent, Dave Lockwood, have said that legal representatives have told them to “go in hard” on the matter of compensation, believed to be in the region of £1 million if Rangers removed the men without their agreement.
“Much has been said over the last few days relating to our departure from Rangers Football Club,” read the statement. “At this stage, for legal reasons, it is inappropriate for us to comment in any great detail on our departure from the club.
“However, given that the club has seen fit to make detailed public statements, it is important that we should clarify certain matters and as such we would like to formally place on record, that at no stage did we resign from our positions at Rangers.
“It is a matter of surprise to us, and to the League Managers Association (LMA), which is advising all three of us, that despite its detailed public statements, the club has not answered key questions put to it by the LMA, in writing, requesting an explanation of why it suggested that we resigned from our positions.”
Rangers stated unequivocally on Friday night that the men had resigned and the following afternoon King elaborated on the sequence that brought to an end Warburton’s 18 months in charge. In a long address, he also took issue with Warburton over his commitment to the club and how he dealt with boardroom appraisal for his transfer activity and team building across a Premiership season which has failed to deliver on expectations.
King claimed that after a meeting a week past Monday, their agent “subsequently offered that Mark, David and Frank would resign with immediate effect without compensation as long as the club, in turn, agreed to waive compensation from any new club that they signed for.
“After discussion the board accepted this offer and employment was immediately terminated. While we were dealing with the admin and press releases relating to the resignation the agent again contacted us and asked to defer the resignation until the management had secured a new club. I assume that the new deal had somehow collapsed at the last minute. The board met to consider this request but resolved to hold them to the original agreement.”
The obvious questions not answered in this explanation of the parting with Warburton and his team relate to why the word of an agent would be accepted as binding by Rangers. There is no suggestion that Warburton, Weir or McParland were in attendance at the key meeting. Nor that they had themselves confirmed they would resign, with the believed interest from Nottingham Forest and the boardroom disquiet over lack of progress from the Ibrox side combining to make the trio and Rangers hardly unreceptive to a parting of the ways.
Yet, with no written or even direct verbal communication of an intent to resign from Warburton, Weir and McParland, it is hard to see on what grounds Rangers believe they should not still be paying the trio, or have come to some settlement over contracts with more than two years to run.
Yesterday’s LMA statement acknowledged more cordial relations: “We sincerely thank the Rangers fans for their unwavering passion and dedication. We had the good fortune to meet so many outstanding individuals and supporters of the club and we will always value their words of encouragement. We wish them great success for the seasons ahead.
“The current group of players, together with the staff at the training ground and Ibrox, have borne the huge weight of responsibility of taking a massive club back to the top flight. They should be proud of their togetherness and their work ethic. It has been a pleasure to work with them, and we would like to thank each and every one of them for their commitment and contribution.”