Rangers: Ally McCoist fends off flak over salary

Rangers manager Ally McCoist keeps an eye on his side's training session. Picture: SNS
Rangers manager Ally McCoist keeps an eye on his side's training session. Picture: SNS
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Ally McCoist has confirmed he would be taking a near 50 per cent wage cut following revelations earlier this week about his salary.

However, the Rangers manager stressed that negotiations had been on going for some time and the move was not related to the publication of the club’s latest accounts on Tuesday.

Rangers supporters are still reeling from the news that top executive figures at the club were paid huge severance fees and bonuses, despite on-going financial troubles. These were laid bare with the release this week of financial figures for a 13-month period to the end of June, and which showed an

operating loss of £14.4 million.

While former chief executive Charles Green’s pay packet of £933,000 for less than a year’s work was seized on by many when illustrating the hubris of a club that can ill afford extravagance, McCoist’s own salary, revealed in the

accounts to be £825,828 was also widely remarked upon.

Eyebrows were raised at the lavish rewards on offer for winning the Third Division championship in what was Scottish football’s fourth tier. By contrast, Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, is reported to earn £350,000 per annum.

McCoist claimed yesterday to be neither “surprised nor disappointed” by the decision of the Rangers board to reveal details about his salary, although it was something he understood had never been done before. McCoist also claims that he signed the lucrative contract to succeed Walter Smith in 2012 having not even looked at it, “like any Rangers fan would”.

Asked whether he had gone without wages for a period during the club’s spell in administration, he confirmed that he had. “But I don’t want to say that as if ‘what a great guy he is’,” he added. “Again, it was something any Rangers supporter would have done who was in our position.”

He is now in negotiations to reduce the level of his current salary and he dismissed speculation that the wage cut was only a very limited one. “I took a call from a journalist on Wednesday who’d been directed that the wage cut was minimal and we’d get all the money back if we won the league,” he reported. “Someone might have been up to no good with that one. I can

categorically tell you it’s not true.

Instead, he referred those present to a report in one newspaper yesterday that revealed the cut would be nearer 50 per cent. “The figures today are far nearer the mark and that’s where we are,” he said.

Not that the inquisition ended there. It was clearly an uncomfortable set of media briefings for McCoist to have to endure on a day that he was helping promote a new book about Bill Struth, the club’s legendary manager. No-one wants to have to justify in a public forum how much they are paid, and in McCoist’s case it is a particularly sensitive subject. Although Rangers won the Third Division title by some distance last season, the team fell at the second hurdle in both the League and Scottish Cups.

Then came the controversial comment from Green, who, while back working in a short-lived advisory capacity at Rangers, warned McCoist in a newspaper interview that he would be expected to win either the League or Scottish Cup this season. Rangers were knocked out of the League Cup at the hands of Forfar Athletic that very afternoon.

After the game McCoist labelled Green “an embarrassment”. Although the former chief executive has since left again, McCoist’s relationship with the current board is still thought to be not what might be desired. The publication of his salary details will not have helped to that end.

Indeed, in what was a perhaps unintentionally enlightening insight into goings on inside Ibrox, McCoist conceded that “if you can trust two or three people in any walk of life these days then I think you are doing all right”.

The Rangers manager would clearly have preferred such information concerning his salary and proposed wage cut to remain private, although he insists he was not “outraged” by the decision by the club’s board to highlight the information in the set of accounts.

“I’m the same as you guys, I’m the same as anybody, there’s a lot of things you would like to keep private,” he said. “But I’ve certainly not got anything to hide in any way shape or form, so this isn’t a disaster we’re talking about in terms of my salary being in this set of accounts.”

“I’m not saying I’m outraged by that fact it’s in because I’m not. It’s in and that’s it and we just have to deal with it and handle it and move on. But only the people who effectively are responsible for putting it in will be able to answer your question. I’m not having a go at them – they obviously had their reasons for doing it.”

What he did welcome was the opportunity to provide some background on the subject of his salary. His current contract is the one he signed in 2011. This was then TUPE’d over to the newco in summer 2012 and so the contract therefore contained the same guarantees included when it was signed – back when there was still a Scottish Premier League, and Rangers were still in it.

“When myself and the rest of the management team were given the opportunity to take over at the club, which was all we ever wanted to do, there were contracts put down in front of us and we signed them,” said McCoist, who was also speaking on behalf of assistant Ian Durrant. “We didn’t look, we didn’t negotiate, we were just absolutely thrilled and honoured to get the jobs that we had always dreamed of – like any Rangers supporter would have done.

“There was a contract there and we didn’t even look through it, we just signed it and that was where we were. Nobody could ever have foreseen the 18 months to two years that has happened since. We’ve decided it’s the right thing to do to take a wage cut.”

McCoist tried his best to be upbeat, as he is permitted to be after nine straight victories for his team. “I am always half full rather than half empty,” he stated at one point. Even the irrepressible McCoist, though, would struggle to put a positive spin on the most recent set of Rangers accounts, and he didn’t even engage with the subject yesterday.

Instead, he directed reporters to the board, who face the prospect of a difficult annual general meeting later this month as efforts to remove the current directors continue.

“I want to leave boardroom matters to the board,” he said. “I think I have more than done my fair share of that on behalf of the club, when we effectively didn’t have a board.”

McCoist did help take the heat off the board in one respect. He admitted he alone had requested the postponement of next weekend’s clash with Dunfermline because of international call-ups, which could deprive Rangers of as many as a dozen players.

There had been some suggestions that the Rangers board had pushed to have the game postponed to deny fans another opportunity to protest about the directors’ conduct, as happened last weekend. Whatever happens, the accounts cannot be made to go away, and neither can a rebellious body of shareholders, including former director Paul Murray and former chairman Malcolm Murray, who want to oust chief executive Craig Mather and finance director Brian Stockbridge from the board.