Ally McCoist talks of crisis but Craig Whyte says there is none

RANGERS manager Ally McCoist has contradicted his chairman Craig Whyte by stating the Ibrox club can fairly be described as being in a crisis situation as they await the imminent outcome of their dispute with HMRC over unpaid taxes.

McCoist suffered a huge blow yesterday as Rangers were eliminated from the William Hill Scottish Cup, losing 2-0 to Dundee United at Ibrox watched by a crowd of just 17,822.

It came on the day Whyte, in an interview with The Scotsman’s sister paper Scotland on Sunday, admitted Rangers were approaching the most difficult period in the club’s 140-year history but insisted it did not constitute a crisis. “I wouldn’t say crisis is the right word,” said Whyte. “Not at the moment. But we’re certainly in the toughest time in the club’s history. The next few weeks, I’d definitely say that much.”

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After watching his team’s lame display against United, however, McCoist accepted the potential consequences of the tax case are a crisis, one which he says is having an adverse effect on everyone connected with the club. “The crisis point comes with the tax case more than anything,” said McCoist. “What we all need is clarification, so we can move forward. The uncertainty regarding this tax issue is the biggest problem we have, whether it’s management, players or fans.

“You could use the word crisis in terms of the tax case. We need to know one way or another where it stands and where we are situated, so we can deal with it and move forward. ”

In his Scotland on Sunday interview, Whyte declared he has contingency plans in place if the tax case goes against Rangers but was not prepared to reveal any details. “I play my cards close to my chest,” said Whyte. “Ally and I work closely together and if that situation arises he’ll be the first to know about it. We’re talking about hypotheticals here.

“There’s a plan in place for any eventuality. I couldn’t go into it. If I publicised it then it would potentially jeopardise what we’re working on. But, remember, I bought the club with this thing hanging over it. I’ve been thinking about it since day one. The long-term interest of the club is what I think about every day.”

The short-term picture surrounding Rangers became even darker with their Scottish Cup defeat, another early round elimination from a tournament following first hurdle exits from the Champions League, Europa League and League Cup. “It’s been a really disappointing day.” said McCoist. “You have to give credit where it is due. I thought United, especially in the first half, played well.”

Following the £5.5 million sale of Nikica Jelavic to Everton, McCoist ended yesterday’s tie with a strike pairing of Salim Kerkar and Andrew Little.

McCoist is hopeful Kyle Lafferty, currently sidelined by a hamstring injury, will return before the end of the month and disputed a report which claimed Rangers had been prepared to sell the striker for £1.75 million last week before an unnamed English club pulled out of a deal. “To my knowledge, that is absolute nonsense,” said McCoist. “We are trying to offer Lafferty a new deal, so that’s my view on it. I certainly don’t know of any bids coming in.”

McCoist, who said he will continue to pursue the possibility of signing a free agent to boost his striking choices, is confident his team will respond positively to yesterday’s defeat. “The players will be fine, they don’t have an option,” he said. “They have to roll their sleeves up and get on with it. It is determination and grit, qualities we have a lot of in our dressing room, that will see us through this.”