Rangers takeover: McCoist has cautious confidence in would-be owner

IF BILL Miller were to turn up at Ibrox today, it’s safe to assume he wouldn’t receive a ticker tape welcome from the Rangers supporters.

As Ally McCoist put it yesterday, using appropriate American parlance, “it is to be expected that everybody is a little bit wary and not getting the rah-rah skirts out straight away”.

But while the Rangers manager is not a full-blooded cheerleader for the Ibrox club’s prospective new owner just yet, he is in a better position than most to assess what kind of impact the Chattanooga-based businessman could have in Govan.

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During the past few weeks, McCoist has conducted multiple telephone conversations with Miller, the most recent of them after the 65-year-old tow-truck millionaire was awarded preferred bidder status by Rangers’ administrators Duff and Phelps.

McCoist admits he would rather speak to Miller in person, something he hopes will happen next week. So far, however, McCoist has heard enough in the lengthy transatlantic calls between the pair to persuade him that reservations among some fans over Miller’s motivation and plans for Rangers can prove to be unfounded.

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“You can only take people at face value and the irony is not lost on me that I haven’t seen Bill face to face yet,” said McCoist. “But the gentleman sounds absolutely spot on. I’ve had numerous discussions with Bill and, basically, he is a fan of sport who, in his own words, likes to fix things. Certainly, we are needing fixed.

“I know it’s not just as simple as that but those are two of the reasons he wants to get involved. Rangers are still a big name, I’d like to think, and that is one of the attractions for him.

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“I think he appreciates the size of Rangers and the scrutiny he will be under, just because of the way he is going about it. On several occasions, he has called me five minutes after a decision has been made here, whether it’s by the SFA or SPL or whatever. He calls me right after a game, so he knows what’s going on.

“He has got his finger on the pulse and knows what is happening. He is reacting to things and he wants information. He doesn’t claim to know everything about Rangers or Scottish football but says to me that he wants to learn, wants to be successful and wants to help the club.

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“Of course it’s understandable that some fans are wary. Bill appreciates that too, after everything that has happened to the club. He knows there will be a high level of due diligence from the support, never mind his own due diligence, because of the year the club and supporters have just gone through.

“But we have all been waiting on preferred bidder status being given to someone and the administrators believe Bill Miller ticks all the boxes. We have to respect that as a positive step in the right direction, although there is still obviously a bit to go yet.

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“Personally, I’ll be happier when I see the look in Bill’s eyes face to face. I would imagine he would feel exactly the same about me. He is very keen for us to meet and the sooner the better from my point of view.”

McCoist, of course, knows only too well that actions speak louder than words having spent his first season as Rangers manager under the calamitous and unravelling tenure of Craig Whyte’s stewardship. Yet he senses a greater transparency and more solid back-story to the American. “The first thing you would have to say about Bill Miller is there is clarity,” observed McCoist. “We obviously don’t know how it will turn out if he was to buy the club after the due diligence but the first thing you would have to say is there is a trail.

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“You know how he is a successful businessman, you know where he comes from and you know what he does so you would have to say that is obviously a big positive. He is probably exactly what you would think he would be. He is very forthright, I don’t think he would be scared to upset people.

“But at the same time I think he is aware of the delicacies of the situation here and the support. He is a successful businessman with a proven track record. He’s got people looking at the situation here and people working behind the scenes. He knows what’s going on, he knows the feeling of the support. It’s not as if he is going into this completely in the dark. Far from it.”

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McCoist anticipates Miller would not simply be an absentee landlord should be succeed in completing a takeover of Rangers and is eager to establish a clearly defined working relationship with him.

“From our conversations, I think Bill might be hands-on and that’s no bad thing,” added McCoist. “He has asked me what I think we need to be competitive next season but as yet he has not told me if he wants a chief executive, director of football or a board of directors.

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“But he has told me if he becomes the new owner, he and I would have the most important relationship at the club, which I believe would have to be the case. He hasn’t given me any assurances about my own position but I’d be very disappointed, after the conversations I’ve had with him, if that wasn’t the case. So I would be hopeful I will be manager under Bill Miller, although there are no guarantees.”

There remains uncertainty over the future of McCoist’s current first team squad and what status their contracts would have under Miller’s plan to move all of Rangers’ assets into a ‘newco’ while he addresses the debts of the club through a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

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“The fact that PFA Scotland thinks one thing and the administrators think another would indicate that something has to give somewhere down the line,” said McCoist. “To be honest, we could do with the union being wrong and the players’ contracts moving over. It would be a devastating blow if all of the players were free to leave in the summer and did so. But there are a lot of players who love playing for the club and appreciate what it is all about. Never underestimate that.”