Tom English: ‘The fantasy of 34-year-old who played four games last season’

JUST when you thought the Rangers story couldn’t get any wackier Andrea D’Amico flies in from Italy and says he’s come to Glasgow to negotiate the return of Rino Gattuso to Ibrox.

Pardon? “It is Rino’s wish to come back to Rangers,” said D’Amico. Is it really? “He knows all about the financial situation,” continued the Italian. “We know it is difficult but we can work to find a solution.”

D’Amico reckons that something can be sorted out. The fact that Rangers are not in Europe is not an issue for Rino, he says. Phew!

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It was brilliantly surreal stuff and entirely in keeping with a saga that has veered off into all sorts of bizarre places. D’Amico arrived on Thursday and supposedly met Rangers’ director of football administration, Andrew Dickson. Gattuso, himself, has spoken to Ally McCoist, it seems. And then there was this from Charles Green, a statement that appeared to lend credence to the notion that the club with no money and massive debts, the club that has no right to sign players because they’re in administration, the club that may not even be playing football next season depending on what Lord Carloway and his panel determine in the coming weeks, is taking seriously this fantasy of the 34-year-old Italian who played four Serie A games for his club last season returning to Rangers on some kind of emotional lap of honour to end his career.

“Fans should be aware of just how big the club is when one of the greatest players publicly states he wants to finish his career at Rangers at a time when we can’t sign anyone,” said Green. “He [Gattuso] has confirmed he wants to play for Rangers and that is something we could do if we were able to sign someone.’’

Let’s consider this for a second. Imagine if Rangers came out of administration tomorrow and were suddenly able to sign a player. Would Gattuso be a sensible piece of business? A 34-year-old looking for a soft fade into retirement or a younger player who they might train up and sell on for profit?

If Rangers is to become a business instead of an economic basket case where does the financial logic lie in bringing in Gattuso? There isn’t any. Nor, I suspect, is there any real intention on Rangers’ part to do a deal with him, even if Green manages to get his CVA past the creditors, thereby lifting the ban on them signing new players. On the field of play, Rangers need many things – a couple of new centre-forwards for starters – but they don’t need Gattuso.

They have gone along with things, though. They’ve played up Gattuso’s interest and they’ve stated that here lies proof that high-profile players would love to come and sign for Rangers, despite all the troubles. Maybe it’s a feelgood exercise. Maybe, in these wretched times, they’re flattered that a World Cup winner would like to join them and they’re milking it for all it’s worth. Perhaps they’re unaware how this looks from the outside, though. Rangers are currently trying to seal a CVA that, if successful, is going to result in the biggest bonfire of creditor debt in the history of Scottish football and yet here they are being seen to be in talks with Gattuso about joining the club just as soon as all that debt is burned off. Green would have been a whole lot better off had he not allowed himself to get drawn into the Gattuso transfer story. But he did.

If Green had any sense – and, let’s face it, he is a very sharp operator – then, instead of speculating about transfers, he’d be trying to work the public relations in readiness for Rangers accepting the Scottish Football Association’s transfer embargo after all. It’s a hell of a mess the club is in on that front. Administrators Duff & Phelps, overcome by the collective victimhood that gripped Rangers when the transfer ban was handed down in the first place, went to war without ever figuring out what exactly was going to happen if they got the ban overturned, which, of course, they did.

Lord Carloway has had his own approval of the original verdict thrown back at him by Lord Glennie and is scheduled to pick an alternative sanction for the crimes of the Craig Whyte era. You wouldn’t dare second-guess what is going to happen, but there must be a realistic chance that Carloway will opt for the most severe punishment which would see Rangers turfed out of football for a season.

This is what Duff & Phelps failed to see when their hair caught fire from all the ridiculous indignation that swept around the club at the time. Despite McCoist’s hysterical response, the transfer embargo was actually a result, of sorts, for Rangers given the other doomsday options that were available.

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It was certainly a result for Green. For the prospective owner and his mystery consortium, a transfer ban would have come as something of a godsend. It would have given him breathing space. It would have meant that the supporters wouldn’t be getting on his case to spend money on new players. Above all, it would have meant that Rangers kept hold of a licence to compete, but that has to be in question now.

It would be a surprise if Green wasn’t privately trying to get the original verdict back on the table. That, we understand, is exactly what he is trying to do whether Gattuso’s representative knows it or not. Gattuso’s agent, D’Amico, says that he can “work a solution” but, unless he had many millions of pounds in that bag of his as he breezed through the airport the other day, then we doubt he’s capable of coming up with anything but an amusing sideshow in the Rangers story. He has much competition on that front, of course.

In a week that threw up a number of strange stories you wouldn’t know what was the most fantastic – Dave King taking a £20m claim against Rangers which he would then reinvest in, er, Rangers or Gattuso’s own off-the-wall tale? This is a circus seemingly without end.