Ally McCoist’s three-and-a-half year reign as Rangers boss has come to an end after the club confirmed he has been put on gardening leave.
It was announced last Monday that the 52-year-old had handed in his resignation but McCoist was adamant when he spoke to the press on Friday that he would see out the 12-month notice period of his contract.
But he lasted just two days more before his time in charge of the Glasgow giants was brought to an end. New chief executive Derek Llambias’ first task will now be to lead the search for the 14th man to have managed the club.
McCoist’s No 2, Kenny McDowall, will now take the reins for the remainder of the season. In a three-line statement posted on the club’s website shortly before 9pm last night, the departure of the club’s record goalscorer was confirmed.
It said: “Rangers would like to announce that Ally McCoist is relinquishing his duties as manager and will serve out the remainder of his 12-month notice period on gardening leave.
“We would like to thank Ally for all his hard work and dedication over the last few years, but we feel it is now in the best interests of all parties to move on.
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“Assistant manager Kenny McDowall will take over his duties until the end of the season.”
McCoist was appointed to the Ibrox hotseat in the summer of 2011 but his time as Rangers manager was anything but smooth. Before he had even taken up his role, the club underwent a change of ownership.
Craig Whyte was supposed to restore the club to financial good health after buying them from David Murray. But within nine months of taking over he had put the club in administration. In the liquidation crisis which followed, the stricken giants were banished to the Third Division as McCoist and his team were forced to start again from the depths of the Scottish game.
And the off-field dramas continued to dog the club.
From the controversial period under Charles Green, to the current situation with the Easdale brothers seemingly aligned with Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, life was never simple for the embattled boss. But while he was once seen as a unifying figure for the disgruntled Rangers faithful, the performances of his team soon had the supporters divided.
Although he was a hero to the Ibrox legions as a player with his record haul of 355 goals, his stint as manager failed to hit the same heights as defeats by Stirling Albion, Annan Athletic and Peterhead heaped embarrassment on the club during their first season in the lower leagues.
Last season’s shock Challenge Cup final defeat by Raith Rovers was seen by many as a new low for the club, but the defeat by Alloa in the semi-final of this year’s competition earlier this month proved to be the breaking point.
His side had already lost twice to Championship title rivals Hearts and the shambolic 2-0 defeat by Queen of the South last Friday, just hours after news of his decision to walk had been leaked, left them nine points behind the Tynecastle club, having played a game more. But the Ibrox soap opera looks far from over.
Now that McCoist is gone, the Ibrox directors will have to face the wrath of the club’s supporters alone this morning when the Annual General Meeting is staged at Ibrox. The club needs to raise £8.3 million before 1 April just to keep the lights on, and the board will be under pressure to explain how they plan to raise that – and just what Ashley’s Ibrox involvement will mean for the team.
McDowall will not have it any easier than the man he takes over from, but will have to somehow rally his troops ahead of a League Cup semi-final clash with Celtic in six weeks’ time.
Former Rangers goalkeeper Andy Goram felt his former team-mate McCoist would be glad to relinquish the increasingly onerous burden on him.
“I think at the end of it, Ally will be quite relieved that he can get away from all the rubbish that’s been going on,” said Goram.
“He’s steered the ship, he’s brought us through some unbelievably hard times. There’s not many other managers that could have or would have done that.
“It’s just a sad day. It’s a shame it’s come to this but I think Coisty can take a well-deserved rest now and go on holiday.”
Former striker Derek Johnstone saluted McCoist’s efforts managing the club in difficult circumstances. Johnstone said: “Two and a half years ago, when Rangers went into administration, he could have gone then but decided no, it’s his club and there was no way he was giving up on that.
“Since then he’s worked very, very hard to get Rangers back where they belong. He stood by the club and I think the fans appreciated that because he was one of the few Rangers people left at the club.
“All he wanted to do was make sure his club got back where it belonged. It’ll be a sad night for him but he’s done the best he could and I think he goes with the best wishes of 99 per cent of Rangers fans.”
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