Confusion and uncertainty returned to the gates of Ibrox last night after Rangers announced they had accepted the resignations of manager Mark Warburton, his assistant David Weir and the club’s head of recruitment, Frank McParland.
The surprise turn of events – Warburton had fronted a press conference earlier in the afternoon, previewing tomorrow’s Scottish Cup tie with Morton and denying speculation about his own position – was confirmed in a statement released by the club last night, one claiming the trio had expressed their intention to resign earlier this week.
It was further inferred the management team no longer wished to be at Ibrox.
But in a remarkable twist, it was later reported Warburton was claiming he had not resigned – not earlier this week, nor indeed yesterday.”What’s going on? This is scandalous, I’ve no idea what they’re talking about,” he said. “I haven’t resigned. I’ve never resigned — I’ve no idea what they’re talking about.”
Rumours were already circulating that McParland, said to be on holiday in Dubai, was considering his position.
But the departure of both Warburton and Weir, a hugely popular former captain, was unexpected despite recent poor results that have left the third-placed side trailing leaders Celtic by 27 points.
The shock news throws Rangers back into turmoil while also further exposing the club to ridicule after what is certain to be perceived as more dysfunctional goings-on at Ibrox. It is understood Warburton, Weir and McParland had their resignations accepted by Ibrox directors on Wednesday before an agent acting for the trio later asked if all three could remain in their posts. Reports from England earlier this week had linked the Rangers management team with a move to then manager-less Nottingham Forest.
Under 20s coach Graeme Murty has been asked to take interim control of the Ibrox side, starting tomorrow against in-form Championship side Morton. Billy Davies, the former Rangers midfielder, was named as an early front-runner to succeed Warburton, along with Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.
“Rangers has accepted the resignations of manager Mark Warburton, assistant manager David Weir and the club’s head of recruitment Frank McParland,” said the Ibrox statement.
“At a meeting with the management team’s representative earlier this week the club were advised that Mr Warburton, Mr Weir and Mr McParland wished to resign their positions and leave the club on condition that Rangers agreed to waive its rights to substantial compensation.
“Rangers’ agreement to waive compensation would assist the management team to join another club. This compensation amount was agreed when
Rangers significantly improved Mr Warburton and Mr Weir’s financial arrangements before the start of this season.
“The board urgently convened to consider the offer made on behalf of the management team and its ramifications and agreed to accept it and release the trio from the burden of compensation, despite the potential financial cost to the club. It is important that Rangers has a football management team that wants to be at the club and that the board believes can take the club forward to meet our stated ambition to return to being the number one club in Scotland. We are clearly short of where we expected to be at this time.”
The statement added that “a representative” of the management team had sought to alter the terms of what had been agreed “in favour of the management team”. The statement continued: “A further board meeting was held this afternoon to discuss this and it was decided not to agree to this additional request but to hold with the original agreement.
“Mr Warburton, Mr Weir, and Mr McParland have therefore been notified in writing that their notices of termination have been accepted.”
The board, it was added, “had no alternative”, with the commitment of the trio now in question. “Our club must come first and absolute commitment is essential,” added the Ibrox club’s statement.