THE unrelenting turmoil surrounding Rangers has seen fresh uncertainty emerge over both the team management and ownership of the Ibrox club.
On the day Rangers formally confirmed manager Ally McCoist has triggered the 12-month notice period of his contract, the Scottish FA finally lost patience with billionaire businessman Mike Ashley’s failure to provide clarity over his intentions at the beleaguered club.
McCoist continued to undertake his duties with the first-team squad at the Murray Park training ground yesterday as he awaits an anticipated meeting with Rangers directors tomorrow when a potential severance agreement will be discussed.
Those directors now have another major issue to contend with after the SFA’s Compliance Officer Tony McGlennan last night issued both Rangers and Ashley with multiple notices of complaint.
The Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct tycoon currently holds a stake of just under nine per cent in Rangers but his influence on the club is significantly greater. He now controls Rangers retail operation, has loaned them £3 million to maintain operating costs in the past few months and has placed his close confidant Derek Llambias on the plc board at Ibrox.
SFA regulations prevent dual ownership of football clubs but an informal agreement allowed Ashley to invest in Rangers providing his shareholding did not exceed ten per cent.
Rangers have now been charged by the SFA of breaking three disciplinary rules – of failing to behave towards them and other members with the utmost good faith, of breaching the dual ownership guidelines and of failing to act in the best interests of Scottish football. Ashley has been separately charged on the latter two counts.
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A range of punishments are available if found guilty, from fines up to suspension or termination of SFA membership. A principal hearing date of 27 January has been set for both Rangers and Ashley – five days before the club are due to face Celtic at Hampden in the League Cup semi-final.
It remains to be seen whether McCoist will still be in charge of the team then. In a statement to the Stock Exchange yesterday morning, in which they crassly managed to spell the first name of the club’s record goalscorer incorrectly, Rangers confirmed he had resigned and revealed his annual salary will increase to £750,000 for the remainder of his contract.
McCoist agreed to take a pay cut of around 50 per cent earlier this year as the financially mis-managed club looked to reduce costs. A recent round of redundancies among non-playing staff, implemented by Llambias, is understood to have been a
factor in McCoist’s decision to tender his resignation last week, a move he refused to confirm or deny after Rangers lost 2-0 to Queen of the South on Friday night.
Rangers statement read: “The company announces that Alastair [sic] McCoist, manager of the first team squad, has resigned. His service contract dated 28 December, 2010, which was subsequently amended, has a 12-month notice period (“Notice Period”).
“The directors will hold discussions with Mr McCoist to seek an amicable solution in the best interests of the company, and expect to be in a position to make a further announcement before the end of the week. During the notice period, Mr McCoist’s salary will increase significantly to £750,000 per annum.” Ashley, the Rangers plc board of Llambias, chairman David Somers and James Easdale, along with football club board chairman Sandy Easdale, must decide whether to pay off McCoist now or let him run down his contract. Rangers remain in deep financial trouble, requiring additional funding of £8 million next month to continue trading.
The Union of Fans umbrella body of Rangers supporters groups issued a statement last night claiming McCoist is right to resign as a consequence of poor results this season, but they were also highly critical of the club’s board.
“We note the board’s announcement of Alistair McCoist’s resignation and the disclosure of Ally’s severance entitlement in their statement to the LSE this morning,” read the Union of Fans statement.
“Ally has made the correct decision to resign. Things have not gone well this season on the park, and off it he has seen the club decimated by the incompetents in the boardroom. They are ripping the heart and soul out of our club, laying off long serving, low-paid staff to save a relative pittance and leave the club on the brink of hardly being able to operate. Rangers is a family and that family is being torn apart by this board. All this while Mr Llambias, Mr Somers and the other members of the board enjoy their salaries, expenses and freebies in hospitality despite contributing nothing.
“Mr Somers publicly defended the payoff to Brian Stockbridge and even, bizarrely, his performance. Mr Easdale publicly defended the payoffs to Charles Green and Imran Ahmad. Mr Easdale even made public statements which we believe assisted Imran Ahmad to secure a settlement he did not deserve. Despite this, they are now attempting to throw a club legend under a bus without even having discussed the terms of his severance with him. They were happy to line the pockets of people who have decimated Rangers but it would appear Ally McCoist, who as a player and employee has contributed more than they could ever dream of, is not worthy of even the courtesy of confidentiality in severance discussions.
“In our opinion, the salary given to Ally by Charles Green was too high. It was agreed pre-administration when Rangers were a Champions League team but it should have been amended to a more realistic level. This is in common with the inflated salaries that Mr Green gave to all senior staff members including himself. Ally worked for nothing during administration to try and assist the club. He was alone in voluntarily reducing his salary last year when the true extent of the financial mismanagement by the board became apparent. We believe he did the right thing by reducing that salary by around 50 per cent. In fact, his gesture should have meant that the lower paid employees at the club would be safe from the kind of cuts we have seen Derek Llambias implement in the past few weeks.
“We hope Ally will do the right thing and come to a solution that is beneficial to both him and club. By the club we mean the club and not this board or those who control them. We will not accept this board’s toxic spin and ham-fisted attempts to blacken the name of a club legend. We hope Ally can go with our best wishes and will remain Super Ally long after the names of the charlatans in this boardroom are mercifully forgotten.”
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