RANGERS manager Mark Warburton has acknowledged the “huge financial gap” which currently separates his team from Scottish champions Celtic but insists the Ibrox club’s board are adopting the right approach in their efforts to repair the gulf.
In the aftermath of Sunday’s Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden, which saw Warburton’s men lose to Brendan Rodgers’ revitalised Celtic side for the second time this season, former Rangers manager Graeme Souness has called for accelerated investment in the squad from chairman Dave King.
Souness claims Warburton is operating with “one hand tied behind his back” in trying to compete with a Celtic side he says are presently five years ahead of their Old Firm counterparts.
But Warburton believes Rangers would be recklessly placing the financial stability of the club at fresh risk if they pursued a more aggressive spending policy in the transfer market.
Rangers’ turnover in 2011, the year before their financial collapse under Craig Whyte’s ownership, was £57.2 million. In their most recently published annual accounts, Rangers’ turnover was just £16.5 million in 2015. In the same year, even despite the lack of Champions League group stage football, Celtic’s turnover was £51 million.
“We know there is a financial gap, there has to be,” said Warburton. “What Rangers should never do is spend recklessly trying to close that gap. We’ve got to have strong foundations and ensure the club is in good health going forward for many years to come. That’s what we have to do and hopefully we can play our part in that.
“Graeme Souness is a very smart football guy. He has stated his opinion. Everyone has their opinion, that’s the beauty of the game and why we love it.
“But I know what we have to do. We have to work to close the gap. There is a huge financial gap. We’re aware of that.
“I saw some comments saying ‘Warburton worked in the City – he should understand that’. What a nonsensical statement that is. Of course I understand the implications. I’m not a rocket scientist but I’m not a fool. So of course I understand the implications.
“When a near rival has had European football for the last four, five, six years and the benefits of that, when they have a budget probably two-and-a-half, three, three-and-a-half times what we have, we have to close that gap.
“But it won’t be done overnight. It would be reckless of the club and the board to try to close that gap overnight. We’re not going to close it in six months.
“What we have to do is keep constantly improving, improving our performances, by investing shrewdly and astutely in players. Hopefully, as the weeks and months pass, we can close the gap.
“But we recognise and very much respect the fact that, at the moment, we can’t match Celtic financially.”
READ MORE - Five things we learned from Rangers 0 - 1 Celtic