IF any one party has a right to be especially aggrieved about how this Rangers in administration soap opera has panned out so far, it is probably the players.
The night last month when it was revealed that the majority of the squad had agreed to sizeable wage cuts to reduce the threat of wholesale redundancies feels like the only real triumphant moment in this whole sorry saga.
It was a selfless gesture and the hope was that it would buy the administrators some time to find a buyer who would rescue the club. Since then? Well, next to nothing. Footballers would never be likely to elicit much sympathy from the general public if they were to start whingeing about their money problems, but the fact remains that these Rangers players showed a willingness to make substantial financial sacrifices and have received very little back in return. Prospective bidders have emerged and, in most cases, gone away again. Duff & Phelps, the administrators, continue to try to get to the point where they can name a preferred bidder and at least start the ball rolling in an attempt to eventually execute a Company Voluntary Arrangement.
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In that regard, they are running out of time, money and goodwill. The players will revert to their full salaries on June 1 and there is more chance of Bill Miller and Bill Ng doing keepy-uppies in the Ibrox centre circle on the first day of next season than there is of the squad agreeing to another round of cuts beyond that date.
"Obviously we've given them the opportunity to get it sorted," said defender Steven Whittaker. "I think we've given them the three-month period. They said we only needed to do it until the end of the season and it could be sorted out in that time frame.
"They're still in that time frame and we can't complain until they go over it. So, at this minute, they are still trying to sort it out and hopefully it can be done soon."
The prospect that he would be free to leave should Rangers be liquidated has not as yet crossed Whittaker's mind. He remains hopeful that the matter can be resolved via a CVA and of still being a Rangers player come the end of the summer. "We want to keep the club as it is, with its history. The fans feel strongly about that as do the players and hopefully that will be the case. Hopefully it won't come to the situation [where players have to leave]. I signed a five-year deal. I'd love to see that out and finish my career here."
If Whittaker remains fairly laidback about the situation, then there was a greater need of urgency from Ally McCoist's point of view. Rangers' season ends in 23 days' time and McCoist has no idea what will happen beyond then. Forward planning, a necessity for any successful manager, is not a luxury afforded to him right now. "Outwith the welfare of the football club, this is by far my biggest concern," McCoist admitted. "We are not in a good position in terms of planning. We just can't because there is nothing we can plan for.
"All we can do is look at a calendar and say that is when we want to come back for pre-season, that is when we want to go away if we can. There is nothing we can do and, worse than that, we don't know what players we will have. There have been no enquiries from anybody [regarding possible pre-season friendlies] and that is a worry. Pre-season is effectively the most important part of your campaign in terms of planning. But the one thing you wouldn't want to do in the current climate is arrange a game with top opposition because at the start of the season we might not have any players. That is how serious it is.
"The one thing we do have is a fantastic training facility which we might have to use a lot more."
There is little football talk around Rangers these days, but they still have five matches to play to finish the season, even if there is very little at stake. They travel to Hearts – a rare Saturday 3pm kick-off for an away match – and Whittaker admitted enthusiasm for the remaining matches among his colleagues may be low. "For the guys who have played the whole season they might find it hard to find the motivation but it's important we're still professional. The fans will be there supporting so it's important we put on a performance for them and finish the season as strong as we can."
For McCoist, who revealed Steven Davis will likely need an operation to cure a groin problem, matchday at least offers a temporary escape from all his other problems. "The game is a welcome distraction and is the reason why we are all here. Bring it on. Tynecastle is one of my favourite places to go and there is always a great atmosphere with the fans right on top of you.
"They have already beaten both us and Celtic at Tynecastle this season and they beat Celtic again at Hampden last weekend. They are a good team with one of the best coaches in the country."