ALLY McCOIST would be forgiven for rolling his eyes about all this talk of transfer warchests.
After all, as recently as 18 months ago, Craig Whyte was waltzing into the club talking in garish terms about splurging £25m over five seasons on the Ibrox playing staff, only to be followed by the arrival of such underwhelming recruits as Juanma Ortiz, Alejandro Bedoya and Mervan Celik. Then there was the chain of events which led to the dispersal of all his side's best players.
Unlike that whole sorry episode, the club's recent £22m flotation – including £5m from the club's rank and file – comprises real money from real people. The Rangers manager has been promised £10m of it plus a share of the proceeds of next year's season-ticket money by Charles Green, the chief executive, and, although he might not have it all spent just yet – Rangers cannot buy any players until January 2014, but can register free agents from September 2013 – he is at least drawing up a prudent plan of attack in advance of those funds arriving.
"We've not got it yet and I've been down that road before," McCoist cautioned. "Not that I'm doubting Charles; he has probably gone as public as any chief executive in terms of what support he'll give the manager, so that's fantastic. There was a lot of things said the last time which didn't really come to fruition so without calling me an old sceptic I'll wait to see what we get. But I'm encouraged Charles went public."
Money has been earmarked for stadium improvements and the purchase of the nearby Albion car park, but it is upgrading of the playing staff which will hog most of the headlines. If it is asking a lot of out-of-contract players this summer – Motherwell's Jamie Murphy, Murray Davidson of St Johnstone and Middlesbrough's Andy Halliday have all been linked – to ignore all offers which may come their way in the next six months for the prospect of arriving at a second division club this September, it is certainly the scenario the club are examining in the short term.
"Our scouts have been working behind the scenes and they prepare for any eventuality," said McCoist. "That money will be a fantastic boost and we will certainly be very prudent because we've not had any degree of money to spend like that before. That said, we've not got it yet and we can't get it yet, or its no good to us yet, so we have a lot of work to do before then in terms of strengthening the squad. So we have a couple of different scenarios to look at now in terms of the scouting system. We're looking at free transfers now and boys who come out of contract in the summer and then, with a bit of luck, we can continue the development at the same time and when that money is ready and available to us, we can then move on to that option."
Every bit as heartening for McCoist as the £5m uptake in shares from the club's fans was their week-to-week backing. A crowd of 42,000 for a midweek Irn-Bru Third Division match against Annan Athletic was the latest statistic to enforce the robustness of the club's fanbase. "I'm quick to say there's still miles and miles to go, but the best way I can put it is that we can now maybe see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
"The money raised, I find staggering. The investors have put up a great share of the investment, but for the fans again to put up so much money in a short space of time, in a recession, the week before Christmas, I find absolutely staggering. For us to have an attendance of 42,000 a week before Christmas on a Tuesday night against Annan sums it up for me."
The relationship between a manager and his chairman or chief executive is frequently said to be the most important at a football club, and McCoist appears to have developed a smooth partnership with the blunt Yorkshireman. That in itself is quite remarkable, considering the mutual mistrust between the pair at one stage this summer threatened to stop it before it got started.
The only minor disagreements in their budding bromance these days come when McCoist takes issue with his assessment of a player. "I would have to say, and it's only my opinion, that Charles has been very, very pleasantly taken aback by the size and the support of the club," McCoist said. "Obviously, he came in and he was honest enough to say that he hadn't been a Rangers fan but I don't think that there's any doubt now that he's as big a Rangers fan as there is going.
"We do have a relationship that, if we don't talk every day, there will be some days we talk five times the next day. He knows the business side. And he obviously knows the football side of it as well, although probably not just as well as he thinks he knows it . . . as I have to tell him on one or two occasions . . ."