Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager, has told chief executive Graham Wallace that his team could become stuck in the SPFL Championship if his squad is slashed in an Ibrox cost-cutting drive.
The pair met four days ago as the chief executive seeks to implement savings which will end the current losses of almost £1m-a-month. It is unclear what percentage of those savings will be demanded from the most expensive section of the club, the football department, and McCoist insisted that had still to be made clear.
Lee Wallace and Nicky Law are the most valuable players on the books and could be sold if Wallace and the Rangers board insist that money has to be saved and raised.
But having comfortably won Division Three last season and now running away with League One, McCoist stressed to Wallace that the club will be up against bigger, full-time clubs in the Championship next season and that being in the Premiership by 2015/16 should not be taken for granted.
"I have to say that Graham is aware that in an ideal world we would be building a team and a squad for next season and hopefully the years after," said McCoist. "Contrary to what people have said, he has said that just cutting and selling is not the right way to go about it in terms of the progression of the club, the team and the squad going forward. He's aware of what could have an adverse effect as much as a positive effect - short-term and in a longer-term situation.
"I'm glad to see that the potential teams for next season's Championship have been highlighted in places. It's a tough league, especially with where we are at the moment and where Hearts are at the moment.
"You could have Dundee in it, Dunfermline in it. It could be a really, really good league."
McCoist said it "absolutely wouldn't be set in stone" that Rangers would automatically win that division. "Graham said at the agm that there would need to be cuts, so that's fine. He's made that public. He hasn't made it known to me where those cuts are going to take place, or in what shape or form. There's nothing concrete, nothing is set in stone.
"It was just an overall view of the football side and we will meet again next week. There was no 'you need to sell this one or that one', or 'you need to cut this by that'. It wasn't like that at all. We sat and spoke football, talked about where we are and where we were.
"It's not for me to say that I can't afford to lose players like Lee Wallace and Nicky Law. They are massive parts of our squad and anyone could tell you that. They have been fantastic for us this season. It would be natural for me to tell you that I wouldn't want to lose them, and I don't. But these decisions aren'tgetting made by myself. In an ideal world you'd obviously like to add to the squad [in this transfer window] to help the players win this league and the next division. But that
might not be the case and I totally understand that."
Rangers are 17 points clear of Dunfermline at the top of League One but McCoist claimed still to have his troubles ahead of this afternoon's home game against East Fife. Arnold Peralta is suspended, David Templeton, Steven Smith, Chris Hegarty and Ross Perry are injured and Lewis Macleod is doubtful. Rangers will be unable to name a full bench of substitutes. "People keep telling me about this big squad, and we have a great squad for where we are, but we could be missing seven players tomorrow. We are doing the teamsheet and I don't think we can fill the bench."
McCoist also denied that Dean Shiels had been told he could leave the club despite apparent interest from Hibernian. The sticking point may be that Shiels is believed to want to have the rest of his contract paid up, which would total around £200,000. McCoist also revealed that although Kenny Miller trained again at Murray Park, there is no prospect of the striker signing for the club for a third time.
Rangers face East Fife this
afternoon in their first Ibrox match since surrendering their winning record in League One by drawing at home to Stranraer on Boxing Day.