ALLY McCoist has spoken to two players who potentially could be Rangers signing targets for next season, although it would be putting it mildly to say the conversations didn't offer much clarity.
Does the Rangers manager want to strengthen his squad? Of course. Will he have resources to do so? Probably, yes. Does he know how much? No. Is he in a position to offer anyone a contract? No.
While the Rangers board issues periodic, relatively upbeat communiques about how the club is being run, the reality is McCoist must work with an effectively "non-existent" scouting department and an information vacuum when it comes to how much money, if any, may be available to bolster his squad for an assault on the SFPL Championship. McCoist speaks to chief executive Graham Wallace almost every day of the week but it is not yet clear exactly how empowered Wallace is to enlighten him on Rangers' spending power, given that the cash flow seems dependant on selling season-tickets to a fanbase being mobilised to withhold that money from the board.
"The unfortunate position we are in is that we can't offer anyone anything," said McCoist. "That's not ideal but we will continue to do our homework and prepare to move when we can. Like any manager, you want more than you can get. It is not a criticism of Graham and the board, far from it. They have got a job to do and they have stated what their plans are in terms of reviewing the club, reviewing the financial situation and reviewing the football department.
"I was at the board meeting last Friday. Once things quieten down, in terms of the period where Graham knows where we are and what we want to do, then we will move on."
McCoist has been linked with Motherwell's Shaun Hutchinson and Kenny McLean of St Mirren. Naturally he declined to comment on individuals but he confirmed: "I have spoken to two players". Rangers often have been criticised for lacking imagination (and often good judgment) in their signings, and for simply going for players familiar to them because they operate in Scotland's top flight.
"Our scouting department is non-existent effectively for a club of our stature," said McCoist. "At this particular time, when it is at its greatest importance to have a good scouting network, it is non-existent. It is through no fault of anyone here at the moment, I have to say. But we absolutely need to pay attention to it and get it sorted.
"We know all the players that are on free transfers but it would be nice to know, and we will know in the future, if we have got a few quid to spend on two or three players. We are attempting to cover every eventuality. We might not get anyone in, I don't know. Agents aren't slow in phoning you with players."
He has not been told anyone will have to be moved off the wage bill. "Like all clubs and all managers, we definitely would like to strengthen and need to strengthen for next year and the following year," said McCoist. "The biggest thing next year will be to win the league. In an ideal world we would be planning to win next year's league with a view to three or four players being able to play the following season in the top flight. As yet, we can't do that. It looks at this stage as if we might just have to get a team to win the league, which is absolutely fine. But we need to know where we are."
At lunchtime on Sunday, Rangers know where they will be: back to square one. Their first competitive game post-liquidation came at Brechin City in the first round of last season's Ramsdens Cup. It was game one on "the journey" and they won 2-1. They have played Brechin three times already in League 1 this season.
"That first game seems a long time ago but I remember it vividly," said McCoist. "I actually think Brechin will always have a special place in the affections of Rangers supporters and the staff. But they will be looking to bury our unbeaten record. That's the beauty of the journey we are on, some of the places we have been to. Annan. Forres Mechanics in the cup last year. Peterhead. The one common factor in all these places is the welcome shown to the club and the fans. It has been a long journey and it's not over yet. We don't even know what stage we are at in the journey but we have won two titles, thankfully."
That first game at Glebe Park featured the inevitability of the ball landing on top of the famous hedge which runs part of the length of Brechin's pitch. It made for a great picture. "I sent Andy Townsend from ITV a photograph of that hedge. He just sent back a reply saying: 'what?'"