Graham Wallace, the Rangers chief executive, justified further summer spending on players and the recruitment of a public relations consultant last night despite announcing redundancies and admitting far too much had been spent on Ally McCoist's squad over the past two years.
The long-awaited publication of Wallace's 120-day business review into the club's chaotic finances revealed the astonishing haemorrhage of cash out of Ibrox. After the takeover by Charles Green's consortium in 2012, £70.7m flooded into the club through ticket sales, commercial revenues and a share issue yet only £3.5m was left in the bank by last December.
Rangers staff were told yesterday morning that some were being made redundant. Wallace was critical of the club's recent mismanagement although he made a point of not mentioning any individual. The review stated that "the club acquired a number of players in summer 2013 that, based on financial forecasts, it should have known it could not afford", and was critical of contracts being offered without the club even having a lawyer present. Rangers' wage bill was far too high for its requirements this season and last, he said. Yet McCoist will be permitted to make some additions in the summer to ensure Rangers are as strong as possible in the SPFL Championship to secure promotion to the Premiership at the earliest opportunity.
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"It's foolhardy to be looking at slashing and burning the playing squad when we've got to get through the Championship next season to get to where we want to be," said Wallace. "If you look at the evolution of the squad and you look at what we have got now, you ask yourself 'do we need the squad we have got today to have competed this season or last season?'
"Quite clearly not. We have won both divisions by some considerable margin. However, those decisions have been taken. We work with what we have. Our focus is very much to ensure that we can win the Championship next season to be back in the top division the year after.
"As part of the manager's planning we look at the squad and where the gaps are. He is assessing what he wants to do with regards to renewals and, working together at a financial level, we will agree what we can afford. There are funds available.
"The Championship is going to be a good division next season, there are some good sides in that division. We expect to be successful next season and to then be back in the Premiership. Therefore, it is part of what we need to get the job done next season but it is also the season beyond that. We still have a number of players who have more than a full season to go and are already part of our potential squad planning for the season after.
"We've marked out in our strategy that we hope to be through the Championship next season and into the Premiership the year after. We hope to be in the top two in our first year and we are targeting the title in our second season back [2016/17].
"Is that a challenge? Yes it is. You look at who occupies that spot just now [Celtic] and the strength of their business, the level of investment and the wage bill and potentially two more cycles of Champions League money. Let's not forget, you've got to get through three qualifiers to get to the group stages so there's an element of uncertainty there as well. But the potential income, even in the Europa League, is still good money for a business like us."
Wallace defended the appointment of PR consultant Paul Tyrrell, who previously worked with Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City and was there as the review was
presented at Ibrox yesterday. When it was
put to the chief executive that the club lacks
a chief scout, which should have been the priority, Wallace said "I wouldn't disagree".
He went on: "If you look back to what the manager has said about not having a scouting and recruitment network, to me it makes
no sense at all. We are agreed we need
a fundamental overhaul of that department
and we are already working on that. We've just not got to the point where there's somebody
in the frame.
"I think you have to trust my judgment as chief executive in terms of looking at the areas of the business where we should be spending money and where we need support. [Regarding Tyrrell's appointment] We are not entering into significant, long-term deals for huge amounts
of money that is putting other people's jobs at risk. What my focus is is making sure that we have got the right capability within the club."
Wallace said he contemplated postponing yesterday's announcement in case it appeared disrespectful to club legend Sandy Jardine, who died on Thursday night.
"I did give consideration last night as to whether we should continue today and do this as scheduled. I took the view: what would Sandy want? Sandy would want the best thing for Rangers Football Club which would be
to allow us to move on in the right manner, so we decided to continue as planned, but it is a very sombre place here at the football club."