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McCoist forges new alliance to fix old faultlines at Rangers

Amid the latest alarm and uncertainty at Rangers, the impulse is still to ask, why?

Ally McCoist says he has developed a good working relationship with Graham Wallace since the latter's November arrival Photograph: Colin Mearns
Ally McCoist says he has developed a good working relationship with Graham Wallace since the latter's November arrival Photograph: Colin Mearns

Given two tranches of season ticket money and an initial public offering of shares that raised £22 million, why is the need to cut costs so pressing that chief executive Graham Wallace raised the possibility of the players taking a 15% wage cut? There are several reasons, but the overriding one is the choices made in the past two years were short-term in nature.

"[Wallace] said to me that some decisions that were made, in hindsight, possibly should not have been made," said manager Ally McCoist.

Wallace has inherited a mess and it is his remit to tidy it up, so the idea itself was perfectly reasonable, not least because the alternative is likely to be seeking to reduce the size of the squad. It is also the case, though, that first-team wages account for only around 30% of turnover, and that there are cuts to be made on the business side as well. That is why the players' response was to ask if executives would be making the same sacrifice?

"It's not the players' fault and it's absolutely not the fans' fault," McCoist said. "Anything but; they have bought 72,000 season tickets over two years. Players have come and honoured contracts and done their work to the best of their ability. The chief executive has said cuts will have to be made and I accept that. I am very well aware of the severity of the situation, I know the player budget is something he is looking at."

Wallace might feel as though he is caught in a wringer. He brought in former Arsenal and Liverpool financial director Philip Nash to assist with the business review, yet the extra expense of a consultant - when there are at least four chartered accountants already working full-time at Ibrox - seems extravagant when other staff are being asked to consider a pay cut.

Wallace has developed a working relationship with McCoist, though, and both understand that is essential if difficult times are to be negotiated."I have to do my best to forge a healthy working relationship with the chief executive, that's in the best interests of the club," McCoist said. "Everything Graham has said to me, I believe to be the truth and he'll continue to be honest with me.

"He didn't go into great detail [about how the club had arrived at this situation]. He just said some mistakes had been made. Graham has assured me he is confident of the club's position mid to long-term in terms of sponsorship and getting more income."

The question of why Rangers have reached this point is futile. Costs have to be cut and sustainability brought to bear. The club are at a crossroads. There are three possible ways in which to address the financial situation once the business has been restored to an even keel.

A fresh share issue would bring in new investment and allow Rangers to rebuild in time for their return to the top flight. That, though, would likely see the current shareholders diluted down unless they invest again and so some would lose influence. Alternatively, money could be borrowed against the assets, or costs cut to such an extent that season ticket income alone would fund the business, at least until there is a significant uplift in commercial revenue.

The latter two options would see Rangers eventually return to the top flight as a shadow of the club's former status. Dave King has already stated he would like to lead the funding initiative of a new share issue, and others are prepared to invest on those terms, to ensure Rangers are competitive on their return.

That would, though, fundamentally change the regime in charge. Decisions need to be made, but consensus needs to be found in the boardroom first. McCoist, rightly, points out the player wage budget reduced last summer and that neither of Wallace's predecessors, Charles Green and Craig Mather, said that the club couldn't afford to sign the players they did.

"Maybe I have it totally wrong but [with] the player budget coming down, I was looking at season tickets, costs - I'm doing that on the back of a fag packet - [and] it kind of fitted," McCoist said. "We had a lot of money in from an IPO and we had two amounts of season tickets, but I was obviously wrong."

There are challenges to face in the coming weeks, since players are on contracts that cannot be altered without their consent or cancelled without a pay-off. Boardroom decisions will be scrutinised, too, all before season ticket renewals are sent out in May.

"I can understand [fan uncertainty on renewing season tickets]," McCoist said. "The supporters will make their own decisions, but there's a lot of work to be done by everybody before we can start thinking about season tickets again."

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