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McCoist: 'I've had worse stick than was handed out at agm'

UNTIL five days ago, it had been a while since Ally McCoist faced the Main Stand at Ibrox and heard a chorus of boos and jeers raining down on him.

Ally McCoist prepares his side for the arrival of Stranraer at Ibrox on Boxing Day
Ally McCoist prepares his side for the arrival of Stranraer at Ibrox on Boxing Day

It had been 30 years, in fact. In truth none of the verbal abuse from the stand at last week's Rangers annual meeting was intended for McCoist but, as manager, he stood there and had to look suitably sombre as it washed over the men he was standing beside on a makeshift stage at the side of the pitch.

He had James Easdale to his right and Graham Wallace to his left, a couple of guys barely any Rangers fan had heard of six months ago. McCoist likened the experience to the nadir of his Ibrox playing days back in 1983, when he was more likely to be flanked by Dave Mitchell and Sandy Clark.

"Last week was my first agm," he said. "I'd seen a couple but I didn't really know what to expect. It was okay. There were bits and pieces during it where it was a little bit boisterous and emotional, as you would expect. Was it uncomfortable? I've been on the park and got stick from 45,000 [of them] so 1800 was a breath of fresh air . . .

"It was obviously uncomfortable at times because some people were getting scrutinised and getting asked very, very direct questions. But that's what an agm is all about, an opportunity for shareholders and fans to ask the questions. You could understand the emotion of the shareholders and the supporters. I think the agm was more the supporters' day than anybody else's. The supporters who have their shareholding went to it with something to say and with their ears wide open to listen. It will be interesting to see how they react."

No-one inside Ibrox is more sensitive about their relationship with the supporters than McCoist. He courted controversy last week by allowing his local Rangers supporters' club to have the proxy for his shareholding at the vote on whether to keep the existing directors and/or add Paul Murray, Malcolm Murray, Scott Murdoch and Alex Wilson to the board.

Had McCoist voted to keep the board he would have angered his natural constituency, the fans. But if he had voted against the board he would have been opposing his employers and could have faced the sack. "I felt I was in a no-win situation, compromised all over the place. So the way I looked on it, rightly or wrongly, was that I gave my proxy to supporters whom I 100% knew would use it to the way that they thought the club would benefit. I can live with that.

"I still don't know how they voted or what they did with their vote, but I am happy that I gave it to them because they are the biggest Rangers supporters I know, these boys, and I am comfortable with that. As I say, they might not even have voted the way I'd have voted, to be honest with you. But I thought it was the best of a bad situation. I genuinely didn't know how they'd vote beforehand, and I don't know after."

Had the directors made their thoughts known to him about what he'd done with his proxy? "I'd probably keep that private," he said.

That sounded very much like they had done, and they were not necessarily very impressed, but McCoist was not for discussing it further. Nor was he inclined to give the supporters any advice on the issue of a boycott of season tickets which has been mooted as a protest against the board which was elected on a mandate from institutional shareholders at the agm.

"I think the fans are what have kept the club going and the fans will continue to keep the club going as long as they support it and buy season tickets. The fans are certainly the most important part of our club. They always have been and always will be because we wouldn't be here if we didn't have the 72,000 season-tickets sold over the last two years.

"So they must continue to support the club for the club to survive and improve and progress. There's absolutely no way I'm going to sit and tell the fans what to do because they have been absolutely fantastic. What they do and say will have a major bearing on how we move forward, and I'm happy with that."

Predictably, McCoist also welcomed the apparent renewal of interest from former director Dave King, who has said he is prepared to discuss making an investment with the current board. "I haven't spoken to Dave for some time but I did read a report saying that he was looking to get back in," he said. "Investment, fresh investment, would be good. I would be very optimistic that Graham would talk to him. I can't talk for Graham when he's not here, but I know he's actively pursuing new investment. If Dave was wanting to come in and do that, then obviously I would give him Graham's phone number . . ."

n Rangers have donated 650 tickets for the game against Stranraer at Ibrox on Boxing Day to people affected by homelessness and living in isolated circumstances. A number of charities received tickets via the Rangers Charity Foundation and every recipient will also receive a voucher for a hot meal and drink.

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