The Rangers manager cannot sign any players older than 18 in either of the next two transfer windows, but Rangers yesterday applied to the Court of Session to have the punishment – imposed by the SFA for bringing the game into disrepute – overturned.
As revealed by Herald Sport yesterday, Rangers decided to seek a Judicial Review of the sanction imposed by the SFA's Judicial Panel. McCoist's primary worry is that he will not be able to replace any senior player who may leave this summer, several of whom have clauses in their contracts allowing them to go for a reduced transfer fee. Those clauses were inserted as compensation for the players accepting pay cuts to stave off redundancies while the club is in administration. But being able to leave on the cheap, and secure a 'golden hello' from a new club, could be irresistibly attractive to players who face a season under heavy sanctions at Ibrox. The club is already banned from Europe for one year and could start next season with a points penalty if it remains in administration, in addition to the signing ban.
McCoist yesterday spoke publicly for the first time since learning that an appellate tribunal appointed by the SFA had thrown out Rangers' appeal against the signing ban. That prompted the club to take their challenge to the Court of Session, where they will argue that the embargo is legally unsound.
"My feeling was one of extreme disappointment [at losing the appeal]," said McCoist. "The next possible step was a judicial one. That's because, while this will cripple us in terms of players coming in, it also runs the serious risk of players going out too. I don't agree with the decision at all.
"We have lost in the region of 11 players since the start of last season, including David Weir, Gregg Wylde, Mervan Celik, Nikica Jelavic and Madjid Bougherra. I counted up 10 or 11. If you have lost all those players, and could lose more without the ability to replace them, you could be bang in trouble. I don't make these remarks looking for sympathy, I'm just trying to get the best deal for our club that we can get.
"Outgoings in personnel would determine how the season would go. If we lost another six or seven, say, then you would have to think that finishing in the top six would be a dream. After that you would just have to take your chances.
"While the embargo stands, getting contracts renegotiated to hang on to key players is a priority. We must get our players that have been loyal to the club, and to each other, back next year. For me, that is the immediate target. At least that would give us a reasonable solidity. We have lost big players, like Jelavic and Bougherra, but if we can keep a spine of the likes of Allan McGregor, Steven Davis, Steven Naismith and all those boys then that would certainly be positive for us."
Massive uncertainty hangs over Rangers. Will the embargo stand? Will the club be out of administration and under new ownership? Will it start next season with a points penalty? Could it even reform as a newco which might be denied entry to the Scottish Premier League? The unknown elements make forward-planning extremely difficult for McCoist.
"Pretty much everything is still on hold. All I can do is plan pre-season training, but the crazy thing is that you are planning it without knowing who will be there. It's a bizarre situation, but you have to plan and prepare as best you can to be ready for the start of the season.
"We are hopefully going to Germany to a training camp we have been at before. It's not been finalised yet, but we are hopeful. We also have one or two offers in terms of games. But it's quite difficult because you wouldn't be wanting to play Chelsea with your under-19s. That wouldn't be fair on anyone: the players, Chelsea, or our fans. We have to do a balancing act."
Rangers have continued to instruct their chief scouts, John Brown and Neil Murray, to look at players and draw up lists of potential signings for McCoist. "We don't know whether we will be dealing with frees or players at a couple of hundred grand. I don't think we'd be talking about players at £1.5 million or £2m, that would be sensational. We have to be realistic. But the lads are working round the clock to be ready to go if and when we might be able to."
Being away at a youth tournament in Hong Kong limited McCoist's opportunities to meet with Charles Green, the figurehead of the consortium intending to buy Rangers, but in the talks they have held so far the manager argued that his squad was already too thin and could not lose further players. "I've met him enough to let him know that we have lost so many players this season. I have told him what I think we need to make us competitive and to have a realistic chance of possibly winning things next season. We just need to wait and see what everyone comes up with."
McCoist was diplomatic about the role played by Duff & Phelps, the administrators who have been heavily criticised and accused of conflicts of interest in a BBC investigation this week. "The unfortunate thing for myself and the vast majority of the fans is that we don't know, we are not qualified in these areas. All you can do is put your trust in people to do their jobs. All we can ask is that people do their jobs to the best of their ability. Until a day comes when it is proved that has not been the case, then I believe we have to keep trusting people."
McCoist was talking at the inaugural Tommy Burns Masters golf tournament at Ayrshire's Dundonald Links yesterday. The event raised money for the Tommy Burns Skin Cancer Trust.