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Dumping Stockbridge will sell season tickets, but what next for the Rangers board?

WHATEVER other headlines Rangers make in the coming months, they set a new record at tea-time on Friday.

When it comes to a season-ticket sales drive, January 24 will take some beating as the earliest ever launch.

That was the date everyone learned Ibrox's loathed finance director had been told his number was up. Finally crowbarring Brian Stockbridge out amounted to an overdue act of cleansing. He left as the personification of a period in which Rangers' executive management was so deeply immersed in the trough they could think themselves deserving of a £200,000 bonus for the team winning the third division. Stockbridge's departure was cheered to the heavens by the very people the club will be begging to buy season tickets.

Rangers now need a new finance director. Philip Nash has taken the role on a temporary basis but his family is settled in England, making it less likely that he will be around permanently. The inevitable interest and attention on who takes over from Stockbridge is a consequence of the ongoing distrust and contempt for the way Rangers have been run. No song and dance is made when a well-run club changes its finance director; the news is carried as a footnote.

The removal of Stockbridge extracted the most toxic figure at Ibrox. The longest-serving member of the Rangers board is now James Easdale and he has been on the scene for only six months. For the time being, the others are David Somers, Norman Crighton and chief executive Graham Wallace.

It is a quartet with no back story at Ibrox, no history, no familiarity, no relationship with the Rangers supporters. Wallace is gradually winning them over by looking like he is untainted by the pollution which has caused such a stench over Ibrox, but no-one is rushing to carry him shoulder high down Edmiston Drive just yet. At the end of his 120-day review of the business he will have to do more than simply reel off the list of cuts he has imposed to bring order to the anarchy of Rangers' finances. He will have to do the one thing no member of the Ibrox board has done up until now: outline a vision, a plan, a strategy.

When James Easdale joined, all he said was that he would "look forward to helping Rangers Football Club continue its journey back to the top of Scottish football". Crighton is there to represent the institutional investors Laxey Partners and has not said a peep. Somers delivered that awful open letter to supporters about fanatics, bogeymen and not being able to recognise Craig Whyte, Charles Green and Imran Ahmed if he passed them on the street.

After Sandy Easdale joined the separate football board he talked about taking Rangers "out of this dark place" but then said if there was a campaign of disengagement from fans towards season ticket sales it "could prove fatal". That seemed like a pretty astute reading of where Rangers are but confirmed how dependent the club seems to be on season-ticket income (a variable, entirely reliant on fans' goodwill).

Wallace has not offered a long-term vision either although, even by these directors' standards, he has been around the place only five minutes. He has talked about a club having to think beyond the near-term. No arguments there.

But between them the board members have yet to dispel the fans' suspicion that there has not been joined-up thinking within Ibrox beyond relying on the fans to cough up for season tickets every year and hoping for the best.

The collapse of the share price means institutional investors are not likely to pile in to any share issue like they did when Green raised £22m. There has never been evidence that the Easdales intend to significantly invest, or that any of the other directors could even if they wanted to. Wallace has said the money will not run out any time soon but what sort of message would it send out if supporters hear, for example, that the club could need short-term loans to tide it over until the season-ticket income (whatever that amounts to) starts to arrive?

Wallace has said he is open to meeting any serious potential investors. Dave King considers himself one of those. For King to plough in money, the existing shareholders would have to reinvest to maintain the size of their stake. If they do not want to, the easiest thing to do is block King in the first place.

But would Wallace be able, or willing, to defend that to fans who want King involved? On the issue of King buying his way on to this board there could be some bluffs called on both sides because, for too long, King has been all words and no action.

Dumping Stockbridge was an overdue and popular move, but the Rangers board has plenty of questions to answer. One of the main ones is this: once all the costcutting and downsizing has been done, what then?

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