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Rangers lurch from bad to worse as administration looms

By Graham Luney

Ally McCoist may be gone but the storm clouds over Ibrox are going nowhere.

Despite the claims of the Rangers board that the club will return to the Champions League and finally eradicate their financial headaches, the threat of administration looms and the fear of points deductions and a player exodus is real.

Rangers do not have the cash at present to pay off McCoist's contract - hence his being placed on gardening leave - and they are estimated to need more than £8million merely to get through the season in one piece.

So will shareholder Mike Ashley and his comrades fork out enough cash to keep Rangers afloat?

The manager is gone, but can the club with a massive fanbase in Northern Ireland secure promotion from the Championship and somehow remain financially solvent?

Yesterday's annual general meeting at Ibrox was, not surprisingly, stormy as an unpopular board came up against seething shareholders.

Fans were even asked to 'refrain from any disruptive behaviour' by Rangers chairman David Somers.

Matters on and off the pitch are giving the long suffering supporters sleepless nights.

Attendances have fallen and the relationship between fans and the board has sunk to such a depth that the question is asked just how many supporters will walk away from Rangers and not come back?

But long before McCoist handed in his notice to quit 11 days ago it was, at the very least, arguable that a more able coach would get better performances out of the squad.

It is perhaps reasonable to predict - and for the club to demand - that a different coach would get more out of players such as Nicky Law, Ian Black, Kris Boyd and Northern Ireland international Dean Shiels.

Kenny McDowall, who has taken over for the rest of the season, seems an unlikely candidate to get significantly improved performances out of a radically underachieving squad.

McCoist was loved by Gers fans and the manner of his departure has upset many.

But Rangers are still in the semi-finals of the League Cup and the fifth round of the Scottish Cup and - more relevantly - are still well in the running for the play-off places in the Championship. So there is still hope. But of course the shortage of cash at Ibrox is the most pressing concern.

Once newco Rangers were admitted into the old Third Division, many of us thought it would be only a matter of time before they were back at or close to the top of the Scottish game. But the farcical mismanagement of the club has gone on for so long now that a complete recovery has to be in doubt.

Rangers recently announced annual losses of £8.3million and admitted they needed to recoup most of that amount in the coming months to stay afloat.

They can still launch a share issue but the board admitted defeat in key Resolution Nine which "limits its options for future funding".

New Rangers chief executive Derek Llambias promised to get Rangers "back on its feet" and talks are planned with the Scottish Football Association today, despite Rangers and key Ibrox shareholder Ashley facing five disciplinary charges in a January 27 hearing into the Newcastle owner's dual interests.

The club lost an attempt to disapply pre-emptive rights for the second year running.

The resolution, which would have given the board authority to issue shares to individuals without offering the same terms to existing shareholders, was defeated by a 55-45 majority. The board needed a 75 per cent share.

The Rangers board, chairman Somers, Llambias and the Easdale brothers James and Sandy were met with widespread booing, abuse and derision when they faced shareholders from a tent on the Ibrox pitch.

There is no disguising the fans' anger and it's not going away in a hurry - just like Rangers' problems.

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