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Ibrox chief pledges to splash cash in glory bid

By Andy Newport

Rangers chairman Dave King has vowed to stand up to Mike Ashley's attempts to "bully" the Ibrox board - while also revealing that manager Mark Warburton will have a bigger war chest in the next transfer window.

King has confirmed Mark Warburton will be given cash to splash in January - even though he admits the Rangers boss failed to squeeze every penny of value from his summer spending.

The Light Blues have struggled on their return to the top flight this summer and are already 11 points behind runaway Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic.

Gers chairman King believes his manager was given the necessary funds to put up a better fight than the side have so far managed after increasing Warburton's budget by 60%.

But none of the 11 new faces who checked into Ibrox this summer have made a major impact.

The signing of Joey Barton has proved especially costly. The controversial midfielder was paid off after just eight appearances following a training ground bust-up with Warburton, with the club's total bill topping £500,000.

Despite that, King will once again trust the manager with the Gers chequebook after challenging him to land a lucrative Europa League slot.

After he appeared at the club's annual general meeting, the chairman said: "The view we have taken with Mark is that he must continue to look at his squad.

"I think he will admit certainly the summer transfer spending wasn't as successful as it was the previous season.

"I know the standard is higher, but some of the players he has brought in - Joey Barton being a great example, he tied up a lot of wages but he didn't perform for the manager.

"The manager then has to recycle that, and I think he has to keep looking, see what players are working in his squad, see what ones he may want to move on and which ones he might want to bring in.

"So I would expect some activity in January. I know that Mark is working on a plan for January and I think there are quite a number of options he is looking at.

Warburton appeared to suggest he regretted signing former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR battler Barton when he answered questions from shareholders at the AGM.

"It would be obvious to say hindsight is a marvellous thing," said the Englishman, who leads his side across Glasgow to face Partick Thistle today.

"We look for players to add value and experience. At the end of last year we were very light in numbers, we literally ran out of players for the cup final.

"We had to try to add some youthful exuberance as well as some experience.

"That particular player [Barton] represented experience and proven quality. Our job was to do the due diligence that would make sure he would fit into the football club.

"Everything we saw suggested it would work very well. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.

"I would hope you would judge us on the 20 or 21 players who come in, rather than one individual."

The long-running dispute between the Rangers board and Sports Direct founder Ashley looks set to rumble on into 2017.

King, addressing the club's annual general meeting in Glasgow, said:

"The last year has seen a continuation of Mike Ashley and Sports Direct's attempts to bully your company's directors by suing them in their personal capacity.

"The present board comprises supporters who signed up for this challenge and who are not intimidated in the slightest by such bullies."

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