In Depth

McCoist leaves Rangers: what has been happening at Ibrox?

Directors of the once-great Scottish club are jeered at the AGM amid questions over Mike Ashley's influence

There were angry scenes at Ibrox as the board of Rangers were booed and heckled at the club's annual general meeting, a day after manager Ally McCoist was placed on gardening leave.

McCoist's exit comes nine days after he first tendered his resignation and after another period of turmoil, on and off the pitch, for the once-great Glasgow club.

With McCoist on his way out and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley tipped to be taking control, what exactly has been happening at Ibrox?

Is McCoist actually leaving?

The former striker tendered his resignation earlier this month after defeat to Queen of the South. It was initially reported that the board had refused to accept his resignation, but the club later confirmed that McCoist was serving a 12-month notice period on a "significantly" increased salary of £750,000. McCoist had insisted he was happy to serve out his time, but that will not now happen.

"Relations between the 52-year-old and the Rangers board had already broken down, meaning a more immediate exit was more mutually beneficial," reports The Guardian. "McCoist insisted during the intervening nine days that he would serve his notice, a stance which never looked to be more than contractual posturing."

Why has he resigned?

Rangers have struggled on the pitch this season and are nine points behind Hearts in the hunt for the one automatic promotion place available in the Scottish championship.

But there are political reasons as well. "It represents a boardroom victory for Sandy and James Easdale, the brothers and fellow directors who opened the door for Mike Ashley to mount what has effectively been a bid for control of the club," says the Daily Telegraph.

The decision to place McCoist on gardening leave was also intended to prevent him speaking at the AGM, says the Daily Record. "If he was offered the chance to speak, sources believe he would have used the platform to voice his disquiet about recent redundancies. McCoist has been devastated at the departure of long-serving staff members, most of them committed Rangers fans, and is worried the heart and soul is being torn from the club."

Who will replace him?

Assistant manager Kenny McDowall has been installed as caretaker manager, but few people expect him to remain in the post for long. Former Nottingham Forest boss Billy Davies is being tipped as McCoist's long-term successor.

So what's happening with Mike Ashley?

The Newcastle owner has taken a nine per cent stake in the Scottish club and his involvement is highly controversial.

The Scottish FA has an agreement that limits him to a ten per cent stake and last week issued a notice of complaint over Ashley's involvement in the club. There will be a hearing on 27 January. "Ashley is essentially alleged to be influencing the management of Rangers when not permitted," explains the Guardian. The paper adds that the SFA is concerned that "Rangers have not acted towards the Scottish FA and other member clubs 'with the utmost good faith' and that Ashley has not 'acted in the best interests of association football'".

Despite his relatively small shareholding Ashley has plenty of control at Rangers. A £3m loan to the cash-strapped club, which went into administration in 2012, gave Ashley the right to pick two board members and earlier this month Derek Llambias, formerly managing director of Newcastle, was installed as chief executive of Rangers.

Ashley also has control over Rangers' commercial operations through his Sports Direct retail chain and is expected to underwrite a new £8m share issue, which is needed to keep the club afloat.

Why are the fans angry?

There is "a belief among the Light Blues legions [that] their club is suffering a slow, lingering death at the hands of rapacious corporate vandals," says the Daily Record. A ticket boycott at Ibrox has seen attendances plummet.

Fans have been demanding answers to "searching questions that prove their club is being led by individuals capable of restoring it to on-field success and financial stability" says the paper.

But chairman David Somers "enraged" the fans ahead of the AGM with what the Record calls an "incredible statement in which he failed to accept any blame for the financial crisis". Instead, says the paper, "he blasted ticket boycotts and the media for not portraying a more positive message and revealed he'll likely have to borrow yet more money".

What happens next?

There are fears for the club's long-term future. Stuart Bathgate of The Scotsman asks: "At what point does supporters' temporary disaffection with their club become a disenchantment so deep-seated that they no longer even think of themselves as supporters?"

When Rangers were readmitted to the fourth tier of Scottish football in 2012 many assumed they would rise straight back to the top. After two consecutive promotions McCoist was on course to do that, but off the field there have been serious financial problems.

"The farcical mismanagement of the club has gone on for so long now that a complete recovery has to be in doubt," says Bathgate. "It will be easy for a man of Ashley's clout to bankroll the rest of the season. Acquiring the credibility required to have capacity crowds returning to Ibrox will be an altogether harder task."

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