Rangers' exit from Europe costs club £2m

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The Independent Football

Steven Davis is hoping that the Rangers squad is bolstered rather than trimmed in the January transfer window despite their elimination from Europe putting more financial strain on the cash-strapped club.

The 2-0 defeat to Stuttgart at Ibrox on Tuesday night, which was their third home loss in Group G of the Champions League, left them bottom of the table with two points from five games and without even the consolation of a spot in the Europa League.

The loss of around £2million from failing to reach the last 16 of the competition, notwithstanding ticket money and hospitality sales from the home gate, represents another blow to a club already approximately £31m in debt and looking for a buyer.

And with no compensatory cash from the Europa League, the European exit may hasten the departure of sellable assets such as the Algerian defender Madjid Bougherra, who has blotted his copy book at Ibrox by failing to return on time from international duty three times, the most recent of which led to him sitting on the bench against Stuttgart.

Asked if he feared players leaving in January, Davis said: "I hope not. That will probably be out of the manager's hands but hopefully we can keep this group together. I'm sure the manager would like to bring in a couple of players to freshen things up as well. But that will be down to the people who run the club."

Davis believes the players need to get back on the Champions League horse as quickly as possible by retaining the Scottish Premier League title. "Obviously we want to retain the SPL championship and that is our focus now," the Northern Ireland international said. "First and foremost, the league is our bread and butter and we have to get back to winning ways on Saturday at Aberdeen. It's great to be playing in European competitions and testing yourself against the quality players that you come up against.

"Having missed out last year, we got ourselves back in to European competition this year, so it is disappointing not to do well. But we have to focus on the domestic front, now that we are out of Europe."

Davis is well aware future Champions League draws may not be so kind. When the Ibrox club were joined by Seville, the Romanian unknowns Unirea Urziceni and Stuttgart in their group, it was thought that second place was well within the capabilities of the Scottish champions.

However, Rangers' deficiencies were cruelly exposed against Stuttgart. Had it not been for the goalkeeper Allan McGregor they could well have lost by more than the four goals they conceded in each of the previous two home games against Unirea Urziceni and Seville.

Davis admits the optimism which followed the draw was misplaced. "Realistically we could have got a tougher draw, with so-called bigger teams. We looked at it optimistically and thought that we had a great chance of doing well. But obviously we have not been good enough and that has been the story of our campaign. It is your home form that sees you through in these competitions.

"After losing at home to Unirea, we had a meeting and since then we have actually been doing a little better domestically and we got a decent 1-1 result in Romania with a good performance. But at home (against Stuttgart) it was the same story as in the two previous home games."