A decision on the number of Rangers players to be made redundant has been delayed until the beginning of next week. The extent of the financial difficulties at the Ibrox club were revealed by the administrators yesterday, though, with savings of £1m a month being sought to cover a shortfall of £4.5m until the end of the season.
It is more than two weeks since Rangers entered administration and negotiations have been ongoing since Wednesday over player and staff redundancies. A resolution was delayed by the late return of some squad members from international duty, but the players were also deciding on a number of options offered by the administrator to minimise the number of job losses.
Although Duff & Phelps, the administrators, have the option of simply identifying the players who must be released to lower the wage bill, they have sought to find a solution that allows the remaining staff to continue fielding a competitive side. Among the options put to the players were: 11 players leaving and a deferred 5 per cent wage cut accepted by the rest of the squad, eight players released and an immediate 50 per cent wage cut for the rest, or no departures and a 75 per cent cut across the board. The likelihood is that the outcome will be a mixture of these scenarios.
The players must agree in writing to the pay cuts, which also prolongs the discussions because their agents and legal advisors then become involved. Ally McCoist, the manager, and his coaching staff are said to be prepared to take significant wage cuts themselves, but no resolution was reached among the players yesterday, despite a lengthy meeting with the administrators and the Professional Footballers' Association Scotland.
"We are determined that all realistic options should be explored and discussions have been ongoing," said the administrators in a statement. "We would prefer to reach a consensual position but as [today's] very important match against Hearts looms, it has been agreed that any final decisions have been postponed. We had anticipated completing our review of staffing levels and cost structure this week but, in short, the Rangers business is trading at a substantial loss and we have no alternative but to fill an approximate £4.5m shortfall by the end of the season. It is therefore imperative that we find savings of approximately £1m per month to ensure the ongoing viability of the business."
The administrators were able to use a court order to freeze £3.6m from the accounts of Collyer Bristow, the legal firm Craig Whyte used in his purchase of the club, and the High Court will decide next week if the money belongs to the club. It is thought to be the remainder of the £24.4m borrowed from Ticketus against future season tickets sales, with the rest having been used to pay off the debt to Lloyds Bank. The administrators are seeking a further £5m from Whyte, which he pledged to invest in a legally-binding takeover agreement.
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