The announcement this week that Mark Warburton had been appointed as the new Glasgow Rangers manager was somewhat overshadowed by the continuing boardroom wrangles at Ibrox. For the past few months, the club have made the headlines on both the back and the front pages of the Scottish press with the action on the field and at board room level keeping journalists busy.
An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) was called last week by club shareholder Mike Ashley. Ashley, who is the owner of English Premier League club Newcastle,is requesting that the Glasgow club repay a £5 million loan that he gave to themas working capital earlier this year. The board are as yet refusing to repay the loan saying that it is not in Rangers’ best interest at the present time to do so. Throughout all this, Rangers are also trying to renegotiate their retail business contract with Sports Direct, owned also by Ashley. Now, with the possibility of legal ramifications, there appears to be more questions than answers for fans of the club. The present board only took control of the club in March this year led by businessman Dave King. At present, they have been delisted from the Stock Exchange and the ongoing issues regarding the loan due to Ashley merely adds to the confusion to the long-term aims of the current board.
Despite the off-field uncertainty, the new manager now has the task of rebuilding a team that is capable of winning the Scottish Championship as the club continue their climb back from the bottom level of Scottish football. Having finished third in the Championship last season, Rangers defeated Queen of the South and Hibernian in the play-offs before facing Motherwell in the play-off final for promotion to the Scottish Premier League. However Motherwell, who finished second bottom of the Scottish Premier League, were too powerful for the Ibrox side defeating them 6-1 over the two-legged final and retaining their place in the top league. Following this defeat, Rangers released a number of out of contract players, allowing Warburton a clean slate to work with. Warburton has stated that he is aiming to blend experience with youth and as he looks not just towards next season but beyond. An impressive season with previous club Brentford, which saw the club make the English Championship play-offs, Warburton and his assistant Davie Weir have opted to take on a new challenge with Rangers. Weir, who spent three successful seasons with the Glasgow club, will be a wealth of information about both the club and the Scottish game for Warburton to tap in to and Rangers fans will be hoping that the combination of Warburton and Weir can lead them to success next season and promotion back to the top-tier of Scottish football.
Rangers are 1.91 (10/11) to win the Scottish Championship next season and seal their return to the Scottish Premier League. They are also available at 34 (33/1) to go through the season unbeaten in the league.