FRIDAY nights events at Ibrox will go down as one of the biggest PR disasters in the history of Rangers Football Club.
At around 9pm, they publically announced that they accepted the resignations of Manager Mark Warburton, his number two David Weir and Head of Recruitment Frank McParland, only for Warburton to declare 40 minutes later that this wasn’t the case, causing a state of confusion in Govan and beyond!
With the Englishman now taking legal advice, it could be some time before the truth is established as to how his 20 month period came to an abrupt end, with rumours circulating that the trio offered their resignation earlier in the week in anticipation to go to another club, only for that to be retracted when the move fell through but Dave King and the Rangers board withholding the original resignation.
What is in no doubt, however, is that the issue has been handled abysmally by the club, and is the latest in a long line of PR disasters for the club stretching back to last seasons Scottish Cup Final.
Mark Warburton’s exit from Ibrox is not a surprise. The inconsistent performances (especially in big games), being 27 points behind Celtic, the obvious frailties in their defence and the recruitment have been met noises of discontent from the Rangers fans, rightly wondering if the ex Brentford manager was out of his depth when the pressure was on.
However, the timing of it was the biggest surprise and questions have to be asked of King and his colleagues.
If Warburton’s agent offered the resignations of the trio earlier in the week and waive compensation rights to join another club (believed to be Nottingham Forest), why did it take them until well after the manager gave his post-match press conference? Also, why make the decision 42 hours before a massive Cup game in the only competition, realistically, that Rangers can win?
Given that Warburton denies offering his resignation, it gives the impression that he was not told by his now former employers that his Rangers tenure was over, therefore the idea of releasing the statement on the clubs website without making the manager aware is even more baffling from a legal point of view, though it must be noted that we don’t know at this stage if Warburton is bluffing to strengthen his case for unfair dismissal.
If the trio did offer their resignation with their rights to compensation being waived, it certainly gave the Rangers board the excuse they needed to get rid of Warburton without paying him off. Things have not been right between the board and the management team for some time, given the fact they are not clear in second with the budget they have compared to their rivals and the recruitment in the summer was a complete disaster.
It was expected that King would fire Warburton at the end of the season, but the fact it’s happened on the weekend of a tough Cup tie with Morton, which they struggled to a 2-1 win, that gives the element of surprise to the story, especially after allowing Warburton to go ahead with a prematch press conference that they knew he wouldn’t be in charge of.
As Dave King looks for Warburton’s successor as Rangers manager, he should also consider who runs the Public Relations at Ibrox given the shambles being put out by Level5PR, headed by their former Director of Communications Jim Traynor.
From the post-Scottish Cup Final statement randomly targeting Tom English and Nicola Sturgeon, through the handling of Joey Barton, the Sports Direct saga and the general “blame everyone else but ourselves” attitude, Level5PR have handled Rangers PR abysmally and made them a complete laughing stock to the outside world and Fridays circus emphasises that. The contract of Traynor’s firm should be put through the shredder along with Warburton, Weir’s and McParland’s.
The immediate priority now is to get Rangers a new manager, with the likelihood of someone with previous club connections being appointed at least on an interim basis to steady the ship.
Bookmakers around the land will be coining in the cash from those putting their bets on the next Rangers manager, and you can be a winner too by going to an online casino.
Whoever comes in will have to work hard with a squad left by Warburton, drilled on a Plan A with no alternative, and motivate them to ensure they secure second above Aberdeen and Hearts before they even can start building a team capable of reducing an ever widening gap on Celtic.
Dave King needs stability on the pitch and sort out the shambles off it if he is to win over a demanding who are unconvinced by the way their club is being run, perfectly understandable for a set of fans who’ve seen many an owner run their club into disarray.