A blue moon rising at Rangers

IT is a blueprint for the future.

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Graham Wallace would not be drawn on January sales
Graham Wallace would not be drawn on January sales

It is a map back to the top of Scottish football.

But Graham Wallace, Rangers chief executive, knows he is entering uncharted waters of a crucial vote at the annual general meeting on Thursday.

He and his colleagues could be blown off course. But if they emerge relatively unscathed, Wallace will steam ahead with a strategy that will see costs cut at Ibrox and an emphasis on producing homegrown players for the first team.

The Rangers boss told SportTimes that he will be looking to Murray Park students to graduate with honours.

"Youth development is very close to my heart," said Wallace, who spent four years of his career at Manchester City. He stressed: "First we must ensure that what we are building will develop success on the field.

"That's what is all about. It starts and finishes with the football performance.''

But he knows that the costs as Ibrox have to be scrutinised.

"We also need to be realistic and look at how we can achieve that success in the most financially sensible manner,'' he said. "Murray Park is a terrific facility that has the track record of producing significant numbers of players good enough to play in our first team and full international level.

"The infrastructure is there and the manager and I share a philosophy that youth development is important to the future of the club.

"That needs to be balanced with the right blend of experience as well as we go up the divisions, but if you look at the football we are playing now and some of the young talent that is getting an opportunity to play every week, it is great development for them as individuals.''

Wallace knows he has to convince dissident supporters to trust in a board to deliver a bright future.

The board has faced a massed red card protest at Ibrox against Ayr and a threat by some fans not to buy season tickets.

But Wallace has pledged to "engage" with supporters to understand and meet their concerns.

But he was blunt about the need to control costs at Ibrox after the club posted a loss of £14million and with fears that money will run out at the club before the end of the season

Dismissing "categorically" any possibility of administration, he outlined an action plan to bring stability to Rangers.

"What we need to do first is to assess what we have got, assess the organisation, the cost base and what we are bringing in and what we need to have in the medium term,'' he said.

"I am in the process of having discussions with the manager to look at the short-to-medium term view over the football department and the first team playing squad.

"We are not looking at the upcoming window but we are looking to summer and beyond that.

"We are looking at the existing first team squad, the players we have, the contracts we have, we are looking at the youth development set-up and the players we have coming through in the youth development set-up."

He said McCoist would look at the talent he had at his disposal and then identify possible "gaps".

McCoist's future has been the subject of fevered speculation, but Wallace was adamant that he looked forward to working with the Rangers legend.

"My relationship with Alistair is that initially we have established a good rapport and we speak every day, sometimes multiple times, and we are starting to work on some of these critical football structural issues,'' he said.

Wallace, though, would not be drawn on whether players will be sold in the transfer window. There have been reports that Lee Wallace may be the subject of a seven-figure bid to prise him from Ibrox.

The Scottish left-back has a host of admirers but his namesake insisted: "It is too premature to be saying anything about acquisitions or divestiture. What we will look at it is what we need to build and maintain a successful team."

He was quietly confident that he and the rest of the board will survive the attempts to unseat them on Thursday.

"Over the last few weeks we have met with a wide cross-section of institutional and private shareholders and we have explained our view on what we are trying to do," he said.

"Those conversations have been positive. If the postive feedback from those conversations is represented in shareholder votes, then I would think we would be in a reasonably strong position."

The chief executive also pointed out that unity and stability were essential if progress was to be made at the club.

He has his blueprint. But first his battle plan must prevail in the off-field struggle for power at Ibrox.


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Michelle McManus


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