Rangers look at the teddy bear necessities

RANGERS struggled to beat part-time Arbroath at home at the weekend with a strong side on the park.

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Sandy and James Easdale join Graham Wallace at Ibrox on Saturday
Sandy and James Easdale join Graham Wallace at Ibrox on Saturday

So how will they fare in the future if players are offloaded between now and the end of the January transfer window on Friday night?

This is the question Graham Wallace must wrestle with in the coming days as he continues to address the Ibrox club's financial problems.

The Gers chief executive, who has embarked upon a "120-day restructuring project", has refused to rule out any possibility.

And any offer for a member of Ally McCoist's first-team squad will certainly be considered.

But the SPFL League One match on Saturday underlined that Rangers weaken the playing department of the club at their peril. Would a side without, say, Jon Daly, David Templeton or Lee Wallace have won after going behind twice against Arbroath?

It is debatable. They will have, no disrespect to an impressive Arbroath side, far more formidable teams to overcome in the months ahead.

Rangers will take on Raith Rovers, a full-time club, in the Ramsdens Cup final at Easter Road in April. Having last lifted a cup way back in 2011, when they beat Celtic to the League Cup, victory is important for the club and their supporters.

Success will be a milestone on "The Journey" back to the forefront of Scottish football. Failure will be hard to bear. Elsewhere, if Rangers beat Dunfermline at Ibrox in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup on Friday week the chances are that a Premiership club will be next up.

They will, too, find themselves up against full-time clubs week in week out in the Championship in the 2014/15 campaign.

It is not just the first-team regulars who would be missed either. Allowing fringe men to go out on loan or to be sold would also have consequences.

That would decrease competition for places and adversely affect on-field performances which have, despite results, already drawn criticism.

The support of Light Blues fans in the last few seasons has been remarkable. But the sale of season tickets, by far and away the main source of income at the club, still relies heavily upon having a decent team to go and watch.

Of course, Wallace, a former Manchester City financial director and chief operating officer, is well aware of all those facts.

The Scot has repeatedly stressed remaining competitive on the pitch as Rangers move up the leagues has to be a priority.

However, at the same time, he is striving to sort out the almighty mess he has inherited from his predecessors and create a sustainable business model.

The club is operating outwith its means - erstwhile financial director Brian Stockbridge estimated that £1million a month was being lost.

And the prospect of taking a 15% pay cut has been rejected by the players. But costs most definitely have to be cut.

If a cash offer is received for a player in the coming days it will be tempting for the Rangers hierarchy to accept it.

It would bring in much-needed funds and reduce the wage bill that is, despite accounting for less than 30% of turnover, still excessive.

This, then, will be an interesting, not to mention important, week for Rangers.

Templeton has, due to a succession of injuries and a lack of form, only started in six matches in all competitions for Rangers this term.

The former Hearts man is on a decent wage and is seen by many as somebody who could be deemed surplus to requirements. But he was vital to the comeback against Arbroath.

In fact, it is not going so far to suggest Rangers would have drawn or lost without Templeton.

The win over Arbroath at the weekend once again highlighted the enormous demands which are placed on players by their fans.

McCoist's men battled back twice to triumph 3-2 thanks to goals from Daly and Templeton and a late penalty from captain Lee McCulloch.

The result maintained their unbeaten record in the third tier and, with Dunfermline losing 3-2 to Brechin away, extended their lead to 23 points.

But were their followers happy? Not in the slightest. The woeful defending that allowed first David Banjo and then Bobby Linn to give the visitors the lead was poorly received by the home support.

So was the fact that Rangers needed a spot-kick to win.

The Gers players know full well that even if they draw or lose games then they will still win the League One title.

But, at Rangers, nothing less than a convincing victory is required in every domestic match.

It is doubtful that a lesser team than the current one would be able to meet those expectations - at a higher level especially.

Football

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