McCoist has handed in his notice, but will still take tonight’s game.
That’s what we know for sure. The rest is shrouded in darkness, and although rumours fly hither thither and yon nothing can be taken as set in stone.
But something big – something very big – has clearly happened at Ibrox in the last 24 hours to precipitate this new crisis.
What could that be? In truth, it could be anything. I don’t want to speculate too much right now. I’ll leave the in-depth examination of what has suddenly caused this until till later … but I am willing to bet it has little to do with what Richard Wilson of the BBC is claiming … that Ally wants to go because he feels sorry for staff losing their jobs.
Yeah … he’s so sorry that he’s staying in his on its mind-bending salary when a fraction of that would save those jobs.
But boy, oh boy, this is one almighty mess.
There are two ways to get rid of an employee you want shot of. You can fire that person or you can make their job as difficult as possible and the working environment inhospitable enough that they no longer want to stay.
There are ways and means of doing it, everything from daily harassment and criticism to setting them goals which are impossible.
We know Sevco lacks the money to give McCoist a payoff, but we also know that he’s a bad enough coach with a 10/1 spending ratio and the second highest wage bill in the land. Threaten to slash that to a 5/1 ratio, tell him he has to lose one of his backroom staff and things get interesting.
Is that what’s happened? I suspect so, but none of us knows for sure.
What we do know is that chaos is once again the norm at Ibrox. Sevco is imploding, in slow motion, right before our eyes. It is incredible to watch.
There are any number of things that might be going on here, and none of them are particularly good for the club, or for the fans.
Is McCoist playing high stakes poker with the board? Is this a John Major move, where he’s responding to the critics inside and outside Ibrox, by saying “You think someone else can do better? Then go and bring that person in.”
It could well be that, because he comes to the betting with what, on the surface of it, is a strong hand.
To accept his offer probably means giving him the money he’s due for this season, and a portion of next. That’s impossible, as we all know, so perhaps McCoist feels that this is a way to flush out his enemies and make himself look unsackable.
That strategy, whilst sound on the surface, is fraught with risks though.
If he’s doing that the board now has a card to play at any future tribunal, wherein they can, at best, claim an irretrievable breakdown in trust between employer and employee and at worst they can state a view that McCoist’s letter was tantamount to blackmail and holding the club to ransom.
Remember; both sides have to play a very careful game here. If McCoist gives the board “cause” – and that does not mean football results; in terms of what happens on the pitch they will owe him a year’s salary in the event they decide to terminate – they can fire him and don’t owe him a penny.
To do that would require them finding evidence which justifies an automatic sacking, unrelated to what happens on the playing field. Does that kind of evidence exist? What would it take? How hard would it be to justify it?
In theory, actually, not as hard as you’d think. Your average head of HR could probably give them a hundred reasons, none of which are solid in and of themselves, but all of which could, potentially, make it look reasonable on paper.
One slip, though, and McCoist could triumph at a tribunal and take them to the cleaners.
In those circumstances though, there’s another factor to think about, and both sides would do well to consider it, and they almost certainly have. It makes the propsect … intruiging.
If they fired McCoist for cause, and he did take them to the tribunal, he would have to know that with the perilous position of the club there might be no-one left to sue by the time the case is scheduled.
What’s more, if his claim is going to cost them so much that it, itself, tips the club over the edge both sides have to consider whether that game of chicken is one they really want to be engaged in.
No-one would benefit from that particular endgame, but I suspect McCoist would be the overall loser because his critics would forever accuse him of being the man who swung the hammer.
For outsiders and neutrals, the prospect of a long court battle, and an uncertain and potentially devastating outcome like that is a mouth-watering treat. For those inside the club, including the fans, it would be one nightmare piled on another.
You have to hand it to Sevco Rangers though; this is a club that does things unlike any other.
McCoist will take the reins for tonight’s game, running the team in a must-win match, although he, himself, has voluntarily started the Death Watch on his career there. He is, to all intents and purposes, a lame duck manager now, adding a new layer of uncertainty and chaos to what was already a semi-disastrous state of affairs.
It is almost unbelievable to think that he will be in the dugout this evening. The board’s refusal to accept his resignation means he has no choice in the matter, because to refuse to discharge his duties leaves him in material breach of contract … the very grounds by which they could remove him for free, leaving him only the choice as to whether to take it to court.
But I suspect it’s the last place he wants to be, and it will be the most uncomfortable 90 minutes of his professional life.
There has never been anything like this in the history of the Scottish game.
All lingering hope of stability is now irretrievably lost. January will be fraught with peril.
The football club is now undisputedly weak, and easy pickings for the vultures. They are in such a calamitous state the prospect of them receiving good money – and by that I mean anything over £1 million – for their star players has to be minimal at best and receding fast. There is a very real prospect of them being picked clean, for chump change, with no hope of bringing in replacements.
Add to this the knowledge that the manager is on borrowed time, and a number of their key players are approaching the end of their current deals and you have a club which appears, tonight, to be in complete free-fall.
But as I said at the top … everything could change quickly. At Ibrox, the only thing you can expect is the unexpected.
This is where things stand this evening though, as we’re heading into the weekend.
By the time that weekend ends, God alone knows where we’ll be.
Fun to watch, isn’t it?
Enjoy the show, friends.
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