Alex McLeish has emerged as the favourite to take over at Ibrox as Mark Warburton and Rangers head for a fractious parting of the ways.
McLeish is believed to be at the top of a list of potential candidates should Rangers decide to quickly appoint a new manager until the end of the season. The club announced on Friday night that they had accepted Warburton’s resignation, although the Englishman immediately denied he had quit.
Former Ibrox boss McLeish has been out of management since leaving Egyptian side Zamalek in May last year and is available immediately, although Rangers go into Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup tie with Morton with under-20s coach Graeme Murty in charge.
There was no sign of Warburton at the club’s training ground on Saturday morning despite reports the former Brentford manager would show for work.
Managing director Stewart Robertson and the club’s head of football administration, Andrew Dickson, did arrive ahead of the players to hold a squad meeting to explain the circumstances behind Friday night’s dramatic developments.
Rangers announced in a 9pm statement on Friday that the management team’s representative told them earlier in the week that Warburton, assistant David Weir and the club’s head of recruitment, Frank McParland, “wished to resign their positions and leave the club on condition that Rangers agreed to waive its rights to substantial compensation”.
Rangers said their agreement to waive the compensation would “assist the management team to join another club”.
Warburton was earlier rumoured to have held talks with Nottingham Forest but the Sky Bet Championship club on Thursday night handed caretakers Gary Brazil and Jack Lester the reins until the end of the season. Former City trader Warburton denied any link with the East Midlands club on Friday, when he also confirmed he had no working relationship with Rangers chairman Dave King.
Rangers claimed Warburton’s representative attempted to alter their earlier agreement but they have now informed the management trio that they are serving their notice periods.
The lengthy statement added: “It is important that Rangers has a football management team that wants to be at the club and that the board believes can take the club forward to meet our stated ambition to return to being the number one club in Scotland. We are clearly short of where we expected to be at this time.”
Warburton’s exit from the dugout comes after Rangers slipped to third place in the Ladbrokes Premiership, 27 points behind leaders Celtic, after a heavy defeat by Hearts and a home draw with Ross County.