Mark Warburton makes surprise exit as Rangers boss

Joe Williams

Mark Warburton: Has resigned as manager of Rangers

Rangers manager Mark Warburton has resigned, the club have announced.

Warburton’s assistant David Weir and the club’s head of recruitment Frank McParland have also left, with the club 27 points behind Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic.

Rangers said in a statement on Friday evening that they had been advised earlier this week that the trio “wished to resign their positions and leave the club on condition that Rangers agreed to waive its rights to substantial compensation”.

In a lengthy statement on the club’s website on Friday evening, Rangers said they had agreed to waive their right to “substantial compensation”, which would “assist the management team to join another club”.

The club said they had agreed to release the trio, despite the potential financial cost, because it was “important that Rangers has a football management team that wants to be at the club”.

Under-20s coach Graeme Murty will take interim charge of the first team for Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round tie against Morton, Rangers said.

Despite having seemingly told the board earlier this week of his intention to resign, Warburton earlier on Friday spoke at his pre-match press conference, and gave a ringing endorsement to McParland following speculation the head of recruitment was poised to quit.

There was no indication at this point of the evening drama that lay ahead, and the waters were muddied further by reports that Warburton had denied standing down. The 54-year-old Englishman reportedly told BBC Scotland he was unaware of the club’s statement.

The 9pm statement briefly disappeared from Rangers’ website but then returned.

The statement had explained events during a seemingly busy week, and stressed that “absolute commitment is essential”.

It read: “At a meeting with the management team’s representative earlier this week the club were advised that Mr Warburton, Mr Weir and Mr McParland wished to resign their positions and leave the club on condition that Rangers agreed to waive its rights to substantial compensation.

“Rangers’ agreement to waive compensation would assist the management team to join another club. This compensation amount was agreed when Rangers significantly improved Mr Warburton and Mr Weir’s financial arrangements before the start of this season.

“The board urgently convened to consider the offer made on behalf of the management team and its ramifications and agreed to accept it and release the trio from the burden of compensation, despite the potential financial cost to the club.

“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.

“The representative acting for the management team subsequently attempted to alter the terms of what had been agreed in favour of the management team. A further board meeting was held this afternoon to discuss this and it was decided not to agree to this additional request but to hold with the original agreement.

“Mr Warburton, Mr Weir, and Mr McParland have therefore been notified in writing that their notices of termination have been accepted.

“The board is very appreciative of the good work previously done by the management team but believes it had no alternative. Our club must come first and absolute commitment is essential.”

Former Brentford boss Warburton was appointed Rangers manager in June 2015 on a three-year contract.

He led the club to promotion back to the Premiership in his first season at the helm, as well as triumphing in the Challenge Cup.

But Gers have struggled to keep pace with their Old Firm rivals this term and currently sit third in the top-flight standings, having played a game more than second-placed Aberdeen.