Rangers: Mark Warburton replaced as manager ahead of Scottish Cup tie

Mark Warburton takes Rangers training on Friday
Mark Warburton took Rangers training on Friday

Rangers have replaced Mark Warburton as manager with under-20 coach Graeme Murty before Sunday's Scottish Cup tie with Greenock Morton.

The Scottish Premiership club say they have accepted the resignations of Warburton, assistant David Weir and head of recruitment, Frank McParland.

But Warburton, who took charge in 2015, told BBC Scotland he has not stood down and was unaware of the statement.

And the 54-year-old Englishman is consulting his legal team.

The BBC has learned that Warburton had contact with Nottingham Forest around 10 days ago and was high on the English Championship club's list of possible managers.

However, he was not offered the job and they decided to retain their interim team of Gary Brazil and Jack Lester until the end of the season.

Warburton, who had a contract at Ibrox until 2018, had taken Rangers' training on Friday as normal before Sunday's fifth-round tie.

He had earlier in the morning defended McParland's record of signings after media criticism of the Glasgow club's recruitment.

"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," said Rangers' statement.

Who is Graeme Murty?
Although born in England, Graeme Murty qualified to play for Scotland and won four caps between 2004 and 2007
The 42-year-old played for York, Reading, Charlton Athletic and Southampton in a career lasting 17 years and 437 games
He won the Football League Championship with Reading in 2005/06. He has coached at Southampton and Norwich City, both at youth level
Joined Rangers in August 2016 as head development squad coach

"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."

Rangers claim that Warburton's representative attempted to alter the the terms.

"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," he said.

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

Mark Warburton celebrates Rangers' title win in the Championship
Warburton led Rangers to the Championship title and promotion last season

Rangers lie third in the Scottish top flight, but they are a distant 27 points behind city rivals and reigning champions Celtic and their statement went on to suggest that the management team have not reached the targets set.

"The board is very appreciative of the good work previously done by the management team but believes it had no alternative," it added.

"Our club must come first and absolute commitment is essential.

"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."

Analysis: Chris McLaughlin, BBC Scotland senior football reporter
Relations between Mark Warburton and the Rangers board have been strained for some time. The manner of the departure could never have been predicted, but the departure itself had been coming.
Recent results have been poor, but the former Brentford boss was unhappy with the financial backing he received from owner Dave King - a man who he hasn't spoken to in person, on a one to one basis, for months.
For his part, King had grown disillusioned by Warburton's signings and what he perceived to be a lack of progress. It was a relationship well beyond repair.
Some will believe Warburton was agitating to get out, others will say the board turned on him. Whatever the truth, it's another mess this club could well do without.

Warburton's reign at Ibrox suffered a blow in November, when high-profile summer signing Joey Barton was sacked after a training ground disagreement with team-mate Andy Halliday and the manager following a 5-1 defeat by Celtic.

It called into question his signing policy, but Warburton gave another ringing endorsement to McParland, who was with him at Brentford, before Sunday's game.

"I've said time and again - his track record is outstanding," he said. "There would be no shortage of takers for someone of his quality."

Warburton also quoted a former Rangers manager in pointing out the pressures that come with the post.

"Walter Smith said to me that you are never more than two or three games away from a major crisis," he said. "That is life at Rangers.

"That is the nature of it. You just get on with it."

Warburton was in charge of Rangers for 82 games, winning 55, drawing 14 and suffering 13 losses.

His 67% win rate was more than Stuart McCall, who took charge at the end of the 2014-15 season, and had a 41% win rate, but less than his predecessor, Ally McCoist, with 72%.

Opinion

BBC Scotland's chief sports writer Tom English

Mark Warburton attempted to explain away his team's - or former team's - dreary draw against Ross County by saying a series of random events conspired against his players.

It was, he said, football's strange ways that denied them on the day, as if some cosmic force was to blame for the failings rather than his own players and his own management.

Warburton's comments were bizarre but nowhere near as surreal as the nonsense that took hold of Rangers on Friday evening as the club said that Warburton was leaving and Warburton said that he wasn't.

Rangers have known dysfunction in recent years, but those times are not as distant as some chose to believe.

They're just dysfunctional in a different way now. Rudderless, leaking like a sieve and now embarrassed in a way that surely took their supporters back to the dog days of Charles Green and chums.

This is a shambles.

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