Rangers still aim to catch Celtic in 'reasonably foreseeable future' - Dave King

Mark Warburton and Rangers chairman Dave King
The manner of Mark Warburton's departure disappointed Dave King

Dave King says being forced to change managers will not alter Rangers' plan to catch and overtake Celtic "within the reasonably foreseeable future".

The club chairman has been in Scotland to meet new manager Pedro Caixinha.

"There is a level of understanding that this was a phased period that was going to happen over a couple of years," King told TalkSport.

"And I think, while this year we are behind where I thought we would be, our plan pretty much remains the same."

Rangers sit third in the Scottish Premiership in their first season since promotion, eight points behind Aberdeen and 33 adrift of Celtic as their Glasgow rivals close in on a sixth successive title.

Caixinha was appointed this month after the acrimonious departure of Mark Warburton, who has since taken over at Nottingham Forest.

"It was quite good to personally meet up with him and see that he lived up to the glowing report he received from the sub-committee that interviewed him," said King of the Portuguese.

In a wide-ranging interview, King also said there would be further investment in players, the club's dispute with retailer Sports Direct could be resolved this summer and they were considering court action in response to Warburton's departure.

Catching Celtic

Celtic's Moussa Dembele and Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers (right) has led Celtic to a commanding Premiership lead

"The resources available to Rangers are significantly above all other clubs by a factor of a couple of hundred per cent, other than Celtic," King pointed out.

While he was "realistic" enough to accept that Celtic would probably win a sixth title, "I expected Rangers to come midway between Celtic and Aberdeen if they came third, so it's very disappointing."

King believes recruiting Caixinha and further investing in the squad, which in part could be boosted by Europa League qualification and a better commercial agreement with retailer Sports Direct, will help Rangers catch their city rivals.

"While to some extent it is disappointing what has happened this season, we are certainly not letting the pressure of that change the long-term ambition, which is to get close and overtake Celtic within the reasonably foreseeable future and get back to being number one in Scotland," he said.

"And we are not going to do that by betting the bank on the way. We are still going to go ahead with a fairly methodical financial plan.

"Quite obviously, with the level of support the club have, with 50,000 supporters, with 44,000 season ticket sales, we already have that strong commercial base.

"What we are missing relative to Celtic is two key revenue streams - one where we had always been in Europe, we are now not in Europe, so at least that gap will start to be closed from next season when we'll at least be in the qualifiers.

"And the other important thing is Rangers had for a number of years the strongest retail operations in the UK and that has been completely lost with the present situation around the retail agreement."

Sport Direct deal?

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley's Sports Direct is in dispute with Rangers

Rangers have been in a dispute with Sports Direct that has led to a High Court action over a merchandise deal said to result in the Glasgow club receiving about seven pence of every pound spent.

The company owned by Mike Ashley, the Rangers shareholder and Newcastle United owner, says Rangers' board wrongly terminated a deal through which branded products, including kits, were sold, and want damages.

However, King is hoping for a compromise and said: "These discussions have continued, they are confidential, as they always have been, but I'm more optimistic than I was six months ago.

"We might get a resolution within a time frame that would allow us to have a proper kit launch ahead of next season."

Legal action over Warburton departure

Rangers are also in dispute with Warburton over events leading to his departure on 10 February, with the club saying he resigned and the Englishman disputing that claim.

Warburton and his management team took over at Forest on 14 March and King is considering pursuing compensation, having had to buy Caixinha out of his contract at Qatari club Al-Gharafa.

"If Mark and the guys wanted away, which I understand they did, it could have been done differently," said the Rangers chairman.

"My disappointment is that, if this was done the way you'd expect it to be done, I think we would, under normal circumstances, have expected some compensation if the management team left.

"When I was approached and asked if we would waive compensation, I said no we wouldn't - that's what contracts are for - but would be flexible on the payment terms.

"They have engineered, in my view, a relocation to Nottingham Forest."

Help for Caixinha

Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha
Pedro Caixinha has taken over from Mark Warburton as Rangers manager

Following Warburton's departure, Rangers decided they wanted to appoint a director of football as well as a team boss.

However, Southampton director of scouting and recruitment Ross Wilson rejected Rangers' offer, leaving the Ibrox still seeking a new director of football.

"I would imagine it will happen sooner rather than later, but it is not imminent," said King.

The appointment of a Scottish assistant, likely to be a former Rangers player, is closer to being chosen.

"My understanding is that he (Caixinha) has had a few interviews and he has another couple over the next few days.

"It is a decision that he's going to make and he is going to make alone. It is just based on who he feels comfortable with."

Investment in the team

King took charge in March 2015 and says that he and other shareholders who backed him to become chairman will continue to put funds into the club.

Rangers International Football Club this week announced an operating profit of £300,000 for the first six months of the current financial year and said it was on its way to achieving "a sustainable business model" despite a pre-tax loss of £278,000.

"We are definitely going to invest more money in the club, including myself," added King. "That's a given and I think that will happen for another couple of years.

"We overinvested in Mark last year relative to what I thought and Pedro's got to come in and see what he feels he's got in that squad, and we'll have to give him the support accordingly.

"The interesting bit for us is over the next couple of months to see whether Pedro can get more out of the squad.

"Whether they can perform at a level that's probably more appropriate for the quality of players we do have at the club."

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