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By ESPN Staff

Johnston warns of tough times ahead

Rangers turned a huge loss into a profit to reduce their debt by £4 million in the last financial year but the board have warned of further cuts ahead amid Scotland's declining status in Europe.

The club's total debt stood at £27.1 million on June 30 this year after some stringent measures produced a profit of £4.2m following a deficit of almost £13 million in the previous 12 months.

The improved results were achieved despite the club laying off £8 million in historic transfers - manager Walter Smith was unable to buy a player during the period.

Participation in the Champions League group stages after a year's absence saw their turnover soar by 42% to £56.3 million.

Rangers have again qualified automatically for the Champions League following their second successive league triumph, but Scotland's falling coefficient means the Scottish champions face a qualifying campaign next season.

Chairman Alastair Johnston told Sky Sports News: "Scottish clubs may not have as much in the future because of the coefficient issue.

"That's not to say we don't anticipate going through qualifying rounds and still joining the big party, but the impact of the Champions League on the figures are quite obvious.

"For last year and this year we'll be doing just fine, beyond that we probably need to cut our coat to suit the cloth. What it means as far as we're concerned at the club and the board level is to look at what the opportunities are for Rangers, but there are certain things I think that UEFA should do and need to address for the benefit of football across Europe in all countries.

"I think there is a growing sense that the differential between the haves and the have-nots is not healthy for the game in general."

Chief executive Martin Bain echoed those words of caution regarding the Champions League income.

In a statement, he added: "The development of media rights will become increasingly important and we are committed to exploring ways in which we can maximise growth in this area and exercise greater control over our earning potential.

"We will, however, continue to work closely with all football authorities, government and relevant organisations to explore opportunities which would benefit not only the club and its operations but Scottish football as a whole.

"As part of the club's active role within the European Club Association, dialogue with UEFA will continue in recognising the growing issue of larger clubs participating in smaller domestic leagues."

Rangers have begun moves to increase their media revenue by investing heavily in their online television channel after the demise of Setanta saw the club's broadcasting income fall by £1.4 million to £3.8 million.

Season-ticket sales dropped but remain just over the 40,000 mark while the wage bill was cut by £2.5 million to leave it as 50% of turnover, as opposed to 77% the previous year.

Net operating expenses were reduced by 9% to placate main creditor Lloyds Banking Group, who loosened the purse strings after talks with Smith and Bain in May.

Smith has since spent more than £5 million on signing Nikica Jelavic and James Beattie, although the club took in at least £4 million from the sale of Kevin Thomson and Danny Wilson, while reducing the size of their first-team squad further.

Only £1.2 million remains payable from historic transfer fees and the collapse of a mooted takeover by London-based property developer Andrew Ellis has added to the relative stability.

Johnston added: "Our financial position is significantly stronger now and I think the management team have finessed very effectively during the last couple of transfer windows.

"Going forward I think the bank are very satisfied with our progress and I think we're at the level now where we have a performing debt, and one that doesn't really concern them."

Meanwhile, the club confirmed they would continue to defend a query raised by tax authorities in relation to remuneration trusts set up by Murray Group to provide incentives to employees. The case is scheduled to be heard by a tax tribunal this year.

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