Ally McCoist confirmed as Smith's successor at Rangers
McCoist thrilled at manager post
Rangers have confirmed for the first time that Ally McCoist will take over as manager when Walter Smith steps down at the end of the season.
Assistant manager McCoist, 48, has been groomed as Smith's successor since the pair returned to Ibrox in January 2007.
Now McCoist has agreed a one-year rolling contract, with number three Kenny McDowall to become his assistant.
The 62-year-old Smith had announced earlier this season that this would be his last as manager at Ibrox.
And he expressed his wish that assistant McCoist, who scored 355 goals in 581 appearances for the club, would be his successor and become only the 13th manager in Rangers' history.
Confirmation came three days after a 3-0 defeat by Celtic that leaves the reigning champions eight points adrift of the Scottish Premier League leaders.
It is a bit like taking the mike from Frank Sinatra - a difficult act to follow
Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist
And Rangers said the announcement, where McCoist was presented to the media at a hastily-convened conference, was made in a bid to end any instability over their future plans.
A beaming McCoist paid tribute to a man he believes is one of the top managers in world football and perhaps Rangers' best-ever.
"Working under Walter has been an incredible experience and it is a bit like taking the mike from Frank Sinatra - a difficult act to follow," he said.
"I'm thrilled to bits, it's as exciting a time as I can think of.
"I was lucky enough to play for the club for 15 years, but this is an absolute dream and a privilege.
"Martin and I had a few discussions - and Walter was heavily involved - and, once I was offered the job, my automatic reaction was to say yes.
"Rangers have always been my team. I know the club inside out, I know the people, the fans, the players and I know how important this football club is to everyone and hopefully I can bring them success."
McCoist will remain as assistant as Rangers not only chase Celtic in the title race but face their Glasgow rivals in the Co-operative Insurance Cup final and in a Scottish Cup fifth-round replay.
Before then, the Ibrox side face Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League on Thursday.
ALLY McCOIST FACTFILE
1962: Born September 24 in Bellshill, Lanarkshire
1978: Joins St Johnstone from Fir Park Boys Club
1981: Sunderland sign McCoist for £400,000
1983: Joins Rangers for £185,000
1986: Makes Scotland debut against Netherlands
1990: Starts one game at the World Cup finals in Italy
1993: Finishes Europe's number one goalscorer with 34 league goals for the second year running
1994: Awarded an MBE
1997: Helps Rangers equal Celtic's record of nine titles in a row
1998: Given free transfer to Kilmarnock
1998: Wins the last of 61 Scotland caps, finishing with 19 goals
2001: Finishes his playing career with a 1-0 win over Celtic as Killie clinch a European place
2005: Accepts Scotland manager Walter Smith's invitation to join his coaching staff
2007: Appointed assistant manager at Rangers as Walter Smith returns for a second spell as boss
2010: Signs a new two-year contract with the club as Smith pens a one-year deal
2011: Rangers confirm McCoist will take over as manager from Smith at the end of the season
"It's a little bit of a relief in respect that we can now hopefully put it to bed," he said.
"This is a wonderful moment, but I'm sure everyone is aware of the importance of matches between now and the end of the season.
"We're still heavily involved in four trophies."
There has been uncertainty at Ibrox over the club's finances and ownership - Scottish tycoon Craig Whyte has been studying the club's finances with a view to buying out majority shareholder Sir David Murray.
However, Rangers chief executive Martin Bain stressed that the announcement had little to do with any possible takeover, as McCoist had been told he had the job in December.
"We were in Bursaspor in December when Alistair shook my hand and officially accepted the job," he said while revealing that the choice was unanimously agreed by the board.
"I felt it important to keep it to ourselves and give Alistair that security.
"In recent weeks, as we start to plan for the new campaign, we realised Alistair was key to what we were planning next season.
"Takeovers have been discussed for some time. I can't run this football club as chief executive waiting for something to happen."
Smith considered stepping down last summer after leading Rangers to a second successive title.
However, he stayed on to help the club through their financial troubles during which he has been unable to buy a player for almost two years.
Bain added: "When Ally joined Walter as his assistant in January 2007, he was always being groomed as the next manager.
"He has contributed greatly to our success over the past four years and that is why we feel he is the right man to replace Walter.
"Walter Smith is rightly regarded as one of the most successful managers in our proud history and what he has achieved during the nine-in-a-row years and more recently in his second spell as manager is nothing short of remarkable."
Meanwhile, Ian Durrant will be promoted to first-team coach once McCoist takes charge.
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