MORTON chairman Douglas Rae has launched a scathing attack on one of the club’s big name players.

As he vigorously defended his decision to slash this season’s wage budget in the face of growing criticism from fans, the boardroom boss savaged striker Garry O’Connor — branding him ‘hopeless’, unfit, immobile and ‘totally unsatisfactory’.

Rae says that the club still has the fourth-highest budget in the Championship, but he believes players like O’Connor have not been anything like value for money.

Sources had suggested that the Cappielow chief had cut Allan Moore’s allocated player funds by approximately 40 per cent of the 2012-13 expenditure.

However, Mr Rae has refuted those rumours, stating that it was only a 10 per cent reduction and that it meant Ton should still have been highly competitive this term.

The Golden Casket owner also stood by his original judgement and insisted a rollback was more than necessary due to annual losses and last season’s low turnouts despite a title tilt.

He told the Tele: “Do I not have the right to reduce the budget? I certainly have. I own the club and I run the club.

“Last season we lost over £200,000. Am I just to repeat that? Who’s going to pick up the bill? Me. And I’m not going to run the club on an ongoing way with large losses. I’m not; I’m not prepared to.

“Listen, our budget is still the fourth biggest in the league. I heard I had reduced it by 50 per cent – that’s a joke! It really is a joke. It was reduced by about 10 per cent.

“The wages are only about 10 per cent different from last year, and of course I had to consider the £200,000 loss when setting the budget.

“The supporters have got themselves to blame. The average gates last year were appalling. They fell last year by about 350 – and these are the figures given by the SPFL I might add.

“The fans have always said: ‘Give us a good team and we’ll support it.’ Where were they? Our average gate when we were in the Second Division was 2,860.

“Our average gate at the minute is 1,751. Look at the loss: for each game that’s 1,000 people. Call it an average of £10 per person, that’s £10,000 a game. With 20 home games, there’s your £200,000.

“It was unsustainable to keep the budget as it was, and that’s the whole point. I’m not rolling my money down a drain.

“There are fans who can tell you how to run it. They know better than anyone what you should do: ‘You need to get the chequebook out again; you need to increase the budget.’ It’s a joke.

“They don’t realise the extent of the running costs and things of that nature. I don’t object to criticism if it’s fair criticism. That’s healthy. But it should be reasonable and based on fact.

“One guy wrote into the Telegraph and this fellow said that there is only one man who is responsible and he has been very silent. And that was me.

“Now if you examine the thing closely you see what a stupid comment that is. Who picks the players to sign? I don’t select them. I don’t pick the team. I don’t play in the team. I don’t do any of that.

“I don’t have any say in who plays for the team and nor do I want it. With his responsibility you have to give your manager authority.

“If the team does badly it’s the manager who has done badly. He stands and falls by his level of success.” As well as coming in for criticism for the budget from some sections of the Ton support, Mr Rae has been maligned for his decision to stick by manager Moore in the face of poor results.

The former Stirling Albion boss was eventually fired straight after a 5-1 home loss against Livingston on 23 November. However, there were fans who felt he should have gone earlier, in particular after suffering the same scoreline at Cowdenbeath over a month before.

Rae explained: “Well the whole thing is you’ve got to have trust in the people you engage. Allan Moore was a very good manager for us.

“He worked hard, the players liked him, everything was right about him except that he made an error of judgement in the team that he assembled for this season. Now the fact is he made an error of judgement by bringing in four players from overseas and it regrettably took them a bit of time to settle.

“He was maybe too loyal to some of his players too, but that’s not a bad thing. And I had a loyalty towards him. You have to appreciate that managers are like everyone else: they make mistakes from time to time, and I certainly would not say one word of criticism against Allan Moore.

“I think he was a good manager for us. He made a few mistakes but who doesn’t make mistakes? Step forward those who haven’t made a mistake.

“I’ll tell you this, if the 10 best teams in Europe were in a league together, one of them would still finish at the bottom. It doesn’t make the manager a dumpling.

“I’m not saying that I’m not disappointed to be at the bottom, but we don’t have a divine right to win. Manchester United have been relegated. Now, if they can be relegated with all their resources, Morton can be relegated. It’s our turn as it happens and we just have to take it on the nose.” As well as being critical of the squad assembled by Moore, the Golden Casket owner has been left unsatisfied by Kenny Shiels’ dealings in the transfer market.

Former Scotland striker O’Connor’s contribution, or lack thereof, has been a real source of consternation, with Rae branding him ‘hopeless’.

He said: “Allan brought in 10 new players and Kenny Shiels brought in nine or 10 new players, and when you do that you’ve got a job to make them gel. During the window in January you’ve only got the players no one else wants or the ones who are creeping back into the game from injury.

“There’s only one window that is worthy of being called a window for signings and that is in the month of July. It’s the only one that counts.

“No club is going to give away good players. Unless you are paying money for players, you are only going to get the dregs, as a journalist put it in a magazine I was reading.

“Have I been disappointed with Garry O’Connor? Yes, hopeless. My view is he has been totally unsatisfactory. He has not been able to get himself back mobile enough to play in the Championship.

“Garry is only 30 and he’s just left himself go. In the time he’s been here he should have been able to get himself back to a level of fitness that, in my view, he doesn’t have.

“He’s been disappointing, he really has. I think he has lost interest in football and if I had been the manager I would have dropped him before he actually was. I would have told him if he doesn’t get fit, he doesn’t play. The worst thing you can do to a footballer is to keep him from playing.

“It’s a financial commitment to bring players like Garry to Morton - it is - and that’s the sad thing.

“Players get paid irrespective of how they play. That’s something I’m addressing. In future what I’d be doing is getting a fitness company to take a player and judge him at the beginning.

“Then if I wasn’t satisfied after say four or five weeks I would send him back to this place to see if his fitness levels had measurably improved. If they hadn’t, then he could be freed.” After having his fingers burned by big-name signings such as O’Connor and Nacho Novo, Rae insists he will not throw money at trying to get out of League One at the first time of asking next term. He concluded: “We’ll be trying to get back the Championship by the end of next season. I cannot promise that we will but we will certainly be doing everything in our power to get back.

“We have to take decisions which are aimed at getting out of the division. We’ll be trying to get back to the Championship by the end of next season. The one thing I will not be doing is throwing a lot of extra money at it.

“I’ll be setting a realistic budget based on how many I think we’ll get through the gates and that’s the truth.”