Smith's deputy and Rangers record goalscorer Ally McCoist was appointed manager of the club for season 2011–12.
Hampered by a bizarre transfer policy under Whyte, Rangers found themselves knocked out of first the UEFA Champions League and then the UEFA Europa League by the end of August, depriving the club of income that may have been anticipated. With the new ownership there initially appeared to be some financial stability of the club. A number of first-team regulars were secured on long-term contract extensions including Steven Davis, Allan McGregor,Steven Whittaker and Gregg Wylde. When McCoist entered the transfer market, his first signing being Almería midfielder Juan Manuel Ortiz, he soon encountered difficulties. A number of highly publicised failed transfers, including deals for Wesley Verhoek and Roland Juhász, lead to many doubting Whyte’s financial prowess.
Rangers' first Scottish Premier League match of the season was a home match against Jim Jefferies' Hearts, where the league flag was unfurled by then chairman Craig Whyte, as Rangers were under considerable pressure for most of the first half but managed to salvage a draw. The following week, McCoist claimed his first competitive victory as manager with a win over St. Johnstone. The season proved to be a baptism of fire for McCoist, by early October the club held a ten-point lead over Celtic, and on 5 November the lead stood at fifteen points over Celtic and twelve over second placed Motherwell. However, a draw with St. Johnstone and subsequent defeats to Kilmarnock, St. Mirren and Old Firm rivals Celtic, who then went on a run of twenty-one matches undefeated saw Rangers slip to second place where the club remained for the rest of the season.
Rangers' European adventure began in the middle of the final week of July, where Rangers were defeated by underdogs Malmö 1-0 at home and Rangers crashed out of the Champions League with a bad tempered 1-1 draw in Sweden in which both Steven Whittaker and Madjid Bougherra were both given their marching orders, and ultimately relegating the Gers to the Europa League play-off round, where they faced Slovenian team NK Maribor. In cup competitions the club fared no better, a third round defeat by First Division side Falkirk in the League Cup and a fifth round exit at home to Dundee United.
On 13 February 2012, Rangers filed legal papers at the Court of Session giving notice of their intention to appoint administrators. Rangers officially entered administration on the following day, and appointed London-based financial advisers Duff & Phelps as administrators. Rangers entered administration over an alleged non-payment of £9m in PAYE and VAT taxes to HM Revenue and Customs] On entering administration, the team was docked ten points by the SPL, a move regarded as 'effectively ending' its 2012 championship challenge. A failure then to submit accounts for 2011 meant the club was not granted a licence to play in European football in season 2012–13. In April it was revealed that the club's total debts could be as high as £134m.
On 13 May it was revealed that Whyte sold his controlling interest in The Rangers Football Club Plc for £2 to a consortium led by Charles Green. Green offered the creditors a settlement, in the form of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), in an attempt to exit administration. On 12 June 2012, it emerged that HMRC would reject the CVA put forward by Green. Green's takeover of the club depended on the CVA being accepted by HMRC, which would have seen £8.5m of the total debt repaid. The formal rejection of the CVA, two days later, meant that The Rangers Football Club plc entered the liquidation process. The company's business and assets were sold to a company called Sevco Scotland Ltd, a consortium led by Green, in a deal worth £5.5m. Sevco was subsequently renamed The Rangers Football Club Ltd at the end of July 2012.
Ten of the other eleven SPL clubs voted against allowing Rangers to transfer their SPL membership share to a new company on 4 July 2012, leaving the club applying for a place in the Scottish Football League. On 13 July, 29 out of 30 SFL member clubs voted to give Rangers associate membership but 25 of them also voted to place Rangers FC into the Third Division of the Irn-Bru Scottish Football League from the start of the season. Rangers clinched the Scottish Third Division Title on 30 March after a goalless draw away to Montrose and Queen's Park lost.
Apart from being defeated 2–1 by Forfar in the First Round of the League Cup on 3 August, season 2013/14 got off to an excellent start with Rangers winning maximum league points in their first 15 games in League One. 2014 was a mixed bag for Rangers FC. They went on to the Ramsden's Cup Final where they were beaten by Raith Rovers. On 3 May 2014, Rangers players made history by becoming the first Rangers side in 115 years to go an entire league season unbeaten after a 1-1 draw with Dunfermline, finishing as Scottish League One champions.
Playing in the Scottish Championship in 2014–15 season provided Rangers with a more difficult challenge, with the club losing home and away to both Hibernian and Hearts and also losing away to Queen of the South in the first half of the season. Rangers also failed to beat Alloa either home or away in the league before losing 3–2 to Alloa in the semi-final of the Scottish Challenge Cup. Amid mounting criticism, McCoist submitted his resignation intending to honour his 12 months notice period but was placed on 'gardening leave' and replaced by Kenny McDowall on a caretaker basis for the rest of the season.