CRAIG Mather has been confirmed as Rangers’ interim chief executive and immediately pledged to use the opportunity to land the job on a long-term basis.
The widely-anticipated move to install Mather has been presented as merely a stop-gap appointment. The Rangers board are known to have been split over his suitability owing to his perceived closeness to previous CEO Charles Green, who resigned last week.
Mather had previously acted as sporting director at Ibrox, having been brought into the fold by Green.
However, Mather, 42, who invested £1 million in the club last year and has been Rangers’ director of sports development since October, sees his elevation differently to the board members in the anti-Green camp – thought to be chairman Malcolm Murray and Walter Smith.
“I look forward to starting work immediately and would like to make it clear the chief executive’s job is a position I would like to take on permanently,” said Mather, who alluded to his link to Green in a statement released to the Stock Exchange: “I know there have been rumours about who is supposed to be connected with whom but I prefer to distance myself from all of that. I know what my own hard work has achieved over the years and where it has taken
me and I will use of all of my experience and knowledge to help improve Rangers.”
Chairman Murray acknowledged the firestorm of speculation that has inflamed the club in recent weeks. Green’s resignation came in the wake of the club announcing an investigation into his links with discredited former owner Craig Whyte during the asset purchase that followed oldco Rangers’ liquidation. Issues of ownership and the club’s cash position at the bank remain mired in uncertainty and Murray maintained Mather’s interim status would “allow us some time to examine the credentials of candidates for this position on a permanent basis”.
Mather was also confirmed yesterday as Rangers’ chief operating officer and Murray said: “Craig will lead the business on a day-to-day basis but I want to make it clear we are in a healthy position financially following the successful flotation of the company in December last year. I would also like to assure all of the supporters that this money is being used for the benefit of the club and nothing or no-one else.
“The board has also instructed the law firm Pinsent Masons to conduct the investigation into alleged links between Craig Whyte and former and current personnel at the club. This process will be completed as swiftly as possible and no-one should jump to conclusions regarding the outcome. The fans deserve to be reassured on clarity, transparency and asset ownership and this is the main purpose of the enquiry. The last week or so has been turbulent for the club but we should bear in mind that the process of rebuilding is well underway.”
Mather claims he already has an “emotional investment” in Rangers as well as a financial one. He told RangersTV: “One of my parents was born in Scotland and raised in Scotland and I was very fortunate to come to an Old Firm game. I’ve never forgotten it, ever. The passion, the noise – it’s unexplainable.
“When I was asked about this opportunity, I had to ask more than once whether it was real. I would say, for the first time in my life, this was an emotional investment. I’m normally very calculated but this was an
emotional investment. I couldn’t believe that the club couldn’t move forward and not get back to the top of Scottish football where it belongs.”
Mather envisages working alongside manager Ally McCoist in player recruitment and added: “I’ve worked very hard with Ally to get a better understanding of him, his character, the dynamic of the man, so that we can work together at the next transfer window.”