ON THE anniversary of Rangers being plunged into administration, the man who took that decision – Craig Whyte – gave a television interview insisting that he had done nothing “remotely crooked” during his chaotic reign as chairman of the Ibrox club.
Former owner Whyte also claimed he would welcome any investigation into his stewardship of the club and the opportunity to clear his name.
Administrators Duff & Phelps were appointed on 14 February last year after HMRC lodged a petition over the non-payment of PAYE and VAT since Whyte’s 2011 takeover.
The financial collapse of one of Scottish football’s biggest clubs subsequently saw Rangers eventually consigned to liquidation, denied a place in the SPL as a “newco” and instead voted into the Irn-Bru Third Division ahead of this season. But, as far as Whyte is concerned, his conscience is clear following what has been a turbulent 12 months for Rangers.
He told Sky Sport News: “I welcome any fair investigation into anything to do with the takeover, the insolvency, whatever. I would welcome that and be happy to co-operate with any of it and anybody will see there is no wrong-doing whatsoever.”
The Scottish businessman also denied any criminal activity during his time at Rangers. He added: “If I was a crook or a wide-boy, do you really think I’m stupid enough to do anything remotely crooked at a high-profile football club? The whole notion is just utterly ridiculous.”
Asked by interviewer Jim White how he sleeps at night, Whyte replied: “Very soundly.”
Meanwhile, Ibrox chief executive Charles Green believes Rangers have moved on from the trauma of the past 12 months. Green headed the consortium which purchased the business and assets of the club when liquidation was confirmed last summer.
As well as benefiting from huge crowds at Ibrox this season, Rangers announced they had raised more than £22 million from their listing on the stock exchange in December. Green, who also praised the role of manager Ally McCoist and the backing of supporters over the past year, told Rangers’ official website: “As a club, we are not just ready to move on – we have moved on.
“The successful flotation of the club on the Alternative Investment Market was the biggest single step on the road to recovery.
“The fact that our business could attract in excess of £22m of investment in a challenging economic climate was heart-warming testament to the belief of investors from City institutions to individual fans.
“Shares have performed well and the capitalisation of the club has meant that we have very sound financial foundations for the future.
“No effort will be spared in pursuing avenues where our financial security can be developed and enhanced and we will be making announcements regarding this in due course.
All along, we have known that the rebuilding of the club on the pitch will take time and we are prepared for that.”
He added: “The most outstanding feature of the last year has been Rangers fans themselves. Nothing could have prepared me for what I have seen at Ibrox and around the world.
“‘Loyalty’ is an overused word, but the attitude of Rangers supporters in the past 12 months to the club they love has been the true essence of loyalty and humbling to witness.”
On the park, Rangers are out of all cup competitions this season, but do sit 22 points clear at the top of the Third Division.
Manager McCoist told Sky Sports News: “As a manager, I would probably say I would be content with where we are at the moment. Not overly happy and certainly not delirious, but not too downbeat. By that I mean the lads have done very well in the league.”
Meanwhile, defender Chris Hegarty has agreed a two-year extension to his Rangers contract. The 20-year-olds current deal was set to expire at the end of the season, but he has agreed to extend his stay at Ibrox.
Fellow youngsters Barrie McKay, Robbie Crawford and Lewis Macleod pledged their futures to the club with new deals earlier in the season. And contract talks are also underway with Kal Naismith and Fraser Aird, as the Light Blues seek to secure the futures of their promising young talents.
McCoist said: “All the boys deserve a lot of credit for coming through and doing their best to make an impact on the team.
“Chris Hegarty has been one of those lads who has come in and been really, really solid and we can look at him and see just how much it means to him to pull on that blue jersey.
“In this day and age, that’s really important, especially in our current climate, so he deserves the extension to his contract. These lads deserve the reward for their efforts and hopefully they’ll be the future of the club for years to come.”
Hegarty paid tribute to McCoist for handing him his chance in the first team this season. He said: “I’m over the moon. It’s a great Valentine’s Day present because I’ve always loved the club, so I’m so happy. Words can’t say how delighted I am to be staying at such a big club and hopefully I can be part of the journey that gets Rangers back to where we belong.
“I’m so grateful to the manager for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do and without those games I wouldn’t have had the chance to sign this contract.”
He added: “I played against Linfield last year and didn’t know what was happening after that and came back without a contract and was willing to play for the club for nothing at the time. I’m glad the club have come past that and there is only one way to look now and that’s to the bigger, brighter picture.”