Walter Smith regrets Rangers board appointment

Former Rangers manager Walter Smith. Picture: John Devlin
Former Rangers manager Walter Smith. Picture: John Devlin
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WALTER Smith has emphaticallyruled out a return to Rangers in any formal capacity, regardless of who ultimately wins the current battle for control of the beleaguered Ibrox club.

Motoring tycoon Douglas Park, a friend and associate of Smith, is part of the “Three Bears” consortium with George Taylor and George Letham who are seeking to negotiate a £6.5 million investment in Rangers in return for significant boardroom representation.

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Former Rangers manager Smith previously formed an alliance with Park and millionaire businessman Jim McColl in an unsuccessful bid to buy the club from Charles Green’s consortium in June 2012.

Smith later accepted an invitation from Green to join the Rangers plc board as a non-executive director, becoming chairman of the club in May 2013 before resigning just three months later. The 66-year-old admits he regrets his decision to serve on what he described as a “dysfunctional” board and insists the only connection he will have with Rangers from now on is as a supporter.

Asked if he could be tempted to take up an official role again in the event of either Park or former director Dave King being successful in taking control, Smith replied: “No, I wouldn’t go back on to the board again.

“I found it was an environment I wasn’t particularly comfortable in. I went on to the board for what I felt were the right reasons. At the time, I thought I could maybe help. As it turned out, I was wrong. I had resigned on two occasions and then, being more or less the last man standing, I took the chairman’s position for a wee while to see if I could help.

“I quickly realised that wasn’t going to be the case. There was nothing I could do to make any difference, so I stepped away.

“I wouldn’t become involved as a director or anything like that again.

“It is a regret that I went back in the first instance. I felt at the time that, if you were seen not to be trying to help, after what happened to the club under Craig Whyte, then people would have said you should as you knew a bit about the club. But it turned out that wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

“I am still asked along to games and I’ve been to a few. That’s all I will be doing now, going back as a supporter and taking my grandkids to some of the games.

“I hope that they can eventually be able to support a Rangers which is more like the Rangers I used to support myself.”

Smith retains a minor shareholding of around 0.10 per cent in Rangers, who this week rejected a revised possible takeover offer of £20 million from American banker Robert Sarver, but it is understood he will not be using it to formally support any of the groups currently vying for control.

But, speaking at the launch of media relations and sports management company Level5PR in Glasgow, Smith did endorse Park’s capacity to bring greater stability to Rangers.

“Of course he can,” said Smith. “He [Park] would do that as somebody known to the supporters. But whoever comes in has to bring that back to Rangers, whether they are American or Scottish.

“They have to bring an element of trust back into the club again because supporters are now showing they are unhappy with what is going on. The trust issue is the big factor.

“I have to stress that I don’t know the entire circumstances of what is happening around Rangers right now.

“The surprise would be that the club appears to be struggling for money at the moment and we have a few people – not just Mr Sarver – willing to invest. For whatever reasons, they can’t do so. That seems strange to anybody on the outside. The quicker that is adjusted to, the better.

“All that matters is that it comes to a point where you feel something has to be done. Sometimes as a football manager, you reach half-time in a game and you have to turn to someone and just say ‘do something!’.

“That might sound simplistic and easy. But in very simplistic terms, that’s what needs to happen at Rangers. Somebody – the people who are in there, the people who are looking to get involved – need to do something. You keep saying it can’t continue, but it seems to. It’s a matter of somebody, somewhere doing something to get Rangers back into a circumstance that is more recognisable.

“I don’t think anyone would have thought all this would have carried on over three or four years. It has been turmoil more or less throughout this time.”

Smith, who won 21 major honours in two spells as Rangers manager, also expressed his sympathy for Ally McCoist, his most recent successor in the role, who left the club last month after a torrid tenure.

“A lot of managers face difficult circumstances and I had it myself in my career when I was at Everton,” said Smith. “But I feel Alistair did not have the circumstances to work under at Rangers that he or anyone else would have wanted.

“He always wanted to be Rangers manager and I think he would have stayed on even longer if he could to see if things settled down.

“I hope he gets an opportunity to manage somewhere else. The circumstances and the work of the last three or four years would hopefully benefit him going somewhere else. It might not seem like it at the moment, but hopefully it will. I hope he does get an opportunity to go somewhere where he can work in a more stable environment.”

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