Rangers takeover: Craig Whyte is biggest problem, says Walter Smith
WALTER Smith has asserted that Craig Whyte remains the biggest problem facing former club Rangers and, until he is banished from the scene, their difficulties will continue.
Ally McCoist’s predecessor as Rangers manager also said that Sir David Murray, who sold the financially troubled club to Whyte for just £1, had a “lot to answer for”.
Speaking at the launch of the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund sponsored walk, Smith stopped several times to compose his thoughts during an emotional unpicking of the damage Whyte has done to the club and made no attempt to hide the disdain he has for him. Smith believes history will judge Whyte’s contribution to the financial state of Rangers, but made plain his own contempt for the manner in which the club was deliberately run into administration.
Smith said: “I don’t think anybody would have imagined that he was going to do what he has done. Maybe he didn’t even imagine it at the start.
“How do I feel about him? I’m not sure how to put that. You’ve got me. I’ve always been the fact that, if somebody comes in and has a reason for doing something, then that is fine. He had previous of closing down companies and making ordinary people unemployed. That, to me, would maybe sum him up more than anything else. Anyone who could do that in my mind isn’t someone I want to spend a great deal of time thinking about.
“The problem we have got is that he [Whyte] is still here, that is the biggest problem Rangers have got. It doesn’t matter whether the administrator comes out and says Craig Whyte is an irrelevance. He seems to showing otherwise. That’s the biggest crime at the moment, he still has the capability of affecting what happens.
“Craig Whyte, his time will be remembered, that is one certainty. To be quite honest with you, I don’t think he would care. Maybe that is the measure of the fellow. That he wouldn’t care what you, me, or anybody thought of him. That’s one of the biggest criticisms.
“What I can’t stomach is that, right from the very start, there was an intentional aspect to his ownership. I just hope the club is sold, he’s away and we can forget all about him.”
During the later stages of Smith’s second tenure as manager he maintains the club had worked to reduce its outgoings while still paying its bills and blames Whyte for halting that partial recovery and plunging Rangers into crisis.
“If we were gaining a major advantage by spending a lot of money we didn’t have, fine. But we weren’t doing that, Smith insisted.
“The club was living within its means. It was going well and needed a bit of investment. The circumstances surrounding Rangers have to be taken into consideration because that makes them a different administration case. It’s the action one individual [Whyte] has taken. People working here had no idea of what Craig Whyte was doing. It’s wrong that he could come in and leave this situation.
“It was public knowledge that Alastair Johnston and Martin Bain came out in their opposition to Craig Whyte. Alastair got sacked as chairman and, as chief executive, Martin suffered from it in that his reputation was sullied. The warnings were there.
And, talking about the potential for a “newco” Rangers reapplying to the Scottish Football League after liquidation, Smith added: “I don’t think any of us would like to see Rangers in the Third Division. On a personal basis, I wouldn’t like to see it.
“There’s nothing productive coming out of this. It will only destroy Scottish football. There has to be a competitive Rangers.”
Smith remains close to former chairman Sir David Murray but says it was a mistake to sell to Whyte when there were voices on the club’s previous board questioning his credentials.
“There is obviously a responsibility there that they take, especially after there were elements of doubt placed in front of them,” said Smith. “I think Sir David Murray and the Murray Group, have got a bit to answer for. Sir David has come out and said that he can only apologise. I never thought I would read anywhere a quote from him saying he was duped, but it happened.”
Smith ruled out a return to a formal role at Ibrox but promised to work voluntarily for the club if required.
“I would do whatever I could, there is no doubt about that,” he added. “The Fighting Fund have asked me to be a trustee. I would come back without hesitation, but not in a paid capacity.”
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