Lee McCulloch: Craig Whyte kept £400,000 from us

RANGERS captain Lee McCulloch has revealed that concerns over Craig Whyte’s competency at running the club had arisen just two months into his tenure.
Lee McCulloch tussles with Paul Hartley during the 2009 League Cup final. Picture: ReutersLee McCulloch tussles with Paul Hartley during the 2009 League Cup final. Picture: Reuters
Lee McCulloch tussles with Paul Hartley during the 2009 League Cup final. Picture: Reuters

• Lee McCulloch claims Craig Whyte refused to pay £400,000 SPL title win bonus to Rangers players

• Coffee and newspapers were taken away as alarm bells rang over Whyte’s reign

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Writing in his autobiography, McCulloch claims that Whyte held back £400,000 due to players after they won the SPL title in 2011.

Despite pleas from David Weir, Steve Davis and Allan McGregor, Whyte refused to hand over the bonus, which set alarm bells ringing for McCulloch.

“When he bought Rangers he inherited out bonus for winning the SPL in 2011,” said McCulloch, writing in Simp-Lee The Best.

“It’s hard to put an exact figure on it but I reckon there should have been around £400,000 to split between the players. We felt he treated us with contempt.”

He added that things got even worse when simple amenities such as newspapers and coffee began to disappear.

“Around September time, other things happened. Most of the guys have their breakfast at Murray Park. We read the papers and have a blether.

“We had every newspaper. One morning they were gone. The newsagent had withdrawn its service as the club had not paid. We had coffee machines and they went out of use.”

Rangers were condemned to administration on February 14 last year and deducted 10 points. They were subsequently liquidated in the summer and relegated to the Third Division last summer.

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McCulloch also revealed how he challenged Paul Hartley to a fight after losing the 2009 League Cup final to Celtic in extra-time.

Provoked by a challenge from Hartley that had broken his foot at an Old Firm meeting 11 months earlier, and a series of “niggly” challenges, McCulloch admitted he threated the then-Celtic midfielder during the game.

“He was in the vicinity and I shouted, ‘Hartley, you’re getting it from me. If I don’t get you today then I’m coming to your house later’. I had totally gone.”

“[At full-time], I glanced over and could see them bouncing up and down as they waited to receive the trophy. That set me off.

“I made my way over. Hartley was standing beside Gordon Strachan. I challenged Hartley to a fight. I said , ‘Come on, right here and now. Let’s get it on. Down the tunnel, wherever you like.’

“Strachan stared at me in disbelief. Hartley was stunned. A few Celtic players pushed me away from him.

“I realise it’s no way for a player to react and sets a terrible example to kids. But the red mist came down and for that moment I felt like I was Rambo.

“But Paul and I laught about it now.”