Walter Smith: King can run Rangers without SFA test

Walter Smith with Frank McAvennie at the John Hartson Foundation Golf Day at Mar Hall. Picture: SNS
Walter Smith with Frank McAvennie at the John Hartson Foundation Golf Day at Mar Hall. Picture: SNS
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WALTER Smith is encouraging the SFA to do everything they can to let Dave King assume his preferred role as Rangers chairman by allowing him to pass their “fit and proper” test.

Smith, hugely successful in two spells as manager, believes it is in the best interests of everyone if King is allowed to lead the club in an official capacity following his successful takeover at last month’s general meeting.

They have got to get up this season, for their own sake and that of Scottish football

Walter Smith

And he points to the recent ruling of Lord Woolman at the Court of Session which decreed that the South-African businessman is legally allowed to be a 
director of Rangers International Football Club as compelling evidence.

Stewart Regan, the SFA chief executive, said last week that there were hurdles to overcome, most notably King’s conviction on 41 counts of tax evasion which saw him pay the South African Revenue Service 
£44 million, and also the fact King was a non-executive director when Rangers were plunged into administration and then liquidation under Craig Whyte in 2012.

While Smith feels it would be beneficial that King is free to take up the post of chairman, he does not believe it is essential.

He said: “I don’t know all the background and what constitutes a fit and proper person. They have obviously got to show a bit of care with Rangers after what has gone on.

“I think that is what they are doing at the moment. I don’t know what the outcome will be. I don’t think it will make a massive difference to Rangers one way or the other. But the preferable aspect would be that he would be involved at the club.

“The courts seem to think he’s OK so the SFA will give their own judgment on it. Dave has stepped in so I don’t see things changing in terms of how Rangers moves forward if he is officially or unofficially a part of it.

“It would obviously be better if he could be involved at the club – that would be better for everyone.

“I think it’s a good thing for the club that it’s settled down now and the people can get 
involved with running the 
football club.”

While Smith is championing King’s ascension to the throne, he insists he will not act as an advisor on whether Stuart 
McCall should be given the manager’s job permanently or another man sought. He believes promotion back to the Premiership – essential in his view – will undoubtedly place McCall in pole position but he wants no part in the selection process.

He said: “Stuart’s been bold enough to take the job and he’ll stand by his results over that period. I have no idea what the long-term thoughts of the board are, but if Rangers can get promotion he’ll not have done his chances any harm at all.

“I think they are unlikely to ask my advice. I made my part quite clear – I don’t think they will ask. There is a board there in place and they will make the 
decisions. I made mine when I left and I won’t go back. They are not liable to ask me what course of action they will take.

“The Rangers job, once it settles down, and I stress it still has to settle down because there is still a lot to be done, is a job that everyone would want to take.

“Who would say Rangers 
isn’t one of the best jobs to take? It is. It is a fantastic job and hopefully it will get back to being a fantastic job and not one that is looked upon as a bit of a 
poisoned chalice

“A lot of the decisions right now are financial and that’s never been my department. The whole club faces a big, big period in its history.

“They have to get back to resembling Rangers Football Club. No club wins all the time and Rangers have had down periods before even if this one is different. Everyone has to adjust to it – people on the outside, fans, everyone. That doesn’t mean there is any room for manoeuvre. “I could come out and say we have this that or the next problem – but fans still expect you to win the game. There was a lack of trust before. It was simple. Now there isn’t. They trust the people are there for Rangers and that’s 
a big start after three or four years of upset.”

Smith was at Dumbarton on Saturday as Rangers moved four points clear of Hibs, who will try to reduce that to a single point tonight with victory at Livingston, in the race for second place.

He feels the sides are evenly matched – and insists Queen of the South cannot be discounted – but believes it is vital his old club prevails and then defeats the 11th placed Premiership side. “They have got to get up this season,” Smith said. “They are not going to jump into the Premiership and challenge Celtic right away. But that is where they should be playing for their own sake and that of Scottish football.”

l Walter Smith was taking part in the John Hartson Foundation Golf Day to raise awareness of testicular cancer.