Rangers: Walter Smith accuses SFA of negligence over handling of saga

WALTER Smith has criticised the Scottish Football Association for their part in the Rangers crisis.

WALTER Smith has criticised the Scottish Football Association for their part in the Rangers crisis.

The former Ibrox and Scotland manager hit out at the ruling body over the weekend for not already putting things in place to sort out the mess at the Glasgow club, which is this week expected to be officially removed from the SPL.

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He said: “There has been negligence on the part of the SFA in handling the overall situation. I don’t think Rangers want different treatment from anybody else. It’s just the whole thing has been so badly handled.

“Ten years ago Motherwell went in to administration. Four years ago Gretna went defunct. So, surely the SFA should have put sanctions in place then? That’s why I am saying they have been negligent.

“Now we’ve got a free-for-all around Rangers and everyone is having a kick at them. If there had been proper statutes in place, a lot of stuff that’s coming out now would not have occurred. After what transpired at Motherwell and Gretna, other clubs should have known exactly what would happen to them in similar circumstances.

“Any club that goes into liquidation and wishes to come out again as a newco should know exactly how they are going to be treated. Instead, everyone is posturing just now. But the bottom line is that if they carry out what they are supposed to be going to carry out in the next few weeks and Rangers go into the Third Division or even the First, then it’s going to affect the whole of Scottish football in a drastic way.”

The Ibrox side is expected to be removed from the SPL on Wednesday when the top-flight clubs vote on whether to accept a newco Rangers into the division at their Hampden meeting.

Smith, who led his team into 74 confrontations with Celtic, also fears the absence of Old Firm games could have dire consequences. If Rangers are banished to the Third Division there will be no Glasgow league derbies for at least four years and Smith said: “That’s a drastic circumstance for Scottish football. Whether people like it or not, you have to say the Old Firm are a major part of Scottish football. I know there is a lot of resentment from other clubs about that, but it’s a fact.”

Sky TV have said they will honour their deal for the forthcoming season, despite the fact they will be without four Celtic versus Rangers encounters. However, there is the real danger the satellite giants will seek a reduction in the contract if the situation persists without Old Firm meetings.

The Smith-led consortium, backed by money men Jim McColl and Douglas Park, saw their rescue package rejected by Charles Green last month. The new owners allegedly demanded £20 million to sell up after purchasing the club’s assets for £5.5 million.

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Smith added: “The reason I agreed to lend my name and reputation to their bid was because they were not looking for anything in return. That was the big difference from other people involved at the present moment. They were prepared to fund the club without looking for anything back. Equally, I wouldn’t have taken any money, as I’ve already made a good living out of Rangers. The plan was to help with the running of Rangers, with every penny coming in – including season tickets – going directly to the club. Never at any time was money going to be taken out and both Jim and Douglas deserve praise, even though it didn’t come to fruition.

“To say I am now bitterly disappointed doesn’t begin to express my feelings. Our plan was to ensure the club settled down over the next couple of years as there was not going to be a massive influx of cash. They were going to be two really hard years. Then we were going to try to raise some money. We were perfectly clear in what we were doing and what we were going into.

“Now the club has been denied the benefit of having two of Scotland’s best businessmen in Jim and Douglas at the helm. That’s the most disappointing factor. Rangers needed them. That’s why I had no hesitation going in to back them and front their bid. They were the best bet to get Rangers back on track. I was confident we would bring back tradition and pride to Ibrox. Sadly, that is now over.”

With plans to place a newco Rangers in the First Division as part of a set-up that would also include promotion play-offs, all 30 Scottish Football League clubs have been called to an 11am meeting at Hampden tomorrow. However, The Scotsman understands that at least two SFL clubs have called for the meeting to be delayed until after the SPL clubs have voted on Wednesday.

Yesterday, Forfar Athletic insist they remain undecided on the proposals that would see Rangers parachuted into the First Division. An ever-increasing number of clubs have shown their hands ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, with Dunfermline, Falkirk, Raith Rovers, Clyde and Peterhead all stating they will oppose the plans.

However, with Forfar chairman Alastair Donald and secretary David McGregor due to attend the Hampden talks, the Second Division outfit have stressed they will take part in the debate with an ‘open mind’.