CHARLES Green last night questioned the timing of Walter Smith’s dramatic bid to buy Rangers on the day the club was formally consigned to liquidation and insisted he has no intention of “stepping aside” as requested by the former manager.
Yorkshire businessman Green is now chief executive of the “newco” Rangers which will be owned by his Sevco consortium of investors who yesterday completed their £5.5 million purchase of the business and assets of the liquidated company.
But Green’s attempt to earn the backing of Rangers supporters received a major setback when Smith, who left the club in the summer of 2011, revealed he was leading a new bid in association with businessmen Jim McColl and Douglas Park.
Smith’s consortium have directly contacted BDO, the accountancy firm appointed as liquidators of Rangers, to inform them of their willingness to purchase the “newco” on the same basis as Green’s group.
But former Sheffield United chief executive Green, who yesterday named Ayrshire-born pension fund manager Malcolm Murray as chairman of the new Rangers plc board, says his stake in the club is not for sale and warned that his Sevco investors would be seeking a profit on funds already committed if they were to agree to Smith’s request.
Green did, however, welcome the prospect of Smith’s involvement in the club, offering to immediately appoint him as chairman of its football board of directors, which will run separately from the plc board.
“What I am surprised about is why people would come in on the day that everyone knows is completion day and think that they could buy it,” said Green.
“Walter stated that he was looking to negotiate to buy the club. Well, no-one’s rung me. I’ve never spoken to Jim McColl or Walter in my life. Since I’ve been here, I’ve spoken to lots of people who have asked if they could introduce me to them. No-one has, probably because no-one trusts me.
“But I have asked on numerous occasions to meet them because I know their names. I know their reputations and I felt that they would be fantastic people to have in this business. I’ve said from May 13, on the day my consortium signed a binding contract to buy Rangers, that anybody can come to this club and join my team. Unless the money is from prostitution, drug dealing or child trafficking, then I’ll take the money.
“I’ve got a fiduciary duty to report back to investors any offer that is made for the club but I’ve also bought shares and put my own cash in. So would I sell my shares? No, because I believe this is a great club and it will go forward. I can assure you there are easier ways to make a quick buck than have the four months since February that we’ve been involved in it, with late nights, hard work and the legal fees and hours that have been put in. I actually get insulted by that because, if someone wanted this club, they should have bought it. I got criticised for being the last one in. Every thing I’ve promised so far, I have delivered.”
Green, however, was countered yesterday after naming one the investors in his consortium as Ian Hart, a Glasgow businessman. Hart later released his own statement, denying he was part of the Sevco consortium and expressing his support for Jim McColl and Douglas Park.
On another breathtaking day of developments in the Rangers crisis, Green also had to address speculation that manager Ally McCoist is ready to resign. It has been claimed McCoist had an angry exchange with Green at Ibrox on Wednesday amid the belief, allegedly learned from a former Rangers director, that the new chief executive was preparing to sack him and appoint his own manager.
“If I was getting rid of Ally, I would say to him, face to face, ‘Ally, I’m sacking you’. That’s never happened. In fact, the second meeting I ever had with Ally was in the office here at Ibrox where I said to him ‘I’m quite happy to put a clause in my contract that says that the day you get sacked, because inevitably it would be me doing it, I leave too.’
“That was so that Ally knew and understood that it wouldn’t help me one iota for him to fail and that he had my support. Ally will confirm that to you.
“The reality is that Walter Smith and Ally are big pals. I’m nothing to Ally, I don’t expect to be. Walter is his friend for a long time. If there is a chance Walter is going to put a bid together, Ally would support Walter and that’s what I’d expect. Do I want Ally to be manager? Yes, 100 per cent.”