Walter Smith rules out future football post at Rangers

Walter Smith has not ruled out a future role at Ibrox when his second stint as manager ends in the summer, but he confirmed yesterday that he will not remain as director of football under a new Rangers owner.

Reports claimed yesterday that Scottish businessman Craig Whyte, who wants to buy the club from Sir David Murray, would offer Smith such a role or invite him on to the board when he steps down as manager at the end of the season to be replaced by his assistant Ally McCoist.

Smith is in Turkey for Rangers' final Champions League Group C game against Bursaspor tonight and at the club's Celik Palas Hotel base he was asked about the possibility of staying on at the club.

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"It certainly wouldn't be in any sort of footballing position," he said. "I wouldn't do that. Whatever opportunities come my way, we'll just have to wait and see.

"I will wait until the end of the season. I finish at the end of the season so that's where are at the present moment."

Rangers cannot qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League and will have to be content with a place in the Europa League in the new year. Victory tonight will help in the club's bid to be seeded in the last 32 of that competition and will also bring a welcome 750,000 in prize money.

Moreover, and more importantly for Scottish football as whole, three points will help the country's co-efficient which has dropped so low that only next season's Clydesdale Bank Premier League champions will get access to the Champions League and that will be through the qualifiers.

However, Smith refused to join the pessimists who believe the Champions League will be without a Scottish presence for the foreseeable future. "I think we will always have one team there," said Smith. "The fact that we have to qualify obviously makes it a bit more difficult which is why the co-efficient part is important.

"But I don't think the gloom and doom which is surrounding it at the moment is entirely correct. You would hope that whichever of the Scottish teams played would have a decent chance of getting through the qualifying rounds and into the Champions League."

Rangers have taken five points from five games while Bursaspor are still looking for their first point in their debut Champions League campaign, as Manchester United and Valencia fight out for top spot. Smith believes his side might have had a chance of making the last 16 with a little more luck. He said: "We feel we have been a little bit unfortunate in a couple of games. (But) we have to look at the campaign and say that we played better than we did last season and getting European football after Christmas is a big thing for us."

Rangers striker Kenny Miller yesterday acknowledged the importance of Champions League football to his club, but insists it is not the only attraction for players. He said: "An added bonus playing for a club like Rangers is that you have the lure of the Champions League but competing every year for leagues and trophies is more incentive than anything else.

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"Obviously, we know now that it is going to be tough by having to go through the qualifiers next year - but we have got to win the league first to get the chance."

Algerian international Madjid Bougherra will return to the Rangers defence tonight having recovered from his hamstring injury, and will go back in beside David Weir.

Striker James Beattie will come off the bench to feature at some stage if he does not make the starting XI.