Friday, April 1, 2011

Rangers manager Walter Smith has called for the club's ownership issue to be resolved as soon as possible as Craig Whyte's takeover bid nears a conclusion.

Chairman Alastair Johnston revealed earlier on Friday that the Scottish champions expect to know one way or another what is happening with regards to the proposed buy-out in the next couple of days.

Smith now hopes a deal can be completed sooner rather than later.

He said: "It's crucial that the ownership aspect of the club gets settled as soon as it possibly can.

"We are in a situation where the club has been for sale for two-and-a-half, three years now.

"It's reached the stage just now where, when that gets sorted out, it will help bring back a bit of stability to the club and that's the most important thing."

For now, Smith is happy to focus on events on the field, adding: "It doesn't affect us that greatly on the footballing side of things.

"We just have to try and handle the situation, as we have done for the last two or three years.

"We don't have any great knowledge of what is happening in the background, it's not our department, and we just have to handle the footballing part.

"I don't think it's been too much of a distraction for us. It's just a matter of us getting on with the footballing side of things and wait and see what happens."

Smith and chief executive Martin Bain met with Whyte last month to outline squad requirements should he succeed with his takeover.

"All I was asked to do was explain the football side of Rangers to him, the problems that I see the club having at the present moment," said the manager.

"I wasn't asked to discuss any other aspect or anything like that so it was quite a quick meeting.

"It was one that took place a couple of weeks ago. I don't think it would have any major influence on what was happening within the club.

"I was asked to explain what the current situation is with the players and what I felt would be necessary in the future. That was all, it was fairly straightforward.

"The meeting wasn't for anything other than for someone who wants to take ownership of the club to get a better idea of what the manager felt about the footballing side at the moment and the future."

With Smith set to quit at the end of the season, he knows a change in ownership is unlikely to affect his final couple of months at the helm as Rangers bid to retain the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title.

He added: "Nothing affects us really. The situation we have had to handle over the last three years is the situation we are left with until the end of the season.

"Nothing will change until the end of the season anyway. It's not as if, if there was a buyer or no buyer, that something is going to change in the short-term. It won't.

"On the footballing side, we have a period where we have six games in 18 days and that will be a huge test for our group."

However, Smith admits his successor, current assistant boss Ally McCoist, faces a huge task next season if the Whyte deal falls through.

He said: "There will be more pressure on the club.

"I think everybody will have a realisation, if we don't get the ownership aspect resolved, then there will be a further downturn in the financial aspects of the club.

"I don't think there is any doubt about that. It will make Alistair's job far more difficult than it would be if there was a level of stability and a level of investment. That's fairly straightforward."

Midfielder Steven Davis is also keen for the takeover to go ahead after admitting to fears about the size of Rangers' squad.

He said: "As players all we can do is the job we're asked to and that's playing football. Hopefully the rest takes care of itself.

"You can't help but read about what is being said but we've got a job to do and that's all we can concentrate on.

"It's got to the stage where we can't afford to lose any more players.

"The squad has been getting smaller and smaller over the last couple of seasons and it's now got to crunch time where hopefully something will happen in terms of a takeover and there will be investment in the team."

Rangers host Dundee United in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Ibrox on Saturday as they bid to keep the pressure on leaders Celtic.

Davis added: "We know it's going to be a tough game for us because Dundee United have been on a great run of form in the league.

"Their defeat in the cup in their last game might spur them on to bounce back so we're expecting a tough game."


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