Bank calls the shots as Rangers misfire

Rangers 1 Hibernian 1
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The Rangers manager Walter Smith last night confirmed that the club is effectively being run by its bank, despite denials by the chairman and chief executive in recent weeks that this was the case. When owner Sir David Murray stepped down from the role of chairman last month, control of Rangers' affairs was taken over by HBOS, with their representative, Donald Muir, joining the board.

"As far as I'm concerned, that's the situation," said Smith. "It's obviously not a good situation and not one anybody wants the club to be in."

Nobody at Ibrox has signed a new contract for the last 18 months, and every player has been up for sale since January as the club tries to reduce its debt burden. Despite reports yesterday that a a buyer is about to complete a deal for the club, a Rangers official denied that any takeover is imminent.

The uncertainty is not just confined to affairs off the pitch. On it Rangers continue to resemble a side who have misplaced their assertiveness. They led here, but then they revealed that old hesitancy which betrays teams lacking the bone-deep faith that comes from a sense of superiority.

Midway through the second half, the home defenders let Anthony Stokes control the ball on his chest on the edge of the area, flick it up again, then gently lift a left-foot shot over Allan McGregor. It was a shining moment of individualism, and due reward for the visitors' refusal to be intimidated by their surroundings.

Rangers were left with a sense of grievance over a series of penalty claims, the most pressing of which was when Nacho Novo fell under Sol Bamba's challenge. The Spaniard also saw a late goal disallowed for offside.

Yet Rangers had made the ideal start. After only eight minutes the Hibs defence proved ruinously compliant and Kyle Lafferty's header back across the six-yard box was volleyed into the net by Kris Boyd.

There was a certain naivety to Hibsn, but they regrouped and the visitors should perhaps have won the game late on after a surging run along the byline and cross by Stokes, only for Colin Nish to shoot wide.

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