Whyte claims ex-Rangers directors left the board 'disgracefully'

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The Independent Online

Rangers' new owner Craig Whyte has hit out at former board members and said the manner they left the club was "disgraceful".

Whyte completed a takeover of the Scottish champions on 6 May when he acquired Sir David Murray's 85 per cent shareholding. The deal involved wiping out the club's debt of around £20m and pledging £25m over five years to invest in the squad. However, hours after the takeover was completed, Rangers board members released a statement to express doubts over Whyte's cash pledges.

Former board members Alastair Johnston and Paul Murray both voiced their scepticism. Once the takeover was completed both were removed from their positions.

However, Whyte believes they should have gone sooner. "I think it's a pity that some of these guys didn't go gracefully instead of going disgracefully," he said. "Alastair Johnston had a chance to stand down and refused, and so did Paul Murray. I really don't know what their problem is. Why didn't they resign? It's what any reasonable person would have done. I hear that some of the previous directors are still sniping away in the background, trying to cause trouble."

Whyte also said that he did not expect suspended directors Martin Bain and Donald McIntyre to be re-instated, as they await the results of an internal inquiry. Asked if there was a chance for them to return, he replied: "No, there's not, no."

Whyte's concerns have not just focused on internal matters. Rangers are under investigation from the HM Revenue and Customs over a tax issue which relates to offshore payments to players from 2001. The new owner has stated he is confident of winning the case, however, he warned it may linger over the club for years.

"The tribunal only starts in November so it will likely be concluded around March-time," he said. "Of course, there will probably be a series of appeals after that. This could go on for years yet. If we lose, we appeal and that's another year. If we win, HMRC could appeal, so it's not necessarily going away any time soon."

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