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Sport Gordon Smith reveals Rangers 'animosity' as former director of football details traumatic Craig Whyte era

10:35  01 october  2020
10:35  01 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Gordon Smith made plenty of good decisions in a career that saw him play at the top level at home and abroad for 15 years before becoming a successful agent, pundit and for three years at the helm of Scottish football as chief executive of the SFA.

But the one call that haunts him, and will to his dying day, was his call to hitch his wheels to Craig Whyte ’s bandwagon in the summer of 2011.

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Gordon Smith has become Rangers ' director of football , with owner Craig Whyte welcoming his wealth of experience in football administration. Whyte has also appointed former QPR commercial director and deputy managing director Ali Russell as director of operations and commercial activity.

NEW Rangers director of football Gordon Smith believes much of the flak he copped during his stormy spell as the head of the SFA was purely down to his background as an Ibrox player and fan. Smith , preparing to start his new job under Rangers owner Craig Whyte later this week, became a

The ex-Rangers player, who had been chief executive of the SFA for three years until 12 months earlier, knows why he did it. He just wishes, with hindsight he hadn’t let his heart rule his head, and that he’d run a mile in the opposite direction when the man who drove Rangers over the abyss into administration asked him to be his director of football.

Smith believes Whyte was completely out of his depth at Ibrox but he doesn’t believe the man who famously bought Rangers for £1 from Sir David Murray deliberately set out to take the club on the road to ruin.

Recalling his first meeting with Whyte, Smith said: “I was on a night out and he was in the same place and someone introduced him to me.

“There was a lot of talk he was about to buy Rangers, so I asked him and he said he was in the process of doing so.

“A few days later I got a phone call from him – someone obviously gave him my number – saying he’d like to meet me to talk about aspects of the management of the club.

Gordon Smith, Craig Whyte are posing for a picture: Rangers Chairman Craig Whyte JANUARY 2012 28/01/12 CLYDESDALE BANK PREMIER LEAGUE RANGERS V HIBERNIAN IBROX - GLASGOW Rangers Chairman Craig Whyte (right) walks along the touchline prior to kick-off with Rangers' Chief Operations Officer Ali Russell and Director of Football Gordon Smith(centre) © Alan Harvey/SNS Group Rangers Chairman Craig Whyte JANUARY 2012 28/01/12 CLYDESDALE BANK PREMIER LEAGUE RANGERS V HIBERNIAN IBROX - GLASGOW Rangers Chairman Craig Whyte (right) walks along the touchline prior to kick-off with Rangers' Chief Operations Officer Ali Russell and Director of Football Gordon Smith(centre)

“I agreed to that and met him in Glasgow. During that meeting I told him he should have a director of football. I knew it wasn’t in vogue in Scotland at the time but I knew it would be eventually.

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On Thursday, Rangers ' director of football , Gordon Smith , and chief operating officer, Ali Ellis, a former board member of QPR and who once led a takeover of Northampton Town, said: "I was Whyte claims that Ellis was aware of his funding plans for the club but "perhaps not the details of it".

“I told him it was commonplace on the Continent for a director of football to run the whole football side of the club, leaving the manager to concentrate on the first team.

“I left him that day and got a phone call about a week later from him asking for another meeting. He told me he agreed with the concept of a director of football - and he wanted me for the role at Rangers.

“I told him I wasn’t sure. I had other things on the go but he was insistent and persuasive and eventually I took the job. It’s a decision I regret to this day.

“It was my heart over my head. I didn’t get enough guarantees before taking the job that I would be allowed to do it the way it should have been done.

“There needs to be clarity for everyone in that position. People had to be told what I was in charge of and what I wasn’t in charge of but that didn’t really happen.

“I went in as director of football and because I didn’t have overall control to run things, a lot of people wondered why I was even there.

“I hardly ever spoke to Craig Whyte after taking the job.

“But because I’m associated with that whole period, it doesn’t sit well with me.”

Smith also had to deal with manager Ally McCoist and although the pair had a cordial relationship, he concedes that there were issues between himself and the coaching staff at what used to be known as Murray Park.

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Already, the former Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston has challenged Whyte 's position as the company's secured creditor by formally questioning On Thursday the club's director of football , Gordon Smith , and chief operating officer, Ali Russell, unsurprisingly became the first to lose their jobs.

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He said: “I could detect a bit of… I don’t know, resentment, animosity, that kind of thing from some of the people at Murray Park. A lot of them didn’t see what the essence of my role was.

“Coisty was okay. I spoke to him often. The problem was that I wanted to make changes but it didn’t really happen.

“I was only in the building a matter of months – and was still doing analysis of what needed to change – when the whole thing fell apart.”

That was February 14, 2012 – a St Valentine’s Day Massacre for Rangers’ players, staff and fans. Smith left his role, voluntarily, 48 hours later.

He said: “I went straight to the administrators, Duff and Phelps, and told them that in that situation they didn’t need a director of football and I resigned there and then.

“I didn’t look for any money and certainly didn’t take any money.

“I knew it was a role that was not required, considering the financial circumstances the club was in.”

He insists that Whyte didn’t believe the club would go into administration – and was actually at Murray Park that day to tell the players that the rumours were unfounded when he took a phone call that changed everything.

Smith added: “You couldn’t say for sure that the club was heading for administration but there were signs that things were right and there were rumours.

“I asked Craig on two occasions that I did meet with him with Ali Russell, who was the chief operating officer, ‘Is administration a possibility?’

Craig Whyte wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera © PA Craig Whyte

“Twice Craig told me that it wouldn’t happen.

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“On the day the club did go into administration, he was at Murray Park to tell the players that the rumours were nonsense and that we were not going into administration.

“He was actually there and had already spoken to the younger players when he received a phone call to say that administration was happening.

“I genuinely don’t think he knew that day. He was between meetings. He was due to tell the senior squad that things would be okay, so I think he was taken by surprise that day.

“He didn’t tell the senior players. He just drove away from the training ground.

“I had to tell Coisty and the coaching staff what had happened. We were all in shock. Whyte ducked out of it but I think he was taken aback by it. He was reluctant to sit down with the players to say, ‘This has happened.’

“Maybe he had to deal with the business side of it but he didn’t deal with the players after that.

“The place was on the ground. The aftermath was horrendous. People’s jobs were at stake.

“It happened on the Tuesday or the Wednesday and I was away on the Friday. I didn’t have any contact with anyone at the club after that. I’ve never spoken to Craig Whyte since that day.

“I think I could have done a job as a director of football.

“I know what’s required and I know how to run management. It’s a real regret that it turned out the way it did. In fact, it’s my biggest regret in football.

“It was a club I played for and always wanted to play for and then I became part of a scenario that was the lowest point in the club’s history.”

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