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Johnston arrives with global pedigree

By Andy Campbell

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston
Alastair Johnston has taken over the chairman's role at Ibrox

With Sir David Murray stepping down as Rangers chairman for the second time, Alastair Johnston has become the new man at the Ibrox helm.

But, with Murray remaining as the club's majority shareholder, Johnston's role will extend primarily to the everyday running of the club, rather than the investment side of the business, which was Murray's raison d'etre for much of his time in the chairman's seat.

Murray briefly relinquished the role between 2002 and 2004, during which time John McLelland assumed the chairman's title while his predecessor maintained the role of honorary Rangers chairman.

However, on this occasion, there is more of an air of finality to Murray's departure with it being described more as 'retirement' from the role. Furthermore, Murray has iterated that he is unlikely to ever return to the chair.

So Johnston has the opportunity to make the role his own during a turbulent time for a club that posted a £3.9m loss and debts of around £25m in their annual accounts earlier this year.

An accountancy graduate from the University of Strathclyde, Johnston has had a near 40-year association with IMG, an international talent agency and production company that specialises in televised sport and endorsement.

Alastair's got far greater global reach in the sporting world than I've ever had

Sir David Murray

Johnston has served as chief operating officer of Arnold Palmer Enterprises and has also been heavily involved in IMG's worldwide golf interests.

Currently, Johnston is vice-chairman of IMG and splits his time between Florida and his homeland.

His association with Rangers began in 2004, when he joined the club's board of directors.

"I consider it a great honour to be appointed chairman of the club and can say to our supporters that the board, management and staff will spare no effort in striving to ensure that Rangers Football Club enjoys a successful future," Johnston said.

Murray added: "I am delighted that Alastair Johnston has accepted the chairmanship. He is an internationally renowned and respected businessman and will be an excellent servant to the club."

It is perhaps no surprise that Rangers have installed someone of Johnston's international background in the role of chairman.

Ever-frustrated by the limitations of the Scottish market, the Old Firm have long tried to promote their brands overseas.

It has borne fruit for Celtic, with the signings of Shunsuke Nakamura and Koki Mizuno bolstering the club's profile in Japan, where they also have a permanent scouting network.

"We are very fortunate to have Alastair," Murray told BBC Scotland on the day he announced he was stepping down.

"He's got far greater global reach in the sporting world than I've ever had, having managed Arnold Palmer for most of his career.

"He represents IMG with the R&A and Wimbledon and bigger sporting events

"He brings a completely different dimension and experience, which will be very beneficial. And, having been on board for five years, he understands the workings of the football club."

Murray has, for some time, been keen to sell his stake in Rangers and Johnston may play a big part in any proposed takeover.

But, in the meantime, Murray has outlined what is likely to be Johnston's mantra as the club look to reduce debt and boost profits.

"If Rangers make money, it'll have money to spend, it has to live within its means," said the entrepreneur.

"It's like every other business in the United Kingdom.

"Walter Smith made it quite clear at the agm last year that we were going to work with 20 senior players and youth. I made that clear in January. I believe that that is the best way forward for the club.

"We've won the league, we've won the Scottish Cup, we've kept our best players and I think things are better than people would like to perceive."

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see also
Murray relinquishes Rangers role
26 Aug 09 |  Rangers
Murray exit meets mixed response
26 Aug 09 |  Rangers
Murray photo gallery
26 Aug 09 |  Rangers

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