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Page last updated at 12:39 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 13:39 UK

Rangers manager Walter Smith open to fans' buyout

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Smith says he is open to Rangers fans' ownership

Rangers manager Walter Smith thinks the idea of a fans' takeover at the club deserves to be considered.

Rangers Supporters' Trust confirmed it is working on an "exploratory document" with the aim of taking over Sir David Murray's majority shareholding.

And Smith said: "It's something worth looking at. It works at big clubs in Europe and it would be interesting to see how it translates to Scotland.

"Like anything else at Rangers just now, it can't be ruled out."

RST's plan would need to be underwritten by either a wealthy individual or consortium and there has been detailed discussions with a third party.

However, RST spokesman David Edgar stressed: "At this point, it's an exploratory document only."

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On the subject of fan ownership, he told BBC Radio Scotland: "It is a revolutionary idea, but only in Britain.

"It's a model that works successfully right across Europe. Britain is still mired in the 19th century model, where the local rich factory owner controls the local football club.

"That model hasn't served us very well recently, so let's look at something a bit more 21st century."

Rangers lead the Scottish Premier League by a handsome margin and have already won the Co-operative Insurance Cup but are £31m in debt.

Responding to reports of talks between the Trust and a multi-millionaire businessman, Edgar stressed: "We can't comment on speculation over any names mentioned with regard to underwriting or backing the scheme.

"All discussions must remain private and are at a very early stage."

Edgar described talks both with the club and potential backers as "positive" but insisted it was "too early to say" whether the RST proposal would ultimately end in a takeover bid.

"Rangers find themselves in extraordinary circumstances and, at the moment, it's pertinent to assess all options," he said.

"Anything the Trust does, we study to make sure it's viable before we go down that path."

It seems to work in a lot of places elsewhere and at big clubs

Walter Smith

When quizzed about the RST's idea, manager Smith, who has been working without a contract since January, said: "Everything at the present is worth looking at, although I don't know a great deal about it.

"That situation seems to be in place at a fair number of clubs across Europe.

"The reports that were in the newspapers were sketchy with regards to what it fully entails.

"It seems to work in a lot of places elsewhere and at big clubs, so whether we can bring that to a Scottish club would be an interesting factor."

London-based property tycoon Andrew Ellis was this month revealed to be considering a bid for Rangers.

Edgar insisted Ellis' interest had no effect on the Trust's plans, adding: "At the moment, discussions are ongoing with all parties who would be involved with the scheme.

"This is another step towards what the trust has been working on and continues to work towards, which is full supporter ownership. It hasn't come about overnight."

Last year, the RST invited representatives of Espanyol and Hamburg to Ibrox to discuss their members-run models.

Rangers have been working to a business plan in conjunction with Lloyds Banking Group since Murray stepped down as chairman in August.

The influence of Lloyds has sparked protests from supporters at some matches this season.



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see also
Rangers enter talks on takeover
08 Mar 10 |  Rangers
Rangers announce jump in profits
17 Feb 10 |  Rangers
Gers finances a worry for McCoist
17 Feb 10 |  Rangers
Smith warns of Rangers dark days
03 Feb 10 |  Rangers
Rangers boss to work without deal
07 Dec 09 |  Rangers
Gers fans discuss board presence
15 Nov 09 |  Rangers
Clarity required for Rangers sale
27 Oct 09 |  Rangers
Rangers' Sale of the Century
28 Oct 09 |  Rangers


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