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Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 18:07 UK

Walter Smith deal 'separate' to Rangers takeover talks

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston
Johnston says Rangers had to plan for the season under the current ownership

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston insists that manager Walter Smith's contract signing is not connected with ongoing takeover talks.

Owner Sir David Murray and Andrew Ellis met on Tuesday as Smith and his backroom staff were penning new deals.

"The timing is totally coincidental," Johnston told BBC Scotland.

"The discussions with the management team were separate from and distinct from any concurrent conversations that might have been taking place."

Property developer Ellis has been exploring a possible bid for Murray's majority shareholding in the Scottish champions since March.

Earlier this month, Johnston spoke of his frustration at the wait for a concrete offer from Ellis, who had already publicly indicated his preference for Smith to stay on.

"It's not a question of being fed up waiting," Johnston added in reference to the announcement of Smith's decision to remain at the helm for one final season.

"He can take as much time as he wants. But, as far as the club is concerned, we are moving ahead with our business, demonstrating to the fans that the ship is stable and knows where it's going and how fast it's going.

"We have to move on and be prepared on behalf of Rangers FC to structure a team for the next season.

"We have reached an overall agreement with the bank in terms of a business plan and we are acting as though there is no reliance on a change of ownership.

"If there is a change in ownership and it works in the best interests of all the parties involved then we'll address it when it arises.

"Our first mission was to develop a business plan with the bank that would work for the 2010/11 financial year.

"The bank was very helpful and that has allowed us to start planning for the next season.

Walter Smith with assistants Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall
Smith (centre), McCoist and McDowall have all signed new contracts

"Once that was in place, we engaged with Walter, Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall as we had planned to do.

"The first point of business was to put together the management team.

"It was a very busy three days of conversations and I'm very pleased to say there was a meeting of all the minds involved.

"We ended up with an arrangement that I know Walter is happy with and we as a club are certainly happy with."

Johnston also confirmed that the Murray Group has appealed against an assessment from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over a long-standing tax issue that relates to payments made into offshore accounts.

"It is a Rangers issue, but it is being masterminded by the Murray Group's financial and legal advisors," revealed Johnston.

"The enquiry is an ongoing investigation from the Inland Revenue, which has been around for several years.

"It would appear to have heated up because of recent media stories."

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see also
Smith 'brings stability to Ibrox'
26 May 10 |  Rangers
Rangers promise funds for Smith
26 May 10 |  Rangers
McCoist thrilled with future role
26 May 10 |  Rangers
Rangers keep Smith for final year
25 May 10 |  Rangers
Walter Smith's career in photos
26 May 10 |  Rangers
Weir unfazed by Rangers bid delay
19 May 10 |  Rangers
Bid for Rangers delayed for weeks
19 May 10 |  Rangers
Rangers investigated on tax issue
28 Apr 10 |  Rangers
Gers boss irked by Ellis comments
07 May 10 |  Rangers
Group mulls over Rangers takeover
11 Mar 10 |  Rangers

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