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Page last updated at 14:43 GMT, Friday, 17 September 2010 15:43 UK

Rangers boss Walter Smith defends stance against Uefa


I'm no hypocrite - Smith

By Alasdair Lamont

Rangers manager Walter Smith has dismissed accusations of hypocrisy over claims of an increasing financial disparity within European football.

Smith said the difference in financial wherewithal forced him to employ defensive tactics in the Champions League to try to be competitive.

Smith's critics say Rangers and Celtic are guilty of creating a similar lackof competition in the SPL.

"There's no hypocrisy about it. That's the way it is," said Smith.

Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston told Friday's Herald newspaper the Old Firm were unwilling to create a more competitive environment in Scotland by allowing television revenue to be weighted less towards the top two.

Smith, though, says his argument could ultimately benefit clubs like Kilmarnock. He wants Uefa to provide a means for big clubs from "smaller" countries, like Scotland, the Netherlands and Portugal, to increase their financial muscle.

The Rangers manager confirmed the previously-mooted Atlantic League was a possible answer to the problems cited.

"While Uefa are making noises about trying to restrict those at the very top level, they're not offering those at the lower level an opportunity to gain extra finance that they're unable to do at home, and that's where they have to try to make the adjustment," said Smith.

Somebody, somewhere has got to do something to allow Scottish clubs, or clubs in smaller countries to gain a level of finance that's going to allow them to compete

Walter Smith

"It would be a benefit for him (Johnston) and his club if that was to happen, because it would then offer the opportunity for any Scottish team to venture into whatever league was formed.

"So he can say whatever he likes, and he says quite a lot, but the situation has developed and we've got to try to do something about it.

"If he's happy with the way Scottish football is at the moment, then he's in the wrong job. Was the Kilmarnock chairman one of the people who agreed to the Setanta deal?

"I don't know if he was or he wasn't. But if he was, why is he still in a decision-making position in Scotland? They had the chance to get the money from Sky and they didn't take it. They took Setanta and it was the wrong move and it's cost them a fortune.

"So if he's wanting to turn round and say there's hypocrisy from the statements I've made, he should maybe look at his own self more than anything."

Rangers opened their Champions League campaign with a goal-less draw against Manchester United on Tuesday and Smith responded to comments about his team's defensive tactics with the assertion that it was the only way to bridge the financial chasm that exists between the two clubs.

"Somebody, somewhere has got to do something to allow Scottish clubs, or clubs in smaller countries to gain a level of finance that's going to allow them to compete," added the former Scotland boss.

"Otherwise we get what we're getting at the moment, where people criticise our level of football, our co-efficient drops down, we don't get the numbers of teams competing in Europe.

"That's not happening simply because it's a poor standard. It's the financial aspects that are allowing clubs in England, especially if you look at Arsenal, to employ 10 foreign players out of 11.

"I think Uefa's responsibility is to try to equalise that around the countries in Europe, and I don't think they're taking that responsibility."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon described Rangers' midweek result as "a great point" and feels the Old Firm clubs' collective appeal justifies the way they are financially remunerated in the Scottish Premier League.

"I don't know how the money is divided up but what I will say is that the Old Firm are the main attraction in Scotland - one of the reasons why Sky put their money in," said Lennon.

"We're a big draw, not just in Britain but in Europe too and further afield. We do bring the biggest crowds to away grounds so we do add a lot to the SPL."

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see also
August awards double for Rangers
17 Sep 10 |  Rangers
FA finances hit by Setanta demise
15 Sep 10 |  Football
Smith defends Gers' Euro tactics
14 Sep 10 |  Rangers
Man Utd 0-0 Rangers
14 Sep 10 |  Europe
Scots facing slow death - Smith
16 Oct 09 |  Rangers
SPL says it is alive and kicking
16 Oct 09 |  Rangers
Setanta goes into administration
23 Jun 09 |  Business
SPL open to Atlantic League idea
24 Dec 08 |  Scottish Premier

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