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Craig Whyte still upbeat on his Rangers takeover bid

Ibrox Stadium
Businessman Whyte is aiming to take control of the Ibrox club

By Alasdair Lamont

Craig Whyte remains hopeful of concluding his proposed takeover of Rangers before the end of January.

Whyte has been in negotiations with the current owner Sir David Murray since the middle of November.

He had hoped to complete a £33m deal before Christmas, but due diligence has taken longer than Whyte expected.

Meanwhile, the Rangers Supporters' Trust chief has warned that fans could boycott Lloyds Bank if they continue to deny Rangers funds for squad building.

Whyte considers the matter to be largely in Murray's hands at this stage, with Whyte's lawyers and accountants awaiting responses to a number of queries from the current owner.

He expects that following a period of relative inactivity over the festive period, which he found frustrating, the pace of negotiations will now pick up.

However, if Whyte can conclude a deal soon, he hopes to be able to help Rangers manager Walter Smith strengthen his squad.

On Thursday, Smith bemoaned the current financial constraints at the club, stating that he would be unable to bring in new players unless he sold first.

Getting the Rangers family involved in a boycott of Lloyds Bank can't be ruled out

Rangers Supporters' Trust chairman
Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith, chairman of the Rangers Supporters' Trust, reiterated their stance regarding Lloyds Bank's involvement with the club.

"The sooner Lloyds are disentangled from the running of Rangers Football Club the better," he told BBC Scotland.

"I'm as worried now as I was last year when the manager felt strongly enough to publicly criticise the bank's role.

"We've had a successful Champions League campaign, we're guaranteed at least two more European games, yet there has still been no change in attitude from Lloyds.

"We're challenging for four competitions and that's why the size of the squad is a concern.

"If the manager's saying we need help, why are Lloyds behaving in such a vindictive way towards Rangers?

"If that begins to materially affect Rangers on the park, we will certainly look to take action to try to change that.

"Getting the Rangers family involved in a boycott of Lloyds Bank can't be ruled out."

As of September 2010 Rangers' debt stood at £27m.

While Smith was allowed to conduct some transfer business in the summer - including the purchase of Nikica Jelavic for £4m - his hands have been largely tied on that front for the past three seasons.

The Scottish champions trail league leaders Celtic by four points, although they have two games in hand.

However, as things stand, Smith will have to challenge in all domestic competitions, as well as in the Europa League, with the same small squad of players.

Meanwhile, across Glasgow, rivals Celtic appear likely to bring in more players during the January transfer window.

Champions League participation over the last two seasons has helped Rangers go some way to alleviating their financial problems.

But failure to win the Scottish Premier League again this term, and thereby miss out on the lucrative Champions League, would reverse that trend and make things even more restrictive for whoever succeeds Smith as Rangers manager next season.

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see also
Whyte holds further Rangers talks
03 Dec 10 |  Rangers
Gers boss pleads for investment
24 Nov 10 |  Rangers
Ibrox changes will not sway Smith
19 Nov 10 |  Rangers
Duo hold Rangers takeover talks
18 Nov 10 |  Rangers

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