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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Smith: Rangers purse strings run by HBOS bank

Walter Smith has confirmed what many have suspected for some time now - that the club's spending is being overseen by the HBOS bank.

Speaking after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Hibernian in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, the Ibrox boss expressed concerns about running out of players after Lee McCulloch became the latest to join an ever-growing casualty list. However, hopes of bolstering his squad further in January appear unlikely after Smith's revelations that HBOS is controlling the club's spending.

"Is that not obvious to everybody?'' asked Smith. "As far as I'm aware that's the case. David Murray has stepped down (as chairman) and they have placed a representative of the bank (Donald Muir) on the board so as far as I'm aware that's the situation. It's obviously not a good situation, it's not a situation that anybody wants the club to be in. It's been up for sale for a while.

"It's not the bank's fault, if the bank has to take over in these circumstances they are not going to invest in a football club, are they? I think we have been fairly honest about the situation. The players at the club have been up for sale since January and we haven't bought a player for what will be 18 months in this transfer window.

"These circumstances have been here for a while now and I've been perfectly aware of them and, despite some headlines, have never complained about it. I'm not complaining about it now. I'm just saying to you it's a fact and it's a fact of life just now for a lot of companies throughout the world who are having a struggle financially at the moment.

"When David Murray stepped away from the club, I felt that was a bad thing for Rangers in the sense that he tried as hard as he could over the 20 years to invest in the club and now we don't have that situation. The quicker that gets cleared up, the better it will be for Rangers.''

Asked if there were any potential buyers on the horizon, Smith replied: "I'm not that involved in that aspect, you would need to ask others. I'm just trying to make sure we can pave our way through and hopefully there can be a change sooner rather than later.''

McCulloch hobbled out of the action with a thigh injury shortly before half-time and could be sidelined for a couple of weeks. Not great news for a club who lost both Kevin Thomson and Pedro Mendes to injury this week and who had to deploy full-back Sasa Papac at centre-half today in the absence of the injured Madjid Bougherra.

Kris Boyd claimed an early opener before Anthony Stokes levelled for Hibs in a hugely entertaining clash at Ibrox. The result may not have been ideal for the Scottish champions but was enough to prevent their visitors leap-frogging them into pole position and was a vast improvement on Tuesday night's performance when they crashed to a 4-1 defeat to Unirea Urziceni in the Champions League.

Smith said: "I thought that was a good game today, I was quite happy with the game. Hibs could have closed the gap and here we are.''

Hibs boss John Hughes revealed afterwards that his attacking approach to the game was down to his players rather than him. He said: "I'll let you into a wee secret, it was the players who wanted that. I know what it's like coming to the Scottish champions' backyard so after training yesterday, I asked them how they wanted to approach it.

"We have been playing what is actually a 4-2-4 and they all wanted to come and have a go. That shows you the spirit I've got in there but we keep our feet firmly on the ground, we are not going to get carried away. We have done nothing yet and will just keep trying to improve as a team.''

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