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By ESPN Staff

Bank denies Rangers administration threats

Rangers' bankers Lloyds have insisted they are not now running the club and Scottish Office secretary Jim Murphy has stepped in following reports the banking group, 43% of which is owned by the taxpayer, had threatened the club with administration over its debts.

• Smith silent on weekend comments

Ranger boss Walter Smith claimed on Saturday the bank was now effectively overseeing the club's spending and that all the players had been up for sale since January.

Current majority shareholder Sir David Murray has declared his intention to sell his interest in the Light Blues, who are carrying debts of about £30million. A Scotland Office spokesman confirmed that Murphy has spoken to Lloyds. He said: "The Secretary of State for Scotland spoke to Lloyds Bank today about the importance of the bank's support for Rangers Football Club.

"There are clearly financial difficulties facing Scottish football clubs - both large and small. Our national game is important to Scotland and will come through this recession and the wider pressures in football."

In a statement on Monday, the bank said: "We do not run or manage the companies that we bank - that is, quite properly, the responsibility of the management. Given the recent press coverage, we would therefore like to be clear that Rangers FC is neither operated or run by Lloyds Banking Group. We would also like to be clear that Sir David Murray's decision to step down as chairman was a personal decision and not at the behest of Lloyds Banking Group."

It is understood the bank has not raised the prospect of Rangers being placed in administration if club bosses failed to introduce a series of cost-cutting measures at Ibrox.

The statement added: "The board of Rangers FC is developing and implementing a sustainable business plan and we have agreed to support this plan. The group is aware of the unique position that football occupies across many Scottish communities and has been working with Scottish football clubs, including Rangers."

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