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By ESPN Staff

Whyte hits out at ex-board members

New Rangers owner Craig Whyte has hit out at the handling of his takeover by former board members and has claimed that they left the club "disgracefully".

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Whyte completed a protracted takeover of the Scottish champions on May 6 when he acquired Sir David Murray's 85% shareholding. The deal involved wiping out the club's debt of around £20 million and pledging £25 million over five years to invest in the squad.

However, just hours after the takeover was completed, Rangers board members released a statement to express doubts over Whyte's cash pledges.

Former board members Alastair Johnston, who headed the independent board committee to review takeover offers, and Paul Murray both publicly voiced their scepticism - with Murray even launching a rival 'Plan B' which ultimately failed.

Once the takeover was completed both Johnston and Murray were removed from their positions, however, Whyte believes they should have walked sooner for the benefit of the club.

"I think it's a pity that some of these guys didn't go gracefully instead of going disgracefully," he told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper. "Alastair Johnston had a chance to stand down and refused. And so did Paul Murray.

"It was unfortunate for them. I really don't know what their problem is. Why didn't they resign? It's what any reasonable person would have done."

He added: "The statement (immediately after the takeover) didn't help. It was very difficult to work with the people who were behind that statement.

"It was the most bizarre thing. You couldn't make it up. I don't know, but I hear that some of the previous directors are still sniping away in the background, still trying to cause trouble where they can."

Whyte also revealed that he did not expect suspended directors Martin Bain and Donald McIntyre to be re-instated, as they await the results of an internal inquiry.

Asked if there was a chance for them to return, he replied: "No, there's not, no."

Whyte's immediate concerns have not just focused on internal matters, with Rangers under investigation from the HM Revenue and Customs over a tax issue which relates to offshore payments to players from 2001.

The new owner has previously stated he is confident of winning the case, but he warned it may linger over the club for years.

"The tribunal only starts in November so it will likely be concluded around March-time," he said. "Of course, there will probably be a series of appeals after that. This could go on for years yet. If we lose, we appeal and that's another year.

"If we win, HMRC could appeal, so it's not necessarily going away any time soon. It would be nice if it could go away sooner but it will run for some time yet."


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