Gordon Smith reveals the Rangers hotel bill that went unpaid and set administration alarm bells ringing


Gordon Smith feared Rangers were booked for trouble with Craig Whyte when learning he’d dodged paying the club’s pre-season hotel.

He was a reluctant messenger 10 years ago today when Whyte drove the club into administration.

Smith was stunned to be left with chief operating officer Ali Russell to tell the bulk of the first team the bombshell news.

The owner had bolted after holding a meeting to assure training ground staff that financial meltdown would NOT happen.

Smith says he could never have envisaged the ‘unreal’ events of February 2012 despite working as director of football for eight months.

But he did harbor concerns at the running of the club when he rumbled Whyte in October.

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The ex- SFA chief executive was shocked to be told Rangers were ignoring requests to stump up for their German lodgings since July.

Smith said: “We stayed at a lovely hotel run by a mother and her son.

“I can speak German so got quite friendly with them and gave them my card.

“I got an email months later saying they still hadn’t been paid for the trip.

“I messaged back saying: I can’t believe that, I’ll find out what’s going on. So I went to see the financial people at Ibrox.

Alastair Johnston (left) and Craig Whyte

“They told me they weren’t paying everyone who was due money, only those they were told to pay by Mr Whyte. He was dictating that.

“I thought: That’s a disgrace. These people have a hotel and it was about 30,000 Euros owed.

“About four days later, I got an email from the hotel thanking me. They got paid because I made a fuss.

“Next time in Craig Whyte’s company, I asked him what was going on.

“I explained they were just prioritizing bills, paying those who really required it.

“I asked him if it was possible we could go into administration and he said: No, that’s not going to happen.

“There must’ve been some money there to pay people. But they weren’t being paid when it was due. So that was worrying.”

Rangers, docked 10 points, and Scottish football were in crisis from the moment Whyte stood on the steps of Ibrox and confirmed attempt to file for administration.

But earlier in the day, behind the scenes, he advised youth coaches and scouting staff among others that rumors of impending doom were wrong.

Smith recalled: “Ali said Craig wanted a chat and could we mix it into two groups.

“At the first meeting he appeared upbeat and said: Don’t believe what you’re hearing, we’ll get through this.

“So we leave that meeting and go to another room for the first team. But he went outside for a phone call.

“He looked shocked, you could tell it was serious. We waited a while but he didn’t come back.

Ali went to ask what was happening. The call was that Rangers were going into administration. And that was it. He went away.

“It was left to me to tell the squad. And, to those in the first meeting, we went back and said: See that meeting you’ve just had? Forget it.

“They were shocked. I was distracted, obviously. It was awful. And because we’d been told that it wasn’t going to happen, it was worse.”

Ally McCoist famously said he didn’t do walking away but Smith concluded his own departure was for the best.

“There was no point me being there,” said Smith. “You don’t need a director of football in administration.

“We weren’t allowed to sign players anyway and hadn’t recruited in January.

“I worried about people losing their jobs who’d been there a long time. I felt if I got off the wage bill it might help.”




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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