8:22:24 PMRangers fans back manager Smith at crisis meeting
THE Rangers Supporters' Assembly have given their backing to manager Walter Smith following a frank and honest meeting with Ibrox bosses at Murray Park today.
Fifteen delegates representing fans from all over the world were in attendance, along with Smith, chairman Sir David Murray and chief executive Martin Bain.
The item at the top of the agenda was the fall-out from Tuesday night's humiliating European exit at the hands of Lithuanian minnows FBK Kaunas and the repercussions for the club as a result of missing out on a potential £12million Champions League jackpot.
Despite the success Smith has brought to the club in the past, the Rangers boss has also been a target for criticism this week, with fans unhappy with the cautious tactics employed in Kaunas and transfer activity so far this summer.
President of the Rangers Supporters' Assembly, Jim Templeton, said: "Walter is experienced enough to know that, when you are manager of a club like Rangers, you are only ever one game away from a crisis.
"Walter was not asked if he felt he was under pressure – he was asked if he can get us out of this situation.
"He explained the team's strengths and why he set out the team the way he did last season – which was largely successful to be fair.
"But he also openly admitted that he has to move on from that and that's what he will attempt to do.
"The guy was being honest. He knows what he has to do next and we need to give him the chance and hope he gets it right sooner rather than later."
Fans were assured key players – such as Carlos Cuellar, who has been linked with Tottenham and Aston Villa this week – would not be sold to compensate for the failure to secure Champions League money.
And they were also told efforts have been stepped up to ensure two new creative midfielders check in at Ibrox before the end of the transfer window.
Templeton added: "The main subject on the agenda was the disastrous events of Tuesday night.
"The meeting was arranged before Tuesday's game but, as a result of what happened, the content of the meeting obviously changed direction.
"David Murray, Martin Bain and Walter Smith were all in attendance and it was a very open and frank meeting. There were no restrictions on the questions so we couldn't have asked for more in that respect.
"We wanted to know what the ongoing effect would be. The club has suffered financially so could we expect not to see any more signings or, even worse, the off-loading of our best players who we don't want to lose?
"The answer to both of those questions was 'no.' The plans for the season will continue and that was pleasing from our point of view.
"The next worry was what type of player the club was going for. We felt we were lacking flair and creativity and we were told that was what was being addressed and what the club are actively looking for.
"We now expect two creative midfield players to be on the books before the end of the month."
He added: "It was a positive meeting. We had fears beforehand that we don't have anymore.
"One of the main things that came to the fore was that those three guys are hurting as much as us.
"It would have been a worry if that hadn't been the case.
"We just have to move on now and hit the ground running."
The Rangers Supporters' Trust were also represented at the meeting and still harbour some reservations.
An RST spokesman said: "There were concerns raised today, hard questions were asked and answers were given.
"Time will tell whether they will be acceptable to the mainstream fans. Every member has individual opinions, which are all different.
"We are still looking for the chairman and the chief executive to demonstrate leadership that every member of the Rangers family can be happy with and buy into."
A statement from Bain read: "We were pleased to welcome members of the Rangers Supporters' Assembly to Murray Park this morning.
"The 15 delegates in attendance represent their members from all over the world and speak for the vast majority of Rangers supporters.
"Their constructive and collaborative approach led to a positive meeting and a robust exchange of views.
"Rangers Supporters' Assembly members from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America were part of today's meeting and their views are hugely important to the club.
"I am convinced by today's meeting that together we will collectively meet the challenges that lie ahead of us this season."
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