Smith's extension sets up Rangers finale
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Rangers boss Walter Smith has agreed a new one-year contract to manage the Scottish champions for a final season before being replaced by Ally McCoist.

Smith and his assistants McCoist and Kenny McDowall had been working without contracts since January and it was feared they could quit Ibrox during the close-season due to uncertainty over the club's ownership and financial stability. But Smith, 62, has moved to reaffirm his commitment to the Glasgow outfit and wants one last campaign before handing over the reins to former Rangers striker McCoist and McDowall.

"I am wholly committed to managing the club next season and when it comes to the end of next season I firmly believe that Ally and Kenny would do a great job and I am glad everybody at the club shares that view," Smith told Rangers' website.

We have big challenges ahead, on and off the field, but we are all Rangers men at heart and are looking forward to going for our third league title in a row and playing in the Champions League.
Walter Smith on Rangers' website

"I have given this decision a great deal of thought. The next season holds many challenges for everyone at the club and I would hope that with the backing of everyone - supporters, management and staff - we can pull together as a club and continue to achieve at least the levels of success we have enjoyed over the last few seasons. We have big challenges ahead, on and off the field, but we are all Rangers men at heart and are looking forward to going for our third league title in a row and playing in the Champions League."

Smith defied the odds to lead Rangers to a second successive league title this season, despite financial restrictions which have prevented him from buying a new player since August 2008. When a potential takeover from property developer Andrew Ellis seemed set to fizzle out, it was suggested Smith could walk away.

But talks have resumed, with Ellis meeting Rangers owner Sir David Murray in a bid to restart his attempt to claim a majority stake in the Ibrox club, and that helped persuade Smith to stay and lead the team into the Champions League.

Chairman Alastair Johnston added: "Walter's continued presence within Rangers was something I was determined to make happen and (chief executive) Martin Bain was instrumental in creating the environment that encouraged Walter, Ally and Kenny to remain on board."