According to Johnston, Whyte had always been unequivocal about one thing during their talks: he wouldn’t be able to run Rangers without help.
“My discussions were only with Craig,” said Johnston back then. “When you speak about ‘his people’ I think he is a one-man operation. I think he has people around him who do a lot of his analytical work but he is definitely the decision-maker. He said: ‘I’m going to need a lot of help’. He said: ‘I don’t have the skills to run a football club, I don’t know what I’m doing . . .’.”
Maybe not, but Whyte certainly knew this much: finalising a takeover and the early phase of his ownership will be a far smoother process if it can be done without any obstruction or opposition from a hostile board of directors. He can’t take over a club with a collapsed infrastructure.
Whyte believed the Rangers board was onside with his bid until last Tuesday when the independent sub-committee of Ibrox directors -- set up to examine the substance of any potential new owner -- came out with a statement questioning and criticising aspects of his bid and claiming to be aware of an alternative.
That required a reaction. It has taken Whyte less than a week to meet them, restate his credentials, and quell any opposition. Naturally it helped that the club’s lenders, Lloyds Banking Group, made it clear they weren’t interested in any takeover bid other than Whyte’s.
He was under no obligation to appease that sub-committee. A deal can be done between him, owner Sir David Murray and Lloyds, and it may have crossed his mind to say to hell with what the rest of the board thought about how much money he was putting on the table.
A hostile board would be a thorny but not insurmountable problem during the transitional period. Instead, by sitting down with that group of sceptical Rangers directors again on Sunday -- which meant presenting his credentials to some of them for a third time -- Whyte showed his willingness to take the ownership from Murray on peaceful terms.
It’s not known what he thinks of Johnston as a chairman, nor Martin Bain as a chief executive, nor John McClelland as a director, but he can’t have looked at their track records and concluded that they should all be rushed towards the exit door as soon as he takes hold of the keys.
Whyte will surely appoint his own senior executive team in due course -- successful businessmen always want their own men in place -- and much may be done in time for the start of next season. But an instant night of the long knives seems unlikely.
His acknowledgement to Johnston that he does not have the skills to run a football club showed that Whyte recognised football makes unusual demands of even the most experienced businesspeople.
There may be a time when Whyte feels on sufficiently solid ground to make and take phone calls from football managers and agents and discuss contracts and salaries, but not yet. Whyte isn’t going to be on first-name terms with other SPL club owners nor essential figures at the SFA, SPL or Uefa. If he takes over Rangers in the next few days he’s going to need people around him who are.
Only time will tell whether Whyte rates Bain enough to retain him but, even if he does not, he would need to replace him with someone of comparable experience, contacts and skills. Bain has been on the Rangers board since 2001 and is a seasoned negotiator when it comes to transfers, contract negotiations and the countless issues which always swirl around Ibrox, not least of which is the recurring issue with sectarian chanting which will have the club up before a Uefa disciplinary hearing on Thursday.
Bain has been on the SPL board and has had a high-ranking position at the European Club Association (ECA), the body which replaced the influential G14 group of leading clubs.
McClelland is an even bigger hitter on the ECA as one of its vice-chairmen. McClelland, finance director Donald McIntyre and legendary player John Greig could all remain as directors if Whyte believes his reign would benefit from continuity, and perhaps that would be extended to include Bain.
Johnston is more likely to leave while Donald Muir and Mike McGill are there to represent the interests of Lloyds and Sir David Murray, neither of which will be relevant if Whyte is the owner.
As the architects of a possible alternative takeover plan it is difficult to see how Dave King and Paul Murray could survive on the board.
Whyte would need to get the numbers back up with some of his own men. Property developer Andrew Ellis, expected to take a 25% shareholding once Whyte is the owner, has some previous football experience.
It’s well known that he ran Northampton Town for just eight weeks but, before that, he was on the board of QPR. Whyte will have some ideas about who he wants to fill the directors’ box at Ibrox next season.
Rangers are trying to flog season tickets to an uncertain fanbase, they have a new and inexperienced manager taking over, massive transfer work to do to rebuild their squad, and a Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs case against them which could torpedo their finances before the year is out.
Whyte could have all the money in the world, but he can’t take all that on without a support structure. When he eventually takes over he needs to build a team behind the team.