Walter Smith believes Rangers will forever be saddled with the "stain" of sectarianism despite the club's best efforts to weed out a hardcore of bigots from their support.

The Rangers manager endorsed the statement from Sir David Murray at the club's annual meeting that Rangers are powerless to prevent a new strain of "bile" being peddled on unofficial websites.

Murray complained that "all the problems with Scottish sectarianism should not be just put at the foot of Rangers Football Club". He also acknowledged that the internet has enabled "people involved with this club to put bile - that's the word for it - on websites every day".

After sanctions by UEFA over crowd misbehaviour and a belated warning from the Scottish Premier League, the Billy Boys has been banned and Martin Bain, the Rangers chief executive, issued a warning to fans over the threat of police intervention if they persist in singing The Famine Song.

The song, which mocks Celtic's Irish roots and includes the line, "the famine's over, why don't you go home?" was decried as "vile, vicious and racist" by John Reid, the Celtic chairman, on Friday. He also called for police to take action.

The debate has irritated and embarrassed Smith, who was part of Murray's attempt to drag Rangers out of the dark ages nearly 20 years ago with the signing of Maurice Johnston, the club's first high-profile Roman Catholic player.

"The truth is, there is still an aspect of sectarianism among a certain number of supporters,"

said Smith in part two of an exclusive interview with The Herald. "What more can Rangers do as a club but decry and decry and decry those supporters who continue to ignore what the club and the authorities have told them?

"It is being kept alive by a proportion of our support, the media - who are happy to keep it going for the sake of selling papers - and by politicians. Because of modern technology, faceless people will always spout their bile and the club will always be tarnished by it. I am not bright enough to know what to do about it but I am happy as the manager that the people I work with day to day do not have a sectarian attitude.

"As a club, we can only try to continue to eradicate it and I don't think we receive enough credit for doing that.

"I think it is clear the problem has diminished in the last 20 years but the problem now is the media attention has magnified it again," he added. "Look at last week: the Bank of Scotland went bust in a credit crisis that affects everyone in this country. What was the front page story in a national newspaper? The Famine Song. That is why it will always linger.

"When I first came to Rangers, there was a call for Rangers to sign Catholic players. The club were aware of the consequences of their earlier stance and knew that if they made that statement of intent, it would go a long way to ending the stain of sectarianism.

"Rangers as a club under David Murray have signed Catholic players, Muslims, Jews, players from all types of backgrounds and religions, yet the debate still comes up.

"Twenty years ago, Rangers did not sign Catholic players, you could not put up an argument, but what has happened in the last 20 years has shown Rangers are not a sectarian club. If you look at the club, never mind the playing side, there is not an area that could be termed sectarian but there is still a sectarian aspect to the support. The chairman addressed it by attacking those who use websites to promote what he called bile' and it is that kind of thing that has inflamed the situation.

"There has been an acceptance of responsibility from the club and the supporters have to do the same."