ALEX Miller has defended Rangers’ decision to sell Nathan Patterson to Everton - and predicted it could help the Ibrox club to survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Scottish champions banked a record £12m transfer fee for the 20-year-old right back from their English counterparts on Tuesday.

However, some of their supporters were unhappy the Scotland internationalist was allowed to leave during the January window.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men are currently bidding to land the cinch Premiership - and secure a lucrative place in the Champions League group stages – and are still involved in the Europa League.

But Miller, who spent 14 years as a player in Govan before going on to enjoy a long and successful career as a coach, believes it was a shrewd piece of business by the Rangers board.

The former St Mirren, Hibernian and Aberdeen manager and Liverpool and Scotland assistant can understand why both Van Bronckhorst and his predecessor Steven Gerrard preferred James Tavernier to Patterson this term.

He is also fearful for many clubs at the moment following the Scottish government’s decision to cap crowds at outdoor events at 500 due to a sharp rise in Omicron infections across the country.

The restrictions are set to be reviewed next week – but if they remain in place beyond January 17 then it will create serious cash flow problems for clubs with large wage bills.

The Ibrox outfit made an operating loss of £23.5m in the last financial year and their ex-player feels the money they have received from the sale of the defender  – and the figure is set to rise to £16m with add-ons - will help to safeguard their long-term future.

“I understand the circumstances,” he said. “For a start, James Tavernier was magnificent last season. He scored 19 goals and provided 16 assists. That is just phenomenal.

“If the manager had come along and dropped him he would have said: ‘What do I have to do to play? What other full-back has scored 19 goals?’ They have sold a player who is not a regular starter for very good money.”

Miller added: “But, to be honest, I think Scottish football is facing severe, severe problems. Clubs can’t survive without money coming in.

“If I had been at Hibs and we had not had any money coming in I know what would have happened. And we didn’t have guys on thousands of pounds a week like Rangers do just now.

“How can clubs who have guys on thousands of pounds a week possibly pay that if there is no money coming in? As I say, I think they are facing severe problems.

“No fewer than 11 of the 12 Premiership clubs accepted emergency loans from the government last year because of coronavirus. Are they going to borrow more now?

“This money for Patterson keeps the club going. If it saves the club in future, then they have got to do it. Needs must in this situation.”

Miller believes the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted why it is vital for Rangers and other Scottish clubs to develop their own talent rather than spend millions on players in the transfer market.

And he expressed hope that more exceptional youngsters at Auchenhowie are poised to follow Patterson into the first team at Ibrox in the near future.

“It shows that the most important thing for any Scottish club is really working on their youth development,” he said. “They can’t afford to have one good young player coming through every six or seven years, they need them coming through every year.”