After many years of speculation and debate, former Rangers owner, Craig Whyte, and founding father of newco Rangers, Charles Green, have been detained by police and are due to appear in court connected to the “alleged fraudulent acquisition” of Rangers assets, which were sold after the club failed to prevent a liquidator being appointed.
Joint administrators for Rangers, Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, then employed by Duff and Phelps, have also been detained in connection with the case.
Let’s get the rules clear from the off:
Anyone charged with a crime is entitled to a fair trial. They should not be subject to public comment which is likely to prejudice their ability to receive a fair trial. Don’t let anything of this nature appear on CQN.
You can discuss the issue, and you can discuss consequences of similar-sounding hypothetical cases, but unless you are cited to as a juror, don’t try to convict anyone.
The events surrounding Rangers liquidation and the subsequent asset purchase took place over three years ago. That this case has now found such momentum suggests the police are following a strong lien of enquiry, and have overcome whatever inertia which can sometimes affect white-collar crime.
We don’t know what is alleged fraudulently took place. The role of the administrators to carry out their duties on behalf of creditors is clearly established. That said, plenty of lateral is afforded to administrators (although increasing payroll by trying to sign Daniel Cousin raised eyebrows).
Exactly how Sevco Scotland Ltd (now The Rangers Football Club Ltd) were able to buy Rangers assets (for £5.5m) when the company who successfully bid for the assets was Sevco 5088 Ltd, has remained an open question since Craig Whyte claimed a controlling interest in Sevco 5088 Ltd.
Whatever the nature of the police charges, there is one overarching fact which Scottish football should be alert to.
Any company, football club or otherwise, which relies on assets that were criminally acquired to go about its business cannot continue to operate with those assets.
In this instance, the stadium, training ground, intellectual property, balls, nets and goalposts were all acquired by the company now known as The Rangers Football Club Ltd.
The consequences of this one are so massive several well-informed people suspected it would never get this far. But the day has come.
Even if all charges are dropped or allegations found to be false, there will still be immediate and real consequences. How would you, for example, go about raising money for a company with this hanging over it? Newco needs money, and they need to convince investors that the club did not start by criminally acquiring its football stadium.
Good luck with that.
I see in some places a fallacy persists that the SFA found Craig Whyte fit and proper to be a director of a football club. They did no such thing. The responsibility for ensuring Whyte’s fitness in 2011 lay with the Rangers board of directors, including Dave King and Paul Murray. The SFA have no powers to intercede or prevent a club from appointing any director it chooses.
Earlier this year Dave King took the unusual step of asking for prior-clearance that his appointment would not be found contrary to SFA rules (presumably due to his criminal convictions), before being appointed a director, but this was at King’s discretion. There is no SFA Fit and Proper test, the SFA do not clear or otherwise sanction any club director prior to appointment, this is the job of the club itself. Dave King, Paul Murray but most of all, Sir David Murray, take a bow.