Former Rangers chairman, Alastair Johnston, made it clear on BBC Radio Scotland last night that putting the company into administration was never Sir David Murray’s plan. There was, he said, an understanding that should the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) decide against Rangers, the new liability would be absorbed into the Murray International Holdings (MIH) group of companies, just as MIH absorbed £50m of Rangers debt in 2004.
Johnston explained that the potential Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) tax liability was only 3% of MIH bank debt and that the group, which owned the overwhelming majority of Rangers anyway, would not find its position materially changed by absorbing the debt directly.
MIH would continue to manage its portfolio of investments back to rude health and neither it, nor its bankers, would have blood on their hands for putting Rangers down.
All this changed when Our Hero arrived on the scene with his £1. Johnston explained, as he had done in explicit detail before, that Lloyds Banking Group gave MIH and the independent board of directors at Rangers no choice but to accept the offer from Mr Whyte.
When the offer arrived last year Lloyds were already reaping a whirlwind of negative sentiment from being Rangers bankers and would view any exit from the situation as desirable. The bank itself, now significantly owned by the taxpayer after a government bailout, was also under immense financial pressure with a fiduciary responsibility to reduce their exposure to bad debt. They were hardly in a position to refuse £18m to clear existing debt with the removal of a potential £50m liability.
Once the offer materialised it was inevitably accepted. The old board’s plan to successfully steer the club through the potential loss of the FTT intact was usurped.
Neither MIH, the independent board nor, it could be argued, Lloyds, had any choice. Although while Mr Johnston insisted his hands were tied, he failed to see the bank’s decision makers were also between a rock and a hard place.
One final push (this week) for the Vanessa Riddle Appeal. We have a Celtic top signed by the first team squad available to auction on eBay. You can bid on the auction and help send Vanessa for the treatment she needs by clicking here. Thanks to Penfold for the donation and to Taggsybhoy for organising (yet again).
We don’t need no stinkin’ Rangers.
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