Today’s pre-trial hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court against Charles Green, Craig Whyte and others involved in the business of Newco Rangers brings the state of the football club into stark focus.
Charles Green is accused of raising £21m for Newco Rangers by fraud via their December 2012 IPO. He is also accused of defrauding Sevco 5088 Ltd, the company who were awarded the right to buy the assets of liquidated oldco by administrators’ Duff and Phelps.
Craig Whyte maintained that he, or his associates, had a controlling interest in Sevco 5088 Ltd, and produced a famous recording allegedly featuring Green tell him “You are Sevco”. Although Duff and Phelps contracted to sell to Sevco 5088, another company, Sevco Scotland Ltd, actually bought the basket of assets.
Sevco Scotland was controlled by Charles Green or his associates. The company was renamed to The Rangers Football Club Ltd and is now a football club, sitting top of the Scottish Championship.
While in charge of Newco Rangers, Green’s PR issued a number of confusing statements around Sevco 5088, insisting both that he made certain arrangements with Whyte which he had no intention of honouring, and that he was entitled to switch the beneficiary of the Rangers liquidation Sale and Purchase agreement to Sevco Scotland Ltd. A move he claimed was to give the company a Scottish registration number.
The remainder of the various rap sheets tell grubby tales. Green is accused of fraudulently obtaining the £5.5m he used to acquire the assets of Rangers, and of using £200k from Rangers Youth Development Ltd to aid the purchase. Whyte is accused of defrauding Ticketus and Merchant Capital of £28m, and various other crimes and misdemeanours, but these issues are a side matter. The action regarding the future concerning football is with Charles Green.
Think back to his counsel’s words as he sought funding for his defence from Newco Rangers last month. The £21m IPO money and those assets purchased by Sevco Scotland were ploughed into the club now sitting at the top of the Championship. Should these charged be upheld, the assets would be proceeds of crime.
Green was allowed to issue unfathomable edicts as a desperate PR campaign blamed others for bizarre conspiracies. This was enough for an already-compliant media and he played to the gallery magnificently. Supporters lapped it up.
Under pressure to provide the stock market with a clean bill of health, the club went to the Masons for a report in April 2013, Pinsent Masons, who in conjunction with auditors, Deloitte, found none of the alleged links between Green and Whyte surrounding the asset sale and setting up of Newco. I understand the investigation heard no testimony from Craig Whyte, so found no evidence of anything inappropriate.
All of this provided temporary respite on the park and in the Scottish media but the ultimate Day of Reckoning was never going to be affected by PR. Should charges against Green be upheld, the only unfathomable consideration will be what future a football club with no legally acquired assets has.
There is a chance that all the dominoes will fall in Newco’s favour. That all charges are unsuccessful, that Mike Ashley relinquishes control of all contracts and that investment will be found to meet medium-term cash requirements. It is also possible that one or more of these dominoes will remain standing, and that nothing will ever be the same again.
Best of luck to all parties. I wonder when the penny will drop with those recently rooting for Green to be put away of the consequences……