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Rangers: where now and what’s coming next

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It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  Craig Whyte would not have expected Champions League football when he worked on the deal to buy Rangers last spring, but, by his own admission, income from the Europa League group stage was in the budget.

Winning the league came as a surprise late in the process and may have fuelled some summer transfer bids but income was about to fall well below expectations.  Ally McCoist won only one game in four cup competitions, against Arbroath, season ticket sales didn’t bounce and with no serious income streams open, Rangers were set for a seriously low income season.

In addition, the injury to Steven Naismith robbed Rangers of what I understand would have been a £5m sale in January.

People have tried to assert that Whyte’s plan for Rangers was to liquidate the company all along, this is clearly not the case.  Rangers were moribund while the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) was yet to report but Whyte planned to run the company, without reverting to administration until and perhaps beyond then.

As well as having to deal with the income shocks resulting from multiple on-field failures, Rangers were hit with an expenditure shock.   The FTT was delayed from November to January.  If it had proceeded as planned in November it would have reported in January.  The delay was crucial, Rangers were going to spend a lot more money before the verdict was announced.

If the verdict arrived as expected in January, and Rangers won, it was game on.  They would have been in a position to borrow like any other club and could have raised fresh share capital.  There would have been no administration.  This was the preferred outcome, Whyte would have emerged with his reputation intact and with a valuable football franchise for the outlay of exactly £1.

If they lost, Whyte could have presented a fait-accompli to the world.

He could have explained to the Rangers support that the total tax liability was “likely to be around £75m” and that there was no point putting fresh investment into a black hole, which was inevitably going to lead to liquidation – all for misdemeanours that occurred before his time.  The support would have been distressed at the death of their history, but, crucially, they would not have blamed Whyte, whose reputation would still be intact.

He would immediately have applied for the 10 day grace period to consider appointing an administrator and used that time to tell the SPL and SFA that he could re-emerge with Newco FC within days and allow the league programme to complete as normal.  He had security over the stadium, would be in a position to re-employ the players and would be able to honour financial commitments to other clubs, while securing the television and sponsorship contracts.

Public sympathy would have been behind him, Sir David Murray would have carried the blame (perhaps correctly) and I believe only Celtic would have voted against him.  Newco would have been back in the SPL and, if the Daily Record’s reporting of Whyte’s thoughts on penalties are anything to go by, he expected to be docked a comfortable 25 points.

HMRC forcing Rangers into administration this month created enormous problems.  Administrators Duff and Phelps are now in control and opened the club’s finances up to scrutiny.

As soon as it became evident that he securitised season ticket money from future years, three days after buying the club, placing the money into his own bank account, not that of the football club, Craig Whyte’s methods were subject to derision and outright disgust from many angles, most importantly from the Rangers support.

As things stand, Whyte cannot slip away.  He has to stand with Ticketus, who will hold a security on Ibrox through one of Whyte’s companies, and he stands to gain an enormous amount of money for a year’s hard work.  Ticketus are also in for the long haul, they have coughed up over £20m and will need a sizeable commercial return.

Many observers have noted that this has not progressed as a normal administration.  It’s not a normal administration.  The secured creditors (Craig Whyte and Ticketus) need to sell a lot of tickets beyond administration, either as Rangers, if they are successful in the FTT, or as Newco, if they lose the FTT.  Selling a lot of tickets is a really tough challenge right now and will be made considerably more difficult if there are swingeing cuts made to the club staff and infrastructure now. Their interests are considerably best served by keeping Rangers as buoyant as possible.

Even if they manage to feed enough cash to the administrators to keep Rangers playing football until the verdict is delivered, the opportunity to present the league with a fait-accompli has gone.  Everyone expects Rangers to fold and will have been busy working on a contingency plan.

Any goodwill that Whyte hoped to harvest has also gone, he is seen as a pariah, without friends within the game, in the political world, the media or the Rangers support.  When he looks to build a consensus, there will be no advocates for his position.  Quite the opposite, people want rid of him.

The on-going police enquiry and his interesting relationships with the Insolvency Service and HMRC will only cloud matters further.  For all the bluster on these subjects, no one has been able to explain to me any illegal activities, in fact, most of the illegal activity he has been accused of are either perfectly legal or simply did not take place as described, but there is enough potential in this mix for many years of civil legal challenge, if not more serious issues.

Whyte and Ticketus now have decisions to make on how much extra skin to invest.  Ticketus are in the game for a lot of money already and will be keen to protect their cash.  It remains to be seen how much cash Whyte has in the client account at Collyer Bristow, but it’s clear that between them, Ticketus and Whyte were prepared to guarantee the administrators full wages and costs for the club for February.

The fact that the tap has been turned on 100% for the last two weeks suggests they have enough cash to run at a lower percentage for a while yet.  Duff and Phelps will know how much money is available and will have an expected date for the verdict.  It would be enormously bad judgement if they exhausted cash reserves before the verdict arrived.

As long as Ticketus investors hold their nerve, and the police don’t spike the process, Rangers will survive until the verdict.  If they lose the verdict, and all expectations are that they will, what are we looking at?

As I said above, Whyte’s chance of presenting a fait-accompli has gone.  He would need to go for a prepack liquidation but there are likely to be legal challenges to him making off with the assets of Rangers.  At best, this would delay him for anything between weeks and years.  Any police involvement would make matters even more difficult.  If a negative verdict is delivered anytime soon, Rangers will cease.

Even if this happens, Whyte will still owe Ticketus a lot of money and will try to phoenix as a Newco.  He will have the stadium and will be in pole position to apply for membership to the SPL or Scottish Football League.

A route back into the SPL in these circumstances would be difficult to achieve.  The SPL board have the authority to accept a club into the league but I hear it is likely that, due to the importance of the matter, they would refer the decision to a vote of the entire league.  Back in October I thought the fait-accompli was certain to be voted into the SPL, now I can’t see a Newco being voted in.

You would expect an application into the Scottish Football League to be accepted but there may be a rival bid.  The ‘Blue Knights’ bid would not include Ibrox but have a number of options.  They could ask to rent Hampden or Firhill, or could adopt a struggling lower league club, like Clyde.  These notions are likely to be progressed but establishing a new club, without players or a stadium, would be an enormous challenge.

All of this would play out against a great deal of uncertainty.  Whyte’s ability to sell tickets to Rangers fans must be in doubt.  If a rival club wanted back into Ibrox in the future they would need to give the ultimate floating charge holder – Ticketus – the same kind of return Whyte has committed to.  There is also the possibility of a lot more to come out about the old regime at Rangers, some of whom are behind the Blue Knights bid.

Even if someone gets a phoenix off the ground at Ibrox, keeping it alive will be difficult.  The cost of running football games there every second week is considerable.  Doing so, while repaying Ticketus, and competing against lower league (or SPL) opposition, will cut any football budget to levels not known in 30 years.

For now, everyone connected with Rangers needs to make confident noises but even if they die, their ghost is already in enormous peril.

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  1. Traddi … @ 13.25

     

     

    What is there to enjoy?

     

     

    DM’s ego coming crashing to the ground – maybe?

     

    The TFOD collapsing in some terrible implosion – not news anymore.

     

    Football writers ludge having a nervous breakdown – mocking the afflicted?

     

     

    Not really my bag – Sorry not for me.

     

     

    It is interesting, what the end point will be – who will buy what / who will lose what?

     

    However it is all getting a bit boring, the thrill has gone.

     

     

    There is no spectacle in watching clueless idiots acting like clueless idiots.

     

    CW is a sideshow, DM is where the action is.

     

     

    Consequently is it does not involve DM / Speculative Society then not interested.

     

    Now where did I put my bus timetable.

  2. Gordon J

     

    a very happy birthday to you.

     

     

    Paul67

     

    it just gets better, can anyone really get enough?

  3. Nice summary Paul.

     

     

    All of Whyte’s plans have been thwarted by the Euro exits and the late result of the tribunal. But I think he will still end up ahead on the whole mess, financially at least.

     

     

    There is also a delicious irony in Naysmith’s self inflicted injury doing so much damage to the club.

  4. traditionalist88 on

    Madmitch

     

     

    I wasn’t even referring to them- the enjoyment is still to come for us whatever happens to them.

     

     

    But as long as you’re happy:)

     

     

    HH

  5. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    dirtymac

     

     

    Do some companys not operate a 90 gapppp between paying accounts?? <o) No Jude you musnt. Stop that now!!

  6. thebhoywithmcgraininhisside on

    leitrimghirl on 1 March, 2012 at 13:00 said:

     

    How is this possible………..?!!

     

     

    Luckily thoses sales figure are for last year, or the Minty era.

     

     

    I think that this year’s figures will be so good that they’ll either have to consider making the MBB head of sales or simply changing the name of the company to Whyte & Mackies…

     

     

    I’ll get my coat.

     

     

    Hail Hail.

  7. Thanks for the birthday wishes everyone. This is what Alex Salmond gave me:

     

     

     

    Just a wee reminder that the odious Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act comes into force today.

     

     

    “The new laws create two new distinct offences, punishable through a range of penalties up to a maximum five-year prison sentence:

     

     

    The first offence targets any offensive and threatening behaviour expressed at and around football matches which is likely to cause public disorder.

     

     

    The second offence relates to the communication of threats of serious harm or which are intended to stir up religious hatred on the internet or other communications.”

  8. Paul67

     

     

    Love it when you put one of your special articles up!

     

     

    Jelly & ice cream all round… :)

  9. Great article Paul thank you.

     

    ‘their ghost is already in enormous peril’ – brilliant!

  10. Vey helpful summary of events Paul. Am suprised that Whyte still has an important part to play in the future as I assumed he was well out the picture having make his money by whatever means . Shirley he’s a loose cannon in all this in future? Any oldco / newco with him still involved has got to be bad news for them. I Imagine it would be something like Fergus riding to the rescue but still having to contend with Michael Kelly on the board!

  11. Che, lots more to come.

     

     

    Gordon_J, I’m sure he’ll receive more than a million times return on his investment.

     

     

    ASonOfDan, thanks. Worth the effort this time, I thought.

     

     

    Rieperman, deleted, language. First on the new template award!

  12. Billy's Bhoy on

    You will re-call that I have a Kille supporting friend who complained t6o Brian Donohoe about his outspoken support for Rangers. He received a reply of sorts that referred to not one point in his complaint. It is good to know that your constituency MP is wroking so hard on looking after your local issues.

     

     

    The reply is below:

     

     

    “As you will probably imagine I have had a large number of people getting in touch with me about the present situation in which Rangers FC finds itself.

     

     

    Rather than reply to each email individually I thought it more appropriate to provide a single reply as follows:-

     

     

    Since the Club went into administration I have had several discussions with fans and other interested parties.

     

     

    In addition to various general points there were 4 particular issues which concern me:

     

     

    1. No fire sale of property/land near the stadium

     

    2. The plight of low paid club staff should be given full consideration

     

    3. Continuation of the club’s community and charitable work, both at home and abroad, should be ongoing.

     

    4. The debt owing to HMRC and arrangement which will satisfy both Parties.

     

     

    I was happy to receive assurances that no hasty decisions would be taken in any of these areas and that while the entire range of the club’s activities would require to be examined going forward, in order to reduce costs, the intention was to preserve as much as possible of existing activities.

     

     

    I was also very heartened to hear that HMRC were being as helpful as possible, while remaining protective of the general taxpayer’s interest.

     

     

    I also met Paul Clark of Duff & Phelps at a meeting in Westminster this week, with members of the Westminster Rangers Supporters Club.

     

    We had a couple of hours discussing a variety of issues in depth.

     

     

    The administrators have agreed to keep us informed, of developments in relation to the club.

     

     

    In these circumstances I believe it would not be in the interest of Rangers FC for me to be providing a running commentary on events and have therefore declined a wide variety of media opportunities to do so.

     

     

    As a member of the Rangers Supporters Trust I have been coordinating links between the Trust and my fellow colleagues at Westminster. We have been keeping each other abreast of developments but, as I am sure you will appreciate, it is appropriate for these to be confidential at the moment.

     

     

    You can be assured that I, and my colleagues, are doing all that we can to be supportive of the club at this difficult time.”

     

     

    Yours sincerely

     

     

     

    BRIAN H. DONOHOE MP

     

    CENTRAL AYRSHIRE

     

    Secretary of The Westminster Rangers Supporters Club

  13. FTT, Newco, administration, liquidation…..Ticketus, HMRC, Collyer Bristow, Prepacks…CVA’s, Blue Knights, contingency plans & fait accompli’s…..

     

     

    For god’s sake someone put this lame horse out of its misery :)

  14. tic tock, aye, I liked that one myself.

     

     

    arranmore, will be v difficult for him to pull off but he cannot disappear either.

  15. A song for Sir Minty?

     

     

     

    I used to rule the world

     

     

    Seas would rise when I gave the word

     

     

    Now in the morning I sleep alone

     

     

    Sweep the streets I used to own

     

     

     

    I used to roll the dice

     

     

    Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes

     

     

    Listen as the crowd would sing

     

     

    “Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”

     

     

     

    One minute I held the key

     

     

    Next the walls were closed on me

     

     

    And I discovered that my castles stand

     

     

    Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

     

     

     

    I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing

     

     

    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing

     

     

    Be my mirror, my sword and shield

     

     

    My missionaries in a foreign field

     

     

     

    For some reason I can’t explain

     

     

    Once you go there was never

     

     

    Never an honest word

     

     

    And that was when I ruled the world

     

     

     

    It was the wicked and wild wind

     

     

    Blew down the doors to let me in

     

     

    Shattered windows and the sound of drums

     

     

    People couldn’t believe what I’d become

     

     

     

    Revolutionaries wait

     

     

    For my head on a silver plate

     

     

    Just a puppet on a lonely string

     

     

    Oh who would ever want to be king?

     

     

     

    I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing

     

     

    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing

     

     

    Be my mirror, my sword and shield

     

     

    My missionaries in a foreign field

     

     

     

    For some reason I can’t explain

     

     

    I know Saint Peter won’t call my name

     

     

    Never an honest word

     

     

    But that was when I ruled the world

     

     

     

    I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing

     

     

    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing

     

     

    Be my mirror, my sword and shield

     

     

    My missionaries in a foreign field

     

     

     

    For some reason I can’t explain

     

     

    I know Saint Peter won’t call my name

     

     

    Never an honest word

     

     

    But that was when I ruled the world

  16. jock steins celtic on

    Any thoughts as to why Craig Whyte ? If his plan is/was as outlined in Paul’s lead article why couldn’t someone more astute / less dodgy have carried it out ?

  17. Sounds good to me, even a fully lubed up Houdini couldny wriggle his way out of this fine mess.

     

     

    Perfect, now back to work…

  18. Paul

     

     

    Regarding the new look blog. Is it staying this way for the foreseeable future or have you any plans to pimp it? How about images of the players/club etc on the edges since there is no ad banners or links at the moment.

     

     

    HH

  19. garygillespieshamstring on 1 March, 2012 at 13:33 said:

     

    “Don’t normally defend Keevins but he did say that if Celtic were not paying because they had doubts as to whether the game would go ahead then they were correct …….”

     

     

    He said that after an hour and a half of saying that they were wrong; choosing to ignore the points made by callers; saying that he knew there was an agreement; saying that were was an alleged agreement; and blustering all his usual pompous verbosity which was crowned by his revelation that he had not spoken to Celtic or anyone else for that matter.

     

     

    He probably read something about in the Record written by Radar Jackson !

     

     

    Your tin hat may be removed as all of the above is said without malice aforethought.

  20. Afternoon , fair summary Paul , so Whyte is a gambler who saw a chance for a quick buck but events have not gone his way. Shame

     

    time to close the big hoose

     

     

    any news on injuries to our international bhoys, we have a big game at Pittodire coming up, hope Broonie is fit again.

  21. HECTOR – Moonbeams WD. Kano 1000 \o/ Supporting Neil Lennon 100%. Eating Jelly & Ice Cream. on 1 March, 2012 at 14:01 said:

     

     

    Reads very much like the usual caveat, your investment may go up as well as (in this case) drastically down….?

  22. playfusbal4dguilders on

    Paul ^&

     

     

    So the FTT case being moved/ delayed from Nov11 to Jan 12 was key in them’s downfall

     

    and who is now to blame?

     

     

    P

  23. By the way,,,’Blue Knights’

     

     

    Why do I think of a Baxendale- Walker type late night, discreet subscription TV channel?

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