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Rangers are dead, long live Rangers

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Matt Slater | 12:03 UK time, Wednesday, 29 February 2012

With all due respect to lovers of lazy afternoons spent reading new books for free and fans of cheap kitchens, trying to keep the likes of Borders and MFI from ruin is not quite the same thing as rescuing Rangers.

Borders' typical customer might write an angry letter about its demise to a broadsheet but they are unlikely to chant obscenities at you for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. And the death throes of a furniture chain were meat and drink to the Financial Times but they were not the stuff of front-page splashes in the tabloids.

That, however, is the situation Paul Clark and David Whitehouse find themselves in now as the joint administrators of a Scottish institution and global football brand.

The bankruptcies of Borders and MFI were no doubt painful for all concerned, particularly the staff, but they will seem like minor disappointments compared to the apocalyptic gloom that will descend if the Duff & Phelps pair lose Rangers.

Back on Valentine's Day, when Clark and Whitehouse were given the job of saving "the world's most successful football club", many felt only a miracle would prevent Rangers' 140-year history from coming to an abrupt end.

A dramatic first fortnight in financial intensive care has convinced some that this will be a long and messy administration, with lots of litigation. But I am now no longer so sure Rangers will be wound up.

It is right to fear the worst for Rangers Football Club plc, but it could be argued that the football team fielded by that company will end up playing football for a company with a very similar name, in the same colours and the same league.

Rangers fans showed their loyalty in the Premier League game against Kilmarnock. Photo: Getty

The Scottish champions spend at least £10m a year more than they bring in, they have almost no chance of being allowed to play European football next year (a situation that will only exacerbate their annual deficit) and they are a few weeks away from being presented with a bill they cannot settle.

That Rangers will lose their appeal against Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the now infamous "big tax case" is no longer up for real debate. What remains uncertain is how badly they will lose.

Will it be the knockout for HMRC that some have suggested (up to £75m in back taxes, interest and penalties) or a partial defeat of perhaps as little as £10m?

The size, timing and very existence of this tax dispute has been a topic of fevered debate for over a year, so it is hardly surprising that it should take on almost mythical proportions now.

But here's the thing, Rangers' debts are so great that the actual number spat out by the tribunal does not really matter - £10m, £30m, £50m...it is just another 'IOU' to add to the pile.

Rangers are not in administration now because of the reckoning that is coming for their alleged abuse of tax avoidance schemes going back to 2001. They are in the mire now because they have been using "the bank of HMRC" to fund the club's activities since May.

Winning the case is still vital for HMRC (see Tuesday's surprise move against Barclays for further evidence of the taxman's clampdown on those who do not pay their dues) but that has more to do with the City of London than the city of Glasgow.

Rangers, on the other hand, just need this to be over. They need the certainty of a number - it almost does not matter how big that number is.

So forgive me if this sounds like heresy but the big tax case has become a sideshow.

The real issue is how much money can be recovered from this horrible mess. Will taxpayers get a better return from a company that can still sell tickets for games at Ibrox next year or will more money be raised from a fire sale?

A few weeks ago I thought HMRC might opt for the latter, if only to put a great big head on a stick and wave it menacingly at the rest of British football. But the background noises coming from Ibrox, the Revenue and the insolvency industry suggest a compromise is possible.

There are a few important reasons for this.

One, HMRC does not really want to shut down Rangers if it can help it. The political blowback would be considerable and taxpayers could question the logic of the taxman's actions.

Two, there is no football creditor rule in Scotland for HMRC to take its usual principled stance against - millionaire players are not given special treatment in football insolvencies north of the border.

Fans feel deeply upset by the goings on at the club. Photo: Getty

And three, what HMRC really wants is a proper look at all the murky goings-on at Rangers going back a decade. To do this you need the investigatory powers of a liquidator, not the financial restructuring nous of an administrator.

In fact, the taxman needs both and that is exactly what he got at Portsmouth in 2010.

The Premier League's first insolvency ended with a 20p-in-the-pound deal for creditors, the transfer of assets and liabilities to a new company, and the liquidation and investigation of the old company. That process took nine months and the investigation has a long way to go.

A similar deal for Rangers would make Clark and Whitehouse's task of finding a new owner for the club exponentially easier. That owner, or owners, will need the wherewithal to settle the renegotiated debt and that is unlikely without Scottish Premier League football and a timely return to Europe.

A more aggressive liquidation would leave a "new Rangers" outside of Europe for three years and possibly outside Scotland's top flight too. Frankly, there would be no business case to speak of for many, many years.

There is, of course, one stumbling block to this pragmatic solution (I leave aside for now any comment on the sporting ethics of all this) and he is currently holed-up in a posh apartment block in Monaco.

In some ways Craig Whyte is irrelevant to what is happening.

OK, he is playing a convincing and useful role as the baddie in this pantomime. But it is not entirely his fault the club are broke and he certainly cannot be blamed for the Employee Benefit Trust ruse. This storm has been building for some time and it was going to erupt on somebody eventually.

Whyte, however, is relevant to what happens next. Quite simply there is no deal between club and Crown that leaves the erstwhile owner "quids in". He has to go and he cannot be seen to be doing nicely out of this.

But there is one useful service he can still provide and that is to be the template of the kind of person who should fail Scottish football's new "fit and proper person" test, just as soon as they get around to introducing one.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me on Twitter when I'm out and about.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    We are a mess, but with over 1 million fans in scotland alone we wont dissapear. In all honesty this is probably the best thing to happen to us and it might foster real change in the SPL, and when I say that I mean revenue sharing and a draft system with amalgamation of youth coaching into central schools run by the SFA.

    But then again, football in these parts is taken more seriously than just about anywhere else in the world.

  • Comment number 2.

    But then again, football in these parts is taken more seriously than just about anywhere else in the world.

    -------------------

    Pity the quality is terrible then really! SPL = Massive YAWN!

  • Comment number 3.

    "Rangers are in a dreadful state and it is entirely self-inflicted, although those in charge of the game in Scotland might want to take a moment to consider their role in all this too"

    Really? What should they have done differently? It's not up to the SFA to run Rangers.

  • Comment number 4.

    Where has Chick Young been hiding throughout all of this?????? He's gone rather silent.

  • Comment number 5.

    It was rumoured that HMRC were investigating eight EPL clubs over EBT's as well. Assuming the case is found in favour of HMRC, I hope they will move swiftly to act on any other clubs who have been doing the same.

    A 20p in the pound deal sounds like a "good result". Surely there would be a lot of interest in the club if only a fifth of the debt was there. After all, West Ham were £100M in debt when they were bought. If Rangers were to be relegated to div 1 then I think buyer's would still come forward. Any lower....... who know's.

    Always worth remembering too that there are a lot of people, other then the player's, who have their jobs and their income on the line.

  • Comment number 6.

    Was that really just a swindon supporter complaining about the quality of Scottish football?

  • Comment number 7.

    But then again, football in these parts is taken more seriously than just about anywhere else in the world.

    _____________

    Nonsense!

    If you mean unlike most other teams religion enters the equation, Yes. Religion has no place in football.

    Scotland should have one place in European competition. Getting knocked out of Europe twice every year is bizarre.

    How long until some Rangers fan states that they would win the Premier League within 3 seasons if they had access to Sky money?

  • Comment number 8.

    Over a million fans in Scotland, I assume that's a wind up?
    There will be political fall out which ever way this goes, possibly even more if Rangers are saved because HMRC let Rangers off with a large proportion of what is owed. In these austere times the public can't afford to support clubs who chose to live out with their means and don't pay their taxes.
    What message would it send out to businesses up and down the country if Rangers survived this, and were able to maintain their position as one of the big 2? Scottish football will not survive the demise of Rangers but is football really that important that a club can be deemed as too big too fail.

  • Comment number 9.

    "The Scottish champions spend at least £10m a year more than they bring in..."

    Mark with all due respect why are you perpetuating the myth that Rangers run at a loss of £10M each year. Craig Whyte started this nonsense and Id expect you to do a tiny piece of research before repeating.

    See financial results here: http://www.plus-sx.com/newsItem.html?newsId=1419465

    For the year ending June 2011 we had revenues of £57M and posted a nominal profit. Yes we had European football but this also included an £8M write-down in the value of players. The year before Rangers made £4M on £56M revenues.

  • Comment number 10.

    Sorry Matt but your blog is rather poorly informed, probably sums up the knowledge of those south of the border in this matter.

    It is not a foregone conclusion that Rangers will lose the tax case, the reason for the air of resignation around it is because HMRC will pursue this all the way to the House of Lords if req'd and Rangers cannot afford to have this hanging over them for the next x number of years. It affects their ability to trade effectively as football club as until it is resolved one way or another they will not be able to move on.

    Craig Whyte has effectively run the club into the ground because of this. The problem with this is it is unclear whether this was for his own financial benefit or for the long term future of the club, something that will only become apparent in the weeks and months ahead.

    A lot of people have claimed that Rangers have broke the law and seem to be taking the morale high ground but Rangers have simply indulged in tax avoidance, exploiting a loophole for their own benefit in the same way that thousands of small businesses in the Uk do every day, whether it's a taxi driver or a builder who you pay half with a cheque and the rest in cash.

    Again your quote surrounding Rangers having an annual deficit of 10m is based on numbers spouted by Whyte himself and anyone who knows anything about the situation will know, you can't trust a word out of the guy's mouth. Considering the club returned an operating profit the previous 2 years before Whyte's takeover it would seem that any deficit has been based on his actions to run the club down.

    Hopefully he has just done this to force the taxman's hand to come to the negotiating table but there's far too much to come out for someone like yourself to claim to have an informed view.

  • Comment number 11.

    horse1966 (9) - I decided to break habit of a lifetime and do more than a "tiny piece of research" this time. I have it on reasonable authority that Whyte was closer to the truth (!) when he suggested this year's deficit will be £15m. Which is a considerable improvement on the not-so distant days when Rangers made annual losses of £30m. And we may have to revisit the last 10 years of accounts in a few weeks and add a few more million to the staff costs.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Real opportunity for change here.

    The fit and proper person test is a must as is some kind of fiscal responsibility for how football clubs are run.

    They currently hide behind both the protected status of "community institutions" whilst also insisting that they cannot conform to the normal rules of business.

    This must not continue.

    Forgetting all the other concerns about money that rangers have the simple fact that the club takes in £35 million while spending £45 million is there for all to see.
    It equates to business suicide.

    New requirements for membership of the league should be a priority:
    - Spend no more than you bring in
    - Quarterly checks to ensure clubs are up to date with HMRC (an English rule I believe)
    - No debts to other clubs in the league to go unpaid

    You cannot give tens of thousands of pounds a week in wages to players while failing to pay your bills and expenses.

    Rangers have continually and wilfully spent outwith their means since the late 80's as I recall. They have brought their fate upon themselves and it should be a requirement for their continuing participation in the league that they show they have learned.

    To yo-yo in and out of administration while continually engaging in exactly the same practices that put them there last time is unacceptable. Should it re-occur then automatic ejection from the league should be the direct outcome.

    Celtic, despite all the many other issues I have with them, are at least a financially responsible club.

    I fear that my own club, Hibs, will be tempted to overspend in an attempt to become competitive. To put other clubs under this sort of pressure to overspend to stay in touch must be avoided.

    And as for poster #1's comment on a draft system:
    I agree wholeheartedly.
    The Americans teaching the Scots to do things in a Socialist fashion?
    Whatever next......

  • Comment number 14.

    6. At 17:02 29th Feb 2012, andy235234 wrote:
    Was that really just a swindon supporter complaining about the quality of Scottish football?

    --------------------

    Swindon play in Red my Friend ... so no it wasn't! And they are playing attractive football actually and currently top of league 2 (similar quality than SPL if not better)

  • Comment number 15.

    Rangers should definitely pay the full amount owed AND be forced to pay interest on that amount!

  • Comment number 16.

    "That Rangers will lose their appeal against Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the now infamous "big tax case" is no longer up for real debate".

    No? Maybe you haven't read this:

    http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/spl/rangers_administration_key_witness_says_rangers_can_still_win_50m_tax_case_1_2125385

  • Comment number 17.

    angryhobojc (10) - You appear to accuse me of being poorly informed on the basis of my remark that Rangers' defeat in the FTT is beyond reasonable debate because it looks like we agree on everything else. If that's the case, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I'm reasonably happy with the sources of my information, on either side of the border. As for the "quote" (no quotes in there) about Rangers having an annual deficit of £10m, see my previous reply. I agree with you about CW's credibility, though. Fingers crossed and we'll get some clarity here when the administrators publish their statement of affairs in a month or so. We will probably never see a set of meaningful accounts for 2010-11, though, which kind of says it all.

  • Comment number 18.

    Craig Whyte is irrelevant? We do know he's an asset stripper but we don't know whether he really is the bag man or the front man for someone else.

    The guy who bought a club possibly under false pretences for a £1. Claimed the £1 back on expenses and then ran the club down by tax avoidance running up a bill of £15m and putting not a penny into the club of his own. Sold 4 seasons worth of tickets to fund his takeover and sold two years worth of catering to fund the operating costs.

    May yet benefit by someone paying him money for the club?

    Couldn't make it up.

  • Comment number 19.

    @7
    "Scotland should have one place in European competition. Getting knocked out of Europe twice every year is bizarre."

    Eh? Scotland is allocated places in European competitions based on the coefficient. When a nation's teams perform well in Europe, that nation gets more places and their teams get seeded and don't have to go through as many qualifiers. Do you argue that England should only get one Champions League place, instead of four?

  • Comment number 20.

    Post No 10 stated -
    "A lot of people have claimed that Rangers have broke the law and seem to be taking the morale high ground but Rangers have simply indulged in tax avoidance, exploiting a loophole for their own benefit in the same way that thousands of small businesses in the Uk do every day, whether it's a taxi driver or a builder who you pay half with a cheque and the rest in cash."

    Sorry to state the obvious but if the hypothetical builder were not to declare the cash, that would be tax evasion (potentially a criminal offence) not tax avoidance, which is legal. Paying a business in cash gives no legal tax loophole whatever.

  • Comment number 21.

    How on earth does someone come up with the figure that Rangers have 1 million fans in Scotland... 20% of the population supports them... not even 20% of Glasgow supports them! They should be made to pay back every penny of their debts to HMRC and other creditors - they owe 3 other SPL clubs over £1m, signed a player in January for £240k (which they haven't paid yet) a few weeks before going in to administration and still tried to sign Cousin on a wage of £30k per month days before going in to administration... last summer (with the big tax and wee tax case hanging over them) they handed out a 5 year contract to a goalie worth £6m in wages. For sporting integrity they must be made to pay back every penny.

  • Comment number 22.

    "I have it on reasonable authority that Whyte was closer to the truth (!) when he suggested this year's deficit will be £15m. Which is a considerable improvement on the not-so distant days when Rangers made annual losses of £30m."


    Mark are you kidding? Do you honestly believe that Rangers run at a loss of £10M-£15M every year with only Champions League football or a huge transfer windfall to save them from oblivion each year?

    Its well known Rangers have cut costs to match revenues for the last 6-7 years. They should be able to withstand an early Euro knockout. There is no excuse for Whyte not paying PAYE. As suggested before it looks like has has deliberatley forced this issue. And it helps his case when he claims Rangers lose £10M every year and it helps even more when people like you agree with him!

  • Comment number 23.

    Rangers should lose the ''big tax case'' because they have broken the law the only thing that is not clear is why no-one has been taken to the criminal court as to me it looks like large scale fraud. I can't see anyone outside ''the rangers family'' having one ounce of sympathy

  • Comment number 24.

    Rob04 (18) - "in SOME ways CW is irrelevant.." Don't worry, there's plenty more time in this process to shine a brighter light on his antics. And we will.

  • Comment number 25.

    19

    I'm sorry I didn't make myself clear.

    Scotland should have just one place in European competition - in the Europa League!

    Scottish coefficient is false bearing in mind Rangers get into Europe EVERY year. They have done amazingly well in Europe on that basis, NOT!

  • Comment number 26.

    Surely the only way for this never to happen again is for the terms of any restructuring being appropriate Articles of Association or whatever vehicle comes out the other side.

    1. Constitutional requirement to limit player wages to a % of revenue and total operating costs.
    2. A representative of HMRC as an NED to ensure all tax payments are expedited on time.

    Otherwise, all this will just go on again and again.

    And the net result is this: players are overpaid and creditors are shafted.

    That's the sea change required and the sooner it starts all over football, the better.

  • Comment number 27.

    forget about the rights and wrongs of avoidance or evasion. rangers must have taken professional advice before proceeding with these schemes and their advisers should carry insurance. if the advice is incorrect then take the money from the advisers insurers. qed?

  • Comment number 28.

    jbhoy90, you are clearly not a lawyer. There is no question of "fraud" or any other "criminal" behaviour. Rangers operated a tax planning device which thousands of other companies have also used. The question is whether Rangers made a mess of it. We'll see.

  • Comment number 29.

    gosh matt you are miles off the mark here. rangers are only in admin because craig whyte had to beat the revenue to it. the big scheme here has been to get away with it basically. why were they not paying the revenue since whyte tookover? why was it sold to him for a one pound coin ? three simple clues.

  • Comment number 30.

    arangerforme (16) - Yep, saw that Scotsman piece. Good read. But you're missing the important qualification I make in my next sentence. HMRC wants a win on principle - bigger fish to fry and all that - but the actual amount of tax RFC evaded over the decade is very much up for question. One source told me it could be as little as £5m.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ 8 "There will be political fall out which ever way this goes, possibly even more if Rangers are saved because HMRC let Rangers off with a large proportion of what is owed. In these austere times the public can't afford to support clubs who chose to live out with their means and don't pay their taxes."


    So under that rational how do "normal" companies go into and out of administration everyday?, or should they be condemned to death also???????

    Business rules are business rules, whatever the business

  • Comment number 32.

    #24

    Well done Matt! I was extending your text out to outline some of the antics of this 'panto villian', who may well be a front man for someone else looking to buy the club on the cheap without doing the dirty work of running it into the ground.

    At this point in time no one should take anything this guy says seriously, especially Rangers fans.

    #27

    Mind that plenty of other clubs avoided EBT's on professional advice. EBT's are not illegal but it depends on how club officials have used these in financial doping, sorry attracting players and buying, sorry, winning trophies over the past decade.

  • Comment number 33.

    @23

    Exactly my point, people are willing to turn a blind eye to these types of transactions everyday, especially when it benefits them but they seem to now think that Rangers should be getting harshly punished for using a loophole

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    12. At 17:13 29th Feb 2012, Dunc wrote:

    "And no more rangers means no more bigotry and bile from the terraces."

    Pot calling kettle black comes to mind!

  • Comment number 36.

    Interesting column Matt and insightful about the goings on north of the border. The truth is now that HMRC, quite rightly, want to the win the case against Rangers on principle.

    Football from a simple business point of view has been on a slippery slope for a long time now and so many clubs are now being given winding up orders by HMRC. It appears Port Vale are the latest club. And it's not the fault of HMRC the clubs are so poorly run (look at the horror stories coming out of Portsmouth right now) that it was always going to end like this.

    I love football and its fans but I find it the attitude of "we're too big to fail" rather annoying now. If you have no money as a business you're insolvent and therefore will cease trading. Unfortunately I think that we have one foot over the precipice now. Rangers, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Port Vale I fear are just the start. The list will grow and many historical clubs may disappear forever.

  • Comment number 37.

    A CVA can never happen while the amounts owed are in dispute. If an interested party goes to court to prove Craig Whyte broke the terms of the takeover agreement and that therefore his floating charge is void, or the administrator tries to prove that Rangers is not liable for the Ticketrus debt, the litigation will probably drag on past the start of next season.
    It is theoretically possible for Rangers to start next season still in administration, and be deducted ten points again for this. The administrators would be forced to sell on the marketable parts of the team, since income will be be massively down. (The claimed £35m 'normal' revenue is only on the basis that Rangers have a realistic chance of winning the league and will be in Europe.) Having Rangers dying but not dead, for as long as possible, would suit Celtic and the rest of the SPL as the TV deal will remain in place.
    Has anybody any idea when the cut off point, for entries for next years SPL, is? That's the real deadline, when the administrators will have to decide, one way or another, on liquidation.

  • Comment number 38.

    #37
    If they do not submit accounts to the SFA by mid-April latest and have also exited administration via a CVA they will have no license to compete in Europe next season.
    That may however, be the least of their problems. Liquidation if and when it comes would mean a new company cannot compete in Europe for the next three years.

    The interesting issue is as you highlight their SPL license.

  • Comment number 39.

    Wouldn't it be the ultimate act of Christian kindness if the Vatican was to use a tiny fraction of its massive fortune to bail out Rangers FC? That would be a truly game changing gesture.

  • Comment number 40.

    Rangers fan exiled as a small boy back in the 70's, i have followed my local team Telford United who were Liquidated 8 years ago, the fans grouped together and formed a new club AFC Telford at 3 leagues below the conference national, we "returned" this season... it can carry on should the worse happen, the club may go but fans remain the same. Telford now run by fans for fans 7 sraight years in profit.
    If Rangers asked all supporters world wide to donate they would raise a signifient amount, i'd willing send some cash.

  • Comment number 41.

    Very interesting to read comments along the lines of "best thing to happen to Rangers" and "should foster change in the SPL". Whilst no team is living on Easy Street the remainder of the clubs in the SPL seem to have weathered the storm quite nicely. Do you really think it would be fair for a team that "broke the rules" to benefit from a change in them so that it could make them competitive again? With Rangers unable to compete on equal terms with the other clubs the rules should be changed so they can?

    On a more wider point it seems odd that the general public are so forgiving of their teams. It is, after all, YOUR pocket that is being hit by the taxes that these clubs AREN'T paying.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    #31 Where did i write all companies should be closed if they enter administration? Companies get to come out of administration when they can agree a satisfactory repayment plan with its creditors. Given we the taxpayer are the main creditor I would not be happy if we accepted a 20p in the £1 deal just so some politicians didn't lose a few votes. This is not some company who fell on hard times because of economic conditions or because new technology came in and made them irrelevant. This is a company who chose to live out with its means and chose not to pay its taxes. If they can come up with a plan to repay all it's debts to HMRC and still continue as a viable business, great. But given they have given away a large portion of their income for the next 3 years and little chance of significant European income then I fail to see how that can happen. Unless HMRC show them leniency which I don't think anyone should be happy with

  • Comment number 44.

    Laugh at 42's suggestion that Rangers are the worlds most successful club

    They are the worlds most successful team in Scotland. How can they be the worlds most successful club with such an appalling record in European competition? They are not one of Europe's elite clubs (never really have been).

    I would accept that they are the worlds most successful club that has never won the biggest prize in European football.

    But winning a league and domestic cups with only one other serious competitor since 1890 is a bit of a joke!

  • Comment number 45.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 46.

    Maybe people forget that HMRC is yours, ours, your elderly relatives, mine, my childrens healthcare and education and welfare net.

    Whilst the nation goes in to free fall of cuts in public services and spending Rangers need to get what's coming for using 'the Bank of HMRC' as you put it Matt.

    Feel sorry for the employees and mostly fans of Rangers FC, too many clubs take the mick on this; somebody needs to get whats coming. Maybe a big club getting it will wake football suits up.

  • Comment number 47.

    You are all don't seem to understand the legal position.
    Rangers, the limited company will go into administration at some point in time and all players contracts will be sold and creditors will get what's left if anything. Everybody who is owed money is likely to lose out - thats the law.
    Rangers is a massive Brand ( and I am a Celtic supporter) so there will no shortage of takers who will buy the Brand and start again with a clean sheet, Rangers (2012) Ltd.
    Then there is no way that the new Rangers would not start again in the SPL. There is just too much money at stake. The SPL people and the Scottish Clubs, whatever the voting system are not that stupid. They will know that without Rangers in the top flight, the league is useless and their own reputation is worthless as administrators of a league where for a few years there might only be one winner.
    Guaranteed Rangers will be in the SPL in August. New players maybe and new contracts but absolutely no doubt.

  • Comment number 48.

    There is a basic principle here. Leaving out the ongoing tax case, it would appear that Rangers have failed to pay HMRC undisputed amounts due. As a UK taxpayer, I want all monies due PAID IN FULL. No special consideration or privileges for Rangers or, for that matter, any other football club (and the iniquitous preference given to "footballing" creditors must go as well).

    Sounds harsh? Well, I for one am utterly sick and tired of football clubs expecting to continue to be allowed to live in some sort of fantasy world and ignore the rules and regulations that their fans and other businesses have to abide by.

  • Comment number 49.

    47

    Rangers should be forced to sell all their current players in a bid to repay ALL their debts. Recruit new players with a maximum wage cap of £25,000 per year and be placed in the lowest league in Scotland until every penny they owe is returned. They would very probably need to sell their stadium too and play on recreational ground in Scotland.

  • Comment number 50.

    weezer316. 1 million fans? Who are you trying to kid? Just try to ask 1/5th of the population for 20 quid to help you out on your troubles and see how far it would get you... Probably not even £1M if you ask me. But what do I know - I only work on the commercial side of football....

  • Comment number 51.

    No more rangers means no more bigotry and bile from the terraces?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not to worry Dunc Scotland will still have more of its fair share of "Bigotry and Bile" from the terrace (Celtic's "Green Brigade" will happily continue their war on common sense and decency) Scottish football would benefit greatly if the "Gruesome Two" would depart our league.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    It is my understanding on this issue that Rangers are trying to 'finger' the country/HMRC and using an elephants trunk to do it.If they cant make a profit and pay the taxes owed playing in their current league then surely they deserve to goto the wall

    Quite simply they are a big fish in a little pond and it wasn't so long ago they along with the other big fish of the same pond was looking to join the EPL.But even if they did join and were relegated would they be happy to play in the championship (where i think they would both still struggle/battle with relegation) would they jump ship and try and return to the SPL or would they play in league 1.

    Tax avoidance hurts us all in 1 form or another

  • Comment number 54.

    There are too many unquantified liabilities at Rangers for a CVA to work. A CVA is the only way the present Rangers company can continue and so what is needed is a new Rangers company to take over the appropriate assets and carry on the business. This would allow the old company to go into liquidation, taking the HMRC and Ticketus problems with it.

    Whoever bought Rangers would need to find the money to buy Ibrox and whatever other assets were deemed necessary. That money would go to the administrator who would probably take his fee and put the company into liquidation, leaving the liquidator with the surplus cash from the asset sale and the creditors to deal with.

  • Comment number 55.

    Have you any idea about how many people or companies don't pay taxes?

    I grew up in an era where a bit of "casual" work meant the difference to families.I now live in an era where banks and major companies pay no tax whilst raking it in.

    Both are cases of tax avoidance but only one group has been truly punished.

    Whyte on the other hand is an opportunist who has probably already made his profit, that's the way these worms work.

  • Comment number 56.

    Those who support clubs who have been competing with Rangers have a valid gripe to a point. Those who have been running Rangers for the past 15-20 years have done so negligently and a to a point dishonestly.
    The issues around tax are serious though it still up for question the extent of Rangers tax liability. If it is the VAT, PAYE and around £10 Million from the tax case then the HMRC are likely to get their money or at the very least most of it.
    You have to wonder though why supporters of English clubs are keen to come on and spread poison about Rangers. Distasteful and small minded in the extreme. The EPL is a magnet for for dodgy dealings and questionable people that makes the goings on at Rangers look like nothing.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    Several EPL clubs are also under investigation for exactly the same "tax dodges" very little media attention though.

    Then again there has been protests about tax and how it is used with very little media attention until the police go in with batons.

    Now if you want to talk about a corrupt media...

  • Comment number 59.

    Re Post 30 - Not sure who your sources may be but if the amount of tax in question is anywhere near as little as 5million then why have David Murrary and Craig Whyte calling it the "Big Tax Case" whilst the 4Million fine which is part of the debt that pushed them into administration was called the "Wee tax case"? I think your source may have been a rather wishful Rangers fan...Was it Chick Young by any chance? ;-)

  • Comment number 60.

    People mention it all the time, but what is the EPL? There is no such thing as the English Premier League! It's the Premier League or Barclays Premier League.

    Just like it's the Football Association not the EFA!

  • Comment number 61.

    I don't seem to have heard mention of the potential sale of Ibrox and Murray Park. Surely the sale of these properties would generate a million or two to assist their debt reduction?

  • Comment number 62.

    Just like you said nothing worth reading ...

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 65.

    To suggest that the FTT will deliver a verdict of around £5, or £10 million, is quite frankly, absurd.

    Taking black holes, Ticketus, current book debt and the 'big' tax case into the equation, a buyer would need to 'pump-in' around £150 million over the next three years, just to stand still - no player, or stadium, investment.

    Add to all this, SPL investigation, SFA investigation, police investigation and their subsequent outcomes, then, liquidation is the only viable route - what happens afterwards is anybody's business.

    If the correct punishment was deemed to be re-entry at SFL level, then of course the SPL would be poorer, however surely it could survive during the three years that it would take a 'newco' Rangers to negotiate their way back up through the divisions?

    Short-term financial consequences must not mitigate against a just disposal of Rangers' self-inflicted transgressions.

  • Comment number 66.

    Glen Haig IS ignored at all costs!

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    No excuses to be made for a poorly run company. The temptation to spend money that isn't there to stimulate business, however, is not a business strategy exclusive to football.
    I only heard of one other business run like the SPL and that was a pet shop in our town a few years ago......

    The owner liked to keep two salmon crammed into a bowl of goldfish. He said they were very nice to have and to look at, he also reckoned it attracted attention to the shop and helped him sell the goldfish.

  • Comment number 69.

    #65
    Short-term financial consequences must not mitigate against a just disposal of Rangers' self-inflicted transgressions
    ----------------------

    A measure of sporting integrity is required. The possibility exists that the SPL and SFL could reject a newco Rangers but its not likely: a spell in the Scottish Junior Leagues would really sober them up. All the pressure is on the SPL and its not going to be an easy choice because the finances of the league. Most may be may be able to weather a renegotiated TV deal but for others this and their exisiting debt must make it precarious.

  • Comment number 70.

    This blog is an exercise in wishful thinking that misleads the public. HMRC is permitted to negotiate a Time to Pay. HMRC does not have the discretion to reduce a person's tax due to save them from liquidation. Thus, HMRC cannot agree to a "pennies on the pound" settlement, and HMRC holds (or will soon hold) enough of Rangers' debt to block a CVA which would force such a settlement upon it. The only road forward for Rangers is liquidation. The sooner the media realize this, the smoother the next few months will go.

  • Comment number 71.

    @ kens-management sabbatical
    Did you have a bad holiday in Scotland?
    LOL
    Chill.

  • Comment number 72.

    As a Belfast catholic,I would hate to see Rangers go to the wall.
    because I want to see Celtic do 10 in a row.
    Best of luck for the future.

  • Comment number 73.

    @67

    Brendan what does The IRA have to do with this?

  • Comment number 74.

    There are a few very fundamental issues which this blog (like the rest of the media) avoids or confuses:

    1. If RFC fail in their appeal at the FTT (they have already been deemed by HMRC to have improperly used EBTs over a 10 year period and it is RFC who are appealing) then they will have willfully and deliberately cheated throughout that period. No other club - as far as we can tell - used EBTs (Celtic did have one for a short period for an individual player whom they bought from an English club but got rid of it almost straight away and paid all taxes owing).
    2. It is alleged and is now in the media (through the Sun newspaper) that RFC gave players side contracts for the purposes of operating the EBT thus avoiding PAYE and NIC on earnings. Either those secondary contracts were revealed to the SFA, in which case the SFA failed in its duty to properly administer the game; OR, the secondary contracts were not revealed to the SFA, in which case RFC deliberately and willfully broke SFA and UEFA rules over at least 10 years.
    3. RFC has accumulated some £9m worth of unpaid taxes in the current financial year as well as numerous other debts, including substantial debts to other SPL clubs.
    4. There are rumours that the financial mismanagement, poor governance and financial doping extend as far back as the early 1990s.

    Unless the FTT rules ENTIRELY in RFC's favour, the facts stand as they are.

    Take out the emotion and the name of the football club...and it is still financial doping and cheating on an unprecedented scale; on which planet is this deemed to be acceptable? They should be stripped of every honour they have won during the period in question and be demoted to the bottom tier of Scottish football (irrespective of whether they are liquidated following administration). If a newco arises and it meets the necessary criteria, then it should apply to join the bottom of the SFL like any other new club.

    One final point:
    Anyone who was a board member during the past 5 years would be banned by the SFA's statutes from holding office at RFC post-administration in whatever guise it emerges. So the notion that there are previous board members out there seeking to save the club is just them trying to save face. Where were they when Murray was trying to sell up at a fraction of the cost it will be now?

    Want the facts, look at the rangerstaxcase blog!

  • Comment number 75.

    any other club of a lesser prestige name and size would of gone only themselves to blame have rangers same as portsmouth got far too big for their own boots should thi nk about splitting away from the spl ?

  • Comment number 76.

    "Scotland should have one place in European competition. Getting knocked out of Europe twice every year is bizarre"

    -------------------

    Celtic even managed to get knocked out of Europe THREE times this season!

  • Comment number 77.

    "Pity the quality is terrible then really! SPL = Massive YAWN!"

    But obviously not that bad since you took the time to read the article and comment?

  • Comment number 78.

    A lot of double standards on here. Anyone demanding that Rangers pay their taxes shop at Tesco? use Vodaphone? 2 companies who have "reached agreement" with HMRC wiping millions off their tax "debt"! Anyone here do "homers" for friends, or pay cash to a tradesman? I'm sure you will immediately declare these to your local tax office! We don't know the extent of the tax debt at Rangers, that's why the "big tax case" took place, and you'd have to be completely bonkers if you think that the EBT was set up to be illegal in the first place.

    It is unacceptable that Rangers this season have not paid PAYE and VAT but have used that as working capital for the business. It is completely unacceptable that other SPL clubs did not get cash for tickets sold to Rangers fans - if you want to see the impact, Dunfermline's players did not get their full wages today as a result. We certainly need to know just what has happened this season, and where the money came from to "buy" Rangers from Murray (or actually Lloyds Bank, who ordered the sale to take place). CW has a lot of questions to answer (and he is not alone - DM and the previous Board members have some explaining to do as well). Rangers fans deserve to know the truth to continue to support the club through this period.

    However and whenever Rangers emerge from administration they will need their fans to support them by buying tickets and merchandise. They have a huge fan base world-wide (and I'm not getting into semantics about how many fans there are in Scotland - there are a lot, including me), but they need these fans to be working for the team, and the sectarian singing and bigotry work against the team. It creates the sort of animosity seen in some of the posts here (and that is quite mild), and will result in further action by way of fines, possible points deductions, and general reputation damage to the club.

    Many comments have talked about a fresh start for Scottish football, redefining rules about running clubs, distribution of cash, etc, and I hope something good comes out of the mess. It would be good to bring some respect back to the game in Scotland.

  • Comment number 79.

    @kens_whatever_your_name_is

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_attendance_figures_at_domestic_professional_sports_leagues

    You clearly have no idea how fanatically supported the SPL is do you? Take a look at the link above, you will find us quite near the top. infact, in overall attendance we are just behind Turkey.........with a population of 75 million.

    Name another city in Britain with three 50 000 seater stadiums, 2 of which are full ever fortngiht?

    Quality of the SPL is irrelevant, Scotland is probably the country where football matters more than any other, as shown by the likes of Prestons professors in 1888 who won YOUR first title with half a dozen scotsmen, right through to our half dozen premier league managers today.

    Typical english football fan, so full of your own self improtance you cant see daylight nevermind common sense.

  • Comment number 80.

    71

    No LOL

    Scotland has some beautiful scenery and Scot's have contributed much to the world (inventions for a start).

    I disagree with individuals and businesses that don't pay their way. Running up debts that they expect the majority to bail them out of. Bankruptcy for instance really gets my goat. I can understand if unavoidable circumstances are a factor e.g illness, but when people run up massive debts because they have no self control they deserve to suffer in my opinion.

  • Comment number 81.

    The bottom line is RFC is a business like any other and any other failing to meet its tax liabilities would fall foul of Hector the Tax Inspector. Professional football frequently behaves as though its on another planet and at the top level directs a massively disproportionate amount of income to arrogant, conceited, uneducated, foul-mouthed prima-donnas who wouldn't recognise a proper day's work if they woke up on a factory production line. The only surprise is that many more such organisations haven't crumbled in a similar fashion from the financial mess they've knowingly created for themselves. Sympathy? None whatsoever.

  • Comment number 82.

    @78

    The cases you mentioned were entirely different as they related to profits earned outwith the UK and were tied into EU legislation.
    We do know the tax avoidance - about £36m plus interest and penalties in the BTC. The assessment was delivered by HMRC - it is RFC who are appealing at FTT.
    I'm not condoning tax evasion or avoidance but comparing tax evasion by individuals to that by RFC is laughable and desperate.
    I did like the opening sentence of your second paragraph 'though: no PAYE and VAT because we were using it as working capital! Well that's okay then.

    PS: I was a Rangers fan but no more...I am disgusted.

  • Comment number 83.

    79

    If I were English your point would carry some weight.

    There aren't that many sports where Scotland compete, so football probably has the lions share of supporters.

    Curling is probably up there in the top 3.

  • Comment number 84.

    I am retired and still pay tax on a small pension. Even though Rangers from May last year when Whyte took over paid no PAYE, VAT,or NI, people are still overlooking this small matter of approx £15 million. Add the "big" tax bill of anything from 45/75 million (take your pick) plus day-to-day running costs, and Rangers need over 100 million quid or more just to keep breathing.
    Look at the positives--Manchester won't get sacked if they go out of business. Barcelona and other European cities won't need to spend half their annual budget to clean up after them. Scottish SPL teams might be able to play football without Rangers being allowed to kick lumps out of them, aided and abetted by the referees. Hibs, Hearts, Dundee Utd and the others will have a chance of winning without playing and getting booked for the slightest thing. Think I joke? Look at Craig Levein after a match when his then team, Dundee Utd, were blatently cheated. Go to Utube in a Glasgow derby match where Robbie Keane was kicked up and down the park, along with another few of his then team-mates. Brian Clough, who knew a thing or two about football. To quote the great man----"Rangers? That's not a football team. That's a bunch of gangsteres1"

  • Comment number 85.

    79

    Name another city in Britain with three 50 000 seater stadiums, 2 of which are full ever fortngiht?

    London.

    Next?

  • Comment number 86.

    horse1966 (9)

    The accounts presented to the Plus Stock Exchange are UNaudited. Bearing in mind Mr Whyte's record in providing the authorities with accurate information (e.g. failing to tell the same stock exchange about his disqualification) how much faith can you put in them?

  • Comment number 87.

    What's more ironic - the fact that Rangers are "too big to fail" (TM) and will be tenderly heled by the Scottish football establishment no matter how they're run, or that the 'lesser SPL teams are still financially dependent on the cash brought in by 'religious' bigotry of the Old Firm?
    And then people wonder why the rest of the world laughs out loud at domestic Scottish football?

  • Comment number 88.

    85

    Name another city in Britain with three 50 000 seater stadiums, 2 of which are full ever week?

    only glasgow

  • Comment number 89.

    "And no more rangers means no more bigotry and bile from the terraces."

    The problem of religious bigotry in Scotland is shameful and extends far beyond the football terraces. The "bile from the terraces" can be seen and heard from both sets of old firm supporters and for that matter many other teams in Scotland. To suggest that the demise of one half of the Old Firm will solve Scotland's religious divide problems is frankly nuts.

  • Comment number 90.

    88

    Only since the Taylor report!

  • Comment number 91.

    @90

    Taylor report affected the whole of UK

  • Comment number 92.

    There is probably only one club in the UK that could even be considered as too big to fail and rangers is not it, they lie south of the border in the red halve of Manchester and even then they probably aren't. THAT club has a brand that rivals that of coca cola worldwide if not bigger and its an English(British?) brand it would do more harm to let man utd die than it would rangers PLC, not that i want to see rangers go but if HMRC wants to set an example then nothing would surprise me.

  • Comment number 93.

    91

    rangers and celtic DON'T sell out every home game

  • Comment number 94.

    I always chuckle at comments such as "Rangers would struggle to survive in the championship, league 1 etc etc". On what grounds can you come to that conclusion. If you look at the team over the last 12 months (including the title winning side), Jelavic is now playing for a solid premiership team on the back of a £5.5M transfer, Steve Davis is a premiership quality player, as is Steven Naismith. McGregor has been linked with big money moves to the premier league, Weiss is now playing for a top-tier Spanish outfit, Bocanegra had a successful spell in the premier league, Goian has 42 caps for Romania, Edu has 32 for the US, Healy is a record breaking scorer for his country, Bougherra was linked with moves to the premier league...(excess commas ftw)

  • Comment number 95.

    Average attendance figures from football365 stats are:-
    Rangers 46168 50444 total capacity Celtic 43501 60832

    Man U 75348 75769 total capacity Man city 47023 48000

    Arsenal 59957 60432 total capacity Chelsea 41591 42055

    So the real answer for the city with most fans attending is Manchester. I do not support any of the above teams, but one in the English Championship!

    The real question is where does Rangers money go??? And what will happen to the whole structure of Scottish football if Rangers are not brought out of administration.

    Someone mentioned above about the SPL having a total attendance of 3 million, BUT that only puts it in the middle of English League 1 (4 mil) and English League 2 (2 mil).
    Scottish League 1 only manages 450,000! which is only half of the English Conference at 890,000.

  • Comment number 96.

    However you look at the current situation with Rangers if the outcome is negative ie liquidation, massive penalties that they wont be able to pay/recover from. Scottish football on the whole will suffer. Rangers FC are giants of World football and the super stars in Scotland. Both the big Glasgow sides are the stars of the SPL and if one of those stars were to fade and be unable to compete on the same level, then not just the SPL but Scottish football on the whole will suffer.
    I don't dispute that the way the club and its finances have been handled is poor, or the that they shouldn't be punished. I say this as a Rangers FC of 21 years! But as someone who loves football, should this club be stripped bare just to be made an example of and in doing so condemn an entire league and nation of the sport they love?
    The worry shouldn't be whether Rangers survive but will Scottish football with out them.

  • Comment number 97.

    the fact that we scots think rangers is important demonstrates everything bad about the country.

    its totally irellevant, a company full of uneducated people, run by uneducated people for the uneducated.

    in Scotland we need discipline and we need education..not crappy football players who cant string a sentence together. and i mean very simple sentences. past and present tense are the same in footballers minds. its massively embarrasing listening to an adult who speaks worst english than a primary school kid.

  • Comment number 98.

    rangerstaxcase.com is an excellent blog which has highlighted just how poor the mainstream Scottish media is in many respects. If you are interested at all in the current Rangers administration issues it's required reading.

    It's nonsense to suggest Scottish football has been a two-club monopoly since 1890. Until the mid 1980s it was in fact a very competitive league indeed and it included periods when either Celtic or Rangers – and occasionally both – were bossed by other sides including Hibs, Hearts, Kilmarnock and, especially in the latter stages of that period, Aberdeen and Dundee United.

    Each of the decades from the 1960s to the 2000s saw a Scottish club reach a semi-final or equivalent stage of one or more of the major European club competitions.
    As another poster has mentioned, when measured as a share of population active involvement in football in Scotland is and has been higher than virtually any other European country. I think Norway edges it largely as a result of its very successful women's football set-up.

    And in many other European footballing nations the game was rather more dominated by one or two clubs including the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal (three clubs perhaps) and arguably Spain.

    During the same period Scotland had many World and Olympic champions and contenders or equivalents in golf, formula 1 racing, rallying and other motor sports, athletics, boxing, martial arts, rugby, darts, snooker and oh, of course, curling. Currently a Scot is, I think, number 4 in the world ranking for men's tennis and a Scot was a member of the winning team in American football's most recent Superbowl.

    Scots also supply a large proportion of the managers in the Barclay's Premier League.

    I am what is often referred to in Scotland as Celtic-minded. For the benefit of Rangers-supporting friends and family and for decent Rangers supporters everywhere I'd like the team to go on in some way ... but not at the expense of the taxpayer and not at the the expense of sporting integrity.

    The club has a troubling history. Under the David Murray regime it did, to its credit, move away from sectarian employment practices but it developed an unpleasant, to say the least, arrogance that was based on its wholly delusional belief that it could simply buy whatever success it wanted. And though some have argued, including in this discussion, that more recently it had been living closer to its means I'm not so sure. It seems effectively to have conducted a number of internal bailouts that saw debts moved around the wider Murray empire and revaluations of assets that looked frankly ridiculous.

    Had it been better managed, had it fully embraced sporting integrity and inclusiveness, and had it properly challenged the enduring bigotry of a substantial proportion of its support it could have developed into a global football force.
    That's still possible for Celtic and better days are possible for Scottish clubs in what is a country that is still very keen on football. For Rangers it's probably much too late.

  • Comment number 99.

    #95 - look at the total population of Scotland v's the population of England and then have another look at your figures in percentage terms.

    As to the point in question many supporters of other SPL teams are planning not to renew season tickets if a new co Rangers FC is allowed to walk back into the spl. If they have to start again make then start at the bottom and if they want to use the Rangers name they should have to pay the tax payer the money they are owe.

    As a banner at Hibs a couple of weeks ago put it "One down, One to go" and this is a big chance for the other sides to work against Celtic as much as they can as without the "old firm" brand and the bigotry which still exists and generates commercial revenue for both Celtic and Rangers crowds will fall at Celtic park. Celtic will be stuck in a league they don't want to play in with the issue of having to pay Premiership/Championship wages to get players to play in Europe but only needing league 1 or 2 players to play in the SPL.

    Interesting times ahead and if you want to see what the rest of the SPL and SFL fans think have a look at the Pie and Bovril forum. There certainly is very little if any sympathy for Rangers or their fans.

  • Comment number 100.

    TBH the whole sectarian crap associated with Rangers/Celtic makes me think its a shame both cavemen set aren't being resigned to the past.

    Hey ho. As a taxpayer I hope we all [HMRC] screw them and all their shareholders for every penny they can.

    Might go towards subsidising free Uni education up there. :-)

 

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