Craig Whyte used Ticketus money in Rangers takeover
- 21 February 2012
- From the section Glasgow & West Scotland
Craig Whyte has admitted using money from the sale of future season ticket income "to complete the takeover" of Rangers football club in May 2011.
A statement issued by Mr Whyte said Ticketus paid £20m in return for ticket revenues for the next three seasons.
Rangers was forced into administration last week after failing to pay a multi-million pound HMRC tax and VAT bill.
The administrators said there was "widespread concern" about the Ticketus agreement.
The statement confirmed the money allowed his takeover to be completed and provided working capital.
In a separate statement, David Whitehouse from administrators Duff and Phelps, said: "Following information received, it is now apparent that the proceeds from the Ticketus arrangements amounted initially to a sum in the region of £20m plus VAT."
He said that £18m was subsequently transferred to the Lloyds Banking Group, who were owed money when Mr Whyte bought Sir David Murray's majority stake in Rangers.
"The application of the remainder of these proceeds is subject to further examination," Mr Whitehouse added.
The administrators confirmed that inquiries into the purchase of shares at the time of the takeover would continue.
The administrator said: "We are now investigating all the circumstances surrounding both the purchase of the majority shareholding in Rangers Football Club plc and the flow of funds which stemmed from the transaction and were intended to fulfil the purchasers' obligations at the time of the sale."
In his statement, Mr Whyte denied trying to make a "fast buck" out of Rangers while he was chairman of the Glasgow football club.
He said he was personally "on the line" for £27.5m in guarantees and cash, in connection with a controversial deal agreed with Ticketus.
Mr Whyte said: "The arrangement with Ticketus - which was a three-season deal not four, as has been reported - was originally to provide additional working capital as had been the case previously under the old board.
"My corporate advisors came to me with the proposition that it was entirely possible, as well as highly beneficial, to negotiate a deal with Ticketus that would allow us to complete the takeover and maximise working capital for the club's day-to-day business."
The multi-million guarantees made by Mr Whyte, he said, showed he was committed to Rangers' future.
He added: "By any stretch of the imagination that is a very substantial commitment to the football club of which I have been a supporter since I was a boy and dearly wish to see through this crisis so that Rangers emerge as a financially fitter and stronger institution.
"I am the biggest stake-holder in Rangers and I face huge financial losses personally if the restructuring fails or is not allowed to proceed."
The statement went on to claim that Mr Whyte regretted not being more open about the arrangements he made with Ticketus.
He said, however, that Ticketus may not have been "very happy" if he had breached their confidentiality.
"It also has to be remembered that this was not me working alone and in isolation," said Mr Whyte.
"I hired top-rate corporate, financial, legal and tax specialists to guide me through this process and when you're paying for that kind of advice, it would be daft not to follow it."
Mr Whyte claimed that continuing losses would have meant Rangers going into administration, if not now then "some time in the future".
Looking to the future, Mr Whyte said he would not continue as Rangers Chairman after any restructuring by the administrators.
He said if he emerged from administration still in control of Rangers FC he would give "immediate consideration" to gifting the majority of his shares to a supporters' foundation.