Glasgow & West Scotland

Rangers in crisis: Police asked to probe Craig Whyte takeover

Craig Whyte
Image caption Mr Whyte took over the club and its debts for £1 in 2011

A criminal investigation is to be launched into Craig Whyte's takeover of Rangers Football Club in May last year.

The Crown Office asked Strathclyde Police to probe the purchase and the club's subsequent financial management.

The investigation into alleged criminality follows a preliminary examination of information passed to police by administrators.

The club was bought by Mr Whyte in 2011 before going into administration in February this year.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The procurator fiscal for the west of Scotland will now work with Strathclyde Police to fully investigate the acquisition and financial management of Rangers Football Club and any related reports of alleged criminality during that process."

Ticket sales

Mr Whyte bought Rangers from former owner Sir David Murray in May 2011 for £1, taking over his controlling 85% share holding.

The club then entered administration on 14 February over alleged non-payment of £9m in PAYE and VAT taxes.

It emerged that Mr Whyte was able to fund his takeover by selling future season tickets to Ticketus, leaving the investment firm a key player as administrators Duff and Phelps searched for new owners.

Duff And Phelps, nominated by Mr Whyte, have since negotiated a sale of the club's assets to a consortium led by Charles Green for £5.5m after creditors rejected an agreement which would have seen Rangers repay pennies in the pound for estimated debts of about £134m.

Football ban

Rangers is now set to be wound up by HMRC's preferred liquidators BDO.

Meanwhile, a newco Rangers is set to have its application to become an SPL club rejected, after St Johnstone joined Aberdeen, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hibernian, Hearts and Dundee United in indicating they would refuse to back the move. The application is to be voted on on 4 July and requires an 8-4 majority.

During his time in control of the club it emerged Mr Whyte had been disqualified as a company director for a period of seven years prior to his involvement with Rangers.

Mr Whyte was also later hit with a lifetime ban from Scottish football by the Scottish Football Association and fined £200,000 for bringing the game into disrepute.

In a statement on the club's website, Malcolm Murray, who became Rangers chairman after the takeover by the Charles Green consortium, said: "The board's priority is to rebuild the club for the future and we are 100% focused on that task.

"We welcome any investigation that examines events at the club and will offer every assistance if required.

"The rank and file Rangers fans are blameless. Rightly, they want answers and for those responsible for the club's fate in recent times to be held to account. Hopefully this investigation will assist in this regard."

David Whitehouse, joint administrator, said: "We provided initial documentation to Strathclyde Police very shortly after our appointment as administrators on 14 February and have had a number of conversations with the police since then.

"Both in our role as administrators, and previously in our role as advisors, we have fulfilled all our obligations in keeping relevant authorities informed of any developments pertinent to their jurisdictions.

"As court appointed administrators, we will continue to provide our full assistance in the investigation process and welcome this development."