Now That Rangers Are Saved

By on Mar 17, 2012 in Finance, Latest, Scottish Football | 16 comments

The “Blue Knights”? Really?? I don’t suppose Rangers fans who are backing former director Paul Murray’s bid for the club care about how ridiculous his consortium’s media moniker sounds, now that Rangers are saved. At least they won’t care, as long as Murray and the various Rangers supporters’ groups attached to his bid are more successful at ousting current owner Craig Whyte than the “Red Knights,” after whom they are presumably named, were at ridding Manchester United of the turbulent Glazers.

The whopping pay-cuts which saved Rangers revealed in the starkest terms the distance behind English football to which the Scottish game has fallen. Rangers, Scotland’s biggest, most successful club, were overpaying their players by multiples. Yet, even though they were that far beyond-their-means, they were losing battles for players with English second-tier clubs. So when Scottish FA CEO Stewart Regan talked of “disaster” if Rangers fell, he rather overlooked the fact that, financially anyway, Scottish club football already IS a disaster. But now that Rangers are saved, such matters are less important again.

There were sighs of relief throughout the Scottish game when the pay cuts were agreed. Rangers will now survive until the end of the season, which has given bidders time to gather their resources in an attempt to make Rangers what it was before Craig Whyte intervened. Joint administrators Dave Clark and Paul Whitehouse (or is it the other way around?) were gratified by the quick response of so many capable interested parties to their call for expressions of interest. They must have been especially pleased to see Murray, what with his extensive, personal and recent experience of running Rangers, even if Paul Clark complained to BBC Scotland’s Alasdair Lamont on March 8th, about negotiating by “speaking to the media” rather than “speaking to us, which is the proper route” (Murray wasn’t named but no-one else had a regular media presence).

And the “Blue Knights” are not just ultra-rich businessmen looking to get ultra-richer. The consortium includes Ticketus, the firm that bought 100,339 Rangers’ season-tickets for this and the next three seasons and is in dispute with the… er… administrators… about the legal status of that purchase. The consortium also involves Rangers supporters’ groups, the Assembly, Association and Trust, who did so much to highlight and oppose the club’s financial mismanagement over recent seasons. The Trust summed things up succinctly: “We have been waiting for a plan to clear up the mess left by Craig Whyte.” Indeed, they were waiting for this plan long before Whyte was ever heard of in football. And their long wait is over, now that Rangers are saved.

Fortunately for bidders wishing to fulfil the administrators’ stated objective to have “a new owner installed… before the end of the season,” the findings of the tax tribunal’s investigations into Rangers’ Employee Benefit Trust scheme will not affect any sale process. Indeed, now that Rangers are saved, the “big tax case”, as we all now know it, is a “red herring.” Clark also told the BBC, “there will be a compromise or some scheme or deal put in place to settle that.” This, of course, is taxpayers (i.e. our) money Clark is negotiating away… by “speaking to the media,” although, of course, there may be no liability.

However, the “Blue Knights” believe they can buy Rangers “in a couple of weeks” or at least deliver “some certainty about the future before next weekend’s Old Firm game.” If those dreams come true, they could be owners before the Tribunal publishes its result. This would mean the Knights negotiating repayment of the whole liability, rather than offer the usual pennies-in-the-pound deal unsecured creditors receive under Company “Voluntary” Arrangements to exit administration. But that’s fine, now that Rangers are saved. And anyway, Murray said when the Knights formally submitted their bid: “we’re ready to go; we have the finances in place.” So they must already know the extent of any future tax liability, or they will pay any bill that emerges, regardless of size. What other reasons could there be for such confidence?

Almost every day last week brought another big name out in support of the Knights. These included respected figures such as ex-manager Walter Smith, and other figures including ex-chairman Alastair Johnson and ex-non-executive director (NED) Dave King. King even pledged to invest £20m. According to his honest, agenda-free 1200-word statement published last week, King is claiming £20m “on the basis of non-disclosure by the then-chairman David Murray of Rangers’ true financial position as far back as 2000.” And “any benefit from my claim will be fully re-invested in the restructured football club.” (He also claimed “other shareholders may wish to take similar action…the merits (of which) will be dealt with in due course in the appropriate forum” – a potentially incendiary revelation rather submerged by the “liquidation is inevitable” headlines his statement attracted… unless the “appropriate forum” is the Daily Record newspaper).

He interviewed everyone of note, except David Murray (“purposely”) for his statement – exactly the scrutiny required of a non-executive director, to prevent a descent into crisis… or, you might think, to prevent being misled about company finances “as far back as 2000.” A good job, then, that King has been a NED for so long, now that Rangers are saved. King also refused to invest until various personal financial issues are sorted out to the satisfaction of the Scottish FA. Indeed, “I have taken it upon myself to approach the SFA…in advance of considering an increased role in the club…and will be guided by their response,” which is nice of him. South Africa’s tax authorities are after him for £250m. So, some have cheekily suggested, they might not be over-happy to see King direct an eight-figure sum to Rangers. The cheekier still might regard this area of tax expertise as a vital source of advice for Rangers in the near future. Either way, King won’t be investing just now.

Of course a court order legally precludes him from various business activities in Scotland, including – to pick an example purely at random – part-funding football club takeovers. But King is withholding investment because such orders “have no impact whatsoever.” And now that Rangers are saved, he may even say why that is. However, a nagging question remains, even now that Rangers are saved. Is the Scottish media’s coverage misguided, ill-informed, or just ignorant? Unlike some bloggers, I cannot believe that Scottish football journalism entirely lacks talent.

And then I’m reminded of the studio discussion on Sky Sports after Rangers lost 1-0 at Celtic in January. The accepted wisdom was that Rangers needed to keep talented striker Nikica Jelavic and buy him some support. Manager Ally McCoist was properly circumspect in his comments, not wishing to negotiate salary budgets through the media. But Sky pundit Neil McCann, a Rangers ex-player and a calm, insightful studio presence, was unequivocal about the need for investment. Was even the bright McCann so unaware of Rangers’ financial realities? Fortunately, the “Blue Knights” can put Rangers’ fans at ease. A board of rich business people – property developers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists among them – looks set to shape Rangers future. And what could go wrong with a line-up like that, especially now that Rangers are saved?

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    16 Comments

  1. was this an attempt at a poem, what a load of tripe

    big G

    March 17, 2012

  2. ‘Rangers, Scotland’s biggest, most successful club’

    I reckon you should do a bit of research into that statement. When Rangers win the cup with the big ears and win every competition they enter into in one season, maybe, you could give them that title. Until the above criteria is successfully accomplished please refrain from such ludicrous statements.

    Mise le meas,

    Aodh na bPiostal

    Shooglenifty

    March 17, 2012

  3. ive to laugh when people like you talk of the tax case and its your money im sure in your life time youve had a wee scam going of one sort of another not caring whos money it was maybe you should write about the wee scam celtic used to do pre mccann era like not giving the eexact details of gate receipts TAX DODGE SPRINGS TO MIND

    trueble

    March 17, 2012

  4. this man puts it over to me as if he is jealous that RANGERS ARE SAVED

    thomas

    March 17, 2012

  5. A very humourous yet analytical take on things.

    A pleasant read, Mark.

    Stevie Mac

    March 17, 2012

  6. actually mark we do care how ridiculous our moniker sounds the blue knights are more than a name craig whyte came in and ruined our club in the buisness sense and the media like ursel dubbed him the whyte knights but wht he did nt ruin was the fanbase he did nt plan on us so mr murray a loyal servant to our club in good and bad times put his plan back into action and dubbed it the blue knights as in the rangeers knights u know bleed blue the boys in blue so dont submise on wht u obvs knw nothin about we r rangers super rangers no 1 likes us we dont care

    visit the blue knights on facebook for up to the minute news onthe most successful club in the world

    DEREK HUTCHEON

    March 17, 2012

  7. A reasonable piece Mark, I just hope that you are correct and Rangers are saved. It is interesting though your assessment of Rangers’ wealth compared with clubs of similar stature in England. The massive influx of Sky money into the game in England has produced this huge disparity between Rangers/Celtic and the English clubs. Even the dross in England pick up in excess of £30million a season but all that has done has produced mediocre players on astronomical salaries and many clubs are still operating well in the red. It wasn’t so long ago, before Sky appeared on the scene, that both Rangers and Celtic were easily in the top twenty wealthiest clubs in Europe.
    This season the English Premiership has one team in European competition when it would usually expect to have at least two or three. It wasn’t so long ago that the UEFA Cup was considered beneath English clubs, Middlesborough’s run to the final a number of seasons ago hardly warranted a mention. I bet Man Utd wish they were still in the mickey mouse cup rather than having been well beaten by a provincial Spanish club during the past week.
    I predict some of the issues that have been visited on Rangers arriving at the door of more than a few English clubs. It will be interesting to see how many of the mercenaries playing for those clubs elect to take a 75% salary reduction in order to help their clubs survive. Their supporters, like those of Rangers, will not give a tinker’s cuss for what their eventual saviours call themselves. The Blue Knights is hardly awe inspiring but I guess they had more important issues at hand to concern themselves with the name!

    BigRab

    March 17, 2012

  8. BIG G Ass H. The world football records don,t Lie don,t see your lot in it.

    bluenosewullie

    March 17, 2012

  9. Shooglenifty there,s your answer Simply The Best. Rangers Woid Record Holders which your lot are not.

    bluenose wullie

    March 17, 2012

  10. Shooglenifty there,s your answer Simply the Best .RANGERS WORLD RECORD HOLDERS WHICH YOUR LOT ARE NOT>

    Bluenose wullie

    March 17, 2012

  11. Cheerleading at its best. Perhaps you should look at all the facts. Rangers are saved? Still in administration, still owe money left right and centre and Craig Whyte, like it or not still owns 85% of the shares that he purchased for £1. So he paid off LBG with the money from Ticketus, but he still bought the club for £1. I don’t know if the administrators can sell the club from under him, and I’ve heard people say they can but also people saying they can’t. I would like to know if this is legally possible.

    Hendrix78

    March 17, 2012

  12. Rangers are my life…… actually counting stolen money is my life. Rankers… cheating scum.

    Craig Whyte

    March 17, 2012

  13. Trueble: There’s only one club in the dock and that’s rangers. We know some guys on rangers websites are trying ‘whataboutery’ by suggesting inaccurate attendances a generation ago were some scam – that’s the problem with you lot, rather than face up and deal with the imminent death of ur club, you try and turn it on ‘timmy’. Cheats get found out, my mum always said…

    jockybhoy

    March 18, 2012

  14. Hi Jockybhoy Only imminent death taday was the the death of your treblle ass h.we will never die , Well Done KILMARNOCK as usual Niel Lennon claiming stone wall penalty, nothing changes bad losers it was the REFFERES FAULT same broken record . Have a good day. P.S Hope you sent a thank you card to SPL for the present of our Championship

    Bluenose wullie

    March 18, 2012

  15. Rangers also jumped on the American CEO bandwagon and cut employee pensions considerably – hopefully they can turn into a successful no hire/no pay intern mill and start paying dividends to private shareholders. That, of course, is the goal and endgame for all business entities. Is Bain Capital interested?

    elliott

    March 19, 2012

  16. Deary me, it does take much to raise the hackles! A good tongue in cheek article. Rangers are saved – aye, right!

    Willie Miller's 'tache

    March 21, 2012

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