Rangers’ soap opera rages on amid further hostility | Ewan Murray
Duff and Phelps will be under the spotlight again when a BBC documentary is aired but another name has come forward
Duff and Phelps would presumably welcome the quick sale of Rangers, notwithstanding what fees the alternative would allow to be bestowed on the administrators.
On their first appearance at Ibrox Duff an d Phelps sought to differentiate between the work undertaken by a partner in their firm, David Grier, when advising Craig Whyte on his takeover and that which would follow during their administration. The inference was clear – the administrators knew the link between Grier and Whyte had aroused concern.
Paul Murray, the former Rangers director who has called for an investigation into the club’s administration, said: “I have spoken with senior people within Ibrox who told me the only time they saw Craig Whyte panic was when Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs looked like they could appoint their own administrators at Rangers [rather than Whyte's preferred firm, Duff and Phelps].”
Grier is again under the spotlight after a BBC Scotland documentary, aired on Wednesday evening, claimed email evidence showed he knew about the controversial Ticketus financial deal which Whyte used to finance his Rangers buyout. Grier vehemently denies he knew the details of the scheme, with Duff and Phelps taking legal advice against the claims made by the broadcaster.
That matter will play itself out like every other chapter of this Rangers saga. What cannot be denied, though, is that as the soap opera rages on, Rangers continue in a desperate race against time – led by Duff and Phelps – to find fresh hope, ownership and income.
The stark reality, as portrayed by the administrators, is thus: Rangers have funding only until the end of this month with, at that point, the raft of players who accepted significant wage cuts due to return to full-salary status. The curious, initial aspect of Rangers’ administration is that Duff and Phelps avoided the many redundancies which occurred in similar situations elsewhere.
The administrators can also be accused of contradictory messages about the significance of Whyte in any buyout process and of wasting presumably vital time by appointing a preferred bidder – the American Bill Miller – who l asted only a matter of days before backing out.
Now the former Sheffield United chief executive Charles Green is the front-runner to take Rangers from administration into a bright new dawn. But will it be? Green’s motivations, and funding sources, are unclear enough for Rangers supporters to remain concerned. Green had promised transparency, which as yet does not extend even to the full identities of those working alongside him.
The offer letter to creditors which will trigger the meeting to determine whether administrators can form a creditors voluntary arrangement, is imminent but later than had initially been planned.
Duff and Phelps cited problems with deferred tax as crucial to them rejecting a plan for the Rangers squad to defer rather than cut wages for the closing months of the season. That explanation is reasonable enough although, had a deferral scheme been accepted, then Green would not be on the verge of inheriting a double-edged problem.
That is, one where his club cannot sign players – due to a transfer embargo which the administrators are challenging in court – and the best ones already in position can leave for knockdown transfer fees. Such clauses were inserted in contracts when the squad agreed to cuts.
Green can take one meaningful step towards proving Rangers’ ban on signing players is not a blessing for him, due to the clear implication it has for what he requires to spend on the club. Such a move would be made by asking players to remove their low release-clauses in return for them being reimbursed for lost wages.
Brian Kennedy, previously in the frame to buy Rangers, had made such overtures. It goes without saying that not all players would accept but an offer from Green would highlight that he wants Rangers to compete at the best possible level in a football sense. It would also hint at a long-term commitment and unwillingness to sell assets rapidly to run the club, given Rangers c annot initially generate revenue from European competition.
The BBC’s allegations removed focus on Green for now. Yet he, and the bigger picture, are intrinsically linked to Duff and Phelps. If the latest takeover proposal for the stricken Ibrox club were to unravel or prove ill-fated, Rangers’ administrators can expect further, hostile scrutiny. Read More