Rangers hit by new blow as they are ruled out of Europe


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The Independent Football

Rangers have been all but ruled out of European competition next season after their administrators admitted there was “no realistic prospect” of them securing a licence.

Joint administrator Paul Clark vowed to seek special dispensation from the football authorities - they must apply to the Scottish Football Association, who use Uefa rules to determine whether licences are issued.

But he added that the stewardship of Craig Whyte had left Rangers with almost no chance of meeting the criteria before the March 31 deadline.

Clark said: "As regards the club playing in European competitions next season, there is no realistic prospect of the club being able to fulfil its obligations prior to the March 31 deadline set by Uefa."

Clark outlined four major reasons for the assertion before suggesting there was hope of Rangers competing in Europe next term.

He said: "As administrators, we will make every effort to seek dispensation from the footballing authorities given the extraordinary circumstances in which the club has been placed."

However, it is understood there can be no special dispensation if the required financial criteria, stipulated by Uefa, are not met.

Next term will, therefore, almost certainly be the first time Rangers have not participated in European competition since the 1980-81 season.

Motherwell are in pole position to secure the second spot in the Champions League qualifiers along with runaway Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Celtic.

With nine games remaining, third-placed Motherwell are 11 points above St Johnstone and Dundee United and are only three points behind Rangers, who were deducted 10 for going into administration.

Rangers were plunged into administration on February 14 over an unpaid tax bill of £9million accrued during the tenure of current owner and chairman Craig Whyte, who bought the club last May.

Referring to the likelihood of Rangers being without European football next term, Clark added: "There are four main reasons for this and they lie in the stewardship of the club prior to going into administration.

"First, as we have stated from the outset, the likelihood of the club being able to emerge successfully from administration before this deadline as indicated by the chairman was, at best optimistic given the perilous financial situation at the club at the time of insolvency.

"Second, the company accounts cannot realistically be signed off by auditors in a manner that would meet the criteria required by the footballing authorities.

"Even if the audited financial statements are issued prior to the end of March 2012, we would expect them to be qualified by the auditors such that under Uefa requirements the club will have to satisfy a going concern test confirming how it will continue to be funded until the end of next season.

"Without knowing who will be the owner of the club at March 31, it is impossible to provide suitable comfort in this respect.

"Thirdly under Uefa regulations, the club must have paid or come to a satisfactory settlement with all social taxes that were outstanding at December 31, 2011.

"We estimate those social taxes (being PAYE and NIC) to be at least £5million.

"We cannot now see a scenario where those taxes will have been paid or compromised to the satisfaction of HMRC by the end of March 2012.

"The final major hurdle is that the club must have paid or compromised all of its outstanding 'football creditors' prior to the deadline of March 31, 2012. That issue is again extremely unlikely."

Rangers owe money to the likes of Dundee United and Dunfermline and administrators this week announced a deal had been struck to pay off the Pars in two stages with the second payment on April 12.