Rangers lodge intention to go into administration

 

Rangers have lodged legal papers signalling their intention to enter administration.

The Scottish champions lodged the notice with the Court of Session in Edinburgh at lunchtime today.

It is believed the Ibrox club now has five days in which to declare formally that administrators have taken over the running of the club.

The firm prospect of administration, which would bring a 10-point penalty from the Scottish Premier League, will come as no surprise to Rangers fans or the rest of Scottish football.

The Ibrox club are awaiting the verdict of a tax tribunal which could cost club around £49million.

The HMRC case centres around the use of employee benefits trusts (EBTs) which were in place before Craig Whyte took over from Sir David Murray last May.

The tribunal verdict is imminent but it looks like the Ibrox club have pre-empted any decision.

Whyte, who bought Murray's shares for £1 and pledged to pay off £18million of debt to Lloyds Banking Group, has seen his short tenure shrouded in controversy.

Last week former Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston revealed he had asked the Government's Insolvency Service to clarify "certain financial arrangements" relating to the takeover of the club.

Whyte had earlier admitted securing funds from loan company Ticketus in lieu of future season ticket sales.

Johnston told the BBC: "Rangers' stakeholders are now demanding full transparency."

"I have had numerous approaches following the recent revelations in the press about the acquisition of Rangers Football Club and the use of future season ticket money.

"I am not in a position to answer all the questions put to me, but I do recognise the issue is causing much concern.

"I believe this is a prevalent view amongst Rangers' stakeholders who are now demanding full transparency about the funding of the acquisition of the club, its current financial status, and most importantly, the way forward."

A Scottish Premier League spokesman confirmed to Press Association Sport that a 10-point deduction and a transfer embargo would only be put in place when administration was confirmed.

The spokesman said: "At this point in time Rangers are not in administration and we await developments.

"The instant that they are technically in administration there will be an automatic 10-point deduction and, perhaps of less relevance, an embargo on player registrations.

"If administration is confirmed, as we have done previously, we would be looking to work with the administrators and would be looking for a very early meeting."

Rangers announced they had agreed a deal to sign Gabon striker Daniel Cousin just as news emerged from the court.

The court confirmed that solicitors lodged the papers on behalf of the club's directors today.

The paperwork officially confirms the club's "intention to appoint an administrator".

Rangers last month saw trading in their shares suspended by the PLUS Stock Exchange over their failure to submit independently audited accounts by the end of last year.

The club have also yet to hold an AGM as required by the end of December. Whyte told fans the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the tax case was the reason for the delay.

The stock exchange and Scottish Football Association also asked for clarity over Whyte's admission that he had been disqualified as a director for seven years from 2000.

Rangers later released a lengthy statement revealing it could be 10 working days before a decision is made whether to proceed with the appointment of administrators.

The statement read: "The Rangers Football Club plc has today announced it has filed a notice of intention to the Court of Session in Edinburgh to appoint administrators.

"The club will conduct its business as usual and will not be in administration until it decides whether to formally proceed with an application to appoint administrators.

"Until such time, the club will not face any sanction from the football authorities in terms of points deduction within the Scottish Premier League.

"Sanctions such as a 10-point deduction will only apply if the club proceeds with the appointment of administrators. It is expected to be 10 working days before a decision is made whether to appoint administrators."

Rangers admitted defeat in the tax case could leave them with a bill of "substantially more than the £50million reported, which the club would be unable to pay".

The statement added: "The club is continuing to have dialogue with HMRC in the hope that a formal insolvency procedure can be averted and has put forward pragmatic proposals.

"The club's owners believe there is no 'realistic or practical' alternative to this course of action in order to secure the long-term future of the club.

"Should administration take effect, the club is proposing a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

"The club wishes to seek the protection of a moratorium from HMRC action whilst a CVA proposal is made to creditors. The club has put forward a CVA proposal to HMRC in which creditors would be paid and provision made for the legacy HMRC case, commonly known as the 'big tax' case.

"This, if approved by creditors within a month, would minimise any points deduction and enable the club to participate in European football next season."

Whyte continued to point to decisions made before he took over as the ultimate causes of the action.

He said: "It is extremely disappointing the club finds itself in this position but decisions have to be taken to safeguard the long-term survival and prosperity of the club both on and off the field.

"The harsh reality is that this moment has been a long time coming for Rangers and its roots lie in decisions taken many years ago.

"If we do not take action now the consequences and the risks to the club are too great.

"In addition to the HMRC issues, it has been abundantly clear to me the club faces serious structural and financial issues which will continue unless they are addressed.

"There is no realistic or practical alternative to our approach as HMRC has made it plain to the club that should we be successful in the forthcoming tax tribunal decision, they will 'appeal, appeal and appeal again' the decision.

"This would leave the club facing years of uncertainty and also having to pay immediately a range of liabilities to HMRC.

"Even if the club were to succeed in the tax tribunal, it would still face substantial liabilities. Zero liability will not happen.

"Whilst it appears that a consensual restructuring looks unlikely outside of a formal insolvency procedure, the above steps, if agreement cannot be reached with HMRC, will bring an end to the legacy threat of closure and will provide stability required to enable the required investment to be made into the future of the club.

"I can, however, reassure Rangers supporters that the club will continue and can emerge as a stronger and financially fitter organisation that will compete at the levels of competition our fans have come to expect."

PA

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