Rangers wages talks 'postponed'

 

Administrators yesterday postponed planned meetings with some Rangers players' agents despite being close to a wage agreement the previous night, Press Association Sport understands.

The Rangers squad have agreed in principle to a series of structured wage cuts of up to 75% but administrators could not finalise an agreement with about half a dozen players following talks late into Tuesday night.

Joint administrator David Whitehouse said on Tuesday night that they had been unable to agree to "personal conditions sought by the advisors to the players" but they hoped to solve those issues "first thing in the morning".

However, it is believed that the main condition some players were looking for was a guarantee that no workers at Rangers would lose their jobs if they agreed to the cuts. Other issues are thought to have included stipulations over transfers.

Planned meetings with some players' representatives are understood to have been postponed at short notice yesterday morning, with further attempts from the advisors to reschedule talks being frustrated throughout the day.

Duff and Phelps are now attempting to push through a quick sale of the club after warning Rangers were in danger of not finishing the season.

Whitehouse last night confirmed the whole squad had committed to wage "waivers" of up to 75%.

"But there were a number of situations where, as a condition of those waivers, other requirements were put in place which in our opinion, having spent the best part of this morning talking to interested parties and other stakeholders, would materially impact on our ability to achieve a sale of the business," he said.

"Those conditions, in the wider good of the club, I don't think could be met.

"We have met those players again and they are reconsidering their position.

"We would hope we may be able to reach a resolution, but we can't rely on that so we have to look at other options."

Those options centre on meeting prospective buyers and pushing through a quick sale before they are forced to make significant cuts to the playing squad.

Whitehouse told Rangers TV last night: "Regrettably, we have been unable to agree cost-cutting measures with the playing staff on terms that will preserve value in the business.

"We understand the players' position as the scale of wage cuts required to achieve these savings without job losses were very substantial indeed.

"In view of this, we are faced with a situation of making redundancies within the playing staff on such a scale that would materially erode the value of the playing squad.

"We are striving to strike a balance where cost-cutting measures can be implemented but do not destroy the fabric of the playing squad to the extent that it will inhibit the prospect of a sale."

Meanwhile, Duff and Phelps today continued action in the High Court in London in a bid to recover more than £3million from a solicitors' account.

"There is a risk that the club will fail to fulfil its fixtures," said Mark Phillips QC, for Rangers' administrators Duff and Phelps.

"There is a risk that the club could go into liquidation and be demoted by the Scottish League, which would eliminate any realistic prospect of a sale of the club for any sum worthwhile to creditors."

Mr Phillips gave Mr Justice Warren details of the dangers facing Rangers at a hearing in the Companies Court, during the latest round of litigation in the wake of the club's financial crisis.

Administrators want to secure £3.6million which was held in an account belonging to club owner Craig Whyte's London-based solicitors.

Mr Phillips said administrators thought the sum would make a "significant contribution" to the survival of the club.

But the judge was told that a number of other organisations - including tax authorities - had staked a claim on chunks of that cash.

A judge is due to decide who should get what after a High Court trial in London later this month, when lawyers will make arguments on behalf of organisations claiming cash.

Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman declined to comment on Rangers' plight at a daily media briefing in Westminster today.

But he said: "Clearly, football clubs play an important role in this country and in local communities."

Whitehouse today welcomed the decision to hold a trial and said retrieving the funds would be an important step towards the club emerging from administration.

In a statement, he added: "We are continuing to meet prospective purchasers over the next few days.

"This does not mean that the club has to be sold within the next 24 hours - we are establishing how quickly we can get to that point."

Meanwhile, the administrator defended the decision to delay making cuts. Duff and Phelps took control more than three weeks ago and have stated the need for £1million monthly savings, but have not made any noticeable cuts.

Whitehouse said: "There has been much speculation about taking tough decisions not being taken earlier in the process, such as making players redundant as soon as possible.

"This would not have been a tough decision - it would have been folly.

"The scale of the cost-cutting required is very substantial indeed - and making a few players redundant along the way would not have achieved the necessary savings.

"We hope to reach agreement with the players that will be a real benefit to the club - and the players themselves want that but they are being asked to make big sacrifices.

"These are difficult choices but the survival of the club is of paramount importance."

The court case will resume at the end of March but a judge will take time to deliberate, and Whitehouse admitted today's developments were helpful but would not be influential in the short-term.

Whitehouse also put the ball in the players' court over a wage deal.

He told Sky Sports News: "Our position at the moment is that we are still in negotiations with the players.

"The players know what needs to be done. We can deliver that funding gap purely by wage reductions.

"Over the last two days we have also been speaking to interested parties to gauge the extent to which we can bring those discussions forward to deliver an earlier sale of the business in a timetable that would minimise redundancies.

"We will have a discussion with the players tomorrow when we know what timetable we could work with and, against the backdrop of that, we would be able to determine what level of redundancies would then need to be made.

"But at the same time we are still hopeful the players will deliver what they were hoping to deliver on Tuesday evening.

"We need to know if we have an ongoing funding structure otherwise we will make significant redundancies within the playing staff."

PA

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