I tend not to post on any of the Rangers fans forums although I admit to being an avid reader and speak with both GS and MFDM about my thoughts on the situation regularly.
It was the on-going saga of David Murray’s attempts to sell the Club to “someone who can take the club forward” that prompted me to write this article. Apologies for being unable to find it on FF.
After that, it emerged that Craig Whyte was the new option being promoted by Donald Muir. More on the bold Donald later. That caused me some great consternation and the article below followed.
Therefore, what has transpired since has caused me a great deal of concern but, unfortunately, wasn’t any less predictable. If anything, I would admit to being surprised by just how brazen Whyte appears to be.
There are a number of questions that we as Rangers fans need to be asking. I firmly believe that from day one Craig Whyte and his lackeys have engaged in a PR campaign designed to muddy the waters and lead fans down the wrong avenues of hope. With this article I will hopefully cover off some of the things that have been discussed that many people don’t realise the full extent. To start with however, I would like to take you all through approximate figures, which I am sure many people will attempt to tear apart, but on the most part I am being kind to Craig Whyte and basing my figures on his words.
Item Money in/out Balance
Cash in Hand May 11£8,000,000
Working Capital Injection Promised£5,000,000£13,000,000
Catering Investment Promised£1,700,000£14,700,000
Playing Squad Investment-£5,000,000£14,700,000
Close Asset Finance£3,000,000£50,100,000
Season Ticket/Other Income£14,000,000£64,100,000
Running Costs (9 months @ £3.75m)-£33,750,000£30,350,000
Unpaid PAYE & NI£9,000,000£39,350,000
This is clearly a very loose projection and the Close money I am counting as not spent as, will be revealed soon, there was already £2m set aside by the Club and £1m by Azure to pay for the upgraded facilities. Feel free to dissect the figures but I will qualify them by saying I DO NOT BELIEVE THEM - SIMPLY BECAUSE I DON’T BELIEVE CRAIG WHYTE.
It is becoming clearer by the day that the Ticketus money, OUR MONEY, cleared the Lloyds debt and paid for the immediate funding of all aspects of the takeover. However, remove that and there should still be in excess of £10m available which would amount to 2 or three months trading without the need for administration. If we are to accept that the Ticketus cash was paid for that purpose then it follows that Craig Whyte’s investment was a solitary pound. We could have done the same deal but have been in control of our own destiny.
If Ticketus Cash Bought RFC?
If it is established that the cash from Ticketus bought RFC, the money trail will show this one way or another but I’m lead to believe it does, then it is illegal. The legal terminology for the transaction would be “financial assistance”.
The importance of “Financial Assistance”
If HMRC or any other party, the DTI, the insolvency service, the FSA or one of the other of the plethora of agencies investigating this takeover establish financial assistance then there are two main outcomes. A guilty party could be punished with up to 2 years in jail. Furthermore, if it is proven then WAVETOWER/RFC GROUP LTD’S FLOATING CHARGE IS NUL AND VOID. Read that again, Craig Whyte has trumpeted that he controls the process with his floating charge but legally his floating charge may be kicked out.
Achieving a CVA
To achieve a Creditors Voluntary Agreement we all know by now that there needs to be 75% of creditors who agree to it. I keep reading, whilst slapping myself in the face, that Craig Whyte has positioned himself in position to control this vote by his floating charge and the level of debt to him. NO, JUST NO. If his floating charge is valid, he has no vote in the CVA as the administrator must get him his money before any other creditor. If he has a vote that means his floating charge isn’t being used and he will have to settle for a much worse deal than he’d get with the floating charge.
HMRC’s Position with Administration
Another thing I keep reading is that it’s genius that Whyte has pulled the plug before the FTT and that it circumvents that decision. No, it doesn’t. We have been given an assessment, which we have chosen to appeal to the FTT. In the event of an administration the administrator will need to decide whether they wish the appeal to continue, in which case they’ll have to incur any expense related to that in terms of legals etc, or they can drop the appeal and take the assessment into the creditors list. The only way to avoid the result of the FTT or the assessment is by liquidation – which I firmly believe has been the plan since day one.
What does this mean for the Ranking of Creditors?
Again, Craig Whyte isn’t being honest when he says he has a floating charge which ranks him ahead of everyone. Not true (to use a Craig Whyte phrase). Close Brothers have a fixed charge in relation to catering income which ranks them above Craig Whyte’s floating charge.
If financial assistance is proven then its good news for the fans of RFC as we cannot be held to ransom by Craig Whyte and as a result HMRC who will stifle any deal from which he benefits.
Questions that need to be asked
Where has all the money gone?
Why enter into an agreement with Ticketus if Craig Whyte really did invest £33m of his own cash?
Why did we want to sell Jelavic? Why did we tell every Premiership team who enquired that the fee was £10m with weekly wages required of £40k per week? Why was fee so low in comparison to what was being asked for? Why were all the interested parties so keen to do business on the last day of the window?
Why deny there was any tax outstanding?
Why go into administration with, according to your own figures, decent levels of cash?
Why pay a substantial six figure sum to an amateur team run by your pals?
Did Phil Betts or any associated parties receive a substantial finance commission from Close or any other party for arranging finance on assets of the Club?
Who’s paying for the expensive suite at One Devonshire that you’ve had since May?
Have you attempted to sell or sold our shares in Arsenal?
Did you tell the players (as reported in Evening Times on 15th February 2012) that if you’re favoured administrator was appointed you would still “be in control” of the Club?
What is Andrew Ellis’ involvement?
Craig Whyte’s Credibility
I know that both GS and MFDM were both briefed in the last few days that Whyte would attempt to restore his credibility in an effort to ensure he can regain control of the club after an insolvency event. The first salvos in this effort were seen in the sympathetic (pathetic) Sun this morning. In the words of Paul Murray, should we really want this guy any wear near the controls for a second time?
If you look back to the summer and the sympathetic articles that appeared and in particular the ones where Whyte accused HMRC of a vendetta of the Club there was a snippet that appeared in the Herald or Times whereby club sources pointed to the fact that there had been 3 PAYE inspections in the first 3 months of Whyte’s reign as proof positive of said vendetta. It also claimed there had only been 1 in the 3 years previous. Now we know why there were 3 – no vendetta, we were just refusing to pay.
“Wee” Tax Case
There was a commitment in the Circular to shareholders this would be paid and the money invested by Whyte to pay it. Since then we’ve heard excuse after excuse such as “it’s older than 6 years” and “it’s not enforceable” all as reasons why it should not be paid. Whyte committed to 26,000 minority shareholders that he’d pay it. Is he happy to mislead them.
Craig Whyte was asked on numerous occasions from May last year if the Club were in arrears with tax. He was either economical with the truth or lied. They were.
RFC Relationship with HMRC
The relationship between the Club and HMRC was never the best off the back of the EBT issue. However, the Club had continued to have dialogue with HMRC over “ability to pay” any amount arising after the FTT. Discussions over “affordability” were amicable and HMRC were aware that they may need to be pragmatic to achieve a result for them without jeopardising the long term future of a company with a decent size of turnover. That all changed when Whyte got the keys. Whyte set in motion a policy of confrontation. He was banking on HMRC not being able to counter his PR arguments – look at his PR offensive against HMRC on arrival. It was all designed to create a climate where, when HMRC eventually pulled the plug, he could turn round and blame it on an overly aggressive, unsympathetic tax man with some innuendos about an anti Rangers policy.
What Whyte hadn’t predicted was for HMRC to allow him to string along the debt, building it up with no result of the FTT in the timescales he expected. HMRC simply sat and waited on him running out of cash which they knew he would. They know about all the deals in the background, they know when the tipping point comes . They’re not as stupid as everyone seems to think. They just decided to give him enough rope.
Now, I fear that HMRC will do everything they can to make an example of Craig Whyte, not Rangers; it’s just Rangers that will suffer as a result.
Whyte denied he done this deal. He lied.
Whyte finally admitted he done the deal but won’t admit where the money went. He’s trying to avoid any accusation of financial assistance.
Given all of the above, the question that is most important is this – WHAT NEXT?
One man who Craig Whyte has planned to play a huge role in his new version of Rangers is Donald Muir. Expect him to be heavily involved in the running of the new club – look at today’s Sun and Whyte’s suggestion that he will be taking a back seat although remaining in control as the first steps to preparing the fans for Muir’s re-emergence.
David Grier, the man who represented Craig Whyte at takeover discussions, done the cash flow projections for Whyte’s business plan – MUST BE A FINANCIAL WIZZ – and, after the takeover, represented RFC in meetings with HMRC and, curiously, with football agents when looking to recruit players. I was alerted to the fact that MCR (as they were called at that stage) would be appointed administrators. They subsequently were under their new name. Grier touted himself at a meeting with the Independent Board as “Donald Muir’s best pal”.
Donald Muir, the man appointed to turn round Murray Group yet only appointed himself as Director of RFC and Premier Property Group. What wealthy, influential Bears did Muir speak with to try and broker a deal to take RFC forward? None.
He created the 1873 Club which never got off the ground. (Think he really meant 1872 – remember he’s a lifelong Bluenose). He produced a worldwide prospectus to sell the Brand to a Billionaire overseas? What happened to that? He opened the books for due diligence to a chance with a fake proof of funds. What did the chancer call himself? Ethan Hawke!! A character from Mission Impossible approaches the Club with a fake proof of funds and the bold Donald opens the doors.
Then he courted Ellis who was exposed for what he was. His plan was always the same as Whyte’s as Donald Muir knew fine well. They went back to the drawing board and were intelligent enough to realise that Whyte’s background could lead to him falling like Ellis had done. So they invested, invested in lawyers to protect Whyte’s reputation and intimidate the press into not to dig too deeply, threatening to sue at every turn. They invested in PR people to ensure that all the press were on message. The investment paid off, Whyte managed to push his takeover through.
Just a quick aside in relation to PR. I would be critical of Paul Murray et al as they lost the PR battle at that stage. But bear in mind, it was them (with relatively little PR experience) against David Murray, his PR Clout, Lloyds with their PR and Muir with his hired PR who were also close to Media house. Effectively, Whyte had 4 PR teams working on his behalf. The Paul Murray team were working on their own. Hopefully they’ll have learned from this experience.
But if we lose the fight and Whyte regains control, you read it here first, Muir will be back and it will have been planned all along.
That’s why it’s important that the fans unite – Craig Whyte cannot continue. He cannot be given a second opportunity to take our money. He has been proven to take money from companies that he shouldn’t have on a consistent basis – let’s not believe the spin that he’s doing it for our benefit. Let’s unite. The alternative may not be perfect but it will be a broad church of Bears done good, fans, former players and professionals of impeccable background and good Rangers credentials.
What price will you value our history? If Whyte liquidated RFC and bought Partick Thistle and relocated them to Ibrox and changed their name and the strip colour, would it be The Rangers? We all know it wouldn’t.
Let’s behave in a way that honours the founding fathers. Let’s not liquidate the Club that guys like Mr Struth and Mr Waddell built and start a fresh. Let’s ensure the future of the Club that 66 of our Brethren went to watch and never made it home. Will you stand up for Rangers or will you follow follow Craig Whyte no matter the cost? Rangers First.