What A Web Ellis Started

24 February 2012 02:25
Andrew Ellis is among the many who have been fooled by Craig Whyte

Rangers director Andrew Ellis has apologised for his part in bringing Craig Whyte to Ibrox. London-based businessman Ellis introduced Whyte to former Rangers owner Sir David Murray in November 2010, after his own bid to buy the club had come to nothing and on Friday he said: "I'm sorry." In his first interview since joining the Ibrox board as a non-executive director, in January, Ellis said: "I can only say I'm sorry to the Rangers fans. Bringing Craig to the table was done in good faith and like a lot of other people I feel let down by him. I took Craig to meet Sir David Murray in the south of France and that's when talks began and I'm distraught that it has ended up like this. My interest in buying the club had ended due to the potential cost of the impending tax case but I had met Craig via the Cadbury family and was told by people that he was a very successful and wealthy businessman who was interested in buying Rangers. He appeared to have the money, he showed me proof of funds and told me about the numerous companies he owned. I was absolutely devastated last week to see the club go into administration with jobs at risk. I am very disappointed that Gordon, a good Rangers man, with his experience, will no longer be working at Rangers and I wish Ali every success for the future. But it could have been avoided. I believe that if a sensible deal could have been done with HMRC there was no need for the club to go into administration."

Ellis insists he was unaware that Whyte was planning to use money from the sale of future season tickets to buy Rangers. Whyte had stressed on 31 January that claims he had used cash from London firm Ticketus, reportedly £24million, to fund his takeover were not true. However, he was forced to backtrack last week once the club's administrators confirmed that money from the deal had been used by the Rangers chairman to pay the club's £18million debt to Lloyds Banking Group when he completed his takeover, and that they were looking for the rest of that cash injection.Ellissaid: "I was totally unaware of the Ticketus situation and when I asked Craig about it he denied it. Like all the Rangers fans I feel duped but not only about that. Craig and I shook hands on a deal that would see me getting 24.9% of the shares after his takeover. I was to have a contract to come up to Scotland and run the club and my team were going to be Ali Russell and Gordon Smith. I knew Ali from his time at QPR and had met Gordon through Jim White of Sky Sports. Both Ali and Gordon joined the club before me. After Craig took over he didn't want to honour our agreement and I had to chase him around for months. He has been trying agree a new deal with my shareholding much less but that still has not been completed and I have now handed my files over to my solicitor. But it wasn't the shareholding that I was interested in, nor was it the property angle. I joined the board because I was interested in the challenge and opportunity of getting such a huge club back on track. Rangers is one of the biggest clubs in the world but I think the marketing of the club over the last 10 years has been appalling. I wanted to sort out the academy, but also try to break into the overseas market and take Rangers abroad."Ellis is not new to football controversy as he was a former board member of QPR and who once led a takeover of Northampton Town. He went on: "I have read some negative things about my time at Northampton Town and QPR but the people I put in at Northampton are still there running the club and QPR are talking about moving to a new stadium - something I was talking about 10 years ago because 18,000 seats is not financially sustainable in the Premier League. It was a massive opportunity to turn Rangers round and I still think that. I am not stepping down until I find out the full situation with the administrators. I am taking legal instruction as what to do next."

When asked about Ellis's claim that he had been promised almost 25% of the shares, Whyte said: "I am not going to comment on that". Whyte claims that Ellis was aware of his funding plans for the club but "perhaps not the details of it".