Rangers administration: Fans fear Duff & Phelps claims could scare off Green
THE president of the Rangers Supporters Assembly has expressed fears that concerns raised over Duff & Phelps’ administration of the Ibrox club could prompt the Charles Green-led consortium to cancel their proposed takeover.
Andy Kerr was speaking after a BBC documentary alleged that senior Duff & Phelps partner David Grier was aware of Craig Whyte’s scheme to use a deal with Ticketus for funds from future season-ticket sales to fund his purchase of the club last year.
Kerr also questioned why the plan set out by co-administrator David Whitehouse for a Company Voluntary Arrangement offer to creditors as part of Green’s proposed £8.5 million deal is already behind schedule.
The initial target date is no longer feasible, given that two weeks’ notice is required. With the transfer window opening on 1 June and the club due to revert to a wage bill it cannot afford, following salary cuts of up to 75 per cent among the first team squad after going into administration on 14 February, the delay adds more uncertainty to the future of players and the club itself.
Duff & Phelps strenuously deny the BBC allegations and have threatened legal action but Kerr insists that Rangers supporters are more interested in the short-term implications of the latest development in the saga surrounding their financially stricken club.
“I’ve tried to contact Duff and Phelps today without success,” Kerr told The Scotsman. “Not necessarily to reflect on what was in the BBC programme, I’m sure that will all take its natural course. But where does it leave us in terms of this CVA process?
“Because of the critical timing of where we are in the process, there is an anxiety now about where it would leave Rangers if that process had to be interrupted. Where would it leave our current bidder? That’s what I’d like to get to the bottom of quickly.
“The last news from Duff and Phelps was that they were going to proceed with the CVA as quickly as possible, starting on Monday of this week with the creditors’ meeting set for 6 June. Those dates were quite specific.
“The last I heard was perhaps it would now start on Friday but I expect it’s now more likely to be next week. My huge nervousness about this is, what happens in the second week of June if the CVA is not properly under way and we don’t have some kind of idea where the outcome is going to take us?
“I fear greatly for the players and the staff, because, if we are to believe everything we’ve heard up until now, the money will run out in the second week of June. Although we’ve had some information and promises from the Green camp, is there going to be money there to sustain us over the summer while this process continues? If not, then we are looking at a pretty horrendous outcome.
“There are three distinct aspects to the allegations made by the BBC. Clearly, the programme established a potential conflict of interests at the start of the administration process. Duff and Phelps are challenging that.
“The second thing to ask is if there has been anything during the process to date that has perpetuated that alleged conflict of interest? I would hope not and there’s nothing I could point to in that respect. But the fact it has been prolonged certainly begs a question.
“The third thing is that, if there are concerns over a potential conflict of interest, what does that mean next?
“Could the administrators be called off the case? Could HMRC come along and demand another administrator?
“If any of these scenarios happen, then the time factor leaves Rangers in a hugely vulnerable situation. Who’s to say the Green camp won’t be frightened off if that happens. I had a bit of optimism about the situation a couple of weeks ago but it’s starting to wane already.”
Former Rangers director Paul Murray, whose Blue Knights consortium were rejected as potential purchasers of the club by Duff & Phelps, has called for a formal inquiry into the conduct of the firm since they were appointed as administrators by Whyte.
“I really feel this matter has to be investigated as a matter of urgency by the regulatory bodies,” said Murray. “The problem from the club’s point of view is we don’t have a lot of time to do that.
“For Rangers fans to have confidence over the process over the last few months, that needs to be done immediately. You have to ask why Duff and Phelps were appointed in the first place?
“This is a hugely complicated and high-profile administration. I’m a qualified chartered accountant and I find some of the stuff quite difficult to get my head round, and I’m also a former director so I’ve got quite a lot of inside knowledge of the situation.
“I actually wonder why one of the big four accountancy firms wasn’t appointed to conduct this. Secondly, why was Craig Whyte so desperate to get Duff & Phelps appointed as administrators? A number of people within Rangers at a very senior level said to me that they had only seen Craig Whyte panic on one occasion and that was when he thought HMRC were going to appoint someone different from Duff & Phelps. And I think Duff & Phelps have to answer definitively what is David Grier’s involvement in all of this.”
The SPL last night refused to confirm or deny a BBC report which stated they have now set a deadline for Duff & Phelps to provide them with documentation relating to the Employee Benefit Trust scheme operated by the Murray Group for Rangers players and staff from 2001 to 2010. The SPL have still to complete their own investigation, which began on 5 March, into alleged illegal dual contracts given to players under the scheme.
Motherwell, meanwhile, became the latest club to release a statement regarding the possibility of a “Newco” Rangers being allowed to remain in the SPL next season. The Fir Park club’s vice-chairman Derek Weir is a board member of the SPL.
“The club continues to actively participate in the discussions being held at the SPL in relation to the current issues at Rangers Football Club,” read the Motherwell statement.
“To date we have seen no proposals to transfer a share in the SPL to a ‘Newco’ and have therefore made no decision on how we would vote if such a scenario did arise. We have purposefully avoided making any public statements to date given the uncertainty of the situation and the lack of any clarity on what, if anything, we will be required to vote on.
“Once we have full information we will be able to decide our position. Any speculation on the basis of conjecture only adds to the damage to the game and all of our interests.
“We are well progressed with a plan that is designed to bring both fan ownership and long-term financial stability to the club, without reliance on funding from either a bank or a benefactor. We do not believe we can separate the sporting integrity of our league from the sustainable future of our club; the two go hand in hand.
“Any decisions we take as a board are made in the best interests of the club with a view to achieving our stated aims for ownership and funding. In the event that a ‘Newco’ proposal is presented to us, we intend to fully discuss with representatives of our supporters groups, prior to making any decision.”
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