Rangers takeover: ‘I’m no villain here’ says Charles Green
A SEETHING Charles Green has accused Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs of “misleading” Rangers and giving fans false hope after it was revealed yesterday they will reject a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) proposal.
Creditors were set to vote on the CVA tomorrow but the outcome of the meeting appears a foregone conclusion, with Rangers now facing liquidation.
Green’s consortium will default to a ‘newco’ route to complete their purchase of the club, and the former Sheffield United chief executive had plenty to say when quizzed on yesterday’s dramatic turn of events and what the future now holds for Rangers. Here are the questions and his answers:
What was your reaction to HMRC blocking the CVA?
Charles Green: It is very disappointing. I hadn’t spoken to HMRC directly but what I do know is that Duff and Phelps had various discussions with them over the past few months and I had no reason to doubt what they told me. My own advisors, Deloitte, have been having discussions and contact and a range of meetings with HMRC. To read in Paul Clark’s statement today that HMRC are saying this is a policy decision: is it a policy from HMRC that came out this morning? If this has always been their policy why didn’t they tell us this in February and March and save a lot of money and a lot of time? There are a lot of Rangers fans who have had their hopes built up for nothing.
I can’t comment on what Paul Clark and David Whitehouse may or may not have said to HMRC, but what I do know – because I’m copied into the emails – is what Deloitte, who were acting for me, were doing. They had arranged meetings to go and see them, there had been dialogue between the parties. If this was a policy I would have expected HMRC to say to Deloitte ‘you are wasting your time, we have a policy against CVAs, we’re not going to do it’.
And you are saying they didn’t tell you that?
CG: There was a meeting set up for Monday at 2 o’clock, between Deloitte and HMRC. It was cancelled.
CG: By HMRC. And then, of course, I understand from my discussions that when Deloitte spoke to them they said ‘well, let’s leave it until tomorrow, there are meetings going on’.
Are you saying you didn’t see this coming today?
CG: Not at all. If we had known in March that this was HMRC’s policy then the minute Bill Miller withdrew and we became the preferred bidder we would have just gone down the newco. I spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on fees for professionals for a deal that could never happened.
But people have said that this was always HMRC’s policy. Are you saying you never got that feedback from anybody?
CG: No. Not at all.
You are now being seen as the man who took Rangers into liquidation, or who didn’t do enough to keep them out.
CG: Neither of those things are fair. What I’ve said consistently is that the approval of the CVA would be purely down to HMRC and Ticketus, no other groups could have voted it down. I’ve always said consistently that I have no control over that decision and that would always be down to Ticketus and down to HMRC.
What I have said consistently throughout the process – because information fed back to me has always been that we’re talking to HMRC, they haven’t turned it down, so I had to be encouraged – was that I was not in control of that. I can only be responsible for the things that I have control over. But I never said I could deliver a CVA, that was always down to HMRC and Ticketus. And I understand that Ticketus have now confirmed that they would approve the CVA. My understanding is they have confirmed to Duff & Phelps that they would vote in favour.
It seems impossible to downplay the significance of today, it’s a momentous day for Rangers.
CG: I said last week that I thought next Thursday, ie this Thursday, was the most important day in Rangers’ history.
But you didn’t even make it to Thursday.
Could HMRC change their mind again and at the CVA meeting on Thursday?
CG: I would urge everyone to lobby to see if we can get this ridiculous decision overturned, because it cannot be in the best interest of taxpayers. Cannot be.
HMRC’s statement talks about pursuing previous owners.
CG: My understanding, and I’m not a lawyer, is that going down this route preserves the position that they can go after previous owners. But if pursuing previous owners by this mechanism destroys a lot of the hopes and aspirations of the fans, the club and the people associated with it, then my answer would be pursue them through the courts in a different manner, not force this on them. I understand the logic of not doing deals with people who have failed to pay tax and have made these problems. But that is not my group. We haven’t failed to pay tax. I could understand this decision if Craig Whyte was here or if David Murray was here, who initiated the original problem. I would understand that and I would think it was right and proper. But not keep us all on the hook for three or four months nearly and then deliver this two days before the meeting.
You are certain you have a binding agreement for an asset sale?
CG: We said consistently throughout that in the event of the CVA being rejected the contract would automatically default into an asset purchase. Nothing has changed as far as we are concerned. The contract is a binding contract between both parties and this is not a situation where someone can come in now and do another deal. As far as we are concerned we have a binding contract and we have completed that.
So others can’t come in and challenge that?
CG: If someone wants to challenge then my answer is that I was criticised weeks ago because no-one had ever heard of me, I came in at the last minute, I had appeared from nowhere. Well now people are saying have I got the chance to bid. But everyone had the chance to bid for this company from 14 February until 13 May when I was given exclusivity, whether it was Blue Knights, Bill Miller, Uncle Tom Cobley or a host of other people who had approached the administrator, and no-one had either put a credible deal on the table, signed a cheque, or could complete.
The three-year European ban as a newco – what does that do for your projections?
CG: We knew what the consequences were and what the opportunities were. Let’s not gloss over things: at the moment, if the CVA does fail on Thursday, and it is looking as if it will on HMRC’s current position, then we are not even in the SPL. Forget about playing in Europe we might not even be playing in Glasgow!
How quickly do you start the moves to get into the SFA and SPL?
CG: I have spoken to the SPL and the SFA today and meetings have been set up, so those talks are ongoing. Whether it was a CVA going ahead or a newco we still have to go through the same procedures in terms of notifying them about who the directors would be, the fit and proper, the structure. All of that is underway.
People say the club should take its punishment and accept a drop to the Third Division. Is that an option or will you definitely apply to be re-admitted to the SPL?
CG: If you take it to the nth degree then you would need approval for the Third Division and there wouldn’t even be a guarantee of that. My view is that anyone who creates a crime like this club did has to have punishment, I’ve always said that. Whether it’s my backside that gets kicked or someone else’s is an issue but unfortunately it’s mine that’s here and the others have disappeared. So we have to take some punishment. But I believe that what’s important for not only Rangers but Scottish football is that we start putting all these issues behind us and move forward.
Will you now lobby other clubs ahead of newco vote?
CG: The SPL is a small club of 12 members. It’s very important in my mind that while we are competitors on the field we need to be unified in the product, because the value of the SPL in terms of its image and its marketing rights is not to have a disparate group of people who aren’t prepared to work together. We are always going to have differences, our fans are always going to have differences, that’s the passion of football and that’s not going to change and nor would we wish to change it. But the reality is that we are all dependent on each other and Rangers are an integral part of that group.
Did you speak to Ally
CG: Ally has been with us since about 7.30 this morning, he came back from Portugal. He has been with us, he attended the staff meeting and he has been with me in meetings with the lawyers this afternoon.
Is it true that you lost a major investor at the weekend and you don’t have money to fund the club once you get control of it?
CG: Let’s stop these rumours running around. Last week it was said I didn’t have any money to buy the club, I was using season-ticket money. Then I explained that I had paid the administrators the money required in the contract, how could I have done that when I haven’t even put season-tickets up for sale? The next thing being said is that when I buy it I don’t have money to run the club. In a month’s time, when I’ve dealt with that myth, I’ll be accused of not having enough money to buy Lionel Messi. And when I buy Lionel Messi I won’t have enough money to put a rocket on the moon.
People see you as the villain of the piece today.
CG: I didn’t expect to be getting it in the neck and I don’t accept that at any stage I’m the villain of the piece. If I wasn’t here there would be no-one buying this football club. All the bidders disappeared.
So what fans and the media and everyone has to understand, and I keep saying it, is that if there’s someone out there now who wants this club and can do a better job than we’re doing, then turn up tomorrow morning, sign a cheque, we’ll go out the door and they can take over. Let’s go back to the idea of a wedding reception: unless anyone can say otherwise, hold your peace.
Sad day for Rangers?
CG: It’s a sad day for the club, for the fans. After what they have been through in the past few years, to get to this stage… HMRC have got a lot to answer for.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West