Rangers administration: Bidder set to pull out if Ticketus deal remains, court told
ONE OF the bidders for crisis-hit Rangers has warned it will not pursue its interest in the Ibrox club if the Ticketus season-ticket deal remains in force, a court heard yesterday.
Agreements reached with Ticketus were used by Craig Whyte to finance his takeover from Sir David Murray at Ibrox last year before the crisis-hit club was placed into administration last month.
The administrators Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, of Duff and Phelps, have now gone to the Court of Session in Edinburgh seeking guidance on a potential move to end the contract with Ticketus.
David Sellar QC, for Rangers’ administrators, told Lord Hodge yesterday: “Of the four bids one has said that it will not carry on if Ticketus were involved, by that I mean if the Ticketus contract were in force.
“Given the amounts of money involved that makes perfect sense. If Ticketus is indeed to be paid £20-odd million that does have an effect on a business, which as we know, was loss-making.”
He added: “What would be less than satisfactory is if matters proceeded, through nobody’s fault, but proceeded to such an extent that other bidders walked away leaving one bidder in the form of the Ticketus consortium that could then offer as little as possible.”
But counsel for Ticketus urged the judge not to make a ruling in the case that could lead to Rangers administrators going back on a season ticket deal.
Ronald Clancy QC, for Ticketus, told Lord Hodge: “As of today there are three, possibly four, investment proposals including one involving Ticketus. It is impossible to say that none of these could pave the way for the company coming out of administration as a going concern with the Ticketus agreement still in place.
“The real issue behind this application is the desire of the administrators to terminate the contract in such a way that if the company emerges from administration it would not have to be performed.”
But he maintained that such a breach would not have the effect being sought by the administrators’ lawyers “namely the opportunity for the company to come out of administration without having to honour the contracts”.
Clancy said: “If Parliament had intended administrators should have such a wide power to terminate contracts it would have granted those powers expressly.”
The Ticketus deals over season tickets provided an initial sum of more than £20 million plus VAT in May last year.
Ticketus have now linked up with the Blue Knights consortium, headed by former Rangers director Paul Murray, to take control at Rangers. The Blue Knights have confirmed that they lodged a bid before last Friday’s deadline for offers, and one of the other bids is from Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy. Another is believed to be from Club 9 Sports, a Chicago investment firm.
Rangers went into administration last month when facing a £9.3 million bill from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. The club also faces a further potential £49 million bill over an EBT scheme, known as the ‘big tax case’.
Mr Clancy told Lord Hodge: “I would suggest it is not appropriate to make any ruling in the present state of play.”
Meanwhile, the administration of Rangers was put on a sound legal footing yesterday, after a flaw in the appointment of Duff & Phelps last month was corrected.
Clark and Whitehouse have been operating as joint administrators, although they had been brought in without the required notification being given to the Financial Services Authority. The Ibrox club returned to the Court of Session in Edinburgh to rectify the situation. Sellar told the court: “The interests of the creditors would not be served by the confusion of potentially invalidating the steps that have already been taken.”
Lord Hodge agreed to make a new order and said it would apply retrospectively, from 14 February. He is expected to give a ruling on the Ticketus issue in due course.
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