Tom English: You need a brass neck for what Charles Green is attempting
EVER see the Monty Python sketch about the four Yorkshiremen? You know the one where Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle sit quaffing expensive Chateau de Chassilier wine while reflecting how well they’ve done in life after such humble beginnings, each one embellishing the poverty of their youth with ever more hilarious anecdotes?
Idle: “I was happier then and I had nothin’. We used to live in this tiiiny old house with greaaaat big holes in the roof.”
Chapman: “House? You were lucky to have a HOUSE! We used to live in one room, all hundred and twenty six of us…”
Gilliam: “You were lucky to have a ROOM! We used to live in a corridor!”
Palin: “Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin’ in a corridor! Woulda’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip…”
The four Yorkshiremen is one of the great sketches in history and one that another Yorkshireman, Charles Green, would no doubt guffaw at if he had the time to look at it again which, of course, he doesn’t because he’s been too busy with a comedy routine of his own in the form of his proposal to buy Rangers and the CVA document the club’s administrators, Duff and Phelps, presented on his behalf on Tuesday. Green’s chutzpah would have sat well with the other four Yorkshiremen. For brass neck and sheer effrontery it is a remarkable document, the genius of which will surely be established for all-time if it manages to get past the many Rangers creditors in the coming weeks.
The odds of that happening? Well, it’s hard to know. Some experts say it will be accepted by the main creditors, Ticketus and HMRC, on the basis that they’ll get bugger all if they don’t accept it. Others say that HMRC, in particular, will either be appalled at the gall of the man or will laugh heartily at his brio, but whichever one it is they will still throw the proposal back at him. Green has a plan for all possibilities, though. He’s worked the angles, it seems. If the CVA goes through, he wins. If it’s liquidation and a newco, he still wins. If you’ve seen a three-card trick man at work, luring in the customers who feel sure they can ‘find the lady’ from three face-down playing cards on the table then you have seen a version of what Green is trying to perform at Ibrox. He’s a clever operator. He’s had seasoned financial observers scratching their heads in wonder at the audacity of what he’s trying to pull off.
Later in the week we might get a chance to quiz Duff and Phelps on all of this. They’ve been good that way. Helpful. Right from the start of the administration process they’ve been keen to chat at least once a week and, no doubt, they did so in attempt to influence the dynamic of the story, particularly when the Blue Knights were giving them a shellacking, but also because – and maybe this is me just being cynical – they were being paid a king’s ransom every time they opened their mouth. I would imagine since this process began I have had up to three hours on the phone with Duff and Phelps which, at their going rate, is going to cost the club somewhere between £1,440 and £1,635. Had I known the premium they placed on their own time I might have cut it short a bit.
You could do your own sketch on the CVA document alone.
“Charles Green has 20 investors?”
“Er, no, it’s five or six.”
“But he said he had 20.”
“He seems to have lost 14 or 15 of them since he said it.”
“They’re gone already before we even knew who they were?”
“That’s if they were ever there in the first place.”
“At least his backers are offering HMRC some money…”
“Which the club has to pay them back, with interest.”
“And they’re throwing Ticketus a few quid…”
“And they want that back, too. Apparently 8 per cent on top, thanks very much.”
“Duff and Phelps said his was the best deal for creditors…”
“The best deal for Charles Green more like. And for Duff and Phelps, of course. They’re getting every penny of their multi-million pound fee, which is about 91p in the pound more than the people whose corner they were supposed to be fighting.”
“But what about the creditors?”
“The £55, 415, 632 the club owes to all manner of different people?”
“Yeah, shame about that. There’s about £5m left for those guys.”
“That’s feeble. When are they going to be paid?”
“So Duff and Phelps, the champions of the creditors, are getting almost as much as all the other creditors put together?”
“It’s business, baby. They might get more in any case.”
“Ah, right. If they sell a player some of the money goes to the creditors…”
“No. It goes to the club.”
“The TV money, then. They’ll hand some over to the poor saps they’re shafting…”
“No, it goes to the club. Nothing personal. They could get an extra £25m from a law suit against Collyer Bristow.”
“Maybe. Possibly. In theory.”
“When might they get it?”
“Well, the creditors can tell Green they’re not having his CVA…”
“Yes, they can. And so it’s liquidation-time and a newco and the stadium and the training ground and the Albion car park and all the rest of it that has a book value of more than £112m immediately becomes available for £5.5m”
“Result! To who?”
If you’re Charles Green or one of his financial backers or Duff and Phelps or a Rangers supporter then the CVA document is a piece of art to be hung on a wall. If you’re anybody else then it’s by turns a curiosity and an outrage. We won’t know until the middle of June if Green’s CVA is going to be accepted. Until then, the flying circus continues.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
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