Rangers chairman claimed bank was '˜throttling club'

The chairman of Rangers claimed the club was being 'throttled into submission' by its bank, a court heard.

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte arrives at Glasgow High Court for his fraud trial.

Alastair Johnston made the remark in a letter to Lloyds months before Craig Whyte took over at Ibrox in 2011.

The bank had wanted to cut Rangers debt – which included an £18 million loan.

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But Johnston stated that Lloyds intended to “drain every single penny out of the club” leaving “carnage” as a result of its “polices”.

A jury was also told that Rangers wanted the firm Ticketus to help them buy striker Nikica Jelavic in 2010.

This is the same company Whyte allegedly used to assist in the funding of his takeover.

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The evidence was heard at the 46-year-old’s trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Whyte denies a charge of fraud and a second allegation under the Companies Act in connection with his takeover.

Banker Ian Shanks was back in the witness box for a second day.

The 50 year-old was a senior official at Lloyds and had been involved in Whyte’s purchase of Sir David Murray’s majority stake at Rangers.

The trial was told of a draft letter written by Alastair Johnston for Mr Shanks in January 2011.

The club at the time had sizeable debts with Johnston then chairman at Ibrox.

The trial earlier heard how Lloyds wanted to reduce what was owed.

In the letter, Johnston claimed the Rangers board were “masquerading as directors” effectively “stooges” for the “objective” of the bank.

He then insisted Lloyds wanted to “drain every single penny out of the club...to the extent Rangers as a thriving concern would be throttled into submission”.

The chairman spoke of “carnage” and referred to the “impoverished remains” of the club.

He also described the “head count” of the playing squad as “dangerously under water”.

Whyte’s QC Donald Findlay asked: “Did you see the basis of the chairman referring to the impoverished remains of Rangers?”

Mr Shanks: “That’s obviously Alastair’s view.”

The advocate also asked whether Lloyds wanted the club to go into administration.

Mr Shanks: “Definitely not...it was not in anybody’s interest.”

The banker told the court he did not remember receiving the letter.

But, Mr Findlay asked: “The approach of Alastair Johnston was ‘this was everybody’s fault, but mine’?”

Mr Shanks: “That is a fair assessment.”

The QC suggested Johnston had been presiding over a “financial disaster”.

Mr Shanks said the club had been in “difficult circumstances” but that it was “still operating”.

The court was also told of contact between Mr Shanks and then Rangers chief executive Martin Bain in 2010.

There was mention of the transfer of striker Nikica Jelavic to Rangers from Rapid Vienna.

It was said the Austrian club “required the balance of transfer funds” to be “cash backed”.

Rangers wanted to facilitate this by “seeking to increase the funding from Ticketus”, but that there was to be no mention of the firm on the year-end accounts.

Mr Findlay asked: “They hid the use of Ticketus?”

Mr Shanks: “Yes.”

Prosecutors claim Whyte helped fund his 2011 takeover by getting a loan from Ticketus against three years of future season ticket sales.

The court was also told that if the sale of Rangers went through then Sir David would be able to keep his Murray Metals firm.

This side of his business empire was said to be important to him as that was where he started.

Mr Findlay asked Mr Shanks: “If Rangers deal is done then the Murray Metals business can be acquired for £1?”

The witness replied agreed that was the case and that the club’s debt had also to be settled.

Mr Findlay: “That is an incentive to get the deal done?”

Mr Shanks: “I agree.”

The trial, before Judge Lady Stacey, continues.