Rangers administration: David Murray says selling to Whyte was mistake

SIR David Murray has offered a heartfelt apology for selling his majority shareholding in Rangers to Craig Whyte – an action which he called “a huge mistake”.

Speaking yesterday at the Edinburgh headquarters of his group of companies, Murray said that he was far from being the only person to be “duped” by Whyte, but accepted that he had the principal responsibility for the sale. And, in a wideranging discussion with a group of newspaper journalists, he said he would not rule out going back to Rangers in a reduced capacity, but would not countenance any such return at present.

“I was primarily duped,” he said, referring to last year’s takeover by Whyte, who last month took Rangers into administration. “My advisers were duped, the bank was duped, the shareholders were duped. We’ve all been duped.

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“Is duped the right word? Duped is the right word.

“He’s quite affable. He is plausible. I always remember someone said ‘Does it pass the sniff test?’ Meeting him, you know. He was Scottish, he wasn’t a foreigner, he was supposedly a Rangers supporter, he had the money.

“There is a Stock Exchange offer document there. If you can’t believe that, what can you do? We did check, to the best of our ability.

“But I was in a situation where we had been endeavouring to sell the club for four years. We had received proof of funds. We had a legal document confirming he was going to spend money on players, eventually.

“I’m not defending me – because I’ve made a huge mistake here. And I deeply regret, I deeply regret, selling the club to Craig Whyte now. Deeply. And if the information had been available to me at the time I wouldn’t have done it. I did it in good faith.

“If you put the personalities aside for a second and look at the offer document that went out to shareholders, to buy the club, to invest, in theory it was the right deal to do.

“Looking back, it’s not. And I can only apologise so many times. I wish I’d never done the deal with Craig Whyte.”

Although documents and advice from several sources all pointed to the acceptability of a sale to Whyte, Murray said that one fact would have spelled an end to the deal had it been known at the time. That was the agreement struck by Whyte with Ticketus, the London-based firm whose £24million investment in return for future season-ticket income was crucial to the takeover. What happened to that money, and who is responsible for it, is still uncertain, and could be the subject of future legal action which may need resolved before new owners can be found.

“I have a responsibility to accept that I sold the club to the wrong person,” Murray added. “We’ve all got degrees in hindsight. If I’d known about Ticketus I’d have pulled out of the deal right away.”

Although he has explained that the share purchase agreement contained no proviso for him to take control of Rangers back from Whyte, Murray has been the subject of continual speculation regarding a return to Ibrox. He insisted that was not something he wanted to do immediately, or in any major capacity, but did say he would be willing to help the club under future ownership.

“It’s not on my agenda today, no. [But] if required, I would, of course. If I was able to help in some small way.

“We did have a hell of a lot of good times together at the club. I miss the camaraderie, the friendship I had with people.”