Rangers administration: ‘I’ll walk away for the good of the club’ - Craig Whyte

CRAIG Whyte has again broken cover to protest at the claim that he is “absolutely irrelevant” to the administration process at Rangers.

However, the owner, who has made few public comments since placing the Ibrox club in administration in February, is apparently willing to smooth the way for his successor or successors if the circumstances are right. The Blue Knights consortium, headed by former Rangers director Paul Murray, American investors Club 9 Sports and a Singapore-based group are all expected to make formal bids for the club by the end of tomorrow, the deadline set by the administrators before they choose a preferred bidder. Their bids will need to be large enough to achieve a [CVA] Company Voluntary Arrangement or else the doomsday scenario of liquidation remains a realistic scenario.

Whyte, too, is set to still have a say in what occurs, despite Paul Clark, of administrators Duff and Phelps, last month describing the businessman as “absolutely irrelevant” to Rangers’ medium or long-term future.

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Financial experts have since explained that Whyte is only likely to become “irrelevant” if he agrees to do so. Yesterday he gave the broadest hint yet that he is prepared to be easy to deal with, although Rangers supporters have learned to treat Whyte’s pronouncements with a degree of caution.

“They can describe me this way if they like, but I would disagree with it,” Whyte said, with reference to the “irrelevant” claim. “I am still the owner. But I am willing to walk away if it is for the good of the club. I wouldn’t make anything out of it. I have £30 million in cash and guarantees on the line but I would walk away if it is best for Rangers. I have been in touch with a couple of bidders. If I can help any of them I will.”

This is apparently true of even Paul Murray, with whom Whyte has had a fractious relationship since the pair submitted rival bids to buy Rangers last year. Whyte successfully bought out Sir David Murray’s 85.3 per cent shareholding last May for £1. However, the initial feelgood factor disappeared in February when the club entered administration over alleged non-payment of £9 million in PAYE and VAT taxes, accrued following Whyte’s takeover.

Now Paul Murray has attempted to re-ignite his bid to control the club, with the support of three fans’ groups and also, he hopes, Ticketus, the financial firm owed as much as £30 million by Rangers after Whyte mortgaged off future season ticket sales in order to fund his ill-fated purchase.

“We have never seen eye to eye,” said Whyte, with reference to Paul Murray. “I haven’t spoken to him since last May. He is one of the old board. I don’t see what he brings to the party. But there are some good guys in the Blue Knights and I’ve spoken to a couple of them, and I have no problem with them.

“People will put their bids in by Wednesday and we will see what happens.”

Regardless of who eventually gains control of the Govan club, the future remains uncertain.

Joint-administrator Paul Clark warned over the weekend that “it is certainly possible Rangers would be liquidated” when new owners take charge.

Whyte is adamant that liquidation would be the wrong outcome. This is where he has found some common ground with Paul Murray, who yesterday insisted that his plan, contrary to comments made by the administrators, is to avoid liquidation. “I am a little bit surprised and concerned, in fact, that the administrators seem to be almost moving things towards liquidation in the last couple of days,” he said. “From my point of view, first and foremost, we want to reach agreement with the creditors – a CVA. That’s the whole reason I am talking to Ticketus.”

Whyte, too, is adamant that liquidation would be the wrong outcome. “I do not favour liquidation at all, it is not necessary,” he said.

“I want to exit administration with a CVA. There is no reason whatsoever that that can’t happen. Liquidation is no good for Rangers, it will end 140 years of history. I can understand why some people might think it is a good idea but we have to keep Rangers alive. And there is absolutely no reason why a CVA can’t happen.”

Meanwhile, Whyte also revealed he has been taking “extra precautions” after being warned by police over fears for his safety.

“I have had security advice from the police,” he said. “You would have to be living in a different planet to think that there is not an increased security risk for me. I have been briefed by police and have been taking extra precautions. I am not overly concerned. Most people are understanding of the situation. I have been demonised for problems at the club from years ago.”