In full: Dave King statement on Rangers FC
Having had the opportunity to visit key stakeholders and to properly consider the information now available to me I would like to comment on certain matters that I have hitherto refused to comment on.
My own visibility of the true state of affairs was being actively restricted and, as it turns out, falsified by Craig Whyte and I did not wish to add to the strongly held but unconfirmed rumours that were already being played out in the media.
I met with Craig Whyte during my recent visit and he provided clarity on the funding position. His true financial commitment was not by way of cash (as he had previously advised me) but rather guarantees that he and/or companies associated with him had given to Ticketus.
He confirmed to me that Ticketus has no recourse to the football club. Hopefully the administrators will be able to confirm this. The upshot of Craig Whyte’s confession is that the fans were duped.
Immediately upon the acquisition of the club by Craig Whyte (far from being debt free as was trumpeted by the Murray Group and Craig Whyte at the time) the club was in a much worse economic position than before and had no chance of survival even if we had progressed in Europe.
The Murray Group
I purposely did not meet with David Murray but did meet with Mike McGill who was a member of the Rangers board at the time of the acquisition and was intimately involved on behalf of the Murray Group in securing the sale to Craig Whyte.
I am absolutely satisfied in my mind that Mike McGill (and hence the Murray Group) had no knowledge that the proof of funds supplied by Craig Whyte’s attorneys was secured by season ticket sales. I am further satisfied that the Murray Group would not have proceeded with the transaction if the true source of the funds had been disclosed.
The Murray Group had every right to rely on the proof of funds letter that was supplied by Collyer Bristow.
The role of Collyer Bristow requires further investigation as this legal firm appears to have behaved in a manner inconsistent with its natural duties and responsibilities.
I met with Gary Withey, on two occasions, during my recent visit and I do not believe that it is plausible that he was actively involved in an attempt to deceive the shareholders, fans, and creditors of the club.
I do however continue to have concerns about the discharge of his duties as company secretary for Rangers. There is a true version that has yet to emerge regarding Collyer Bristow’s role and knowledge of events.
I do not believe that there is a reasonable prospect that the company can come out of administration. I believe that liquidation is inevitable.
The club will not meet its financial requirements before the UEFA deadline. There will consequently be no European football next year and liquidation might extend that by another two years.
The harsh reality is that Craig Whyte has abused the loyalty of the fans by trading that future loyalty for cash in a manner that has excluded the club’s ability to provide the very product that the fans were expected to pay for.
To have done this, and then blatantly lied about it, is an abuse that no fan of any club should have to suffer.
Now that I have evidenced the true position I wish to commend HMRC for showing the maximum restraint that it possibly could have under its mandate to collect taxes that are due.
The empathy that HMRC has demonstrated to the club and its fans is particularly gratifying given the abuse perpetrated on HMRC by Craig Whyte in withholding ongoing tax payments to fund the club- while simultaneously pretending that he was using his own funds.
It grieves me to state that it seems inevitable that the footballing institution will survive but the company won’t. This will entail many hurdles (that will be overcome) including ‘Rangers (2012) Ltd’ having to reapply for membership of the SFA etc.
It is a sad point to have reached, but if managed sensibly, it can result in Rangers returning to its former glory as a football club in the shortest time possible. We must all strive to ensure that an appropriate ownership structure guarantees that this event is never repeated.
We must remember that our footballing friends across the city came very close to the point that we now find ourselves in. Scottish football needs a strong Rangers and Celtic - but perhaps in a slightly humbler form.
My own present position
I seem to be one of the few people who actually invested cash into the club. I have made a claim of £20 million on the basis of non-disclosure by the then Chairman, David Murray, of Rangers true financial position as far back as 2000.
Other shareholders may feel deceived like I do and wish to take similar action. (David Murray will no doubt argue to the contrary and the merits of this will be dealt with in due course in the appropriate forum.)
For present purposes however, I simply want to advise the fans and fellow shareholders that any benefit I receive from my claim will be fully reinvested into the restructured football club. I remain 100% committed to the Rangers football club and will do whatever I can to advance its interests.
My own future position
I intend to remain involved with the club, at least on my present basis, post-reconstruction if that is at all possible under the new ownership structure. I am however alert to the raw sentiment around the need for Rangers to have ‘fit and proper’ persons at its helm.
In view of my own well-publicised and acrimonious legal disputes with the authorities in South Africa I have taken it upon myself to approach the SFA in that regard in advance of considering an increased role in the club going forward. I will be guided by the SFA’s response in that regard.
In the interim I will be putting my full support behind Paul Murray’s initiative to secure the future of the club. Paul is a very smart businessman of undoubted integrity and a man who holds all that is sacred and traditional at Rangers football club very close to his heart. He is exactly the type of man the club needs at this time.
The previous board
I worked happily with the previous board and was immensely saddened by the way that some of them were excoriated by the media for no reason other than that they strongly opposed the sale of the club to a man who appeared to have insufficient funds to take the club forward.
Martin Bain, Paul Murray and Alastair Johnston were fired immediately upon the takeover for voicing their concerns. The Rangers spin doctoring machine then started to work overtime to discredit them, both individually and collectively.
We now know the truth and hopefully those three loyal Rangers fans can now be fully welcomed back to Ibrox Park with full appreciation for the role that they have played in working tirelessly behind the scenes to expose Craig Whyte for what they truly knew him to be- and what all fans now know him to be.
This cancer might have continued longer without their continued probings.
Martin deserves particular mention. I have chatted to him a few times since he was forced to resign. Despite the lies and untruths that were being leaked about him to the press he never wavered in his loyalty and commitment to the club.
He never wavered in his commitment to the fans and he was determined to expose what was really going on.
The club was fortunate to have Martin at the helm as CEO for many years and was even more fortunate to find him continue to act in the interests of the club after he was unjustifiably removed from that position and unjustifiably deprived of his fair contractual settlement.
John Greig and John McClelland
Both of these gentlemen were, like me, not fired from the board after the acquisition and soldiered on in the best interests of the club until they reached a point where they reluctantly resigned rather than be associated with the failing governance at the club. That was the early warning sign.
I haven’t spoken to John McClelland but I can confirm (from my recent discussions with him) how pained John Greig is to have been unable to attend his beloved Ibrox. Hopefully he will shortly be able to resume his rightful iconic place in the director’s box.
I have noted the recent media comment about Rangers being stripped of previously earned titles. While this makes good headlines, I am absolutely confident (now that I have a good sense of the true position) that this will not happen.