Rangers administration: Big implications if club didn’t exist but it still has to meet obligations insists Sports Minister

SHONA ROBISON, the Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, says the Scottish Government want to see the “best deal for the taxpayer” achieved from Rangers’ administration but has stopped short of insisting the Ibrox club must repay the full £9million owed to HMRC in non-payment of PAYE and VAT since Craig Whyte’s takeover last May.

Robison, who welcomed the launch of the SFA’s inquiry into the Rangers crisis, expressed fears for the wider consequences to Scottish football if the club went out of business.

While keen to see Rangers meet their financial liabilities, she did not rule out the prospect of a compromise deal being reached on the unpaid bill which tipped them into administration last week.

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“At the end of the day, I’m not going to second guess the discussions that are happening between the administrators and HMRC,” said Robison. “They are at a very sensitive stage and I think they should be left to get on with it. But, obviously, we want the best deal for the taxpayer out of this.”

When it was put to her that the Scottish Government could not be seen to support tax evasion, she replied: “Absolutely not. We want Rangers to be able to meet their obligations. The question then is how best are they able to meet those obligations. Hopefully, the administrators will be able to come up with the best situation they can to meet the creditors’ requirements.

“The HMRC is a large one but there are others as well. That should absolutely be a focus. But the Rangers fans are not to blame for that and neither are the staff who work behind the scenes whose jobs are in jeopardy.

“So I think we need to hope the administrators will find a way forward. In my conversation with the administrators, they certainly were very much focused on that effort.

“I think that’s a matter between the administrators and HMRC. But we know HMRC want to get the best deal for the taxpayer. But they also recognise the importance of Rangers to the economy and to Scottish football.

“It’s a very, very difficult situation. The government’s position on this is that Rangers is an important part of Scottish football. There would be big implications if Rangers ceased to exist, not least when you look at the sponsorship and broadcasting deals that involve a certain number of Old Firm matches.

“We would hope that Rangers continue and will be able to meet their obligations. There are obviously a number of obligations out there, not least to HMRC and others. We hope a resolution can be found.

“I know the administrators are working very hard to find a way forward that can hopefully begin to meet some of those obligations. But we’ll need to wait and see what happens.

“It’s a fast-moving situation. Hardly a day goes by that there’s not some development or other. The government hopes for a resolution that finds the best way forward in a difficult situation.”