Rangers administration: Dave King meets with administrators
RANGERS director Dave King arrived at Ibrox yesterday for what were understood to be talks with administrators, but it was the manner in which he left the stadium that was the most striking aspect of his rare visit to Govan.
South Africa-based King, the only survivor from the Sir David Murray era on the board, left Ibrox in the same car as manager Ally McCoist. At the end of last week, McCoist admitted that he had not spoken to Rangers owner Craig Whyte since the club was placed in administration on the Tuesday.
King is the only member of the previous Rangers regime who has not resigned or been removed. It was reported recently that King had been removed as a director, but he remains on the board as a non-executive director. McCoist’s association with the old guard will fuel speculation as battle lines are drawn in the fight for the future of Rangers.
McCoist also had talks with the administrators yesterday, and returned to Ibrox later in the day.
King, who has been involved in a long-running dispute with the South African tax authorities, has previously admitted he considered launching his own takeover bid before Murray sold his shares to Craig Whyte for £1. He was put off by the demands of Lloyds Banking Group.
The Glasgow-born businessman was also linked with another potential bid from director Paul Murray, who quickly expressed interest in forming a takeover consortium after Rangers went into administration last week.
There was no comment from Rangers or the administrator on the latest talks as officials from Duff and Phelps continued to probe the financial dealings surrounding Whyte’s takeover and subsequent running of the club.
The administrators, and Whyte himself, confirmed on Tuesday that a £24million cash injection from investment firm Ticketus, based on advance season ticket sales, had been used to pay off the £18million Lloyds debt.
Supporters are still digesting the statement issued by Whyte yesterday, in which he also announced he would step down as chairman and possibly “gift” fans the majority of his shares.
Andy Kerr, president of the Rangers Supporters Assembly, is keen for supporters to have more involvement in running the club’s affairs, but not with Whyte.
Kerr said: “We are keen to listen to proposals from people who are interested in taking the club forward, particularly if the proposals have fan involvement.
“It’s difficult to break it down into specific details but we have always been huge stakeholders in buying season tickets and merchandise.
“It would be good to harness that into some influence over the governance process and be better placed to avert the situation that has just happened. You look around Europe and there is some good, sound basis for doing that.”
Whyte has already taken a step back but any involvement in the club after the administration process is complete seems difficult to envisage, given the impact on his reputation over the last 10 days.
Whyte stressed on 31 January that claims he had used the Ticketus money to fund his takeover were not true, but was forced to backtrack on Tuesday.
He argued the deal was in the best interests of Rangers and that he was “personally on the line for £27.5million in guarantees and cash”, while claiming his lack of transparency was down to his desire to keep the deal confidential for the sake of Ticketus.
Whyte had already found himself under pressure after the administrators revealed the reason Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs had forced Rangers into administration was because of £9million in unpaid VAT and PAYE accrued since his takeover.
Whyte said on Tuesday that £4.4million of this debt was down to the “wee tax case” dating from before he took over at Ibrox.
Kerr said: “It’s looking less likely he can come back because of the concerns and doubt and lack of confidence in him.”
Administrators David Whitehouse and Paul Clark are continuing to look into issues such as where the rest of the Ticketus money went, having not been paid into club accounts.
They have discussed issues surrounding Rangers’ finances with police, who last week confirmed they were examining information received from former chairman Alastair Johnston regarding Whyte’s takeover.
A Strathclyde Police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that we have had initial conversations with the administrators of Rangers Football club. We have not received any official report from them at this stage.”