Whyte lied for months about the fact that he used the £20m plus VAT that he received from Ticketus to pay off Lloyds Banking Group and thereby assume ownership of Rangers. He was exposed some weeks back. Now, it would appear, that the deal is about to unravel in the coming weeks.
Sources close to the affair say that, although it is still subject to a court process, they are confident that, in a week or possibly two, it will be revealed that Ticketus no longer have a claim on up to a 100,000 season tickets. It is also believed that the administrators, Duff and Phelps, are hugely confident that deal that incensed the Rangers fans can be undone.
Elsewhere, the scramble for missing money continues apace in this Rangers story. When Whyte took over the club, his lawyers, Collyer Bristow, gave Sir David Murray and the independent board headed by then chairman Alastair Johnston, guaranteed undertakings that Whyte had lodged £9m in their accounts as proof of funds. In January of this year, Collyer Bristow, through company partner and Ibrox secretary, Gary Withey, reinforced the undertaking of £9m. Withey has sinced moved on from both the law firm and the football club. There is a dispute now about whether the £9m ever existed. If it did, it certainly does not exist now.
The administrators at Rangers are intending to fight Collyer Bristow for these millions. Yesterday, Duff and Phelps managed to arrest £3.6m from the London law firm, £3.6m being the extent of Whyte’s supposed £9m commitment. Rangers have competition as they chase the £3.6m, however. The money will be the subject of a four-day trial beginning at the end of the month and it’s not just Rangers who are laying a claim to it.
Some of the club’s other creditors are looking for a piece of it, including two firms linked to Whyte himself, Merchant Turnaround and Jerome Group Pension Fund.
“We intend to go for as much of the £3.6m as we possibly can,” said Paul Clark, co-administrator at Rangers.
“It’s going to be too late to save the cuts to the players salaries, but it will mean that there’s more in it for the creditors.”
Whatever portion of the £3.6m goes Rangers way it will merely be shunted into the creditors pot in order to try to exit administration as quickly as possible, but that’s another issue. What has incensed the club is that, over a period of a year, they were given repeated promises that the £9m was sitting in Whyte’s lawyers account and it appears it was not.
Solicitor firms are not supposed to give undertakings unless they are holding the cash, rather than some of the cash or a promise of the balance. Whatever sum Rangers end up with from the £3.6m, their administrators intend to subtract it from the £9m and then vigorously pursue Collyer Bristow for the balance.