Mark Warburton: EBT verdict won’t derail Rangers title bid

SHOULD Mark Warburton ever have been in any doubt about the unrelenting focus of media and public attention on Rangers then events of the last few days will have put them to bed.

Rangers manager Mark Warburton insists he is not fazed by the decision. Picture: SNS

The club has been a poster boy for maladministration during the 21st century but bad news has been accelerating towards them this week and Warburton insists that he and his players must shut out the white noise which is threatening to engulf the Light Blues.

On Sunday the manager had to contend with the fall-out from his team’s first league defeat of the season to closest rivals Hibernian at Easter Road.

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That was followed by the public confirmation that chairman Dave King, no stranger to the role of the accused, will be taken to court by shareholder Mike Ashley for allegedly breaching a confidentiality clause regarding the contract between the club and Ashley’s company, Sports Direct.

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Worse was to follow on Wednesday when Rangers, which do not have a credit line from a bank, published disastrous annual financial results for the year ended June 2015 and admitted that further loans will be required in order to keep the lights on for the remainder of the current campaign.

Later that morning it was announced at the Court of 
Session in Edinburgh that three senior judges had ruled that the controversial EBT scheme, employed by Sir David Murray at the former incarnation of the club between 2001 and 2009, was illegal.

There are more unpleasant diversions to come. Next week Rangers will discover whether or not they are legally bound to pay former chief executive Charles Green’s legal fees (Green, along with former owner Craig Whyte, ex-commercial director Imran Ahmad, lawyer Gary Withey and David Grier, Paul Clark and David Whitehouse of Duff & Phelps, who acted as administrators for the old club, have been indicted to appear at the High Court in Edinburgh next month in connection with the allegedly fraudulent acquisition of the business and assets of the old club by Green’s Sevco Scotland Ltd in 2012).

Those costs could rise to £500,000 and there is also the matter of the £400,000 Rangers may be forced to pay the SPFL for the improper registration of players and failure to disclose details of the illegal payments to them by the old club between 2001 and 2009, offences which occurred while King and current director Paul Murray were on the board at Ibrox.

Small wonder, then, that Warburton wishes to batten down the hatches.

“It’s important that we don’t [have an opinion on the current difficulties],” he claimed. “Our job, as a football department, is to focus on th football.

“I know that’s a standard answer but that is the way it is. We’re paid to make sure the environment here for our players is the best it can be.

“If we do that right, perform well and win games, we’ve done our job. That’s all we can focus on: that’s all we can ever focus on. I hear so many stories – but our job here is keeping the fans happy.

“How? Good performances, good results, three points and move on. We’re a third of the way through the season, the start has been outstanding and the fans have been fantastic.

“If we keep moving forward, we will have fulfilled our role.”

However, in spite of having previously been a highly-paid trader in London and the USA dealing in transactions of up to £2 billion per day, the 53-year-old claimed not to have a view on the most recent multi-million pound losses at the club.

“My previous occupation? I’m not clever enough to talk about things like that,” he said. When it was suggested he may have been hiding his light under a bushel, he replied: “No, no, the trading markets are not about that.

“My business here is football: it has to be that way. It’s very important that we don’t lose our focus, as a group of staff, as a group of players.

“We know what our tasks are. Anything else, without being disrespectful to it, it’s not our area of expertise so we would never wander into it.”

The financial problems at Ibrox may not be going away but Warburton stressed that he was “more than confident” he would be allowed to make two new signings when the transfer window reopens in January (other Championship clubs may wonder, with some justification, how that can happen) and revealed that Manchester City midfielder George Glendon has been training at Murray Park.

Glendon, 20, has yet to make an appearance for his parent club but he was on the bench for them in a Champions League tie against Bayern Munich 12 months ago.

“It is a case of us looking and seeing if it is suitable for all parties concerned,” said Warburton, whose side host bottom club Alloa tomorrow. “We have good relationships with Premier League clubs.

“The more we can develop and establish those relationships and have them see Rangers as a good option for their young assets, the better that will be.

“It is early yet: he has been with us for two days so it’s about them looking at us and us looking at them. If it is all positive then we can move it forward.”