“HMRC has taken the view that the public interest will be better served with the liquidation of The Rangers Football Club plc”
These are the words from a statement by Paul Clark of Duff and Phelps, one of the administrators of Rangers FC PLC (in administration) that spelled the end for the Ibrox club. The widely expected news that the tax authorities would vote against Charles Green’s plan to exit administration through a CVA proposal meant there was nowhere left to go.
Liquidators from accountancy firm BDO will now be appointed to wind up the company after selling off its assets, with a brief of collecting as much money for the many creditors of the club as possible.
Now I was going to try to write a simple factual piece on what to many of us has, for a long time, been the inevitable end to the Rangers story. But I just can’t do it. I have to say it just once:
I told you this would happen!
Way back on 3rd January 2012 in a blog about the year ahead I wrote,” Ally McCoist could go down in history as not only an unsuccessful Rangers manager, but also as the last Rangers manager.”
And on 2nd February 2012, just before the club went into administration. I said, “Rangers Football Club is a dead man walking, just waiting to be put out of its misery.”
So please allow me a moment of gloating now that the death knell has finally sounded. Now that liquidation has been shown to be a reality and not a fantasy. Now that I and other crazy Celtic fans have been shown to be absolutely on the money.
Thank you. So let’s move on. But before looking to the next steps, there is one more part of Paul Clark’s statement that should be considered.
“HMRC consider that the decision will enable a liquidator to instigate a wider investigation into all of the financial affairs and management of the club in recent years and to bring to task those they believe are responsible for its collapse.”
So we now know that not only is Rangers finished but that there will be a full investigation into the gross mismanagement over many years that got it into the state it is right now. And if I was a former Director or senior official of the club I would be very worried right now. I would be expecting some tough questions to be coming my way sometime soon.
In fact, I would not rule out this investigation resulting in criminal proceedings for at least some of those previously involved in running Rangers.
But back to footballing matters.
As expected, a new company is waiting in the wings ready to start a new football club. It currently goes by the name of Sevco 5088. But that will change.
Charles Green believes that this company will now purchase the assets of Rangers FC PLC as the liquidation process unfolds. His new club will then own Ibrox Stadium and (the likely to be renamed) Murray Park. It will apply to the Scottish Premier League to take over Rangers’ SPL place. It all sounds simple.
But there may be a few legal flies in Mr Green’s ointment. The liquidators BDO will probably decide that they can get a better deal for creditors through an open sale of assets than the £5.5M that Green has agreed with Duff and Phelps. The Blue Knights might come back into the picture with an attempt to establish a new club. Craig Whyte may still believe that his charge over the assets should come into play. Director Dave King believes he has some claim too. And Ticketus might also have a part to play.
I believe that a lot of lawyers will make an awful lot of money before this mess is finally resolved.
And there is a great deal more still to unfold in this story. The biggest problem that Mr Green, or indeed anyone else who wants to run a new club, faces is time. It has so much to sort out before it could play football: all of the legal issues, all of the various investigations into contracts and EBTs which will inform a vote on SPL admission, the funding issues, finding new players and all other matter would have to be sorted out quickly.
But one thing is very clear. Rangers FC will cease to exist.
As the BBC put it: “The Rangers Football Club PLC is a public limited company registered in Scotland (company number: SC004276) and was incorporated on 27 May 1899. When the current company is officially liquidated, all of its corporate business history will come to an end.”
Any new club formed will be exactly that: a new entity that will start from scratch with no history and no pedigree. Whether that new club could manage to secure a place in one of Scotland’s football leagues remains to be seen.
But that’s a subject for another day.