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  1. In the most important week of the season so far on the field, it's no coincidence that off-the-field a variety of matters are also coming to a head. Be it our HMRC tax tribunal in Edinburgh resuming for the next fortnight or the takeover saga taking its daily twist, we're not spoilt for discussion. Yesterday this website revealed that today was the day with respect to the club announcing to PLUS that the takeover was complete. Unfortunately this doesn't look like coming to pass with a late 'snag' halting the deal in its tracks. According to the media the independent bid oversight committee (comprising of Alistair Johnston, Martin Bain, John McLelland, Donald McIntyre and John Greig) want to delay any takeover until the end of the season. The question on everyone's lips is why? Throughout this ownership saga doubts have been cast on Craig Whyte's ability to fund his bid - not with regard to the purchase price (that was agreed over a month ago and those funds are in place) but in respect of the provision of ongoing financial investment (i.e. the �£25million/5 year budget rumoured in the media). It appeared that over the weekend such doubts had been allayed and the deal was set to complete. Not so! Thus, what has changed then? Have Whyte's financial backers changed their mind on which horse to back? Or have the oversight committee picked up on a controversial aspect of his plans that they want examined? Moreover, how much credence can we place in renewed speculation that there may be a management buy out in the pipeline? Unfortunately, despite the conjecture we read in the media and across the forums, answers to these questions are difficult to find. After all, surely if a management buy out was viable, these directors would be in breach of their independent responsibilities to the bid panel? What other reason can be given for a delay given Whyte is apparently ready to buy immediately? Recent weeks have been most interesting in the takeover debate. As this site uncovered Lloyds Banking Group have said they will not interfere while Alastair Johnston also inferred he was happy with the Whyte presentation. Unfortunately, delayed interim financial results and two different tax cases will have contributed to further legal wrangles. Meanwhile, two separate UEFA charges could also indicate fiscal problems for any new owner. The current Rangers board will be busy people! We were told at last year's AGM that their responsibilities were always to the club and fans. To that end, it is interesting that despite all the latest gossip, they've chosen not to comment to the shareholders/support. This is even more surprising given the support are about to invest another �£20million of our money into the club for next season. Surely, it is beyond time for this committee to either approve or reject the Whyte bid? Of course even then it's not as simple as the bid then being dead. MIH still have the majority shareholding required to sell irrespective of any committee recommendation. However, it's been rumoured that Craig Whyte doesn't fancy this route due to the time-scales involved in thereafter removing what would be a 'hostile' board. On the other hand, if Whyte does say enough is enough where would that leave us then? Would other interested parties step into the breach and 'save' the club from a bank still keen on clawing back its debts? And if they did, how could we as a support trust these people given their mistakes over the last decade? Moreover, why are they waiting so long to make their move? Unfortunately, there are obviously still far more questions than answers. None of us know if Whyte has the wherewithal (financial and strategic) to run Rangers in a better fashion that we've seen of late. As such, we have no option to defer to the oversight committee to act on our behalf - despite their poor performance as directors previously. As ever the support stand confused and alone. A RFC Management buy out may well be out of self-interest or an unavoidable financial necessity but until they share with us their concerns they're guilty of making the same mistakes again by treating our worries with disdain. In our season ticket renewal letters, manager-in-waiting Ally McCoist said our huge financial commitment is 'not one we (the club) take for granted'. Unless the club sorts out the takeover shambles soon then that is not just a patronisation but an outright lie.
  2. By Andrew Smith, Tom English and Moira Gordon Ibrox annus horribilis goes from bad to worse but somehow championship title is still a live prospect SANCTIONS from UEFA over sectarian singing, a takeover that remains in the balance, bankers putting on the squeeze and scares over a tax case that could spiral Rangers into insolvency. Manager Walter Smith would be forgiven for dreading what next might assail his beloved club. "I hope there's not anything that comes next. There can't be a 'next'," says Smith. Remarkably, what could come next is Rangers snaring their third consecutive title. For, in the midst of all their batterings and buffetings, the Scottish Premier League fixture list for the post-split games means the Ibrox men must be considered slight favourites for the championship. Celtic have five away games in their final seven, one of these at Ibrox. Rangers have any number of ready-made excuses for forgivable failure. Smith has never allowed his players to seize on these. The state of the Ibrox squad might not be so parlous as is popularly promoted, considering �£4m from sales was reinvested in Nikica Jelavic only last summer. However, the fact that Rangers have continued to squeeze out victories to give them a real chance of sending Smith into his retirement next month with a 21st trophy and tenth title, in the face of deluge of negative headlines, is testament to their manager's strength of character. "If we look at recent events, the different things going on around the club, I can't say it doesn't have an effect on us," Smith states. "But we've had a circumstance for three years now where we've had to sit down with every player and tell them they're up for sale. They've been seeing the squad get gradually reduced. Maybe, they've actually become a bit immune to the things that have happened on the outside. Whatever anyone says about our team, we've handled the circumstances of our club really well from the footballing side. The players haven't allowed it to affect them too greatly. But it's now reaching a tipping point - every day now you feel as if there's something different that takes the focus away from the football. "We've avoided it so far. The UEFA charge last week was bad enough, this week it's worse. I've said to the boys it's a big test and challenge for everyone here, from myself all the way down, to keep our concentration levels purely on the football side of things." The absence of a takeover and the loss of the tax case would preclude Ally McCoist being able construct a competitive side. That would be a real tipping point of everything that's gone on. And everything that has gone on has, Smith admits, spoiled his final season at the club. "I would have liked the season to have gone smoothly. I don't mean we would have to win, just be competitive and able to concentrate on the football side. We had a fair idea it wouldn't be the case towards the end of last season; that there would be other things with the club up for sale. Now you can add this latest UEFA charge and it's a shame." ANDREW SMITH Tribunal resumes tomorrow on the '10,000lb gorilla in the room' When it comes to the Rangers tax case one certainty can be stated. The First Tier tribunal resumes tomorrow at a tax chamber in Edinburgh and is scheduled to sit for the next fortnight in private, with a decision expected within a month to six weeks. Under the microscope will be the Murray Group's Employment Benefit Trust which operated between 2001 and 2010 for some salaried employees of the Ibrox club. And depending on which tax experts you believe, the tribunal ruling could either sound the death knell for Rangers as we know the club, or clear the way for a takeover. As we also know, when discussing the club's half-year results a fortnight ago, Rangers chairman Alistair Johnston described the tax bill from HMRC - which is said to have lodged a demand for an unpaid sum of �£24m - as a "10,000lb gorilla in the room" and that "you don't know how hungry it is". The tone of such comments suggests the club will in some way require to satiate HMRC's appetite for what it sees as tax evasion.Yet, the other side of this is the fact that Rangers have appointed QC Andrew Thornhill to argue their case. He is one of three Queen's Counsel on their bench convinced they can successfully argue that the EBTs the club operated were then run in similar fashion at a number of companies. Thornhill is considered the country's leading legal figure on such matters. The Chambers guide describes Thornhill as "a superb heavy hitter against the Revenue". What can be gleaned of the case suggests he had better be. Rangers elected to make payments to players and other employees through what are called loans to EBT totalling �£33m in all. No PAYE and NI contributions are made on these, with the idea being the loans will be repaid. In practice, they never were and became benefits in kind, a loophole since closed by HMRC. At the initial hearing last October, evidence from a number of players was heard, though there was not sufficient time to get through all those called. It emerged the club had indemnified all players from paying tax on their loans, which may or may not be used against Rangers by an HMRC determined to squeeze the use of EBTs as it mounts what it sees as a major crackdown on all forms of tax avoidance. Were Rangers to lose they would be liable for interest on the underpaid tax, calculated at around �£10m. Then there could be a fine, around 75 per cent of the original sum, that would add a further �£18m to a bill that, weighing in at around �£52m, Johnston has admitted the club could not pay. Neither could David Murray, with Lloyds in no mood to extends his credit facilities that have been again stretched with Murray International Holdings' debts standing at �£713m, despite a 25 per cent debt-for-equity swap with the company's bankers. The bottom line is that if the HMRC is successful in the case against Rangers there appears no way that administration can be avoided. The situation is that stark. ANDREW SMITH It is stated that the hold-ups in the takeover saga are down to legal bureaucracy rather than anything more sinister, but the longer it goes on the more uncertain the Rangers fans will become. Whyte has proven to all parties that he has the funds to buy the club and believes that there is a will to get the deal completed. There is an acceptance in all camps that the coming week is pivotal. TOM ENGLISH http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/top-stories/The-unravelling-of-Rangers.6753156.jp?articlepage=4
  3. Darrell King Share 4 Apr 2011 Almost a year ago, this newspaper broke the story that Rangers were under investigation from HMRC over the use of Employment Benefit Trusts for over a decade. In the same article, we said that Lloyds Bank only had one plan for the club ââ?¬â?? cuts, cuts and more cuts. This would leave a team made up of players on low wages, with the squad supplemented by kids from Murray Park. Star names would go and, on top of that, the stadium was being neglected. We said that administration was a possibility, and that a sale would be unlikely unless someone agreed to offer a warranty on the potential tax bill that could, if found a case was there to answer, amount to tens of millions of pounds. The reaction? We were accused of scaremongering; in fact, some reckoned there were agendas at work to devalue the club just as they were going through an attempted take-over bid from Andrew Ellis. The day after we ran the story ââ?¬â?? which came about after weeks of investigation, including talking to players who at that stage had received letters from HMRC saying they would be part of a future probe, and talking to sources inside the boardroom ââ?¬â?? Sir David Murray responded. It was April 30 last year and, unless Iââ?¬â?¢ve missed it, that was probably the last time he went on record to talk about anything to do with the club. ââ?¬Å?This amounts to scare- mongering. Rangers are not in any danger because of their financial position,ââ?¬Â said Sir David. ââ?¬Å?People can think what they want of me, but one thing I would never do is put the club in danger. ââ?¬Å?If anyone wants to buy, let them make their play. They do due diligence and see where they are ââ?¬â?? but there is nothing to hide. ââ?¬Å?Iââ?¬â?¢ve had the club up for sale for two years. I am not going to be hard to deal with. It is a straightforward process.ââ?¬Â Subsequently, as we also predicted, Ellisââ?¬â?¢s bid fell. The ââ?¬Ë?for saleââ?¬â?¢ sign came down, well publicly anyway. And Rangers drifted on. Behind the scenes, Lloyds tightened their grip, squeezed more and the squad was asset-stripped further and further. Only Walter Smith ââ?¬â?? and his guidance of the team to two successive championships ââ?¬â??saved them from oblivion. Anyone who doubts that, just pause for a minute. Read the words of Alastair Johnston on Friday and imagine life at Rangers Ã?£30million poorer from what the Champions League has earned the club in the past two years. In fact, every Rangers fan should read what Johnston said over and over. Last Friday was the day when someone finally told it as it is. The day the chairman said enough was enough. Sure, he maybe got carried away, the nod of his head to a query on whether the club could go bust sparking all sorts of doomsday headlines and a subsequent retraction to the Stock Exchange. But Johnston showed guts and, in doing so, endorsed what this paper said a year ago. I wonder how the Lloyds Bank PR person felt on Friday when Johnston revealed that Donald Muir was the bankââ?¬â?¢s man, and that the only reason Rangersââ?¬â?¢ credit facility was rubber-stamped was because he was on the board. Or the fact that Lloyds refused to speak to Martin Bain ââ?¬â?? the man paid to run the club ââ?¬â?? for the first six months after they moved in back in October 2009, preferring to do all their business through Muir, who was acting on their behalf. This is the same Lloyds PR man who challenged us at every turn, asking us to remove any mention in articles that Muir was ââ?¬Ë?Lloyds Bankââ?¬â?¢s manââ?¬â?¢ and insisting that he was actually there are at the behest of the Murray Group. What Johnston did was brave, honourable and truthful at the same time. He laid it bare for Rangers fans who looked at our headlines a year ago and said ââ?¬Å?No way, not us. We are Rangers. Taxman? Administration? Not a chance.ââ?¬Â Well, the truth is out there now. Johnston is a fan first, chairman second. He knows itââ?¬â?¢s quite outrageous to ask the clubââ?¬â?¢s supporters (as is about to happen) to collectively shell out in the region of Ã?£15m in season ticket money when they donââ?¬â?¢t actually know what they will be watching next term. He also put pressure on all those involved in the current situation ââ?¬â?? Craig Whyte, Murray and the bank. Itââ?¬â?¢s time to do a deal, or move aside. His message, essentially, is this: If the status quo is to remain, let us know so we all know what we are getting into ââ?¬â?? especially Ally McCoist. Murray spoke of a straight-forward process, yet Ellis couldnââ?¬â?¢t see it through after months of hanging around. Whyte has been on the scene for five months, and we are now told it will be this week when a decision is finally made. His camp say he is getting little help, especially over issues like the Ã?£2.8m tax bill that popped up last week at the 11th hour. Murray wants Ã?£6m for his shares, when it could be argued that they are worthless in light of the possible tax liability that could sink them out of sight. The bank want their full Ã?£24m when they are selling off bad debts all over the place at 60p in the pound. They are looking after themselves, fair enough, but at least be straight. Donââ?¬â?¢t kid people on you are supportive when you are looking after your own interests. And what of Whyte? We know nothing really of this man, except that he appears to have patience, money to back him up, and that he has impressed Johnston and the board. If he walks, for whatever reason, he should tell the Rangers support why. If he does a deal then, even with tax problems still hanging around their neck, the club has a chance. But the time has come for him to show his hand. Buying Rangers is, after all, said to be a straightforward process. http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/sport/editor-s-picks/the-truth-is-out-there-1.1094453
  4. By Roddy Forsyth 11:00PM BST 01 Apr 2011 It soon became clear, though, that settling accounts was more on the Ibrox chairmanââ?¬â?¢s mind when he sat down in one of the stadiumââ?¬â?¢s plush lounges to offer a candid appraisal of the clubââ?¬â?¢s situation and the progress of the takeover bid being mounted by the London-based Scottish venture capitalist, Craig Whyte. By the time he had finished, he had delivered blistering criticisms of Lloyds Banking Group and Donald Muir ââ?¬â?? one of the bankââ?¬â?¢s placemen on the Rangers board. Johnston also confirmed that, if Whyteââ?¬â?¢s takeover is not concluded by close of business on Monday, Rangers are likely to go into administration if they lose their battle with HMRC over offshore payments to players. The clue that this was not going to be a soporific drone through questions of disposable assets and amortisations lay in the text of Rangersââ?¬â?¢ interim accounts to Dec 31, 2010, released earlier in the morning. They were pretty much in line with last yearââ?¬â?¢s equivalent figures, although turnover was down by Ã?£4.1 million to Ã?£33.7 million, with the same reduction in retained profit. The downturn was accounted for by home games postponed because of severe winter weather and by a five per cent reduction in season ticket sales, ascribed to the economic climate. However, amidst a note on the extension of credit facilities it was remarked that, ââ?¬Å?while we appreciate the support of the Lloyds Banking Group ... certain provisions imposed on the club continue to compromise, in our opinion, managementââ?¬â?¢s ability to conduct its role with maximum efficiency.ââ?¬Â There was meat in that and, as soon as Johnston sat down with a small group of correspondents, it was served up in ample portion and more or less raw. Asked how Lloyds had ââ?¬Ë?compromisedââ?¬â?¢ Rangers, Johnston said: ââ?¬Å?The bank look on us as a short-term project to the extent that at every opportunity theyââ?¬â?¢re not willing to concede that there isnââ?¬â?¢t an occasion or a transaction where they might want to participate. ââ?¬Å?If we sell players, do we have any certainty that we will get all the money, 90 per cent of it, 80 per cent of it, whatever? It makes it tough for our management to understand and to plan for selling players when we donââ?¬â?¢t know how much of the money weââ?¬â?¢re getting to keep. ââ?¬Å?The management team is reluctant to sell players because they donââ?¬â?¢t know if theyââ?¬â?¢ll get enough money to replace them. So when I say they compromise us, I mean they compromise our ability to plan three-year cycles. ââ?¬Å?They [Lloyds] have been fairly assiduous at saying, ââ?¬Ë?While we are willing to look at this on a case-by-case basis, weââ?¬â?¢re never going to give you carte blanche to think itââ?¬â?¢s all your money ââ?¬â?? if you get into the Champions League weââ?¬â?¢ll want part of itââ?¬â?¢. Therefore our management team is wary of doing certain things that in the long run might come back and haunt them.ââ?¬Â But wasnââ?¬â?¢t the purpose of having Muir on the Ibrox board to ease communications between the directors and the bank? ââ?¬Å?Letââ?¬â?¢s be very clear on the situation with Donald Muir ââ?¬â?? itââ?¬â?¢s a condition of our credit facility agreement that Donald Muir is the representative of the bank on the board. "Itââ?¬â?¢s very tough to engage in conversations at board level about strategies with the bank when we know that the bank guy is sitting there,ââ?¬Â said Johnston who, when asked why it had been denied previously that Muir was Lloydââ?¬â?¢s man, had a sharp retort. ââ?¬Å?I think it was Donald that denied that. Itââ?¬â?¢s been denied by a lot of people, but Iââ?¬â?¢m telling you what the issue is right now. I decided that I might as well,ââ?¬Â said Johnston. ââ?¬Å?What happened when I got here was that the banker that was involved with us refused to talk to our chief executive or to our chief financial officer. It was one of the most stupid aberrations that Iââ?¬â?¢ve ever come across and I said that to the bank. "He had never met our chief financial officer. He had never met Martin Bain [Rangersââ?¬â?¢ chief executive], so all the communications had to go through Donald Muir and Mike McGill, the other director, although essentially it was more through Donald than it was Mike. ââ?¬Å?So a lot of stuff got lost in translation.ââ?¬Â Would it be better for Rangers, therefore, if Muir ââ?¬â?? who is understood to have left the Murray Group on Thursday ââ?¬â?? also departed the club? ââ?¬Å?No question that his presence compromises things,ââ?¬Â said Johnston, although he added: ââ?¬Å?Iââ?¬â?¢ve always got on well with Donald Muir but I deal within the context of who he is.ââ?¬Â Johnston revealed that there were two HMRC issues, the latest ââ?¬â?? and much the smaller ââ?¬â?? being a claim by the tax authority for Ã?£2.8 million. ââ?¬Å?It relates to more than two or three players, but it relates to an issue 10 or 11 years ago ââ?¬â?? I donââ?¬â?¢t know the context of doing it,ââ?¬Â said the chairman. "As the Americans say, this one came right out of left-field. It really, really is frustrating. No one knew about it a couple of months ago ââ?¬â?? and let me put on record that if we did know about it we would have had to put it in our annual report and take liability for it in the accounts. ââ?¬Å?I donââ?¬â?¢t think it is a deal breaker. It wasnââ?¬â?¢t in any plan, it wasnââ?¬â?¢t in our budgets or anything that we have been trying to do. We have a very disciplined approach and I didnââ?¬â?¢t like that appearing over the horizon suddenly.ââ?¬Â As for the Whyte bid, it is understood that Murray had set a deadline of March 31 for completion but that other delays ââ?¬â?? including slow delivery of the bankââ?¬â?¢s authorisation for the bid to go through ââ?¬â?? required an extension. Still, it is surely a case of deal or no deal by Monday? ââ?¬Å?Exactly ââ?¬â?? that is the scenario that I am expecting,ââ?¬Â Johnston said. ââ?¬Å?I have to share with you the fact that amongst my fellow board members we have different views ââ?¬â?? but the board are reflective of my view which is, if we can get this thing right it will be good. ââ?¬Å?The club is the commodity ââ?¬â?? we donââ?¬â?¢t have a seat at the deal. We have to shove ourselves into the room. Our mission has been to represent Rangers Football Club and hundreds of thousands of supporters. We have no legal right to request it ââ?¬â?? but we have a moral right to request it.ââ?¬Â And if the deal fails and the HMRC judgment goes against Rangers in a few weeks? ââ?¬Å?Thereââ?¬â?¢s a 10,000lb gorilla in the room and you donââ?¬â?¢t know what its appetite is,ââ?¬Â Johnston replied. ââ?¬Å?Even accessing all the resources we have access to, we couldnââ?¬â?¢t pay the bill.ââ?¬Â From which the only conclusion is that, if there is no Whyte knight and if faced with an adverse judgment in the main HMRC case ââ?¬â?? which could amount to as much as a Ã?£30 million liability ââ?¬â?? Rangers would go bust after 139 years of existence. Johnstonââ?¬â?¢s silent nod of assent when asked that question was even more eloquent than any of the scalding words he had just uttered.
  5. http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/sport/editor-s-picks/craig-whyte-bid-far-from-done-deal-but-it-s-getting-close-to-crunch-time-1.1093800 Unsigned, unsealed and undelivered. Sources close to the takeover talks at Rangers have issued a warning that Craig Whyteââ?¬â?¢s bid for Rangers is far from done and dusted. SportTimes understands Whyteââ?¬â?¢s legal team have still to see the paperwork over the proposed deal regarding debt repayment with Lloyds Banking Group. And there are several issues still to be resolved with Sir David Murray, owner of Rangers. The bid made a huge leap forward yesterday when Lloyds reached agreement with Whyte over repayment of the clubââ?¬â?¢s debt. It is believed chairman Alastair Johnston was en-route from his base in Ohio to brief the Ibrox board, be available for meetings with Whyte, and to try and push a deal through so some sort of stability can be found as the team heads into the run-in of the SPL season with a championship to fight for. A banking source said today: ââ?¬Å?It is done and dusted with us and we are happy. It is up to Mr Whyte and Sir David Murray to do the deal now, and they could have issues to resolve.ââ?¬Â The hitch to an agreement with Lloyds was the existence of what the Whyte team believed was an ââ?¬Å?exitââ?¬Â fee or early repayment cost. The bank, though, insisted Rangers hedged their repayments by tying them to the Libor rate, which is the rate that banks lend money to each other. This rate has slumped since the agreement was brokered, leaving the club with a shortfall believed to be just more than Ã?£1m. The Whyte camp have now made the deal, but still have to receive the paperwork from the bank. The settlement is understood to clear the vast majority of the debt to the bank. Rangersââ?¬â?¢ debt stood at Ã?£27.1m in June and is expected to be slashed to around Ã?£21m when the clubââ?¬â?¢s interim results are announced, possibly today or tomorrow. Informed sources said Whyte would clear as much as Ã?£17m of that debt, with a Ã?£4m debt loan retained on new terms. This would reduce the price of the overall deal. The Whyte takeover had been priced at Ã?£33m. Under it, he would buy 75% of Murrayââ?¬â?¢s shareholding, with Andrew Ellis, a property developer, taking a 25% stake. However, with the slashing of the debt, the overall purchase price could come down as low as Ã?£27m. A minor wrangle over the Albion car park site has also been resolved, but SportTimes under-stands there are still ââ?¬Å?issuesââ?¬Â in the talks with Murray. One source near the talks said: ââ?¬Å?The debt settlement is a major advance but there are still other matters to be resolved.ââ?¬Â Whyte is determined to bring the deal to a close after working on it for four months and spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on due diligence and lawyersââ?¬â?¢ fees. These unspecified ââ?¬Å?issuesââ?¬Â with Murray are over and above Rangersââ?¬â?¢ dispute with the tax authorities. It is still unclear how this will be resolved. The case between HMRC and Rangers looks likely to be heard next month, with a judgment unlikely before July or August. The dispute concerns an Employee Benefits Trust that began at Rangers in 2001. The annual reports show that a total of Ã?£47m was contributed by the club to this fund to recompense players. If found liable, Rangers could face a heavy bill amounting to Ã?£30m-plus. The club, however, is defending the case robustly. But sources today insisted there were other matters that Whyte and Murray had to settle before a change in ownership took place.
  6. http://leggoland2.blogspot.com/2011/03/a1-at-lloyds-but.html
  7. The following article has been doing the rounds for a few days, and as usual it's full of lies and incorrect and misleading information. Just because Murray has transferred his shares to an off-shore trust company does not mean that he is not the beneficial owner. Most of his Murray Sports shares have been owned by IFG Nominees CI Ltd for a number of years, and I have never given it a second thought. That's the same company that owns the shares in MIH, and not the one mentioned in the article. Just because "Declan" is a director of the company does not mean he owns the club and it is nonense to suggest it. I'm a director of a number of companies, one of which is based in the Republic of Ireland, and it doesn't mean that I own any proportion of any of them. If the club did go into administration Murray's wealth would be unharmed. Rangers are a limited company. Limited means that there is limited (or no) liability on the shareholders. Murray will have placed his shares in an off-shore trust because it benefits him personally from a tax point of view. Standard stuff when you are at his level. Now for the biggest lie. Uberior owns Cumulative Redeemable Preference Shares. This entitles them to divdends only. No mention of the word "Convertible". There is no right to convert them to Ordinary shares. Murray's ownership cannot be diluted to 7%. It's not worth wasting any more time in the article, but there's nothing in it that is of any note, other than to highlight their continued capacity for being liars.
  8. The latest from Traynor with a nice little dig at the end: http://blogs.dailyrecord.co.uk/jimtraynor/2011/03/are-lloyds-trying-to-sell-rang.html
  9. http://leggoland2.blogspot.com/2011/03/lloyds-on-run.html
  10. The Rangers Supporters Trust have called on Lloyds Bank to make clear their plans as Craig Whyte's takeover bid hangs in the balance. The �£33million deal will see the Scottish tycoon take over 75% of Sir David Murray's shareholding, with London-based property developer Andrew Ellis becoming a 25% partner. However, it is understood the bank's desire for an 'exit payment' of more than �£1m is just one of the key stumbling blocks and patience is fast running out. Whyte has targeted Thursday for the deal to be concluded by which time Rangers supporters are expected to be told the club's debt has been slashed to around �£21m from the �£27.1m figure announced in June. RST chairman Stephen Smith said, in these fraught circumstances, the Light Blues fans deserve to be informed of Lloyds' position. "Lloyds Bank can be a convenient whipping boy," Smith said. "It is very easy to paint them as the bad guy in this situation and there are some who may feel excuses are being put in place for the deal not happening. "However, our main concern is with the way that the bank is treating Rangers "We are living in extraordinary financial circumstances where Lloyds Bank have been kept afloat by the taxpayer. "Yet it appears they are refusing to accept a deal which will give them all their money back. "It just doesn't make sense. "If anything, it appears that the bank is trying to devalue the club. "So we would like Lloyds to tell us about their strategy. "We are not talking about breaching commercial confidences, or asking them to come out with figures and percentages. "We want to know their plans for the club and for them to confirm that they are operating normal commercial arrangements with a company the size of Rangers with the turnover of �£50m plus. "They should be able to do that but we have asked on a number of occasions and have been met with a wall of silence. "But as Rangers fans and taxpayers, we are surely entitled to know what's going on. "Anything else is not acceptable in the 21st century." Smith admits the rank and file of the Rangers support have grown tired of the takeover saga. "People are weary with it all," he said. "It has been dragging on for around nine months. "There have been various deadlines which come and gone, the first being in December when there was talk of Walter Smith getting money for the January transfer window, with another being in February. "But meanwhile, it seems the bank's restriction have been detrimental to our abilities on the pitch. "We have had to go with five loan players in our squad, while fighting in all three domestic competitions and in Europe. "Now we are down to one competition, the title race, and that might come down to fine margins. "And if Rangers lose out then Rangers fans will not forgive the bank." No one from Lloyds was available for comment. http://www.teamtalk.com/rangers/6839240/Supporters-chief-wants-answers
  11. THE reason for the delay in Rangers publishing their half-yearly figures is ,there are those on the Ibrox board who quite simply do not trust Lloyds. However, I believe that recent top level talks with the new men at the top of Lloyds will see Rangers release the figures this week. It surprises me that not much has been made of what has been going on at Lloyds' top table in the last month. For the fact is that since the last update on the power struggle on the Ibrox board, and my revelations about why the half yearly accounts had not been published, there have been massive changes at Lloyds. It now remains to be seen whether those changes will undermine the position of Donald Muir and Mike McGill, the two Ibrox directors who are seen as Lloyds men. Somehow, and for no reason I can fathom, the huge upheaval at Lloyds has not made its way onto the sports pages of the nation's newspapers. Though what's being going on at Lloyds has appeared on the business and financicial pages of such reputable media outlets as the Daily Telegraph and the Scotsman. Let's kick off right at the top of the tree. The man who was in charge of Lloyds as chief executive, Eric Daniels, is no more. And a good thing too, many may believe. Closer to home for Rangers, the executive director of Lloyds, who had special responsibilities for the bank's business in Scotland, Archibald Gerard Kane, is also no more. An even better thing those on the Ibrox board with the good of Rangers in their hearts, Martin Bain, Alastair Johnston John McClelland, Paul Murray and Dave King, may well believe. The new Lloyds chief executive is the Portuguese born Antonio Horto-Osorio, who took over three weeks ago, and who is believed to be a hands-on supremo. Certainly it did not take him long to express what many interpreted as his dis-satisfaction with the performance of Lanarkshire born man-of-mystery Kane. One of the new chief executive's acts was to show Kane the door and replace him with Philip Grant. My research into Grant seems to show he was previously with the Royal Bank of Scotland, but the probe is ongoing. More of Lloyds new man Grant at a later date. For the moment, it is better to examine just what has been going on between Rangers and Lloyds during this period of turmoil at the bank. You may recall that last month I revealed the four page document which contains Rangers half yearly figures, plus a statement from chief executive, Bain, was pulped after Muir and McGill were reported to have objected to what Bain had written. There followed a round of briefings by Donald Muir to a small cherrypicked group of reporters, which surprisingly exiled the Daily Record. WHY? Rangers were believed to be furious that the outcome of these clandestine meetings was a series of stories which claimed Lloyds had saved Rangers. There was even some talk that what Muir had done may have breached the strict confidentiality laws governing the relationship between a bank and its customer. While this was all going on, Bain met with the bank again to try and thrash out a new business plan. When he reported back to the Rangers board, McClelland, Murray and Johnston were unhappy with what the bank proposed. That led to a further delay This happened against the backdrop of Horto-Osorio was getting his feet under the Lloyds boardroom table. Now, with the arrival of the new executive director at Loyds with special responsibilites for their business in Scotland, Philip Grant, Rangers have a new man to negotiate with. The latest delay to the publication of the half yearly accounts is a direct result of those talks, with Rangers hoping they get more sense out of the new man than they did from Archibald Gerard Kane. Or from the man who was responsibe for business banking at Lloyds when they took over Rangers banking arrangements, the now departed founder board member of the Celtic Trust, Manus Joseph, J Fullerton. Rangers can point to the fact Lloys inherited a debt of �£31M, largely due to the club's absence from Europe in the year before, which had fallen to �£23M by the time the annual audited accounts were published in the summer of 2010. It is believed that debt to Lloyds will now be around �£20M....or even less. Which will show the new men at Lloyds the ability Rangers have to reduce their debt, provided they are allowed to conduct their business in a way geared to bring that business success. As the business of Rangers Football Club is football, success financially is relative to the success on the park of the team. Therefore, playing in Europe - even in the Europe League - increases the club's income. In turn making Rangers more able to continue to reduce its debt to Lloyds. That is neither brain surgery nor rocket science. The amazing thing is that Eric Daniels, Archibald Gerard Kane or Manus Joseph J Fullerton seemed to realise that. Or if they did, the gave every appearance of wanting to ignore the fact. For whatever reason. Now, perhaps trust will finally be established between Lloyds Bank and Rangers Football Club. http://leggoland2.blogspot.com/
  12. As season ticket renewal time approaches next month, it has been interesting to note a sudden surge of information surrounding the running of the club. Whether it be Rangers Supporters Assembly statements inferring problems between the Rangers board and Lloyds Banking Group or Craig Whyte appearing from the smoke to sit beside wealthy Glasgow businessmen at Ibrox; the momentum is picking up on a variety of issues. Now, I'd consider myself a reasonably average Rangers fan. I have one of the cheaper season tickets at around �£420; I'm lucky enough to have a decent job/income; I'm married with two young children and I have a group of friends I enjoy going to Ibrox with 'Every Other Saturday'. I'd also consider myself fairly interested in the 'political' side of the club; like to sing songs when I attend games and obviously use the internet to pass on my words of wisdom. To that end, I'm more than aware that while the club is downsizing off the park - thus perhaps also downsizing our ambitions with it - my small annual investment is as important as ever to Rangers. A large (but serviceable) debt and tax 'queries' remain worrying obstacles to our continued success while the lack of interest of our previously less than publicity shy owner means ambition and plain old solid long term planning are difficult to find amongst the realism pleas from the board members who do engage with the support now and again. Indeed, it's that club-supporter relationship which is all-important going into the coming months and years. Despite year-on-year downsizing and minimal dialogue (or defence), Rangers fans haven't been slow to support the club - both emotionally and financially during these testing times. In fact, it was only in 2009 that key club figures spoke about our unwavering fiscal commitment and how vital it was to the club's viability. Ergo, while season ticket numbers have understandably dropped since then due to a worldwide recession, those words remain significant. With an absent owner struggling with his own empire problems (but still rich enough to buy vineyards, build Corstorphine mansions and develop Edinburgh green belts), a board of directors more interested in fighting each other than raising funds (or investing their own) and a bank who appear to change their debt demands as often as Diouf changes his car/hair colour; once again it will be down to the average fan to invest over the coming months. As it stands, �£20million (around 40,000 season ticket holders renewing at an average of around �£500) is the only cash that will be invested into Rangers this summer. Potential owner promises aside (I thought we were told not to accept money from strangers), no-one else will be putting in such a sum year on year. Obviously, for most of us, that investment won't be a financial one per se but merely our own small emotional gift to a club that means everything to us. However, that doesn't mean it is automatically given away to whatever bank (or majority shareholder) that needs to pay it's next multi-million pound bonus to. Therefore, while the Assembly's inferences are interesting and while hope persists about Craig Whyte's intentions, I can't be the only Rangers fan getting fed up of having to read between the lines. After all ticket renewals/attendances have been down the last two years and that's with a winning team. What will happen to those numbers if we don't win the league this season? For most of us supporting Rangers isn't a straightforward, logical choice but we all have ends to meet and will have to draw the line somewhere. It's with that thought in mind that the frustration starts to grate: 1. Are the bank financially supportive or are they not? 2. Is our budget to be increased or decreased? 3. Is this dependent on next year's European football income? 4. How does the HMRC tax 'query' fit into our budget? 5. If Craig Whyte is the real deal, why not partially reveal how he intends to take us forward? 6. New owner or not, where does the club see itself in 1, 3, 5 and 10 years time? I don't think the above questions are unreasonable or that difficult to answer. After all, myself and thousands other bears are about to blindly pay in advance for a service we just don't know the quality of. To be clear, most people don't want to withhold season ticket money (that would arguably just make things worse) but neither do we want to hand it over to see it swallowed up by people who contributed to our problems in the first place. It's with that thought in mind that I urge the club to revisit their comments of 2009 and ensure that our worries and opinions are addressed before they sanction the mailing of renewal forms. After all, most Rangers fans I speak with are realistic. Yes, we're ambitious (and often unreasonable with that) but we also acknowledge the challenges of the club and want to help face them. For that reason, I urge more transparency from the board and compel them to involve the supporters more than ever before. �£20million may not be a huge amount of money nowadays but it surely entitles those that pay it the same support and trust we continue to give the club and its custodians.
  13. http://leggoland2.blogspot.com/2011/02/rangers-set-for-war-with-lloyds.html
  14. Our current situation - It's time to face the inevitable then rebuild for the future. When you drill down to it, The Rangers support, to a man, has known at the back of its collective mind that the situation we are in is dire. Many of us will be in agreement that weââ?¬â?¢ve been urinating into the proverbial wind for 3 years yet miraculously, we have managed to avoid getting wet. Sooner or later, the stranglehold that being owned by Sir David Murray has placed us under was always going to come close to killing us. I say Sir David Murray rather than Lloyds bank specifically, as our current situation has been clouded by the usual sea of half-truths, speculation and contradictions that weââ?¬â?¢ve now come to expect from the Ayrshire millionaire. I wonââ?¬â?¢t sit here and try to claim the moral high-ground by claiming recent results against the filth havenââ?¬â?¢t had any impact on what Iââ?¬â?¢m about to write: They have, and Iââ?¬â?¢ll get to that later. However, let me start from the very beginning of this, probably the most sorry episode in the never-ending series that is ââ?¬Å?The David Murray Showââ?¬Â.. It all started in January 2009. Rampant speculation built up suggesting that our top goal scorer was subject to a bid from Alex McLeishââ?¬â?¢s Birmingham. The source was originally an article from The Scottish Sun that was brief and lacking in quotes ââ?¬â?? normally the tell-tale signs of a non-story. Unfortunately, it didnââ?¬â?¢t quite work out like that, the bid from Brum was legit ââ?¬â?? and the then-chairman was about to inform us of news that would utterly stun us. After coming off of our most commercially lucrative season ever...Iââ?¬â?¢ll write that again for extra emphasis ââ?¬â?? After coming off of our most commercially lucrative season EVER ââ?¬â?? The chairman was about to confirm that despite all of this, in no small part down to a historic European run the year before ââ?¬â?? our finances were once again down the toilet... Murray told the Guardian at the time... "If we did not take this action [selling Boyd], it could have been bad but there are far worse situations developing around us and I will not allow it to spiral again. Rangers have to be run on a sound fiscal basis." In typical Murray style, however, he was soon to contradict himself completely after the transfer window closed when he said.. "The Boyd situation is simple. We received an offer that we believed, collectively, Walter Smith, manager and Martin Bain, chief executive represented good business. "The player then went to Birmingham and refused terms. That is where it stands. But Rangers will go on whether the player goes or not. In that sense, it is immaterial whether he stays or goes." I donââ?¬â?¢t know about you, but I see two statements that glaringly contradict one another. That wasnââ?¬â?¢t the end of it, however, a leading football agent told national commercial radio station TalkSport the same month, that literally ââ?¬Ë?every Rangers player was for saleââ?¬â?¢, with the likely culprit Wullie McKay later declaring that Rangers CEO Martin Bain had instructed him to sell a raft of high earning first team stars, citing McKayââ?¬â?¢s ability to ââ?¬Å?get the job doneââ?¬Â as the reason behind him being allocated this particular mission. Murray issued a ââ?¬Ë?denialââ?¬â?¢ in The Sunday People soon after which actually confirmed McKayââ?¬â?¢s claim in a roundabout way. So we were back up the financial creek without a paddle. Despite a debt that was dwindling, a tremendous run to a European Final, solid season/match day ticket sales and several impressive fees recouped for players that we sold that culminated in what was officially the most commercially lucrative season in the history of Rangers Football Club ââ?¬â?? Our debt somehow increased and we needed to make drastic cuts It was truly one of the most shocking revelations in our recent history, and it left us wondering where our money was actually going. In the summer of the sale year, Rangers managed to cut the wage bill by well over Ã?£200,000 per week (Over Ã?£10m a year) by moving on a raft of first team squad members. To the credit of Walter Smith and the board, the club maintained most of our key players but we were left well-short of numbers in the squad, a huge potential problem that thankfully was not exploited by faltering then-Celtic manager Tony Mowbrayââ?¬â?¢s inability to field a team capable of challenging for the SPL title. To make matters worse ââ?¬â?? our solitary signing that season, Jerome Rothen, had his loan spell at the club cut-short after an ineffective first half to the season. Despite the support rationally assuming that we would be able to bring in a player or two using Rothenââ?¬â?¢s estimated Ã?£18,000 per week wage, an assumption further justified by the departure of another high-earner in Pedro Mendes to Sporting Lisbon, the Rangers support were again left scratching their heads as there were no incoming transfers to the Champions in the January window of the 2009/2010 SPL season. ââ?¬Å?Mystifiedââ?¬Â just didnââ?¬â?¢t do justice to the general feeling of the Rangers support then, or indeed now. After we won the SPL title for the second consecutive season in 2010, it appeared that following some pleading words from Walter Smith himself, those big bad bankers who had been subject to a tongue-lashing or six from him over the previous months decided to relent and kindly let Rangers buy players ââ?¬â?? with money raised from selling yet more players from our already thread-bare squad. We were all left pleased with the quality of players we brought in but once again, the number of players who moved on last summer was more than the number that came in, and with our continued reluctance to promote youth in decent numbers...or use youth in Cup competition domestically given our hectic schedule, we were again left to face a season at home and abroad with a woefully small squad. For just over two years, Rangers have been fire-fighting and, as I said above, urinating into the wind without getting wet. Nobody should be surprised that this is happening, it was only a matter of time. The reality is that on-field failure and the ââ?¬Ë?huge problemsââ?¬â?¢ I speak of are hopefully going to be the precursor to change at Ibrox. Walter Smith and Martin Bain have done an outstanding job of keeping the club together during these turbulent times ââ?¬â?? that should never be forgotten and both men, Walter in particular, should be commended for this. His contribution since coming has only furthered his status as a legend despite the split opinion of his on-field approach. Something from the previous two years that I sadly canââ?¬â?¢t spare the Rangers management team and board from, however, is the constant stream of contradictory information and statements that has come from them. One minute ââ?¬Å?everyone is for saleââ?¬Â, the next ââ?¬Å?we donââ?¬â?¢t have to sell anyoneââ?¬Â. On other occasions weââ?¬â?¢ve told the world ââ?¬Å?the bank runs the clubââ?¬Â only to play it down days later. Our current chairman, who appears to have vanished without a trace, has justified our constant flip-flopping on the issue by saying our relationship with Lloyds bank is ââ?¬Ë?a fluid situationââ?¬â?¢ i.e. our status with the bank changes all the time as per their business needs. Sadly, that statement has never quite cut it for me, and the only thing fluid about this whole thing is in the way weââ?¬â?¢ve had the piss taken out of us by those who run the club. Fiscally, theyââ?¬â?¢ve done a remarkable job with a fair-share of luck involved. Keeping Davis, Bougherra, McGregor and others when weââ?¬â?¢re so up against it financially is something to be proud of. I personally decided that Rangers would not get another penny from me after that cup game. I donââ?¬â?¢t need to state the obvious about the difficulties many of us have paying for tickets when we have families to keep in this climate, the teamââ?¬â?¢s approach in this one-off must win fixture, along with yesterday and the other league game in January really symbolised the problems we have. Our first team appear to be a spent force ââ?¬â?? lacking in interest and focus because they have zero competition for a first team place. Our manager, like him or not, just doesnââ?¬â?¢t do squad rotation or youth promotion unless his hand is forced. So we now face a situation where our first team at the moment isnââ?¬â?¢t good enough and we canââ?¬â?¢t and wonââ?¬â?¢t change it. But we still pay our money and I think despite the small decrease in numbers, the club have taken our blind loyalty a little too for granted by anyoneââ?¬â?¢s standards. Weââ?¬â?¢ve all wanted a change of approach, change of ethos and a complete shift from the short-term, ââ?¬Å?boom and bustââ?¬Â mentality that has saw us teetering on the financial brink twice in less than ten years. Sadly, due to the furthering financial problems in recent years we have regressed even from that. We do not have the talent on or off the pitch to run Rangers effectively anymore. As a support, we have been very kind to the board and management team ââ?¬â?? weââ?¬â?¢ve taken everything said to us at face value. But the time has come for proper communication with the man who truly holds all the cards, Sir David Murray. Questions about the ongoing HMRC tax investigation, links between Murrayââ?¬â?¢s companies and the aggressive attitude of Lloyds bank to Rangers over what is a perfectly manageable debt from a club who have implemented some shrewd fiscal measures in recent years have not been met with satisfactory answers. Rangers quite like it when we pay our money, sit down and shut up. We canââ?¬â?¢t do it anymore ââ?¬â?? we just canââ?¬â?¢t. Answers to many, many questions are required, and only the man who has disappeared into the night can answer them properly, he still holds all of the cards. One wonders if the warning that Sir David Murray claimed he was trying to send us by selling Boyd in January of 2009 is the real reason behind the financial handcuffs that have been placed on us, with anonymous, invisible bankers quite happy to take the blame and be the ââ?¬Ë?faceââ?¬â?¢ behind the cuts as it gives them just cause to get their money back quicker. There arenââ?¬â?¢t too many other arms of Murrayââ?¬â?¢s empire that can raise seven figure sums by selling off assets relatively quickly. Our club bemoan financial pressure from the bank on one hand yet announce excellent half-year profits on the other, they blame the bank for the restrictions yet charge us through the nose for games weââ?¬â?¢ve actively tried not to win, they demand we pay for our season ticket in advance over a short timescale at inflated prices while warning us that we canââ?¬â?¢t spend money and are open to offers for our star players despite the relative success weââ?¬â?¢ve had recently in maintaining them. On field failure is the excuse the money men need to make further cuts ââ?¬â?? and itââ?¬â?¢s the excuse many of our support will need to get off their backside and demand change at Ibrox ââ?¬â?? along with clarification on what our real problems are. Enough is enough, our expectations have been managed very well by the club ââ?¬â?? weââ?¬â?¢re quite tolerant of the hardships we face now...because weââ?¬â?¢ve so splintered and blindly loyal that we refuse to speak up en masse. So long as the season ticket cash keeps rolling in, change will be delayed that little bit longer. We need to stop propping up a system that is not sustainable in the medium to long term, a regime of noble-yet-helpless individuals fighting the tide of faceless penny-pinchers...who for all we know may include our current owner, and face being flattened by the big truck weââ?¬â?¢ve been waiting to knock us down for two years. As I have no doubt that with the unrest this could all cause, we will emerge from the wreckage a much stronger force, able to plan effectively for the future. This is and always has been about more than one title or season ââ?¬â?? itââ?¬â?¢s about getting our club back. Sorry if this is negative, but I donââ?¬â?¢t care how we get that ââ?¬â?? the sooner we face the inevitable, the better as far as Iââ?¬â?¢m concerned.
  15. CRAIG WHYTE'S �£33million takeover of Rangers is this morning on the brink of completion - and it does NOT hinge on the outcome of the Ibrox tax case. Sunsport can reveal that the HMRC probe into Gers' finances will not affect the plans of the multi-millionaire venture capitalist and his deal partner Andrew Ellis. Ibrox insiders remain confident they will emerge from the investigation into offshore payments to stars without a penalty to pay. This week behind-the-scenes talks have taken Gers fan Whyte close to completing the complex deal that'll end Sir David Murray's 23-year reign. Next week Gers' financial figures are expected to show that the club's debt level has fallen to below the �£25m mark. Now the Whyte deal WILL be completed before the end of the season and it will mean this: # The sale of the club will go through with Whyte aided by Ellis paying around �£33m for Murray's 92 per cent share. # Rangers will be guaranteed a total of �£25m worth of investment in the playing budget over the next five years - in effect �£5m per season before any money brought in by Euro success and other avenues. # Ally McCoist, Kenny McDowall and Ian Durrant being given the chance to take control of the first team when Smith bids an emotional farewell in May. Gers have come through some of the very darkest financial days of their history and survived after Murray appointed turn-around specialist Donald Muir and Mike McGill to the board. It's understood Muir and McGill - one of steel tycoon Murray's most trusted voices within his own empire - helped win a crucial vote to stave off a board bid to take the club's debt to �£50m. With that manoeuvre quashed, Lloyds were then persuaded to keep the club's annual player wage bill at the �£16m level and not engage in a policy of slashing it to �£10m-a-year that would have in effect have handed domestic domination to Celtic. Now it is hoped that Rangers will emerge from the mire as a club that operates within its means. The reality is Gers will still sell the club's best players to England. Lifelong Gers fan Muir, brought in by Murray to help rescue his entire empire, has been painted as the enemy within by sections of the support. Now the ship is steadied and the Whyte deal is imminent. Read more: http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/sport/spl/3421235/Whyte-on-brink-of-takeover.html#ixzz1EMAjxNWD
  16. If we're to believe some parts of the media today, MIH and Lloyds Bank have freed Rangers from any liability in the event HMRC imposed tax penalties as a result of current investigations. If true, and it seems to be, there really should now be no obstacle to a genuinely interested buyer and a genuinely intent seller. The only question should be whether we have either of these in play at the moment. If we do, surely a deal should be announced within weeks and npt delayed to bolster season ticket sales.
  17. I saw this on article on Yahoo but believe it was originally posted on Eurosport.com ...... not sure who penned it and won't claim there's much new but thought I'd share it anyway. Edit - seems it was written by one Desmond Kane (oh dear?) Rangers Pay the Price for Murray's Self-indulgence A fool and his money are soon parted. To leaders suffering from hubris, such a proverb can prove to be gruesomely true. As a spectacle, the game of football continues to contain an innate ability to reduce sober-suited, profitable businessmen to regretful rags. Sir Alan Sugar continues to be depicted as a wise old sage on television programmes such as The Apprentice, but the barrow boy from London's East End who discovered a a beach of gold after founding the Electronics firm Amstrad in the 1960s, never managed to use his gumption in avoiding the unique pitfalls of football. The world game remains a forum where can you can squander millions of your personal fortune for the love of one club, and continue to be booed by its supporters when you return. There have never been any laws of logic governing the fundamentals of football. Sugar conveyed the message that he viewed his period as the controller of Tottenham Hotspur in the 1990s as a waste of his time. "Football is about the only business in the world where it's embarrassing to make money," said Sugar. Football is not the only business in the world where it is embarrassing to lose your bread, but it can prove to be the most painful. The dearth of funds affecting Glasgow Rangers, champions of Scotland over the past two seasons, would be embarrassing if it was not so serious. As chairman of a club in the English Premier League, Sugar made money on his controlling interest in Spurs when he sold up a decade ago. He received Ã?£22 million for two thirds of a stake that he paid Ã?£8m for in 1991. Sir David Murray, the owner of Rangers in the Scottish Premier League, put up around Ã?£6m for the Glasgow club three years earlier, but looks likely to be left with nothing more than a series of gilded and galling memories when he finally departs a scene he has been trying to escape with some urgency for several years. He will be left bereft of vast financial rewards for investing his emotional capital in Rangers. In trying to apply the Midas touch to the game of football, Murray has been left badly scalded. There is a growing sense that the worst is yet to come for Rangers as the club is forced to face up to its fiscal responsibilities. Debt has gripped Rangers since the former Dutch coach, Dick Advocaat, was given carte blanche to blow over Ã?£80m on players over a decade ago in an attempt to furnish the Ibrox trophy room with the European Cup, a vision commensurate with such an extravagant commitment to excess. Pride comes before a fall. Common sense, if not finance, was in short supply when Rangers began spending money they evidently did not have. The Glasgow side are again jousting with their eternal foes Celtic as they pursue a third successive Scottish Premier League gong this season in a championship that has not been won been by another club side since Sir Alex Ferguson ran Aberdeen in 1984. They do so against severe financial hardship. Having failed to find a buyer for Rangers over the past few years, Murray has been conspicuous by his absence in failing to inform the fans of what is going on. These are the same diehards who lavished praise upon the proprietor for helping them match Celtic's record of nine successive domestic titles in 1997. It must be said, the supporters of Rangers deserve better than they are getting from a figure who once liked to project himself as a figure of dignity in a rabid Scottish football scene prone to moments of madness. Murray bought Rangers in 1988 before leading them to the fore of British, if not quite European football. To a neutral, Murray is a man to be admired, a brave figure who recovered from losing his legs in a horrific car crash in the 1970s. He is one of the country's leading businessmen, a so-called pillar of society and owner of one of the country's largest sporting institutions, but money never made a man. Before the advent of Sky Television and the English Premier League as we know it in 1992, Rangers were arguably the biggest and wealthiest football club in the United Kingdom. Funded by Murray, Rangers reversed the trend of talent departing Scotland for more lucrative shores. Mark Hateley, Brian Laudrup, Paul Gascoigne and Giovanni van Bronckhorst are a selection of the names to have washed up at Ibrox during Murray's stewardship, but all this has come at a price. It is a price they now seem unwilling, or unable, to pay. The owner's treatment of Rangers since around 1998 has proved classless bordering on reckless. The sums involved are truly astonishing, and not just in unloading Ã?£12m to purchase the much-maligned Norwegian striker Tore Andre Flo from Chelsea a decade ago. Net debt at Rangers reached Ã?£82m in the early part of the previous decade, but they have not yet got their house in order. Murray remains owner in name only with the club's bankers Lloyds TSB taking an active interest since the recession bit deep into his company Murray International Holdings three years ago. To cut a longish story shorter, Rangers are inextricably linked to Murray's other assets. They have taken a hit, and Rangers have been dragged along for the ride. It is unclear where the final destination for the club will be in all of this. Run in the interests of Lloyds, who are attempting to claw back debts of Ã?£27m, it is interest on an unpaid tax bill that leaves Rangers sporting a jaundiced look. Prospective buyers Andrew Ellis and Craig Whyte have appeared to be Walter Mitty characters in failing to purchase the club, but it seems the figures do not add up for them. If they are toying with the idea on whether investing in football makes sense, they need only study the man they are buying the club off to understand the pitfalls of such a foolhardy venture. Money spent without care on Scottish football tends to be money lost. It must be assumed that the real reason why Rangers have not yet found a buyer to purchase the club is that no prospective owner wants to be left with an estimated tax bill of Ã?£24m and interest of Ã?£12m, a figure touted by several commentators on the subject, once a hearing into the case is played out in May. If you read some of the literature swirling around this mismanagement, added penalties for failure to pay tax to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) over wages paid into offshore accounts to the club's employees in the past decade could apparently see the tax bill rise to over Ã?£50m by the end of next year. This is before the bank debt is totted up. There remains a possibility that Rangers could be forced into administration when this reaches a crescendo. Rangers look unsellable unless some rich Sheikh in the Middle East decides he suddenly has a penchant for golf or the Scottish Highlands. There has even been talk about Glasgow City council coming in to to take over the running of Ibrox Stadium and leasing it back to Rangers. It is little wonder that Lloyds Bank are refusing to release sizeable funds for new faces if the tax man is about to take back what is his. None of this is good news for the general health of Scottish football. Rangers opted to sell top goalscorer Kenny Miller, a man who had discovered 22 goals in the SPL this season, to Turkish champions Bursaspor for Ã?£400,000 at the outset of the January transfer window rather than watch him walk away for free during the summer months. This was a decision taken by the bank. If Rangers were in rude health, Miller would have signed a long-term contract last year. He walked away because the club is financially paralysed, unable to meet his demands. They were apparently outbid this week by Celtic for the attacking Derby midfielder Kris Commons, who was offered a modest Ã?£20,000 per week compared to the maximum of Ã?£15,000 Rangers could unearth. Who would have countenanced such a possibility when Murray vowed to put down a tenner for every fiver Celtic spent a few years ago? Rangers now toil to stick down a ha'penny without the permission of the bank. Of course, apart from the loss of face, these are trivial moments compared to the wider issues. It is ironic that for a club which wraps itself in the Union Jack and God Save the Queen, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs could help Rangers plunge into a period of deeper despair. Murray must shoulder the blame. He used to court interest from a fawning Scottish press in the 1990s when money was no object. A few newspapers in the country were furnished with a bottle of Scotch from the Rangers owner back in the day, but he is nowhere to be seen when the going gets tough. The constantly impressive Walter Smith has helped Murray by luxuriating in trinkets since he returned to manage Rangers in 2007 a decade after he oversaw nine-in-a-row, winning with the spine of a team purchased three years ago. An appearance in a UEFA Cup final and two SPL titles in three seasons suggest Smith is more an alchemist than a football manager, but he has been left exhausted by his inability to strengthen his squad. It would not surprise this onlooker to see Smith manage in the English Premier League or Championship next season if he so wishes. At least Sir Alan Sugar got out of the cursed business with millions for his shares in an English Premier League concern. Not so Murray. His silence on the subject speaks volumes. "There is a massive moonbeam of success coming to us. We've got big plans," said Murray at the time he bestowed the job of manager upon Paul Le Guen in 2007. Such sentiments now sound like the utterances of a fantasist. Rather than Sugar, perhaps history will remember Murray as a man who was more similar to Leeds United under Peter Ridsdale, a custodian of a club who believed his own press, a figure who spent money without preparing for an economic downturn that was just around the corner. 
As has been said in other quarters, such treatment of a great club like Rangers amounts to a form of financial vandalism. The fans will thank Murray for fuelling their rise to nine-in-a-row, but they are also discovering that the road to ruin lies in living outwith your means. Time may yet be a great healer for Rangers, but in poring over the effect of the Murray years at Ibrox, it has also been a great revealer. His empire appears to have been built on shifting sands.
  18. Thought I would take the chance to have a quick over view of where we are and how we may move forward . Firstly what we know or believe we know . 1. We are in debt to the sum of approx �£25 million give or take , we have an agreement to reduce a term loan by �£1million per year and also it is muted reduce our need of an overdraft by a simillar amount depending on who you believe . 2. We have an ongoing issue with HMRC which has yet to even reach the stage of a first tier meeting and as yet no figure/amount has been demanded , in fact as we speak we still dont even know if we have any outstanding amounts to settle . 3.The squad , which was thread bare to start is 3 less than it was , though I would argue we are actually stronger than we were this time yeaterday . Miller will definetly be missed , Velicka nope , Webster nope .Beattie nope and Loy and MacMillan were only taking wages , now we have Healy , Diouf and Bartley , all may be onloan but all will be involved . 4. Taking away from the personalities and everything else , we are also up financially after this window , Healy took a cut in wages to play for us at �£4000 pw , Blackburn were offering to pay for Diouf to go (wages that is ) so I dont see him costing the earth , dont know about Bartley . So all in all we may be up as much as �£40,000 per week up on the deal plus Miller,s transfer fee and the small amount for Loy. 5. Does this actually do us any good in the long run , if we keep challenging , and as it stands ,if we win our games in hand we are top , why would Lloyds or Murray for that matter want to sell us , the debt is getting reduced , we are being successful and the asking price will not be changing , so Murray and Lloyds win we carry on in a groundhog day sort of way . 6. Our ambitions will never be met by the present board at Rangers , because they will never be allowed to spend the money we are bringing in , we are like George Orwell's 1984 , where we are forever fighting a war against unknown , unseen and never heard from enemies , whether it's Murray , Lloyd's or HMRC the battle is always there and our ambitions and hopes are always tempered . In a way its a bit like waking up every morning and being force fed a Valium . So what's the answer ,f**k knows but this is Rangers from 2001 .......every day is groundhog day and this bear is getting worn down by it all .
  19. Cast your mind back ten years to season 2000/2001. Ronald de Boer signed from Barcelona; Tore Andre Flo signed for a transfer fee that will never be matched in Scotland; and a squad containing names such as Amoruso, van Bronckhorst and Klos - we could even afford to let Andrei Kanchelskis go on loan to the EPL and Man City for half a season. This was the start of a new decade under the continuing custodianship of David Murray - where he summed up his personality and ambition at the time with one simple quote from 2000 - "For every five pounds Celtic spend, we will spend ten". Most Rangers fans everywhere were enjoying the regular spectacle of Murray lording it in the media. Indeed the word 'moonbeam' didn't exist in those days. Speaking to Michael Grant in the Sunday Herald in late 2001, the loss of the league in 2000/01, coupled with rising debt hadn't affected the gallus 50 year old David Murray. In fact, he was as confident as ever in his club's future and given the success he'd help bring in during the 1990s, he had every right to be. Surely one season without the title wouldn't affect our operations ten years later? After all, Murray spoke candidly of 'being guilty of looking for short-term fixes', 'not wanting to sell the club', and that while he felt a major football club would go out of business it 'wouldn't be Rangers'. Juxtapose such warranties with comments about tying players down on long term contracts and ring-fencing the club against future losses, most of us bought into the security offered by an owner who had helped bring back success to the club along with the vision of Holmes and Souness. Unfortunately, less than a year later, we found out we were �£50+million in debt, Murray had stepped down as chairman and Alex McLeish was to preside over a 'short' period of 'downsizing'. "Not to worry," said new chair John McLelland at the 2002 AGM, "we won't lose sleep over it." With tax 'queries' originating from that period's wage-book casting their shadow over the club, to the ongoing saga over its ownership and declining ticket sales; one wonders if McLelland is sleeping well nowadays. Of course, while it is easy to pick through old newspaper interviews and make anyone look bad, our present situation is something to worry about given the assurances given back then. Players are no longer 'locked away' on long term contracts, we are the ones bringing players IN on loan (from Aberdeen!) and it is Celtic spending the kind of money that was pocket change for us ten years back. The ever-loyal Rangers fan-base still has no long term vision to buy into. Indeed, in 2001 Murray specifically alluded to the wider problems of a declining Scottish product and the Old Firm dominance being problematic for its future. Prophetic words but our club are as guilty as anyone in being over-reliant on TV money and selfishness. Why did we not heed our own warnings? Furthermore, from Sir David Murray to John McLelland to Martin Bain; the same people are in charge of guiding the club through these same deep financial waters. Or at least, they appear in charge - with allegations of bank interference (the Lloyds Banking Group have an increasing stake in Murray's company, thus an increasing stake in Rangers' operations) still rife in the media and amongst the support. The supporters - expected to part with their season ticket money again in a couple of months - have no idea of what's true and what isn't with mixed messages the only certainty in Rangers' dealings with us. Whether it be current chairman Alistair Johnston or even Walter Smith, we just don't know who is being straight with us. Therefore, at some point, we have to ask ourselves who is in such a position to know the truth, to deliver genuine answers and to lead from the front. Well, only one man still owns Rangers and only one man has the power to make the decisions that truly affect our club's well-being. Yet he is missing in action, absent without leave and by failing to lead he only lends weight to the criticism he vigorously defends. I'll conclude with another quote from that interview in 2001: Again, it is easy to find fault with comments that were only truly relevant when they were said. But is it clear from Murray's own words that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sir David Murray will be 60 later this year. Will that represent an epiphany for a return to the front-line of a owner who once excited us all? Or will it be the final nail in the stewardship coffin of a once successful businessman whose interest in Rangers died as soon as it threatened the well-being of his personal wealth. Where is our owner and what is the future of our club?
  20. Thinking about the news that offers are being received for Allan McGregor, I'm not really surprised that he will be sold. Wealthy clubs have always accumulated the best players and we should expect our best to be targeted by these clubs. After all, we've done it ourselves for over a hundred years. I do find it dispiriting that he might be sold for as little as �£5m which neither seems to reflect contemporary value nor the importance of the player to the club. Such underselling inevitably diminishes the club even further. But we have a ready replacement in Alexander, who will not let us down, and apart from the price this isn't the end of the world on its own. What I do find utterly depressing however is the lack of any apparent end to this decline. At the time when I first discovered Gersnet some years back I was convinced the club would diminish considerably from where it was then but I also expected a time would come when it would be sold and a new beginning would be reached, perhaps not quite on the scale of the 1986 rebirth but at least a fresh start. Now I fear we might yet look back and see these times as something to aspire to. If the tax investigation ends badly, we might easily sink without trace. I just hope we finally have it in us to wake up and never again put our unquestioning faith in an owner as we did with Murray. Not only did we close our collective eyes to what was going on at the club but we actively encouraged Murray to indulge himself with the thing we held so dear. "Rape us harder Dave, it must be good for us". How fucking stupid do we look now? And given the lack of any voice being raised against Murray even now, how stupid are we yet prepared to become. From the laughable posturing these last few months by the RST and other accumulations of plastic, it seems the pit of our stupidity might indeed be bottomless. Quite prepared to hoot about Lloyds and holler about Donald Muir, our 'reps' show their finely honed affectations at every turn but do you hear a single meaningful proposal directed at the root of the problem? Do you fuck. Do you see one attempt to harness the fans in protest? Do you see one glimmer of hope that the support has finally decided enough is enough? Do you fuck. It appears our capacity for self-deception and weakness is perhaps limitless after all. Instead of looking for the cause of our decline only in others, maybe we could usefully spend some time on more introspective reflection. just a thought.
  21. The following is from BBC Sport website .... looks to me like a clear pre-cursor to the deal falling through ..... but I suppose we continue to live in forlorn hope ..... By Alasdair Lamont Craig Whyte remains hopeful of concluding his proposed takeover of Rangers before the end of January. Whyte has been in negotiations with the current owner Sir David Murray since the middle of November. He had hoped to complete a �£33m deal before Christmas, but due diligence has taken longer than Whyte expected. Meanwhile, the Rangers Supporters' Trust chief has warned that fans could boycott Lloyds Bank if they continue to deny Rangers funds for squad building. Whyte considers the matter to be largely in Murray's hands at this stage, with Whyte's lawyers and accountants awaiting responses to a number of queries from the current owner. He expects that following a period of relative inactivity over the festive period, which he found frustrating, the pace of negotiations will now pick up. However, if Whyte can conclude a deal soon, he hopes to be able to help Rangers manager Walter Smith strengthen his squad. On Thursday, Smith bemoaned the current financial constraints at the club, stating that he would be unable to bring in new players unless he sold first. Stephen Smith, chairman of the Rangers Supporters' Trust, reiterated their stance regarding Lloyds Bank's involvement with the club. "The sooner Lloyds are disentangled from the running of Rangers Football Club the better," he told BBC Scotland. "I'm as worried now as I was last year when the manager felt strongly enough to publicly criticise the bank's role. "We've had a successful Champions League campaign, we're guaranteed at least two more European games, yet there has still been no change in attitude from Lloyds. "We're challenging for four competitions and that's why the size of the squad is a concern. "If the manager's saying we need help, why are Lloyds behaving in such a vindictive way towards Rangers? "If that begins to materially affect Rangers on the park, we will certainly look to take action to try to change that. "Getting the Rangers family involved in a boycott of Lloyds bank can't be ruled out." As of September 2010 Rangers' debt stood at �£27m. While Smith was allowed to conduct some transfer business in the summer - including the purchase of Nikica Jelavic for �£4m - his hands have been largely tied on that front for the past three seasons. The Scottish champions trail league leaders Celtic by four points, although they have two games in hand. However, as things stand, Smith will have to challenge in all domestic competitions, as well as in the Europa League, with the same small squad of players. Meanwhile, across Glasgow, rivals Celtic appear likely to bring in more players during the January transfer window. Champions League participation over the last two seasons has helped Rangers go some way to alleviating their financial problems. But failure to win the Scottish Premier League again this term, and thereby miss out on the lucrative Champions League, would reverse that trend and make things even more restrictive for whoever succeeds Smith as Rangers manager next season
  22. First of all, a Happy New Year to all Gersnet's subscribers; after a few weeks R&R; it's good to be back online and reading the varied opinions across the community! And it's with that initial greeting that we can immediately ask ourselves if indeed 2011 will be a prosperous time for our club. As ever the answer isn't easily found. Of course we started the year rather badly. After an icy December of cancelled game after cancelled game, it was no surprise to see our lack of sharpness affect our performance against Celtic. Added to the inconsistency we've seen throughout this season (despite being top) I wasn't expecting a great display on the 2nd, though I was disappointed with the familiar motivational problems rearing their head again. However, as ever, the reaction afterwards was overly negative and, as Monday's night's win over Kilmarnock showed, rumours of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. We may be four points behind our rivals but we're more than capable of winning our games in hand and retaining top spot - with or without Kenny Miller. On the subject of Scotland's most prolific striker, fans are again worried about his probable sale and, given the mixed messages coming from the club regarding Lloyds Banking Group's involvement, I certainly share in their concern. After all �£20million of European income should surely enable our manager to strengthen his squad in January in order to help facilitate the same CL revenue next season? Do we really need to sell in order to buy? A quick (and empirical) look at our finances tells us we're have around �£27million of debt after reducing this from the �£32million in 2008/2009's figures. Moreover, last year we used around �£9million of our European income to pay off any remaining transfer fees owed to other clubs. This means, instead of reducing our debt by only �£4-5million as in the 2009/2010 figures; we can hope to at least double that when we report in 2011. Therefore, with a decent Europa Cup run, we could easily find our debt almost halved by the start of next season. Now, that's great news in anyone's book but it doesn't automatically mean we'll have huge transfer 'war-chests' this month or even in the summer and beyond. The simple truth is that unless the club is bought over we'll remain reliant on MIH/LBG for ongoing finance. Thus, it is exactly because the CL income from the last two seasons has been so essential that the bank will be so reluctant to loosen the purse strings given our CL involvement is less than guaranteed (as Champions or not) next season. Their view will be that for their �£22million long term loan to be repaid in full, they will have to ensure the club remains on an even keel - without or without the European gravy. As such, while they may not be taking the �£20million from this season in one lump sum; they may 'suggest' to MIH that this money is used to reduce the long term debt in part once more while the rest is kept back for a 'rainy day' in seasons we don't qualify for the CL Group Stages. After all, without these monies we struggle to break even and unlike other clubs we don't appear to have the financial philanthropy of a mega-rich owner to guarantee our fiscal viability. I appreciate none of this is the kind of news that makes us smile. In this long, cold winter (someone please close that transfer window quick) positivity is hard to find so we may just have to content ourselves with realism. Unfortunately, that realism tells us that the days of huge transfer budgets every summer are gone. Indeed, the only huge fees we'll see nowadays is when we hope to move on our better players in order to supplement our operating expenses enough to keep the club competitive. Furthermore, even if we do manage to attract a new owner; I wouldn't expect a whole load of difference from this model. Craig Whyte (or rather certain journalists) have suggested an annual budget of �£5million each season if he takes over which, although conservative at first glance, is actually quite high (and possibly impossible) without major European dividends. We did spend around �£5million on transfers this season so is it any wonder we'll struggle to spend more as it stands? Again, I understand this is quite depressing when you juxtapose your Giovanni van Bronkhorsts with your Richard Fosters. Ten years is a long time in football and we are not just in a new climate but a new era. Monday's Ibrox Scottish Cup crowd shows just how difficult it will be to keep fans interested in a declining product with increasing prices. In a recession, the choice of �£30+ on a night out at the football or paying for your fuel to get to work for the week is a tough one. Unfortunately, these difficult choices extend to the club (and their bank) as well. All in all, I think as a support we need to examine the future carefully as we head into a new year. Sure, we want our club to be ambitious and our investment should entitle us to improved clarity from Rangers when it comes to finance going forward. But if we want to be taken seriously as partners, then we have to be realistic in what we expect. The unpalatable truth is that the 1990s have long gone and we're closer to bust than boom. To that end, prudence continues to be our buzzword so such vigilance requires patience and wisdom if we want our club to remain successful on all fronts. Like every bear, I look forward to meeting our challenges head on and urge everyone involved with the club to work with us in that regard. Here's to #54!
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