Another hard fought win was secured in Perth at the weekend by our rag tag first 11. The three points scarcely matter though as Rangers face a far greater fight this week as the tax tribunal resumes.
Football fans as a rule care little about off field events provided their team is winning. For Rangers fans as a whole I think that is currently just about true. Many seem ready to back Whyte on the basis he bought the club when nobody else was interested. At the time of the acquisition he paid a whole £1 and there appears to be little evidence that he has made good on his promise to inject any significant funds. For me that is scant evidence of a man who deserves our loyalty or the chance to own our club.
There is a great deal being written and discussed online regarding our finances and the potential consequences. Whilst there is certainly a good deal of gloating and wishful thinking out there we should not allow that to blind us to what is currently going on under the Whyte regime and what previously went on under Murray.
- Rangers are currently involved in a tax tribunal which if it goes against us would mean a bill for unpaid tax, interest and penalties of £49 million. If lost it is impossible to envisage an insolvency event not resulting
- Rangers are currently in court this week defending themselves against an action by former Chief Executive Martin Bain for breach of contract which if lost would mean a payment of £1.5 million. Bain has succeeded in having £0.5 million of Rangers cash ring fenced
- Rangers also have an outstanding court case for breach of contract brought by the former Finance Director Donald McIntyre for £0.3 million. McIntyre has succeeded in having £0.3 million of Rangers cash ring fenced
- Rangers are also involved in another tax case with HMRC for £2.8 million. HMRC have succeeded in having £2.8 million of cash ring fenced
- Craig Whyte failed to disclose at the time of the takeover to the Rangers support or the football authorities that he had in the past been disqualified from serving as a company director for a period of seven years (presumably researching this fact was also beyond Murray and his advisors since he always claimed he would only sell to someone who had Rangers' interests at heart)
- Rangers have failed to produce audited accounts and have missed the 31st of December deadline for lodging these with Companies House
- The accounts that have been produced seem to indicate Rangers have stopped paying NI and PAYE which is a classic sign of a company in trouble closely monitoring cash
- Rangers have failed to hold their AGM
- Rangers shares have been suspended from being traded on the PLUS stock market
- Rangers have until the 31st of March to produce audited accounts and satisfy the SFA of their financial health or fail to meet UEFA's licensing requirements which means at least one season with no European football (the implications for team and supporter morale of this are self evident)
The evidence is mounting yet there seems to be a denial about the mess we are in amongst some of our supporter base. I have not been immune to it myself. I have questioned in the past whether Whyte really was someone with the necessary experience to steer us through our financial problems. Is he someone experienced in the pre pack process? I certainly hope so but with every passing day that hope fades.
I can well remember the amusement of listening to the Celtic support wailing on the phone ins and the "sack the board" chants. What goes around comes around. Any protest from our support would be divisive and in truth I am not sure what we would be protesting. Whyte out? Clearly it is difficult to find much positive to say about him but he is not responsible for the EBTs and the tax case. We also don't have any alternative owner to back and in the timescales involved there is no possibility of a fans buy out being organised. The best hope has to be a pre pack with anyone other than Whyte owning the newco, ideally the fans. In the midst of our dark Scottish winter such a bright new tomorrow seems a long long way off.