I remain sceptical as to Bill Miller's motivations but one thing he has to be credited with is having formulated a plan for his bid and stuck to it. The contrast with the Blue Knights efforts could not be more stark. Their efforts have been in Glasgow playground parlance a "pure beamer". I intend to write a full blog this weekend where I will outline my thoughts on the conduct of all the parties since the beginning of administration and whether Mr Miller is truly deserving of our support. For now though I'll share my thoughts on what I perceive to be the two crucial issues raised by Miller being named the preferred bidder.
Even before administration I was strongly of the opinion Rangers Football Club would survive but Rangers Football Club plc would be sacrificed. I always envisaged a business and assets deal. The key stumbling block was football regulations (more on them later) and the fans' emotions. For any other company this solution would have bean an absolute no brainer.
I have been heartened in recent weeks by the number of supporters coming round to the view that Rangers Football Club being sold to a newco did not amount to any break in history or constitute the creation of a new club. (Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright). The administration process has been a complicated one by any standards. Fans have struggled to grasp the key issues, a situation not helped by overly simplistic and sensational reporting by the footballing hack-erati who pass themselves off as journalists in Scotland, or by the administrators' reluctance to be frank from the outset that the end game simply had to be a business and assets sale. This vacuum of explanation and understanding allowed the Blue Knights, aided and abetted by supporters groups seeking to gain a seat on the board, to promote the falsehood that a business and assets deal would in some way create a new club and and delete Rangers' history.
Bill Miller's bid appears to have quashed this notion. The full reaction will play out in due course but the initial reporting seems to overwhelmingly equate this with Rangers surviving. The business and assets (i.e. everything that constitutes the club) will be sold to Bill Miller's newco. This represents nothing more than a change in the ownership structure. It seems inconceivable to me that the administrators and/or Miller have not secured the agreement of the SPL/SFA for the club's membership to be transferred.
This sale creates a pot of cash in the oldco which remains in administration. The continued administration allows the big tax case outcome to be finalised. It also give the administrators time to continue to pursue their legal actions, notably the attempt to recover around £30 million from Whyte and his legal advisors. Ultimately any CVA will only be put to creditors when all of this has played out. This will be months and very probably years away. If agreed then creditors get their pennies in the pound return. At this point Rangers Football Club plc has no assets and no liabilities. Miller is suggesting he would then transfer the business and assets (i.e the club) back to Rangers Football Club plc.
Now why he would bother is a mystery to me. Unless there is a material change between now and then Craig Whyte would still own the plc's shares. There is also the question of whether a CVA would be possible? I have always assumed that after the business and assets deal the plc would be liquidated, the creditors having no input on the quantum of their return. It strikes me that what Miller has done is postpone this eventuality. Why should this matter? Well if Rangers Football Club (owned by Bill Miller's newco) has been playing in the league for say two years at this point then even the most rabid of the jelly and ice cream brigade would struggle to claim the liquidation of plc in any way means the end of Rangers Football Club.
2. Football punishment
There are two issues regarding punishment. The first, and most speculated on, relates to the big tax case and second contract issue. That though is not an issue for today (and I covered it before - Crime and punishment). What interests me today are the punishments, current and proposed, regarding insolvency. Mr Miller was widely derided for suggesting that there should be no further football punishments for the club. It strikes me this was premature. European rules would appear to prohibit Rangers getting a license any time soon since we cannot produce three years accounts. Scottish football regulations on the other hand would seem to be ill equiped to cope with what may play out as Mr Miller's acquisition progresses.
To date Rangers have received two punishments. Firstly the deduction of 10 points for entering administration. No argument there from me, the rules are the rules. The second punishment was essentially for the corporate and financial mismanagement which occurred under Craig Whyte. Contrary to the myth that has built up this was also per the existing rule book. I struggle with the principle Rangers can be punished for Whyte's actions when we were the main victim and I agree the timing was terrible. As before though rules are rules.
What then does the future hold? The SPL should have voted on new punishments this week. The postponement of that meeting was greeted with a predictable dose of paranoia from many Rangers fans. There are currently two key suggestions regarding new rules.
Firstly there is a desire to ensure the punishment for entering administration is increased. Any club who enters or remains in administration will lose a minimum of 15 points or, if more, a third of points won the previous season. If completed with the necessary swiftness the structure of Bill Miller's purchase would seem to render this irrelevant as Rangers, or more accurately the company which now owns Rangers Football Club, would not be in administration.
Secondly, we have a proposal to penalise a "newco" by deducting 10 points and withholding 75% of monies due from the SPL in exchange for allowing them to acquire the SPL share. The logic here was to stop clubs going through a liquidation. In Rangers case though a liquidation would not yet have occurred. In my view it probably will but that is by no means certain and is not Miller's stated aim. This therefore raises the question of how you would justify any punishment and when it should take place? The stated intention is that Rangers would only temporarily be a "newco". Can you impose a punishment for something that might ultimately be undone? Clearly not. Would you then wait, potentially years, to impose a punishment when liquidation actually takes place?
The basic principle behind the proposed rule changes is obviously to ensure fiscal responsibility and protect creditors from ending up receiving a fraction of monies due. Nobody doubts the morality behind such a principle. However, it is not the principles which matter it is the rules and in this respect Miller's acquisition proceeding equates to a very good day for our learned legal friends.
These are just my initial thoughts and I'm sure much of this will be debated and commented upon by those with more influence and knowledge than your humble blogger over the next few days (as ever feel free to disagree/point out mistakes in the comments section). My instinctive reaction though is, as our new American lord and saviour is no doubt never found to say, "this sh#t just got real".