The big news – nay, the ONLY news if you’re an internet savvy Sellik fan – over the past week has been related to the finances, or lack of finances at our blue tinted neighbours from Govan. It appears that things are not rosy in the Ibrox boardroom, and that the sweet swallows of an Indian summer following the takeover of Craig Whyte may well turn out to be the swooping of the circling vultures.
This week, Rangers were taken to court over an unpaid legal bill of approx. £35,000 – they lost. The case was instigated by Levy & McRae, a top legal firm, under the premise that they were worried about Rangers ability to stay solvent. Rangers claim it’s an exaggeration, yet their own former chief executive, Martin Bain, has made the same doubts public in his court case for unfair dismissal.
If you’ve been following the ins and outs of the tax case(s) currently haunting The Gers, you’ll have a rough idea that they are in dispute over not one, but TWO issues. One is commonly called ‘The Wee Case’ and if the reports are accurate, is in the region of £2-3million being levied against Rangers by HMRC. This has seen a seven figure sum ‘ring fenced’ in Rangers bank accounts by HMRC, something originally denied by the Rangers board, but now public knowledge.
This is bad enough, but there is a second case, relating to something called an Employee Benefit Trust that Rangers operated for several years. This case is apparently all but a slam dunk – it’s just the penalties being quibbled over right now. Added up, this is in the region of £50-60 MILLION.
Add to this a guaranteed bank debt of somewhere in the region of £18million and you suddenly understand why Sir David Murray was keen to sell his control for just £1.
Yet, with all these money worries, Rangers rejected a confirmed bid of £6.5million for Nikica Jelavic, from Leicester City – and even claimed (admittedly with no proof, or corroboration) that they had turned down a bid of £9million for the same player, just before the transfer window closed for the year!
If you’re one of the seeming multitude of companies or institutions owed money by Rangers, wouldn’t you feel a little bit aggrieved at them refusing this income, which affects their ability to pay off their debts? This seems to be at the heart of the recent revelations and details regarding the full extent of their cash flow problems.
As a Celtic fan, I have mixed emotions. I do find it amusing that there is money troubles at Ibrox, given the infamous “if Celtic spend a fiver, we’ll spend a tenner” speech in the not so distant past. I like the idea of Rangers not having money to buy in the Jelavic’s and Davis’s of this world… I really do. I’ll crack the obvious Warchest jokes with the best of the online Celtic community and chuckle along with the other jokes I read.
Look further into this though… the whole situation is frightening for Scottish football as a whole. Like it or not, part of the attraction for outside investors, advertisers and television companies IS the Old Firm. Would Sky pay as much (figuratively speaking) for TV rights if there wasn’t 4 Old Firm games a season guaranteed?
How many lower league teams stave off the wolves at the door, thanks to drawing one half of the Old Firm in one of the cups? If you think the Scottish coefficient in Europe is bad just now, it would plummet without Rangers. Hearts ‘performance’ against Spurs prety much shows the level of things.
Much as many Celtic fans would howl with laughter at Rangers going bust, I must admit – I fear the game in Scotland would be a bogey without them. For the sake of football in Scotland, let’s hope things aren’t as bad as they appear to be, and that Rangers aren’t just in denial and hoping for a miracle.