Back in March 2011 a new blog appeared on the Internet – Rangers Tax Case
The soon to be award winning blogger wrote, in his first post:-
“My motivation to write is born out of the willful ignorance of the Scottish media on this story. While they reprint unbelievable PR fiction related to Rangers as news, Scotland’s Fourth Estate has gone to great efforts to ignore the tax story.”
That unquestioning press coverage became tagged with the phrase “Succulent Lamb”. One of the prime purveyors of such lamb was seen as James Traynor of the Daily Record.
Since those far off days in 2011, many things have changed, and in the football arena no one could have predicted where Scottish football and the Ibrox club would be now.
Reassuringly though some things never change. Remember that RTC was concerned with the Scottish media printing “unbelievable PR fiction related to Rangers as news”?
Today’s Daily Record has the following piece under Mr Traynor’s by-line. My comments are in bold.
CHARLES Green has scrapped plans to make a quick Ibrox exit and vowed to stay on until Rangers are back in the Champions League. The man who took the club from the scrapheap admitted last night that he has become so attached to Rangers that he can’t walk away.
And he could also be on another collision course with the SFA, who refused to hand over a £200,000 sell-on fee after Charlie Adam’s move from Liverpool to Stoke City. Rangers are adamant that the SFA have now cost them £500,000 in withheld payments.
The governing body, and especially the SPL, might have been hoping Green would be in and out of Scottish football quickly but he has changed his mind.
The Englishman’s job was only supposed to last six months to a year but Green insists now he’s here for the long haul.
So Mr Green’s job was only meant to last for a year at most? Good of him to confirm that!
It would be cynical to wonder if, perhaps, Mr Green has realised, or been advised, that his departure into the sunset within weeks, or a few months, of a share flotation, especially with his bonus of 10% of the total capital of the business, might seem precipitate.
In the same way that the banking crisis was caused, to some extent, by the short-termism of the bonus culture, where achieving targets this year to earn a bonus was more important than the long-term future of the banks, when the man who is by far the leader of a company then indicates he is leaving as soon as the ink on the new share certificates is dry, one could be worried that Mr Green too would be concerned only with getting the share issue off the ground. It is, I am sure, entirely coincidental, and no reflection on Mr Green, that he has left other quoted companies soon after substantial share issues.
Interestingly the presentation which was going round the City in May when Mr Green was looking for his initial investors, mentioned that he would be the CEO both of the football company and the holding company. This presentation made no mention that he was only there for the flotation. Indeed, when seeking institutional investors, it would be even more important to them what was to happen with leadership.
Mr Green, as far as I know, never gave any indication of his succession plan. Who was in line to become CEO when he stepped down, as we are now told his original plan was?
Presumably this would have been addressed in the share prospectus. Hopefully his change of heart has not come so late as to require the prospectus to be pulped and re-printed.
He said: “I don’t know when, or even how, it happened but this club has come to be something much more than a business opportunity. I look at the way the supporters and the people who work here have reacted to adversity and I believe they deserve more.
“My intention was to come in to the club, get the funding in place, make sure Rangers’ future was secured and then leave.
“That was my job but now I’m staying until I hear that Champions League anthem blaring out once again across Ibrox. That’s what the fans and the people here should be given and if that can be delivered maybe I’ll feel my job is complete.”
When did his feelings about the club change? Was it before or after he received death threats, verbal abuse and physical intimidation from his club’s supporters? Was it when he managed, as the Express headlined the story earlier this week, to put the death threats “in context”?
Or was it when he decided that he has many millions of pounds of shares to sell, and, having said he would buy any which are not purchased, he does not want to underwrite a share issue?
Was this week’s statement the first time in history a person has apologised for being in receipt of death threats which he did not deny receiving? Especially when his apology was addressed to a constituency including the very people who had threatened him!
It is interesting that Mr Green views the share issue as “securing the future” of Rangers. He clearly is confident that the funding generated by this issue would be sufficient to fund Rangers securely going forward, even though most observers have suggested that further fund-raising is needed to get Rangers to where they aspire to be.
However, having pledged to remain at Ibrox until the Champions League anthem is played there, one wonders of he has committed to a contract covering the five or more years that might take? Will he agree to a tie-in, so that, rather than taking a cash bonus of around £5 million out of the company, he takes it in shares and agrees not to sell up till the goal is achieved.
Or maybe he is hopeful that another team might need to borrow Ibrox for a Champions League game – after all, he did not say that he was staying till Rangers played in the Champions League – only that he was staying till the anthem was played (though I accept the former is implied, as is again hinted below).
Green watched Celtic come within seconds of getting a draw in Barcelona on Tuesday night in the Champions League. And he is convinced that, even though his own club are still trying to find their feet in the lowest division, they can climb all the way back up to those heights.
He said: “Playing in the Champions League is the pinnacle and with the correct structures in place there is every reason to believe Rangers can return to that arena. We have plans to move this club forward and I know we, with the fans, can make it great again. That’s the objective now so I won’t be leaving here in a hurry. I could say my initial job is all but done but there’s a bigger challenge ahead now and I’m not going until the Rangers fans hear that music blaring out inside their own stadium. That’s the night I will know we have achieved something special.”
Good for him! And presumably these plans will be outlined in detail in the Prospectus?
Green has clashed with the SFA several times since taking over at Ibrox. And he could be heading for another collision with the governing body over money which the Ibrox club insist should have been given to them.
Rangers are furious about the latest money wrangle with the SFA, who sent the £200,000 cheque from the Adam transfer to Duff and Phelps – even though the name on the order was Rangers FC.
Here we come back to one of the fundamental points where I believe the sale of the assets and business of Rangers C PLC to Sevco Scotland Ltd is vulnerable as being a “gratuitous alienation”. It is clearly Mr Green’s position that, in return for the £5.5 million his company aid for ALL of the assets, was included all money due to the former Rangers, except for the court actions involving Collyer Bristow.
Mr Adam was sold by oldco. The right to a sell-on fee would normally have stayed with the oldco. However, Mr Green clearly believes that, as well as all the players, and the fixed assets now worth £80 million, and the £2 million SPL prize money which he then reluctantly surrendered, he had also “bought” the rights to this sell on fee!
The more he demands these payments, the more evidence mounts up that the purchase of the assets was not for an “adequate consideration”.
As far as the name on the cheque being “Rangers FC” that is irrelevant. Duff & Phelps will have been able to bank the cheque, as they will have bank accounts able to do so, as administrators of the former PLC.
Let Rangers Football Club Ltd (which is newco) proceed against the SFA either in the civil courts or via arbitration. Mr Green might even win – however, if he did, then it would be a Pyrrhic victory.
As I have discussed before, if the liquidator considers there has been a “gratuitous alienation” it is for the purchaser to show that “adequate consideration” was paid – not for the liquidator to show it was not.
That’s Green’s club and he believes his Rangers have now been done out of half a million because of the SFA, who are still refusing to pass on the £300,000 paid by UEFA for use of former Ibrox players, such as Croatia’s Nikica Jelavic, in the European Championship finals.
By my reckoning, when the various cash payments due to oldco to which Mr Green has staked a claim are added together, they total in excess of £3.5 million.
This means that, in return for paying out £5.5 million Mr Green thought that he was receiving:-
- Fixed assets now worth £80 million
- Players and their registrations worth between £8 million and £20 million
- The history, goodwill and intellectual property rights of Rangers, which are clearly seen as priceless, although sold for £1
- The SPL share and SFA membership
- Over £3.5 million of cash due within the next few months
None of the players who played in the Euro finals were employed by newco. How on earth, other than by buying the rights to the money, did newco acquire these rights?
I wonder how significant it is that there are no direct quotes in this part of the piece. Is that to protect Mr Green from being summoned again for breaching SFA rules? After all, if he was publicly to say that his company had been “done out of” £500,000 by the SFA, then I suspect that would break a number of rules.
However, as there are no direct quotes, it is unlikely that the Compliance Officer will bother.
Mr Green has spoken to the press, or indeed to Mr Traynor individually. As you can see above, there are a number of matters he mentioned which appear inaccurate or at least requiring further clarification or investigation.
I have no doubt that Mr Traynor and his fellow seekers after truth would have questioned Mr Green vigorously on all these points. If so, why not report that he refused to answer?
In March 2011 RTC complained about the unquestioned regurgitation of Ibrox press releases.
In October 2012, what has changed?
Posted by Paul McConville