Green beats Smith in bid for Rangers
GLASGOW, Scotland ● Former manager Walter Smith announced a last-ditch plan to buy Rangers and “save the club” on Thursday just as it was confirmed a consortium led by English businessman Charles Green had purchased the cash-strapped Glasgow giants.
“I can today confirm that following talks over the last few weeks I am leading a new bid for Rangers Football Club,” Smith said.
“I have been assisted by Jim McColl, Douglas Park and other prominent Scottish businessmen with a shared objective — that Rangers Football Club should be in the hands of Rangers people who will stabilise the club and protect it from future situations like we find ourselves in today.
“We would call on Mr Green to step aside and allow us to proceed with our deal… None of our group has any desire to own Rangers Football Club but we have put this deal in place to save the club,” the former Scotland boss added.
But Green, in a statement on the club’s website Thursday, showed no sign of leaving Ibrox.
“Following the formal decision of the creditors’ meeting at Ibrox Stadium today (Thursday), the consortium I represent has fulfilled its agreement with the administrators and has completed the acquisition of the business and assets of The Rangers Football Club plc,” he said.
“The transfer of the business and assets to a new company structure has taken effect immediately and the new company is The Rangers Football Club.
“An application has already been made by the company to register with the Scottish Football Association and to participate in the Scottish Premier League.
“Rangers will rise again and that journey began in earnest at Ibrox today.”
Meanwhile Green insisted he wanted manager Ally McCoist, a former Rangers and Scotland striker and previously Smith’s assistant at Ibrox, to stay in the post.
“Our consortium wants Ally McCoist to remain as manager and we firmly believe he is the man to take Rangers forward.
“He embodies everything that is great about the club and without question we want him to continue as the Rangers manager.
“I fully understand that other people have courted Ally who do not wish to see my consortium succeed however, I believe time for decision and rancour is over now that the club has been sold and everyone with the interests of Rangers at heart should unite.”
Green’s consortium hoped to persuade creditors to agree to a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) — where creditors are offered a percentage of total monies owed — thereby allowing Rangers to exit administration.
However, the decision of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) — which are owed more than £21 million ($32.6m) — meant that Green had to go down the ‘newco’ route and Scottish football chiefs could yet demote Rangers, unable to compete in Europe next season because of their financial problems, several divisions as a result.
“This day is bitter-sweet for the consortium I represent,” said Green.
“From our first involvement we made it clear we would have preferred to acquire this great club through a CVA.
“The decision by HMRC to vote against the proposal was, in my view, counter-productive and did nothing but visit the sins of the past on the owners of the future and indeed the supporters who care so much for Rangers and deserve better,” he added.
HMRC’s court action forced then reigning Scottish champions Rangers into administration on February 14 after the club failed to pay millions of pounds in taxes due following the takeover by Craig Whyte in May last year.
They were subsequently docked 10 points for entering administration, a move which helped arch-rivals Celtic win this season’s SPL title.
Rangers could also face an additional tax bill of up to £75 million over their use of Employee Benefit Trust payments to players and staff between 2001 and 2010, when Sir David Murray owned the club.