The Secretive Mr. Whyte


Only a handful of days after he completed his purchase of MIH’s 85% stake in Rangers FC for a pound, Craig Whyte has already signalled that it is business as usual.  Those who might have hoped for an era of glasnost and some transparency in communicating with supporters about the running of their club, will be disappointed.  Craig Whyte is already showing himself to be more Putin than Gorbachev.  Hand-picked journalists attending Saturday evening’s inaugural press conference with Whyte were under a three-line-whip from Gordon Hay of Whyte’s PR firm Hay McKerron that there were two subjects that could not be mentioned:
– The tax case
– The source of the money used to buy Rangers’ debt from Lloyds

Draconian penalties were promised for anyone who dared cross these lines.  Exclusion from future press conferences and no more “leaks” would be akin to removing life-support from those who have become dependent on succulent lamb from the table of the owner of Rangers.  No one crossed these lines.  Not one journalist in attendance asked about the only real questions that face Rangers just now.

Whyte chose to address the tax issue in a Rangers TV interview / presentation last night.  I guess that it will take him time find pet-hacks with whom he can build the sort of trusting relationships David Murray had with Jim Traynor and Tom English i.e. “if I want it printed, you print it!”  So, Whyte took solace in a media outlet which he now owns.  Very brave.

Whyte’s statement that he does not believe that there is any chance that Rangers will lose the tax case beggars belief.  Either the man is a liar or a complete moron.  I doubt that he is the latter.  Decoded, Craig Whyte’s statement on the tax case can be seen as an admission that there is no ‘Plan B’ for losing the tax case.  The independent committee of the Rangers’ board appear to be right to be concerned about the lack of funding to pay a combination of bills that could reach above £54m.

Even I do not profess 100% confidence in any particular outcome.  Much like the OJ Simspon trial, a patently guilty man can be found not-guilty in the face of a combination of excellent and incompetent lawyering.  I know that the evidence against Rangers is extremely strong.  It is hard to conceive of a logical defence that Andrew Thornhill QC can have offered.  But Craig Whyte is 100% confident?

Sir David Murray has gone, but Rangers are still owned by a man who will deploy expensive PR resources to protect himself.  It will be interesting to see if he is up for “defending” Rangers’ supporters in the same manner as Murray. Rangers fans should be asking why David Murray gave away Rangers for less than a millionth of a penny per share. A man who was asking for a £6m payout for three years, suddenly decided to give away Rangers FC on the same day that the First Tier Tribunal that would decide the club’s fate concluded hearing evidence? Of course, Murray did it out of a love for the club! That Murray has considerably more provable personal wealth than Whyte should also be a red-flag. Murray was in a better position than Whyte to personally support Rangers. (Of course, over 23 years in charge, Murray took out much more than he put into Rangers. Take a look at Rangers’ ‘related party transactions’ over the last 14 years). The simplest explanation for the deal is that Murray and Lloyds wanted to be off-stage when the curtain falls. Whyte’s motivations? We can only guess. He is either an idiot or his ‘Plan B’ for the tax bill is not one that many will want to hear just now.

Of course, the other issue Rangers fans should ask about is ‘Who is funding Whyte?” The answer to that question will explain whether this is really a rescue or a pillaging. I do not expect the question to be even posed by the Scottish media, let alone receive an honest answer. The same sources who told me on 19 April that Whyte had secured funding and was serious about buying Rangers, have told me that Whyte has contributed very little money personally. The exact terms of the package are unknown. Has Wavetower borrowed the money to buy Rangers? Or are the backers equity investors?

As things stand, Rangers are in as much debt today as they were last Thursday. Rangers’ debt to Lloyds has been purchased by Wavetower. Rangers FC still owe that £18m to Wavetower. (Interest rates may not stay the same). Additionally, Rangers also owe an additional £6m to other lenders and for negative working capital. Nothing has changed except that Murray and Lloyds have left the scene. Perhaps that is a cause for rejoicing amongst Rangers fans in itself, but they might have cause to prefer “the devil they knew rather than the devil they don’t.”

We can expect a media onslaught from Hay McKerron in the coming weeks. Every device to distract and deceive will be deployed. As I have maintained from the start, Rangers’ future depends upon the outcome of the tax case. Some shuffling of commercial paper has not changed that.

About rangerstaxcase
I have information on Rangers' tax case, and I will use this blog to provide the details of what Rangers FC have done, why it was illegal, and what the implications are for one of the largest football clubs in Britain.

193 Responses to The Secretive Mr. Whyte

  1. murphio says:

    Boab aren’t Rangers the precedent in this case? I’m not sure how Whyte can be so confident on an outcome given that Rangers are very much dabbling in unknown territory. Surely the honest – and smart – thing for Craig Whyte to do would be do put all budget projections on ice until the outcome of the tax case is known. But I dont think he can be either honest or smart because despite leaks to the press which said the tax case would be ‘taken care of’ it’s abundantly clear that Whyte has neither the ability nor the will to settle this debt should it land on Rangers’ doorstep. Whyte has to hope for two things – a positive outcome to the case but just as importantly a quick resolution – certainly before the middle of August. For if this isnt resolved quickly then he is going to be exposed as a chancer whether the outcome is eventually successful or not.

  2. According to all the bears on the Daily Record web site Rangers Tax Case is just a load of baloney; and that they will win the league(which, thanks to Samaras’s penalty miss at Ibrokes, they more than likely will) and the H.M.R.C. tax case , and then Whyte wil lead them to glory in Europe and four in a row. But to an economic illiterate like myself Thank God for R.T.C. and the comments columns that have helped to give a certain amount of enlightment to me. Whytes confiidence over the tax tribunal has got to be pure P.R. effrontery and an attempt to boost season ticket sales. Hoping for a successful case for H.M.R.C. and liquidation/administration, and regarding concern for other Scottish Football clubs, I’ll show as much concern for them as they have ever shown for Celtic. Hail! Hail!

  3. Paul Mac says:

    To provide an answer to the media and the fans that states there is a possibility they could lose the case, would provoke the question…”what contingency do you have to meet this possible liability”..

    That my friend is a far uglier question to provide a palatable answer to…especially if you don’t have one!

    If he has bought the club on the basis of an opinion from a QC…then he is either stupid or he has the funds to meet the liability…if you have the funds why not come out and say so?…if you dont have the funds..then you need to protect that fact from those who would seek to buy season tickets…corporate facilities..advertising..employees…THOSE YOU OWE MONEY TO!

    Expect more spin…after all…the media are telling us all their debts are cleared…they are now in the black..and that questions about the tax case and where the funds have come from are un askable..

  4. Fuzzy Dunlop says:

    I don’t really know anything about the Hibernian situation but surely if Tom Farmer bought the Football Club from the Administrator before it ceased trading then it still is the same club. Just because he then set up a different holding company doesn’t mean that the football club playing today isn’t the same club that played in 1990.

    If Rangers were to go belly up wouldn’t the liquidator find that one of the things of genuine value was the name and history of ‘Rangers Football Club.’ Now as long as any liquidation happened during the summer and Rangers didn’t actually miss playing any fixtures I’m sure something would be sorted out, if it happened during the season and they failed to fulfill their fixtures that would be a whole different can of worms.

  5. Not The Huddle malcontent says:

    Murphio

    I think you answered your own question………..

    Whyte is trying to drum up the interest and support of teh fans so they will part with their money

    In a few weeks we’ll start to hear talk of “sources at HMRC suggest they have won the case and rangers will be hit with £60M bill”

    a few weeks later, this will become a statement from Wavetower or Rangers directors and there will be talk of contingency plans, spending reviews

    Whyte will then complain about bad tax advise during takeover and this bill will now mean serious curtailment of spending plans, he’ll then blame the HMRC for persecuting them and talk of fighting this all the way

    We will also get a list of players being linked with the club and we’ll get the old favourite “we won’t be held to ransom for ANYONE”

    Several 1st team players out of contract will leave, we’ll be told they were offered new deals but had made up their mind to chase more money in England/abroad.

    then a few bids might come in for McGregor, jelavic, Davies (though he’s been poor this year) and of course bougherra – and we’ll hear “everyone has their price” “ali will receive all the proceeds to build HIS OWN team”

    eventually, they’ll proclaim they ran out of time to bring in the quality they wanted, the tax bill hampered their ability to spend and then eventually, when the bill does hit, we’ll here how the former board ruined the club and how he plans to resurect the club, debt free (i thought they were) in Ibrox and a new, fans owned pheonix.

    basically, he is suckering everyone in so that awkward questions aren’t asked until, of course, it’s all too late.

  6. Victor_arbuckle says:

    Adam

    It is that simple. Whyte is not converting equity to debt. He has purchased the debt from Lloyds.

    The debt from Lloyds and the shares from MIH for GBP1 are two separate transactions. The debt now is the same debt as before. Kind of like when a bank buys your mortgage from another bank. The terms of your mortgage do not change and you still owe the money.

    You would probably be right if the debt was paid off, the shares paid for a pound, and then Whyte dumped GBP18m on Rangers as debt. That would face lots of legal challenges and HMRC would have a claim to say that it was an attempt to hide money from them. That isn’t what happened though.

    I agree with RTC (or maybe he just agrees with me…) that Whyte seems to have structured this to protect his claim to assets in administration. So his claims that tax worries are nonsense is just bullshit. Judge a man by his deeds…

  7. Ian Ferguson says:

    I agree, It would NOT be the same Celtic. That is why the “bunnet” paid out to a lot of chancers who owned Celtic 1888 rather than pay a much smaller sum to resurrect a “new” Celtic.

    I don’t think a new entity would be the same as RFC and their “traditions” and I know people like me would be hoarse reminding them of that fact.

    They are tax dodging cheats pay up or shut down but don’t try and claim they will still be the same.

  8. Paul Mac says:

    Im sure they will win everything from the boat race to the cure for cancer!

    However we should allow them their time in the sun…for the alternative..which is a distinct possiblity…is so emotionally unaccetable to them that to even countenance the existence of such a scenario is like the uncle no one talks of.

    What I am certain of..is that they are so close to the Abyss that no amount of factual debate will enagage them into discussing it..so lets just bide our time await…and see what hand is dealt..

    I will be curious to see how the transfer window is approached..that will be the next test of strength to this house of cards.

  9. Ian Ferguson says:

    Hi Mark, that name rings a bell but I can’t remember the story.

  10. I am about 90-95% sure of a good result. While admitting the possibility of a bad result, I am not expecting it.

    (and if it does go for Rangers, it will be appealed).

    The thing i will enjoy most about a big result against RFC is simply the reaction from the Laptop Loyal and the most blind in their support (which must bs about 99%) of them.

    I do fear for the future of Celtic if this goes as I expect, but in the shortrun, watching some of the most hate-filled ones try to one to terms with this will be fun. (you should read the posts I don’t publish! :-) )

    That the facts were in the public domain and that they failed to use he information will be quite funny. Of course, it will require that people never tire in reminding them of the fact that they were warned but instead rolled out the red carpet for a vulture.

    Any volunteers to spread the word when the time comes?

  11. Chris Barrie says:

    Count me in ;-)

  12. tomtom says:

    I for one would welcome Rangers returning to their roots. 50,000 fans singing the Eton Boating song would be nice to hear. Unfortunately it’ll be the roots that started in the mid 20’s!

  13. Mick says:

    It would also be funny if more than one Rangers emerged: Continuity RFC, Real RFC, Peoples Front of Judea RFC. Is that a possibility?
    Which one to follow follow? What a quandary!

  14. Boab says:

    I’m Spartacus.

    Though I won’t necessarily be going by the nom de guerre Boab.

  15. Adam says:

    But was the point not that they secured the loan AFTER buying the clubs, as in some weeks down the line when they had their own people on board and could force it through without challenge.

    My question to RTC and others is “COULD THEY HAVE DONE IT RIGHT AWAY ?”

    So could Whyte have went to XYZ Lender Co and borrowed £18m and given in return a security against Ibrox stadium.

    My understanding is that the answer to that is NO.

    If thats the case, then its possible that the debt “CURRENTLY” does not sit with RFC, which in turn could mean his statement of them being “debt free” was correct.

    For the benefit of any doubt, and in case anyone missed my views on the other thread, i dont trust Craig Whyte. Never have since the day his name came into the picture.

  16. Number 7 says:

    I was having a chat with a Ranger supporter at work, the accepted version as far as he is concerned is that Rangers are now debt free and therefore the restrictions placed by LBG in terms of signing players has now gone. Bring on the CL money and that Celtic are now facing debt problems. Whyte has put his own money in and is a mult millionaire, having previously appeared on the rich list. He is an educated guy and despite his alleginces is not particularly more crazy than the average bear.

  17. Maz says:

    Correct.
    Furtheromore the government could not bail out Rangers for the simple reason that, by any interpretation, to do so would be in flagrant contravention of the State Aid prohibitions in articles 106 and 107 of the EC Treaty.

    I don’t think it’s even worth debating.

  18. Boab says:

    But according to the Chairman what happened was that the Lloyds debt was assigned to Wavetower, nothin more than that. So there was no point at which any of your scenarios could have taken place.

    Rangers owed Lloyds £18m

    The debt was re-assigned to Wavetower (presumably wavetower paid Lloyds for the debt)

    Rangers owed Wavetower £18m

    No matter how you spin that, there is no point at which rangers was out of debt.

    I am only going by what The Chairman of the Board of The Rangers PLC said here, Adam.

  19. Gary says:

    RTC,
    Now that it is an established fact that your forum is the best out there bar none is there any chance of you expanding onto other subject matters such as my beloved Celtic, Neil Lennon or Scottish Football in general.
    What I am trying to say, albeit badly is that I really enjoy a forum without bile whether it be green/blue and your forum is also informative and educational, my only worry being that the more popular it gets the more it will become like the Yah Boo Daily Record site.

  20. Paul Mac says:

    Celtic do have a debt issue, in so much as it has risen over the last 12 months, but at a level that allows it to be managed and with a transparency that will provide you and me the access to know exactly where we stand..and with ability to reduce the debt just as quickly..

    Now ask your rangers supporting mucker at work who provided the cash to pay LBG and how much was paid? Pull up a chair and listen….what you will most likely hear is what has been provided by 1 of the following..

    1. A pr placement specialist contributing to follow follow

    Or

    2. Almost verbatum what has been printed in the red tops

    What you will not get, is a factual account of detail provided by Craig himself.

  21. mark says:

    I see you have been making up stuff again in this article

    You claimed that

    ” Hand-picked journalists attending Saturday evening’s inaugural press conference with Whyte were under a three-line-whip from Gordon Hay of Whyte’s PR firm Hay McKerron that there were two subjects that could not be mentioned:
    – The tax case
    – The source of the money used to buy Rangers’ debt from Lloyds”

    Andrew H. Smith from scotland on sunday who was at the briefing stated

    “I’m answering now, There was no ‘hand picking’ fromt Craig Whyte’s ‘people’. Just spoke to someone who was there. There was a limited number there but that ws a numbers issue. It was only a short briefing and the tax issue wasn’t raised. Look, what he said on Rangers TV was what he would have said so you don’t get any awsers asking certain questions. See nefarious goings on it all that if you like.”

  22. Assuming that your praise is sincere and not spoken in sarcasm :-), I am toying with the ideas over what this could become when (if!) this case ends.

    There are already lots of messageboards catering to every taste. So, I would not want to waste time by duplicating something that already exists. Likewise, in the blog-space, Paul67’s excellent CQN already caters very well to football and insider-stuff at Celtic. So there is no point in trying to replicate what others already do very well.

    I am astounded at the level of interest in the finances of football. There have been some attempts to do this in England, but they are either (like this blog) focused on a specific issue or fail by trying to cover too much. Without a revenue source, it is not possible to cover a large number of clubs well. The sites that try to consolidate and compare data for many clubs fail to provide much real insight and the data comparisons are useful only for the most general of macro trends.

    I am open to suggestions as I do enjoy this type of activity. The ‘whistle-blower’ aspect is especially appealing. Would a series of in-depth investigations involving accusations of wrong-doing and deception by football clubs (in Scotland or elsewhere) be interesting?

    The majority of readers on here are Celtic supporters. How many would I alienate if Celtic to become the target of such an investigation? (I have nothing along those lines just now, but I would feel like a fraud if I failed to investigate my own favourite team with as much vigour as I have Rangers).

    Part of me feels that the level of interest is a mile deep and an inch wide in that it is just the insane obsessive nature of supporting either Celtic or Rangers that drives it.

  23. Boab says:

    I have been interested in football finances for quite some time. I am sad enough to find the subject quite fascinating. The issue with discussing it on other sites is that people, who profess no interest in the subject, feel compelled to tell everyone just how disinterested in the subject they are.

    Even if a thread is started with a warning “Financial Stuff”, they still feel compelled to post in that thread just how boring it is.

    That is not the case here, and as such I have found it both informative and entertaining. The blog is what it is, and apart from the odd bit of schadenfreude and “whataboutery” which are both inevitable, it has stuck pretty much on topic. At least tangentially, or in a “stream of thought” way.

    So long as the blog was to keep that ethos i.e. It is actually OK for us to discuss finances without people feeling compelled to post :yawn: smillies, then I’m game for it. I enjoy the varied views, opinions and interpretations and am happy to learn from others.

    Keep up the good work.

  24. A small number of people is not “hand-picked”. What sports journalist in Scotland did not want to be there?

  25. Boab says:

    “Look, what he said on Rangers TV was what he would have said so you don’t get any awsers asking certain questions. See nefarious goings on it all that if you like.”

    That made me LOL.

    Do these people really consider themselves journalists. What he said was what he was going to say, so why bother asking questions. What kind of attitude is that from a journalist, you won’t get an answer anyway so why bother asking.

    That is simply pathetic.

  26. Do you read your own replies?

    “Andrew H. Smith from scotland on sunday who was at the briefing”
    and
    Just spoke to someone who was there.

    So he was not there? Regardless, I have faith in my source on this. He was right on the details of the takeover over 3 weeks ago.
    I have accused the entire profession of sports journalism in Scotland of ineptitude and corruption. Do you really think that they are going to say “it’s a fair cop gov”?

    Is that all Andrew Smith is disputing? The hand-picked element? ;-) Interesting.
    Nothing about the three-line whip from Hay McKerron?

    We will see how open Craig Whyte is to answering questions on a wide array of subjects in the coming weeks.

    No mention of the funding sources? When some Scottish hack is asking “why the need for secrecy over the sources of funds for the purchase?” That would be conclusive proof that I got this wrong. :-)

  27. Lord Wobbly says:

    Perhaps we shouldn’t forget that SDM publicly backed Alex Salmond quite recently. It seemed odd at the time….

  28. Boab says:

    Why would it be odd.

    David Murray may well be a Scottish Nationalist. In fact, given his support for Mr Salmond I would suggest it is an absolute stick on.

    What’s odd about that.

  29. Mark Dickson says:

    Michael Knighton bought Manchester United for about 60 days back in the day and was lauded as a hero by the fans even doing keepy uppy on the pitch but in reality it was all an ego trip he had no real money and had to scrap the deal when his funding fell thru.

    Craig Whyte could invest in new players or retaining players as long as he avoids paying big transfer fees, if he gets decent players on contracts then even if they end up sold at lower prices they would still be yielding a profit if they didn’t cost any or big fees to sign.

  30. Lord Wobbly says:

    The goings on in Gorgie must surely be worth exploring. And they have their own tax issues do they not? Although I appreciate that getting access to the Lithuanian side may be problematic to say the least. I can think of one regular poster who would presumably be interested (eh Mark D?)

  31. Boab says:

    That won’t go down well with the supporters who have been promised and expect a £10m “warchest” for Mr McCoist in his first season.

  32. droid says:

    Maybe their laptops had broken down again and they were unable to ask questions?

  33. droid says:

    I would support, by posting and paypalling, an evolution of this site as there is a need to blow open what is really happening in the SFA and SPL.

    I am very interested in the influence and reach of the chairperson at ICT, what Hearts have gotten away with and the extent of the charity the Celtic Board have shown over the past 3 years.

    It’s time sports journalists where made to work for a living and this would bring some much needed competion to such an arid arena.

  34. Gary says:

    No RTC, I was being totally serious, I think you may be confusing me with Gary the Ger whom I suspect is from Shotts and a regular on Real Radio and very good in his defence of his club. Ironically I am also Gary from Shotts who went to a different school.
    The point I was trying to make being if we can all talk logically about football in it’s entirety then wrongdoings will inevitably come out, this will be to the betterment of football not just Celtic. Would it not be better if there was complete transparancy in all club’s, no suspicions, no hatred, just a love of the game.
    As I said earlier Blogs without the bile are great and wheras there are already several good sites out there they are invareably slanted in support of one club,a good true site posting facts and information educating us all would only result in the SFA and Club’s having to get better and being forced to tell the truth.

  35. Gary says:

    No I’m not from Shotts and haven’t listened to radio phone ins in years. The fact you mention schooling bemuses me. In future to avoid confusion maybe try a different name instead of one thats already been used ;-)

  36. Gary says:

    Gary,
    No offence meant, I mistook you for someone else, good point about the name if you bother to check you will find I was here quite a while before you. Again no offence meant.

  37. Auldheid says:

    It does not matter how confident he is, what matters is the degree of confidence potential signings or existing players asked to extend contracts have in him.

    What guarantee can he give them that in the event of HMRC winning the contracts can be honoured. Show us yer money Craig or guarantee you can meet the full contract inthe event of HMRC winning would be uppermost on my mind if I were a signing target.

  38. Gary says:

    Its cool and if you’ll check article “One week to go” you’ll see I was commenting the day before your first comment lol

  39. Gary says:

    Sorry forget my 1st reply I just checked my inbox and my first post was on 3rd April, yours was on 12th (sorry stickler for detail)

  40. Gwared says:

    Gary, you are driving me mad! I have now changed my name by deed poll, it’s in the post.

  41. Frank Galvin says:

    But surely Whyte needs to raise much more than £18m to turn a profit?

    Sure, there is a debt of £18m, but if HMRC win their case then Rangers owe substantially more than £18m.

    I can’t help but think that Murray is behind this entire sham and once Rangers are liquidated he will buy Ibrox for next to nothing and start afresh.

  42. Frank Galvin says:

    This is where I begin to doubt myself that this takeover is some kind of scam – because the future of Rangers FC is much more than a backpage football story.

    You see, I can understand why the sports hacks won’t ask telling questions – for fear of missing out on some scoops and succulent lamb: but what about the journalists who report on economic and social matters e.g. Douglas Fraser and his good lady wife, Isabel. Wouldn’t one think that if there was anything untoward in all of this that the Newsnicht team would be all over this?

    I can understand that Iain McWhirter or Ian Bell wouldn’t want to jeapordise circulation figures of the Herald (though I think they’re above that), but BBC Scotland has no such excuse since they are publicly funded.

  43. Frank Galvin says:

    Apart from that, there is little votes to be lost from it.

    Your died-in-the-wool Rangers fan is a unionist and will most probably vote Tory. I saw it myself many years ago when I used to canvass for my local SNP group. So no votes to be lost.

    If the SNP did step in to save Rangers it is more likely that those other supporters would punish the SNP at the next opportunity.

    Politicians often think in terms of votes. There is no significant electoral sacrifice, if any, by not saving Rangers. So it won’t happen.

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