Craig Whyte’s Confessions: A Critical Analysis


I might be giving Mr. Whyte and his media advisors too much credit for advanced planning, but it seems obvious that the recent spate of Whyte interviews had two objectives:
– a) Admit the truth, for it has become pointless trying to deny it any further
– b) Immediately distract from that truth before its full implications can be analysed

Whyte raising the possibility of Rangers entering the English Premier League (EPL) seems like a transparent attempt to “lay down smoke”.   No one who is thinking rationally can believe that there is any serious chance of any Scottish club moving to the EPL.  There simply would not be a large enough increase in SKY revenues to pay off all of the current EPL chairmen, the SFA, SPL, and then leave any profit to be divided between Rangers, (presumably Celtic too), and SKY.   Too many Scottish football fans already pay for EPL coverage, so the number of new subscriptions would be quite small.   A calamity would have to befall English football before any significant restructuring occurs.   While that is not impossible over the next decade, it is not something that outsiders can accelerate or plan upon.

I do not believe that Whyte is so detached from reality to believe any of this nonsense, but rather I am sure that he was advised by his media team to raise this subject knowing that it would quickly become the talking point. It draws attention away from the real implications of what Whyte has now admitted:

When the tax bill hits, Whyte will stiff everyone else who has dealings with the club!
The tax man, Rangers’ players, Rangers’ season ticket holders, and suppliers: anyone, other than Whyte himself, who is owed anything by Rangers at that time is going to get screwed.

This is the awkward truth that Whyte has been trying to hide. Behind all of his “billionaire” and “front-loaded investment” disinformation, he has to now try to run Rangers for 12-18 months with all of these parties knowing that trading with Rangers is a high risk venture.

Players who signed 5-year contracts with RFC have given Whyte a free one-way option. If (when!) Rangers become insolvent, it will be at the discretion of the receiver appointed by Whyte as to which players are retained. So long as the players continue to receive their salaries, their contracts will survive i.e. they will remain under contract to Whyte.   However, if someone is no longer a valuable asset- e.g. carrying an injury or simply off-form- Whyte can simply stop paying him and he will join the long list of unsecured creditors who will ultimately receive next to nothing.  Let me put this more directly, once Rangers experience an insolvency event, players under contract can be freed without penalty by Whyte, but Whyte (acting through a receiver acting solely for his personal best interest) can decide to retain or to sell them.  If Craig Whyte wants rid of a goalkeeper who develops butter-fingers in the second year of his contract, that five year deal would suddenly become, for all practical purposes, worthless and easily torn up.

If I was one of Rangers’ trading partners, I would be demanding cash on delivery.  If I was a Rangers player, I would not sign any long term deals, at least not without a promise of contractual release upon an insolvency event.  This would allow players who still have value to get a new signing bonus, either from The Rangers FC (2012) Ltd or whomever is willing to pay them most.  If their value to clubs has dropped to zero?  Unemployment, with only the statutory minimum payment, will be their fate regardless.  They  inadvertently gave Whyte a free option under the misguided belief that they had ensured their own financial futures.

Players screwed by Craig Whyte may find some comfort in the knowledge that they signed contracts with a high-risk employer voluntarily. The UK government did not sign up for being cheated out of a large amount of tax revenue. Her Majesty’s government has expended significant costs over several years to investigate this scam.  Rangers’ evasiveness and duplicity have increased the government’s costs significantly.  Yet, Whyte has now effectively admitted that he believes that HMRC will get nothing regardless of the findings of the tribunal process.

Will HMRC will take this situation lying down? I would hope not.  I expect that they will be digging very deeply into their legal toolkit to avoid a humiliating and very public loss of face.  Following the Vodaphone and Goldman Sachs debacles, a failure to collect from Rangers would solidify the public impression that ‘taxes are for little people’: smart, rich people do not have to pay.  The widespread belief that you can cheat on your taxes and then negotiate a deal to pay pennies on the pound or simply duck the bill altogether would solidify.  If I was the taxman, I would be thinking laterally. I would not confine myself to the narrow issue of Rangers FC.
If I was Craig Whyte, I would not sleep easily at at night if I thought that I had any unresolved legal issues with any UK government departments.

Whyte has thrown down a public gauntlet: even if you prove that Rangers have illegally underpaid taxes for a decade and gone to great lengths to disguise its illegal behaviour, you are getting nothing.  Craig Whyte has publicly declared that he is the sole beneficiary (owner) of The Rangers FC Group Limited. Whatever assets Whyte has managed to accumulate “under the radar” – (his words, and a strange way for a businessman to describe his past. What do you think he means?) – his public professions of ownership of Rangers would enable the sequestration of Rangers FC should it be discovered that he has been as economical with the facts of his other business dealings as he has about Rangers.

Upon the tribunal process finally reaching a conclusion, the only certainty is that this situation will be decided in courts by people with vastly more legal experience than I have. In fact, I have spoken with a number of leading lights of the Scottish legal profession in recent weeks and it is clear that this situation is going to make many of them quite a bit wealthier. It will be a messy and expensive case that will be dragged through the courts for a long time.

This sudden change in media strategy by Whyte and his team might yet prove to be another in a long line of mistakes.  It will be interesting to see what other tactical changes they will make.

As a measure of unmitigated gall, and as November approaches, it will be interesting to see if Whyte will indulge in the patriotic fervour of his predecessors during the Remembrance Day period.  Perhaps under-equipped infantrymen returning from Afghanistan will be given free body armour this year rather than a free ticket to a minor game?

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 for what was (updated) one of the largest football clubs in Britain.

2,410 Responses to Craig Whyte’s Confessions: A Critical Analysis

  1. Auldheid says:

    rangerstaxcase says:

    11/10/2011 at 4:50 pm

    When you say assets does that include players and if it is new co where do they start?

    The taxpayer gets shafted and football carries on as if nothing happened?

  2. Paulie Walnuts

    Likewise I have been told that he paid face value. Nuts! Never heard of anyone buying distressed debt and not getting a steep discount.

    Likewise, I have heard the rumours of where the money came from and which individual was a conduit for it. However, these are not people who leave much in the way of documentation. The last traceable point for the cash being a Whyte offshore company, the trail ends there.

  3. Paulie Walnuts

    No danger of a 3rd division start.

    SPL/SFA rules allow for a receiver/administrator to indicate that the insolvent club plans to continue trading. They would retain their league place, club name, and records. Think of how many other clubs have been through administration and not lost their league place.

    SPL rules are explicit: a 10 point penalty and that is that.

  4. ashton says:

    rangerstaxcase says:
    11/10/2011 at 4:50 pm

    “I am not being obtuse. Pretty much what it says on the tin. If HMRC are not prepared to dredge up Whyte’s past and go after his “under the radar” activities, he will be able to move Rangers’ assets into a newco and restart without skipping a beat. A 10 point penalty would be as much punishment as they would get.”

    Excellent appraisal RTC, won’t suit the hang em high lobby though, what did they expect when whyte was handed the aces on a plate.

  5. Auldheid

    Yes. Player contracts survive insolvency (unless explicitly excepted- unusual for football contracts).

    Whyte though can choose to just drop players whose contracts he does not want to carry forward.

  6. jonny says:

    Hugh what about Elliss ,he has been in the background for a wee while now ,maybe it’s time for him to play his part in the plan .

  7. jonny says:

    RTC
    It looks like a bit of a damp squid then if they get their 10 pt deduction and carry on their merry way .
    IMO all this amounts to financial doping if the case goes against them ,what’s the chance of other spl clubs going after them for loss of earnings .
    Or should we all just set up an EBT and agree to a 10pt penalty in 2022

  8. Paulie Walnuts says:

    RTC,

    The previous examples have all been CVAs though. Motherwell, Livingston (x2) (plus a third one in all but name when Flynn sold to Massone), Dundee etc. The only clubs wound up have been Gretna and Airdrie and they didn’t get to continue.

    It was for that reason that Massone extracted £50k for his shares in Livingston even though in solvency terms it made Rangers look like Berkshire Hathaway. He just held a gun to the head of all the supporters and new investors and said you might be able to enforce the cram down of the debt on me, but without the shares you can’t guarantee coming back out of admin and so you face having to re-apply for the vacancy. Cheaper for them to pay the ransom that run the risk. There was a period of stand off, but Donnie McGruther, who was the administrator, took preliminary steps to convene an SFA meeting to try to get a dispensation to let a newco take the place, but that was then overtaken by the deal.

    I appreciate the SPL/SFA distinction, but even still I don’t see it as a foregone conclusion that they come back in as a Newco at SPL level.

  9. ramsay smith says:

    rangerstaxcase says:
    11/10/2011 at 5:34 pm
    Paulie Walnuts

    ‘No danger of a 3rd division start.

    SPL/SFA rules allow for a receiver/administrator to indicate that the insolvent club plans to continue trading.’

    Which rule is that?

    Does it apply where the club ceases to exist and its assets sold to another company?

  10. droid says:

    maybe sam et al are not too far from the truth –

    http://www.grant-thornton.co.uk/thinking_blogs/press_room/tribunal_judgement_allows_volk.aspx?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    there is room for manouvres within the FTT and there does appear to be a latent pessimism in RTC’s recent comments

  11. For those who have asked, I will post the relevant league rules tomorrow morning (if I remember!)

  12. Johnboy says:

    Any Newco would be a separate company from Rangers FC PLC, and as such would not be able to claim its registration.
    Either RFC persuade HMRC to accept a CVA for pennies in the pound or they cease to exist.
    The contracts then become nul and void.
    Where is this rulebook that says a new company can take on the registration, league place and contracts?
    Has your account been hacked, RTC?

  13. the Don Dionisio says:

    Andycol,
    will need to get back to you re Saturday.
    Suffice to say that we’ll agree to disagree on the relative merits or otherwise of the public and private sectors. Also the private legal advice is only ever as good as the instructions and case it gets from the instructing public sector clients.
    How else do you explain the abject failures in challenging the Football Creditors’ Rule in England.?–a rule which is’nt law and flies in the face of actual insolvency law.
    Their performance there, with or without private counsel, has been one of abysmal failure.
    And no names, no pack drill ,but I know some of the public servants you refer to are affectionately know as “Two pensions” and have yet to draw down their state pension.

  14. plus one says:

    Johnny @ 6.05pm:

    I’m with you on this one. Why the sudden shift in attitude from RTC? PhilMac’s site goes down, then all of a sudden everything’s rosy for Rangers on this blog? Smell a rat…

  15. PaulieW

    From memory, the rules make reference to an “insolvency” event. So the precise form- CVA, administration, receivership should not matter. The key was that the “administrator” (for some reason I recall that term used!) indicates to the league that the club plans to continue trading.

    I will post the rules and you can all pour over it and stress test them. I didn’t see anything that provided much of a problem for Whyte.

  16. plus one says:

    Sorry, Johnboy… predictive text…

  17. cautious dave says:

    Just as I never believed RFC would be dissolved, neither do I believe they will walk away Scot free.

    Secured creditor status or not, I cannot see HMRC simply allowing Whyte to move everything from old Rangers to new Rangers and not being able to challenge this.

    My point is simple. If everything associated with RFC was liquidated, there would be enough to at least partially pay the unsecured creditors, therefore I cannot conceive how HMRC can get fully swindled as some would suggest.

    Even if all assets were transferred to new Rangers HMRC could liquidate the shell of old Rangers including their history. And isn’t it the case that the points accumulated this season were by old rangers and not new rangers?

    Suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.

  18. ramsay smith says:

    rangerstaxcase says:
    11/10/2011 at 6:10 pm

    I think you need a rest.

    You’re confusing the term ‘insolvency’ with the SPL handbook term of ‘insolvency event’.

  19. easyJambo says:

    RTC – I don’t think it is quite as simple as you think for a newco to continue as the oldco.

    From the SPL’s articles of association

    14. If:-
    (i) a Member shall cease to be entitled to hold a Share; or
    (ii) a trustee in sequestration, manager, receiver or administrative receiver shall be appointed in respect of a Member or any property of a Member, or an administration order shall be made in respect of a Member or any property of a Member or an order shall be made or an effective resolution passed for the winding up of a Member otherwise than for the purpose of reconstruction or amalgamation;

    then that Member or its manager, receiver, administrative receiver, administrator or liquidator or any other person entitled to the Share shall, on receiving notice in writing from the Board following the Company in General Meeting passing a Qualified Resolution that such notice should be issued by the Board and confirming the identity of the proposed transferee, transfer its Share to such other person as the Board shall direct at the price of £1 and the Club owned and operated by such Member shall forthwith cease to be a member of the League and the Club owned and operated by the transferee shall become a member of the League in its place.

    A Qualified Resolution requires an 83% vote of the member clubs. That would mean a 10-1 vote of the clubs to vote in a newco’s favour. There is also the issue of points earned / games played prior to the demise of the oldco. That hasn’t been an issue with clubs going into administration, as they have been able to exit as a going concern with a CVA. .

    The only loophole that I can see is if Wavetower “buy” RFC. That way they could claim to have kept the club under the same ultimate ownership.

    Similarly a newco should not be granted a full Licence under SFA rules. From the SFA Articles.

    3 Licence Applicant and Licence

    3.1 Definition of Licence Applicant

    3.1.1 The Licence Applicant is the legal entity fully responsible for the football team participating in national and international competitions and which is the legal entity and member of the Scottish Football Association. This membership must have been in place at the start of the licence season for a minimum period of three years. Any alteration to the club’s legal form or company structure (including, for example, changing its headquarters, name or club colours, or transferring stakeholdings between different clubs) during this period in order to facilitate its qualification on sporting merit and/or its receipt of a licence to the detriment of the integrity of a competition is deemed as an interruption of membership or contractual relationship (if any) within the meaning of this provision.

    My reading is that the newco will have to have been a member of the SFA before being granted a licence. That may affect participation in Europe for 3 years. However, there is provision for a “qualified licence” to be granted but I don’t know what conditions would be attached to it. The Wavetower “parent” ownership may again be a loophole that could allow CW to bypass this requirement.

  20. Paulie Walnuts says:

    EJ,

    I concur. Wavetower already owns RFC but RFC will be wound up by HMRC, or so at least we are all assuming.

    RTC, are you ok? “pour” over the rules?

  21. easyJambo says:

    Should Wavetower buy RFC’s assets and seek to have them continue in the SPL as previously, using the ultimate ownership arguement, then I think that would give HMRC the opportunity to go after Wavetower for RFC’s debt. HMRC could rightly claim that RFC is continuing to operate unhindered, as a going concern, and that they have simply “evaded” their debt to HMRC.

  22. the Don Dionisio says:

    paulie walnuts,
    see my post where I say we should assume nothing as far as HMRC and the other interested parties are concerned!

  23. The Mighty Quinn says:

    I have a very strong belief that RTC has been hacked.

  24. Davidopolous says:

    Like most people here, I’ve been reading the blog since the first post (only a couple of times have I entered the discussion) and as far as I can tell RTC’s latest post seem a little out of kilter with his usual style, i.e. they don’t really make sense. Infiltration?

  25. Johnboy says:

    I’m with you there, Mighty Quinn.
    When ashton is agreeing with you, you know you’re in trouble!

  26. campsiejoe says:

    Apologies in advance if I am reading this wrong RTC , but in my opinion, you may be feeling a bit frustrated at the thought of Whyte thumbing his nose at everyone, and walking away to form a new RFC, in one form or another

    This, as many people have pointed out, is not a foregone conclusion

    After RTC clarified his earlier post, I remembered that RTC hinted in an earlier blog, that HMRC could renew their interest in Whyte’s previous business dealings

    It could well be, that with Whyte’s recent comments, where he seems to be taunting them, HMRC will take the gloves off, and investigate not only his previous dealings, but also his “under the radar and family interests”

  27. jonny says:

    Hacked or not
    Does anyone think that the ragers belief in winning the tax case came from getting the correct verdict .
    If say, they had found a way to dodge their dues ,could that be perceived as a victory on their part .
    Answers on a postcard to
    Dignity fc

  28. Hugh McEwan says:

    rangerstaxcase says:
    11/10/2011 at 5:34 pm

    Paulie Walnuts

    No danger of a 3rd division start.

    SPL/SFA rules allow for a receiver/administrator to indicate that the insolvent club plans to continue trading. They would retain their league place, club name, and records. Think of how many other clubs have been through administration and not lost their league place.

    SPL rules are explicit: a 10 point penalty and that is that.
    —————————————————————————

    Only if the club comes back out of administration and still exists.

    The only analogous one I know of is Gretna. Who were liquidated.

  29. Auldheid says:

    jonny says:

    11/10/2011 at 5:55 pm

    RTC
    It looks like a bit of a damp squid then if they get their 10 pt deduction and carry on their merry way .
    IMO all this amounts to financial doping if the case goes against them ,what’s the chance of other spl clubs going after them for loss of earnings .
    Or should we all just set up an EBT and agree to a 10pt penalty in 2022
    ———————————–
    It seems to me that this is the principle at play. What would be the point of a league where thsi behaviour was not discouraged? It is not just the EBTS it is the fantastic amount of debt Rangers have used for over a decade to improve their chances of success.

    Is that to be what decides who wins, who can best dribble their way around the finances laws? Is it fair to ask supporters of clubs playing to a break even plan to pay to watch a compettion where anything goes for their main rivals?

  30. plus one says:

    Language is different, attitude is different, this isn’t the RTC I’ve been reading these many months. It seems that the inevitable has happened and this blog has been hacked.

  31. A N Other. says:

    plus one says:

    11/10/2011 at 6:56 pm

    Language is different, attitude is different, this isn’t the RTC I’ve been reading these many months. It seems that the inevitable has happened and this blog has been hacked.
    —————————————————————————————————————

    There may be something to that. The cracked RFC crest logo has gone and has been replaced by a WordPress logo, there is a wee “Follow” box in the bottom right hand of the open tab, that is fairly new. Maybe RTC himself/herself has been rumbled, and is now writing approved material and responses.

  32. plus one says:

    A N Other says;

    11/10/2011 @7.13

    Don’t know about anyone else, but alarm bells rang when I started reading the comments RTC began posting today. Can’t view the cracked crest, etc as I’m doing this from my mobile.
    If it turns out that this blog has been hacked, what does that imply? How would RTC get the truth out if he/she is able?
    I know that RTC has a Twitter and a Facebook page, are these also compromised?
    I’m worried.

  33. Auldheid says:

    To be a going concern it has to be the same organisation who are going to keep going.

    If that is RFC and HMRC are due £50M does that not give HMRC every right to ask the going concern to pony up first?

    So it has to be Rangers new co. That means the winding up of Rangers old co on whom HMRC have a claim. If the total value of Rangers old co is £80M or more then HMRC must have a claim on part of that £80M.

    The only way they can walk away with nothing surely is if the value of Rangers old co is less than what CW is owed, in which case CW gets that value?

    It is what he does next with it that matters. Does he sell Rangers for that value to leave a debt free club to run on its income or indeed stay himself to run it on a break even basis.

    Probably the former allowing new Rangers to survive (as most football clubs do) but without the budget to retain their existing player squad quality as any new co will not be in next years CL starting from whenever with nil points and if it happens in the summer the Rangers old co will not exist to take up a CL place.

    If we get a competition where new Rangers play by the same break even financial rules as everyone else I would have no problem with that. A Rangers not needing to win to survive would only be good for our game and on a break even basis I would fancy Celtic’s chances any day.

    On the basis they had not paid their taxes that will never be expunged from their history.

  34. Auldheid says:

    PS.

    Something not quite right here as rtc knows the difficulties facing a new co.

    How can a new co be fined 10 pts? A 10 point deduction can only apply to RFC if they are a going concern. They will not be as they will still owe HMRC who will have an unpaid tax bill to collect.

  35. Fritz Agrandoldteam says:

    With the attack on Phil’s site, and the obvious hijacking of RTC, are we to assume something big is about to happen? Why do they need radio silence just now? Is the dam about to burst? (start the music!) 🙂

  36. A N Other. says:

    Lets move the deck chairs around.

  37. Fritz Agrandoldteam says:

    Phil’s back up and running.

  38. plus one says:

    After his/her recent flurry of activity, RTC seems to have disappeared into the ether…
    Move along… nothing to see hear…

  39. campsiejoe says:

    Let’s keep calm

    I’m sure if there is a problem, RTC will let us know

  40. duggie73 says:

    posted under the username “rangerstaxcase” at 7.36 to see if such was possible- comment went under moderation. OK, it was dumb, but it does eliminate such a move as a possibility, was being nosey And yes,more dumb than nosey.It’s all a bit more surreal than normal on here at the minute.

    FWIW, on the earlier Lloyds related stuff…
    In my view the debt should be toxic because Lloyds allowed it to run up in the first place. Devolving responsibility for collecting it doesn’t change that.
    The fact it’s common practise is news to me, surely a reputable lending institution should only make loans which it itself is not too embarrassed to collect on? The discounting of the amount collected by Lloyds would be proof positive they’ve messed up, were such to be true and become public knowledge. And creating a growth sector in the economy of arm’s-length debt collectors who have no concern whatsoever about how they are perceived by the public is again surely to be somewhat scorned.
    Do however agree that it all seems to be completely legal..Agreeing on that isn’t the end of the matter though, is it?

    (and once again, oops. lol)

  41. Not hacked. 🙂

    Just a little frustrated at the unwillingness to see the facts as they are rather than how some of us might wish them to be.

    Despite several blogs stating the same and many supporting posts from well qualified readers, we still have the many of our posters believing various hypotheses that are unsupported by any salient facts.

  42. Paulsatim says:

    From last night re SDM

    Pmacgiollabhain Phil MacGiollaBhain
    Why would the quintessentially British Sir David Murray want to become a citizen of Monaco? #thestvguyswillbeontothisinaflashanotherscoop
    27 Sep

  43. Easy Jambo

    I have not read this document before. Can you post a link to the whole thing and we an collectively digest it.

    If I am wrong about the ease which which Rangers would retain its league place, I will be delighted to eat humble pie. 😉

  44. TMWTL says:

    RTC

    What are your thoughts on Paulie Walnuts, Easy Jambo + Hugh McEwans posts which state that RFC will not get away with ‘just’ a ten point penalty?

  45. longtimelurker says:

    So is the baw on the slates, is that the consensus, are they off the hook?

  46. Brenda says:

    NEW ‘RTC’ we are not convinced, are you sam in disguise? no don’t think so sam’s too busy sweeping things under the carpet.

  47. Paulie Walnuts says:

    RTC,

    Can you answer then the point made by Easy Jambo, me and others re the SPL articles of association and the ten point penalty? To put it briefly, in order to escape with a ten point penalty is it not necessary for Rangers as presently constituted (that is the Rangers Football Club plc, company number SC004276, incorporated in 1899) to come back out of administration and to continue to exist? If that company is wound up (as we all seem to agree is more or less inevitable) and a newco incorporated which buys the assets from the insolvency practitioner how does such a newco secure SPL membership?

  48. plus one says:

    Still not convinced. If this is you RTC, post something on your Twitter page that would corroborate it.

  49. Paulie Walnuts

    If the same legal entity continues to exist then it has to settle with HMRC or be subject to the outcome of the FTT.
    So that cannot be the answer.

    I am reading and posting from an iPhone so it isn’t the easiest to refer back to what easyJambo posted. I have not read that particular document before, so it is more than possible that RFC would have a few more hurdles than I had thought.

    I will read the full thing and put it together with the SFA documents and see what we have.

%d bloggers like this: