GLASGOW: Rangers have been pushed to the brink of liquidation after the tax authority told the brink-of-bankruptcy Scottish giants it would oppose a Company Voluntary Arrangement.
Businessman Charles Green, who is leading a consortium hoping to acquire the club, confirmed the HMRC notification but insisted he would continue with plans to buy the club’s assets and form a new company.
Green said in a statement: “I am hugely disappointed by the decision of HMRC not to support the CVA proposal and that disappointment will be felt acutely by Rangers fans across the world.”
HMRC, owed more than £21m, believe the decision to force liquidation after prolonged delays and brinkmanship, will allow it to pursue individuals for the debt and “provides the best opportunity to protect taxpayers, by allowing the potential investigation and pursuit of possible claims against those responsible for the company’s financial affairs in recent years.”
It said the “liquidation route” would not prejudice the proposed sale of the club and would a sale of the football assets to be made to a new company, “thereby ensuring that football will continue at Ibrox . . . Rangers can make a fresh start.”
However the decision puts at risk the ability of an Ibrox club to continue in the Scottish Premier League. A new company would have to apply to the SPL to acquire Rangers’ share in the competition. The clubs themselves will decide whether to accept. Also, a new Rangers would not be able to compete in Europe for three years under UEFA rules.
Green said: “Frankly, I do not see what benefit will be achieved by this decision. My consortium’s offer for a CVA amounted to a total of £8.5m. Now that we will have to complete the purchase via the formation of a newco, the purchase price and therefore the amount available to creditors will be £5.5million.
“I can understand HMRC deciding that football clubs which do not pay their taxes need to be punished, but by effectively banning Rangers from Europe for three years all that will happen is that there will be less revenue generated by the club and consequently less money paid over to the taxman.
“Also, I do not believe that by opting to vote against the CVA proposal, HMRC will generate more cash by pursuing those they believe as responsible – but that is a matter for them.”
Green said he would explore ways of allowing the club’s 26,000 shareholders to buy into his new company.
Rangers owe more than £55m to unsecured creditors with investment firm Ticketus accounting for almost half of that total. The London-based firm has said it intends to pursue owner Craig Whyte for the debt. Rangers also owe money to several other clubs, including Hearts, who have yet to receive £800,000 of the transfer fee agreed when Lee Wallace moved to Ibrox last summer.
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