Tag Archives: Craig Whyte

Rangers Looking Forward

6 Apr

It’s a massive summer in the One Hundred and forty three year history of Rangers Football Club.  The journey back to the top Division of Scottish Football has been a long and arduous one.  Casualties have been taken a Rangers Legend has had his Reputation Tarnished and the Club lost a Legend to the evils of Liver Cancer.  Let’s not forget the fortitude of Ally McCoist and Sandy Jardine, when Rangers had no voice these Legends stood up.  When others ran for the hills Ally and Sandy went the took the path least travelled and stood firm.  Only one other Man has faced a dilemma of finding a squad similar to Ally that day the Journey began, Founding Father Moses McNeil. Let no one disagree that history may not reflect Ally’s managerial record in a a good light but in terms of the building a squad only Ally and Moses faced the same challenge.

Bill Stewth, Greame Souness, Willie Waddel and Walter Smith all built successful squads but they all at least could field a team at any given time. These guys may well of picked teams with players they considered not up to standard but not one looked at a player rosta that could fit into a Hackney taxi and would be struggle to fulfill a Tennents Sixes game.

Mark Warburton faces a Summer of challenges and given his track record the Ibrox Loyal are confident that the Londoner has the smarts to make the right decisions and bring in fresh players to bolster the Clubs push to their fifty fifth title.

The return of the Old Firm in the Scottish Cup Semi Final on April 17 give everyone concerned a chance to review and compare the Glasgow Giants. No matter the result its a win-win situation for Warburton. A victory and he knows his squad can take on Celtic and win. He also finds out where he would like to strengthen. A loss and he can identify the weaknesses and set about eradicating them. Either way The Rangers Gaffer will make a list of signing targets and provide recent evidence to aid Dave King and Company to open up their purse string and spend.

Make no bones about it if Leicester can win the English Premiership this year then Rangers can win the Scottish Premiership next year. More likely season 2016-17 season for Rangers is a top three place and possibly a Cup victory. That fits on the curve better than instant gratification. No matter what the Fans expectations have been raised by Team W (Warburton and Weir) the wizardry of a Magic hat and his Apprentice has brought Pride back to Ibrox.

Everyone has their views on what Rangers Need for my two pence Rangers need a snarling hod carrier in midfield someone like John Brown or Terry Hurlock or Harold Davis. A trusted tackler who is a master of the 20 yard pass to the play makers. If this player can also put his laces through a shot from 30 yards all the better. There is for all the skill no shock and awe in the line up presently. No Patrick Viera or Roy Keene type no one to fear physically. The squads weakness arw there to see but there is no psychological fear factor. No moment of realisation for Opponents in the Tunnel.

I am personally not convinced of the defence Rangers. On paper its full of good players well capable of defending in practice it seems to lack solidity and cohesion. Too many silly. Goals have been lost in the backwaters of the Innodrill and Tony Macaroni Stadiums. For every daft goal lost in the Championship it would be two in the Premiership.

Attacking wise Rangers are in OK shape maybe cover for Miller and Waghorn. No one is sure when Kenny will lose it all but under Warburton he shuttles back in the formation for every yard of pace he loses, no one could not predict Miller playing in front of the back four this time next year. When Talisman Striker Waghorn got injured his Midas touch was missed. He will have to return to plastic pitches at possibly Hamilton, Kilmarnock and even Falkirk next year so the chances of similar injuries are there so the squad has to be deepened in strength.

Off the field the Big Tax Case rumbles on this time it’s the Supreme Court sitting in judgement the current aggregate of two to one in judgements makes this one too close to call. Although the last judgement (the only one to go against Rangers) was based on ‘Common Sense’! It seemed to immediately lose its validity on this clause. Common Sense is intangible you can’t measure it and it’s certainly not included in either civil law balance of probabilities tests or criminal law behind reasonable doubt. Common Sense has no value it is neither Black or White or a varied shade of Grey. Common Sense being mentioned in a judgement just opens the door for the judgement to be thrown out. Common Sense is not Common Law it is not any Law.

The Criminal Cases will for most Rangers Fans and the media be akin to the the OJ Simpson trial. The Wee Tax Case and associated allegations and criminal charges won’t just be big news it will be the only news front and back page. Scottish Elections and Euro Referendum will fall by the way. The day of the Judgements from Court come be they Government Spin Doctors will release memos saying good day to release bad news.

Rangers fans just want the machinations of Whyte, Green, Ashley and co gone. These guys time connected with the club is one of shame and accusations. The second you have a Rangers fan considering not buying club merchandise on grounds of the retailer and distributer not on style you have problems. It does not matter if they decide to buy or not the fact they stopped to consider is enough. Playing wise the Dave King’s Blue Knights have to support Mark Warburton and Commercially they have to sort out the mire of hidden paperwork. The excuse of blaming the previous board is as tired as David Cameron blaming Gordon Brown six years ago. Dave King has had a Year in the big blue chair surely enough time to audit the contracts and accounts.

Salvation of sorts could come from an unlikely source. If Newcastle United fall out the trap door of the English Premiership then Mike Ashley/MASH/Sports Direct will be faced with a choice sell a recently relegated majority shareholding English Championship Club that has just missed out on the the biggest Premiership Moneyfest of all time. Or sell a minority shareholding in a Recently Promoted Business. As Newcastle’s value decreases the Rangers value increases. The opportunity to profit on your investment is greater in Clydeside than it is in Tyneside. Ashley will be forced to sell something simply by incredible strict and clear Football League rules. He will also be forced to sell quickly or face points deductions and sanctions. Ask yourself what has more likelihood of a quick sale, 9% of a business that the majority of your fellow shareholders want to buy off you or a whole football club in the slide?

This summer could easily define the next five years and edit the previous decade. Petrofac Cup and William Hill Scottish Cup runs aside this summer is the biggest in living memory for Rangers Fans. Thirty years on from the Sounds Revolution the Summer of 2016 is the Warburton Revolution.

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Hiding In Plain Sight although Far Away

14 Feb

The headlines that come out of Ibrox weekly, daily, hourily or even by the minute has became the darkest period the clubs 140 plus year history.

2015 was always going to be a big year for Rangers, the plan was to triumphantly and defiantly ride into the top league armed with a burning sense of injustice.  Vindicated by Tax Tribunals, criminal courts, Law Lords and advertising standards judgements to fight with bloodied nose and win title number fifty five providing further proof of being the worlds most successful club.  What has transpired even two months in is vastly different.

The club have suffered from mismanagement on a what can only be described as monumental levels from Boardroom to Coaches.  The open door policy of Charles Green to allow any number of investors into the fold without having a single majority shareholder has proved a folly.  The current board so inept they choose to have a EGM in London in an original venue too small to accommodate the shareholders wishing to attend.  Follow following a AGM where they chose to sit on a stage so far away from the shareholders that binoculars should of been issued so folk could see proceedings.  Let’s be honest about this I can’t print the Easdale – Ashley led board currently in charge has something to hide or is in some way up to something but people with nothing to hide generally don’t hide! Both Easdale brothers Mike Ashley or chosen Ashley representative Derek Llambias have never spoken directly to fans or attempted to describe a way forward. Failure to even try to get customers onboard the ship to salvation has lead an increasing number of fans to smell rats and vermin.

When a significant number of your customer base has decided that the best way to be loyal to the club and its business is to boycott your business then you as a board should be doing your up most to engage this number and alay their fears to keep the cash flowing. That is your duty as a Office barer and Executive. When this growing band choose to demonstrate outside your main doors and still not buy anything then your business has became fire fighting and trying to gain trust. Possibly if as much effort on this venture was put in rather than hawking parcels of land and naming rights about for short term loans then would these loans and deals not be required.

I have heard tales of conspiracy within Dark Corners of HMRC, (you know the same dark corners Mark Daly gets his information from) but how could anyone conceive the last five years at Rangers.  If you got Raymond Carver (the world renowned writer of short stories), Stephen King (no relation to Dave), J K Rowling (Harry Potter), E L James (50 Shades), Ronald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and of course Harper Lee (if you need to told stop reading right now and go away) sat them in a room told them to write and they came out with a script of the last five years in G51 You would laugh and send them back in to write something believable!

Simple put the merchandise is not selling. There is a bottleneck in the fountain of customer good will. Failure to communicate the plan, the ethos, the dream has turned into a nightmare for all concerned.  From terrace to players, the boards ineptitude in rousing the community has lead to boycotts from customers and performances from Playing staff that lack in motivation have compounded the situation. If you create a culture of no confidence in the board room publicly and privately then you get the malaise that is currently Rangers on and off he field. Its a bit like Lance Armstrong’s ”winning” bikes from his seven Tour de France ”victories” everyone suspects something is untoward, some even suspect or know of wrong doing but the cycle keeps turning hiding in plain sight for all to see.

As the final tax tribunal gathers evidence and the criminal courts stand ready to hear the cases against three players in the dodgy (we can assume this due to the financial events that followed) take over from Murray International Group to Craig Whyte’s “Trotters Independent Traders” the odds are not unfavourable that a positive result regarding Employee Benefit Trusts and at best some clarity on how a man with limited wealth suddenly found himself owning Rangers and not paying PAYE.  this should be a time of excitement for Bears, not a time of dread!

To return to the current board if you begin to act on security advice not to take up you seats in Directors boxes due to ill feeling from the customers who have chosen not to boycott you let’s just call them Moderates in the spectrum then surely even in Inverclyde, Newcastle and London you must think maybe I should look to selling my shares and return to my core businesses.  You know the ones where I haven’t upset my customers so badly that I need Police Protection to visit the company  Head Quarters.

The resignation of Managers and Stand in managers allied with the frankly shocking performances on the field leave even the most loyal tolerant patient  Blue Nose saying no more. 

What Does The Fiscal know …

18 Nov

As it stands we all need to be careful.  Screw with “Innocent until Proven Guilty” at your own personal peril.  As it stands four lawyer accountant types are on Bail and a former company Director whereabouts unknown has a arrest warrant out against him.  The Criminal Justice system will deal with these individuals without favour or bias.  Guilt will either be proved beyond a reasonable doubt or the charges will be admolished.  That’s how the Criminal system works, try to prejudge courts or generally interfere with it and YOU end up in the cells.

So it’s with caution I write and would urge you to be careful.  I am not going to argue and say your right or wrong, I am going to say be careful don’t mess with Criminal Legal Processes. 

The Police have investigated conjugated and digested, dug deep into the dealings between Sir David Murray Craig Whyte. They passed information into the Proculator Fiscal who has decided that enough seems wrong to be tested in a court of law. Where beyond a reasonable doubt is the point of guilt.

I wonder if anyone over Hampden way is thinking what did they miss because in open court with the public benches filled with Press the whole sordid affair and timeline will be played out for all to see. The fit and proper person test only has a balance of probabilities proof point. In a way it does not matter what the verdict of Glasgow and Strathkelvin Sheriff Court is, there will be fingers pointing and questions asked of the SFA. Did the SFA/SPL simply trust what they were told by Whyte and Sir David Murray?

SDM facing the deadly duo of both Banks and HMRC chasing him for money. His whole live’s work under threat his company Murray International Holdings. There had to come a point when something had to go and to get Lloyds Banking Group out of your hair on the Vanity Executive Box Folly down the M8 was easy shifted. After years of promising the public he would take care whom he passed Rangers onto well when the heat is wrongly on you it’s easy to see why standards slipped. Sir David may even of been pressured by the bank to take the £1 so they could get their millions. This reduction of his MIH group debt may of been a condition to maintain the rest of his business. Whatever the reason it happened.

The problem for me has always been why the Association who had promised checks and balances of Club ownership after Gretna, failed to be one suspicious. Remember if there is enough for the Proculator Fiscal to press charges then there is surely enough evidence for the balance of probabilities over Hampden way. There has to of been enough free evidence to trigger an investigstion. The claw back of £24 million from comapnies involved in Craig Whyte’s regime begins a careful process of realisation even for the likes of Stewart Regan. At what point did Regan and Doncaster begin to realise that they had been negligent in discharging their stated duty? Surely even today there is enough to revisit as to ensure the security of Scottish Football Clubs.

So whatever and whomever is found Guilty or otherwise in the Palace of Justice that is Glasgow And Strathkelvin Sheriff Court on Clyde Place surely it only increases the pressure on the office bearers within Hampden.

Right now there is half a chance that the whole Rangers affair was a massive con. Proved in an open Scottish Court the whole thing was a fraud. The bare minimum seems to be that the whole transaction was more than dubious. A reasonably solvent business was destroyed by a few (possible con) men and one of the authorities whom had proclaimed it to be their mission to avoid any dubious owners of member clubs, allowed the con to happen.

Entrusting the current Guardians of the game to ensure fair play and ownership of clubs means I expect the Proceeds of Crime Department to be taking ownership of Clubs before anyone over at Hampden digs out the “Fit and Proper Persons Criteria” file. Even with the reduced proof requirement of only balance of probabilities someone looked the other way at worse and was completely incompetent at best.

Even before the Criminal Investigation into the Sale of Rangers to Craig Whyte questions and concerns were being raised regards what exactly constituted “Unfit” in the judgement of SFA/SPL with charges being brought and Criminal proceedings begginging these questions and concerns have blown up in the face of the Association and others.

So the question that should be asked by the Scottish Footballs Powers that be surely is “What does the fiscal know?”

The question asked by the thousands of Rangers fans and to be fair increasingly worried fans of other clubs in Scotland (worried that if a massive aledged con can happen at Rangers then it could happen anywhere) are asking is. What happens now? Already using the SFA SPL own standards the balance of probabilities is that SFA/SPL/SFL compounded and condoned the dodgey dealings of a discredited Director then punished the victim.

Investment Direct?

29 Oct

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Mike Ashley buys shares in Rangers and supplies a temporary loan.  He owns less than TEN PERCENT of shares but has control or ownership of certain assets.  Due to his loan he decides to appoint a few key memebers of staff and two board members.  There seems nothing that wild about the Owner of the very Sucessful Sports Direct doing this.  It seems to the casual observer that a Multi Millionaire investing and lending money to a business and ensuring he has representation to protect his shares, investments and loans.

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Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley happens to have a rather sucessful resume.  Owner of a very profitable Sports retailer and owner of a English Premiership club.  The man’s money and assets are not on doubt.  Mike is not morgaging his mansions to finiance his interest in Rangers.  His credentials are public and accepted in principal by all.  The real debate is not if Mike Ashley has a million pounds but how many millions he actually does have.

So it’s with interest that the Scottish Football Association are asking for clarification on Mike Ashley’s influence at Ibrox.  It is well within The powers that be at Hampden to ask these questions and they even have a right to waive their rules and not wait until a shareholding exceeds ten percent.  What I find strange is Mike Ashley has an unimpeachable record as a Businessman and Club Owner yet he is subject to demands for clarity.  What exactly are the SFA concerned about? Mike Ashley does not want any public smear on his character or good name. He is at best ensuring his retail business has a series of assets of a big club and access to the hundreds of thousands of fans. His business needs to convert this fan base of a Fottball Club into a Consumer base for his Retail Group. At worse he is investing money into a company that is hemorrhaging money at a very alarming rate.

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Craig Whyte

Was not that many years ago that a Conman talked his way into Scottish football and the institution that is Rangers with little more than a forked tongue and a barely hidden morgage of assets.  Yet I do not remember any SFA concern yet alone anything that led to an investigation. How many others slipped in under the guise of saviours allowed to work a “long con” as Regan, Doncaster and pals look the otherway.

From a casual observers point it could be seen as SFA interfering with a Positive investment after allowing a very negative one.

What concerns can they truly have Mike Ashley has clearly invested his money and loaned money to a club.  He has the funds to do so.  Yet SFA and SPFL seek to investigate this investment rather seek a League Title Sponsor to benefit the whole of Scottish football.  Seems Neil Doncaster has put his Crayons down just long enough to look at the prospect of Rangers being well financed and stable with envious green tinted spectacles.

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The influence that Mr Ashley can impose at Murray Park and Ibrox is considerably less than he has at Newcastle United but slightly more than he has a numerous clubs and national associations. By the power of his retail empire he can if he choses to play hard ball regards the sale of replica strips and the like. The sheer size of Sports Direct means effectively in the United Kingdom Mike Ashley can hurt sales of every Clubs merchandise. He can also negotiate down the cost of wholesale items. Sports direct and Mike Ashley can effectively control a percentage of every club and nations income stream. So the prospect of the Scottish Football Association finding Mr Ashley as having undue power and influence at Rangers is indeed a moot point.

As for the motivation and reasons for this investigation I know the SFA like to be seen to be doing something at any time. A self justification of their position and salary. It is a two pronged public relations own goal though.

For Rangers Fans there is a case for suggesting why are the SFA concerned about Mike Ashley when they were not concerned about Craig Whyte, a man who took control of Rangers with genuine concerns about his background at the time and now proven almost daily in courts around Scotland. For Rangers fans it has a element of victimisation as the Ibrox club works it’s way back to the top league.

For fans of other clubs and the national team the question has to be. “why? When the game in Scotland is screaming out for investment. Are you so publicly making investing in the Scottish game such a impossibility”. It is little wonder that there is no league title sponsor two years after the Clydesdale Bank sponsorship ended and Irn Bru were dumped via the rushed reconstruction. Eighteen months on the SPFL have achieved nothing but creating a new logo!

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Neil Doncaster                                                                    Stewart Regan

The Dynamic Duo of Regan and Doncaster (remember him) seem to of melted into the undergrowth. Maybe they were buried under the Commonwealth Games Running track who knows. What we do know though is that when the silence is only broken by the likes of this investigation then in the unlikely event any blue chip company wishes to invest in the Scottish game they will hold fire until The blockers and mis-management of Doncaster and Regan leave their posts.

Hearts and The Shysters Charter

21 Jun

Brian Jackson, Neil Patey this close seasons big signings in Scottish Football.  To be fair both have been around a while.  Experienced with proven track record an asset to anyone who requires their skills.  The shame is Brian and Neil are not players they are football finance experts and in a world of internet forums every fan in Scotland is fast becoming competent with the ins and outs of football finance.

I watch with horror as another club looks likely to be liquidated.  Not placed into administration, liquidated.  Every piece of information I have seems to point to the fact Hearts will be liquidated before new season kicks off.  Reasons are simple debts out multiply annual income by over 3.5 times. Three and a half is around the maximum ratio.

Back in the old days when Bank Managers were respected and a mortgage meant a few meetings with this man not a quick hassle free phone call. Banks operated a simple lending plan.  For Joe Public it was simple three times your annual earnings oh and at least a 5% deposit. How we wish in this day and age that this simple financial certainty was still upheld.  Maybe just maybe we wouldn’t have so many state owned banks in 2013 if this was still the way things were done.

The banks with years of careful experience did not just come up with the three multiplied as it was their favourite number.  The banks after decades of experience realised that three was the magic number to lend out savers hard earned cash.

This brings us back to Hearts indeed any football club in Scotland with debt.  What the hell were the banks thinking dishing out increased loans to clubs that would do well to service the interest on the original loan let alone a new increased topped up loan.  A mortgage needed guarantees, collateral to give it its proper name.  A home owner technically does not fully own their home until the mortgage loan is paid off.  So what was put up as guarantee by clubs.

Last year Rangers via what is increasingly seen to be a move by a con man managed to pay off the bank.  The bank happened to have a man on the board and some would suggest in the dash for its cash the bank didn’t care who Rangers were sold too as long as they got paid in full.  Lloyds TSB/HBOS got paid in full and didn’t bat an eye when Craig Whyte then worked his spell over Rangers.  They had there money who cared about due diligence. It seems increasingly obvious that a combination of Craig Whyte and Her Majesties Revenue & Customs pursuit of a failed £100,000,000 claim consigned Rangers ultimately to Division 3.  When the magical EBTs were mainly declared legal HMRC did not say whoops we caused a company to fail via frozen accounts, refusal to compromise and vindictive persecution, no HMRC still convinced its right kept the accounts frozen and appealed the decision.

Hearts though have no powerful other in the picture.  Hearts fans have only one or a series of ones to blame for their predicament.  From the moment Wallace Mercer Sold Hearts the writing was on the wall.  Smart businessmen ignored the good business sense that had made them rich and followed the ideals of the fans.  More, More, More and when you have done that lets have some More. Investment not in reducing the debt, paying it off but servicing the debt.  In credit card terms paying the interest only.  The loans don’t appear to of had a structured repayment plan.  The checks and balances on these loans failed – missed payments tacked on to the loan.  That seems to of been en vogue.  Ambition may bite the nails of success but in this case it destroyed the heart and soul of a club.

Bill McMurdo blogged (http://billmcmurdo.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/way-down-upon-the-swanee-river/) that it appears that Hearts are only the first of a select band of clubs who are destined to call on Brian Jackson and his colleagues.  Bill mentions that unfashionable clubs who have sucked up the pain both publically and privately to ensure that their club runs within its means. Clubs that have put up with beatings and defeats from players opposing teams couldn’t afford are now in pole position to challenge.  As the sneering contemptuous masses of Clubs like Hearts who  looked down on Clubs running good businesses will now find out.  The so called Diddy’s are coming.

Hearts, Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hibs, St Johnstone, Inverness CT and Motherwell all indebted, all looking down from Ivory towers some may be saying there but for the grace of god but all dreading the call from the bank.  All failing to hit the debt being three times income ratio. In these times of reduced media and sponsorship, stands being partially closed due to lack of sales this income is falling as,fast as the interest is being added onto the loans. The lenders are in a panic. The lenders are fed up with multi-million pound liabilities sitting on their books. From a distance and upon forensic inspection these clubs business models don’t add up. The banks are not far from placing a member on the boards of these clubs and a demanding lender approving, disapproving and being in any control of your club is a bad thing indeed(ask a Rangers Fan). Simply put the lenders want out.
The Hearts situation has ramifications for all clubs with debt if a CVA is offered by BDO and the banks think that so many pence in the pound is a good deal they will engineer administration at other clubs to get something back from loans.  Cut losses and run! The flip side if the CVA being created offers in Banks eyes a low pence in pound value, the banks will be battering on the door of chairmen demanding repayment of the loans starting now.  Not cut losses and run more a structured repayment plan that will at best cost each club a players wages a year maybe more. That’s a player not at a club. That’s the double edged sword for most  top division teams.  Not for them cutting their cloth to suit but cutting their throats to pay and pay quickly one way or another.

They are clubs in SPL perfectly well run within means and budgets.  Clubs that have suffered for years destined to finish near the bottom but seen to be happy to be at the party.  Well breaking news they weren’t just at the party they were biding their time waiting for the perfect storm. Who is laughing now.

Sympathy for Hearts is in short supply they bet the farm and lost.  Sympathy should be given however to the countless redundancies being made.  Not the players released because with best will in world players tend to actually profit from being released one way or an other.  no sympathy for the people who today do not have a job and have bills to pay.  The people who worked in offices, answered phones and cleaned to building.  Today jobless going down the job centre after giving years to a reckless club.  Sympathy yeah I am for them.  I wonder if they believed the story given to SPL/SFA at end of last season that Hearts were ok didn’t need Lithuanians.  I wonder if some even bought luxuries thinking this story must be true because the authorities say it is.

The checking facts, Finances, Fit & Proper person investigation department at the SPL/SFA is I am told a room with two rubber stamps sitting on a table. One of the stamps says approved and  the other is a copy in case the first one breaks. That really is the question though.  Who in Authority is carrying out these checks on accounts and is a person fit and proper to run or be on the board of a football club.  Brookes Milestone (Gretna), Craig Whyte (Rangers), Gavin Masterton (Dunfermline) and Vladimir Romanov ( Hearts) all taking over clubs in last decade all the clubs dropped into the smelly stuff.  ALL APPROVED BY THE AUTHORITIES.  Same authorities who approved Stewart Reagan as chief of SFA.

You reap what you sow its true Karma is a bitch all the clichés are coming thick and fast.  As fast it would seem as Heart of Midlothian Football Club falls from top league to given the new structure the Lowland League.  As all Scottish fans should maybe get out of the habit of rejoicing and think who is next.  The Shysters Charter that is Scottish Football is entering the end game.

With the real possibility of two clubs either disappearing from football or relocating in a lower league this weeks fixture lists look more like a fantasy league than a declaration of events.