With the failure of Rangers FC plc’s Company Voluntary Arrangement and the liquidation of the club to follow, the Rangers debacle is finally coming to a resolution. Fittingly for a situation involving so much unpaid debt, there are few who emerge from the episode with much credit.
But it’s the trophy end of the season, and I’m feeling generous, so here goes: the Billy Williamson Rangers Fiasco Awards, or in short, the “Fiascos”. There are nine of them. In no particular order, but all in a row, here you go…
The “Flying Fig” Fiasco goes to Lloyds Bank. Apt, considering they didn’t give a flying fig about anything other than getting £1 in the £ back for themselves and all but forcing Murray to sell to Whyte the Shyte, an act with an all-too-inevitable conclusion: the collapse of the house of cards.
Whyte himself wins the “Doggy Paddle in the Deep End” Fiasco. Whatever plan he had to extract money from Rangers, it seems to have dismally failed, which is one of the few bright spots for Rangers fans in the past year. A friend asked recently, in all seriousness, if CW was perhaps gently retarded. Admit it: you have to think twice before answering, don’t you?
Can a company be retarded? If so then Ticketus might be, for allowing themselves to be conned by Whyte into financing his whole Govan enterprise. If they weren’t conned, then they were crooked, so giving them the benefit of the doubt they win the “Bernard Madoff Financial Propriety” Fiasco.
Duff and Phelps know all about dodgy finance – they make a living from it. Quite how, I’m not sure, because they don’t seem to be very good. Remember Bill Miller, and his fifteen minutes of preferred bidder fame? Or the repeated, and completely wrong, assurances that HMRC would be agreeable to a CVA? Or the “binding agreement” to sell to Green in the event of liquidation? An agreement that may well be torn up by BDO, the new firm in charge of liquidating the club. D&P: winners of the “Undamaged Barn Door” Fiasco, which comes with a free banjo.
D&P’s fees are expected to total about £4m, and they should send a big thank-you to HMRC who are indirectly responsible for most of that. Rangers went into administration on February 14th and almost a full four months later the Revenue told us they were never going to agree to a CVA: they have always wanted liquidation so they can investigate the management misdeeds behind the marble staircase. Because D&P won’t send them a thank you, and for their painful reluctance to speak, I’ll award Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs the “Kajagoogoo/Too Shy Shy” Fiasco.
You could just as easily give that award to the Scottish Premier League, who are also very shy. Shy about making a decision. Specifically, the decision on what to do if Rangers go into liquidation, which is now the case. I’ll bet when Rangers are playing in the Third Division next season they’ll still be locked in a Hampden conference room trying to fit the “sporting integrity” square peg into the “making money” round hole, and for that they get the “Constipated, Yet Not Getting Off The Pot” Fiasco.
But that’s a minor award compared to the “Slippery Shoulders” Fiasco, which goes to Stewart Regan, head of our nation’s governing football body. Why? Because of his evasion (or should I say avoidance?) of responsibility through statements like this one, on the fit and proper person test: “It’s a myth. There is no test.” And this one: “We’re not the law, we run football.” And this one, on investigating owners of Scottish football’s top clubs: “We don’t have the resources or time to do that. We are not going to use Scottish football’s money to do that.” Are you in charge of Scottish football, or not?
The penultimate fiasco is a fan awards. Not voted for by fans, but given to fans. Specifically, Rangers supporters: the 99.9% of us who were happy to look the other way as the trophies piled up, year after year, ignoring that the club’s leaders were doing so by racking up unpayable bills.
But this award isn’t for willful blindness: it’s for inexcusable apathy. Despite having a Supporters Trust in place for most of the decade, and knowing for years that the club was in a horrible financial situation, and taking more than 150,000 fans down to Manchester for the biggest game in decades, we couldn’t get our act together to sort out any meaningful, feasible fan ownership scheme to save the club from the likes of Craig Whyte and Charles Green. It’s pathetic, and that’s why we win the “Store Dug” Fiasco.
The grandest of the Fiascos can only go to the man with the grandest ego. So step up, Sir David Murray, and receive your reward for a decade of rank financial incompetence. Never mind the mismanaged Employee Benefit Trusts, what about the £12m spent on Tore Andre Flo, and the £1m a year paid to Kevin Muscat?
Your only redeeming moment in the 21st century might be when you refinanced Rangers (as it turns out, with a loan from the Bank of Scotland). Fittingly, this top award is also the shortest, though the “Danny de Vito/Other People’s Money” Fiasco should look nice in your Charlotte Square office, on your big expensive desk.
That desk where the buck stops.