Ranger Danger!

Glasgow Rangers were beaten 1-0 by Kilmarnock on Saturday. This is the least of Rangers’ worries.

Nor will it concern Rangers that Glasgow Celtic won 5-0 yesterday.

For just last weekend, Rangers were four points behind Celtic in the Scottish Premier League. Today they are SEVENTEEN points behind. Football is tribal………and when you add in the heady mix of sectarianism, ethnicity and nationality the tribalism can be toxic. I do not subscribe to the view that Celtic and Rangers are two sides of the one sectarian coin…..as two squabbling kids might say in the school playground…….”he started it” and in this case Celtic are right…….Rangers DID start it. They operated a sectarian employment policy which meant that no Catholic played for Rangers for nearly a century.

Fighting AGAINST Racism, Sectarianism, Sexism etc is NOT a bad thing. Indeed it is a good thing. Fighting FOR Racism, Sectarianism, Sexism etc IS a bad thing. I do not apologise for knowing that Celtic is on the high moral ground.

On Monday it was announced that Rangers who have been overspending for years would seek protection from its creditors by going into administration. The main credit is the British tax authorities…owed a  staggering £49 million in unpaid taxes plus around £25 million penalties and interest plus a further £9 million deducted (over past nine months) from employees wages but not actually paid to the Inland Revenue. This  has stunned Scottish football….not least Rangers fans.

Nine months ago, Rangers was purchased by a millionaire investor, Craig Whyte for just £1 (a token) from the previous owners, promising fans that he would sort out the mess. Somehow he is now the main creditor and is owed £18 million. He is also a protected creditor. He will get his money……….although just how he is owed £18 million remains something of a mystery.

Other creditors will not be so lucky. They (including the Inland Revenue…..or the “Taxpayer”) will only get a proportion of the monies owed to them. This will include small suppliers such as caterers.

It appears that the original £49 million debt is a result of a complex scheme where Rangers “paid” wages into an offshore account and then “loaned” money interest free to players. The Inland Revenue disputes the legality and it is anticipated there will be a Court Ruling in favour of the Inland Revenue.

 Ironically the Administrators have been appointed by Craig Whyte himself. They are now oblidged to go thru the company books, working out the assets and liabities of the club…introducing some remedial measures……selling players and possibly other assets such as the training ground. And paying creditors. This will enable Rangers to continue in business.

Of course there are assets…..notably the ground which sells out to 50,000  fans for home games. But seemingly future ticket sales have been used to borrow money. Selling off players will make the team less competitive and it will probably take years to recover.

The act of going into administration was itself punished by the Scottish Premier League by deducting ten points from Rangers. This means that they cannot realistically win the title this season. And might even be pipped for second. Such is the dominance of the Old Firm, Celtic and Rangers……that the third placed club is still some points behind Rangers.

The possibly good news for Rangers is that by coming second they might still play in lucrative European matches next year. But that depends on the European football authorities issuing a licence before 31st March 2012. And that means Rangers have only five weeks to come out of administration by getting its various creditors to agree to the action plan and accepting only a proportion of the monies owed (including payments to other clubs). The incentive for the creditors is merely to rescue something from the chaos……but whether creditors play along is questionable. Can they afford to be principled refuse to play along?

The alternative is that without an agreement Rangers could be liquidated and 140 years of (toxic) history wiped out. The clubs fans forced to reorganise the club from scratch, playing in lower leagues.

This has been an uneasy week for Rangers….and their fans. Subject to much humour on the Internet. That is football tribalism, fuelled by deeper antagonisms.



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