Meanwhile, north of the border, the saga of Glasgow Rangers, forced into administration last week after it failed to make PAYE payments, continues. Its problems date back over a decade to debts accrued to pay huge transfer fees and salaries while owned by Sir David Murray, but a new twist emerged today. Administrators Duff & Phelps have stated that some £18m of advanced season ticket sales revenues were used by current owner Craig Whyte to pay off debt to Lloyd’s bank as part of the takeover deal last year.
This appears to undermine Whyte’s oft-repeated claim that the deal was funded ‘entirely from one of my own companies’. In a 1,400 word statement he argues that using the season ticket revenues was by far the best way to protect the club and that the guarantees given to the ticket agent Ticketus were all in his name. ‘In terms of exposure, I am personally on the line for £27.5m in guarantees and cash.’
Back at Old Trafford, United – currently second in the Premier League to arch-rivals Manchester City – is in rude health by comparison. The club has a cash balance of £50.9m although operating costs have risen sharply, from £96.9 to £110.8m and net player capital expenditure shot up from £11.7m to £47.9m thanks to the signing of David de Gea, Phil Young and Ashley Jones last spring. The famously thrifty Sir Alex Ferguson splashing some cash for a change. United’s slick international merchandising operation also remains in good form, with commercial revenues up from £50.4m to £58.6m.
All in all quite a contrast with Rangers, which now faces not only legal action from HMRC over its tax liabilities but also a Scottish Football Association inquiry into the whole affair, to be chaired by Lord William Nimmo Smith. No wonder Whyte’s statement concluded ‘I will admit there have been times when I have wished that I had never entertained the idea of taking over Rangers. But I am a Rangers fan, and, like other Rangers fans, I don’t do walking way.’