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Baffling UEFA appeal doomed to failure as deadline for Rangers bids arrives

Published on 4 April 2012

RANGERS have no chance of playing in Europe next season despite a claim from within the club that an appeal to do so had been submitted to the Scottish Football Association.

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In a contradictory day around the Ibrox club, it emerged that administrators Duff & Phelps wanted to keep a route open to European football, apparently in an attempt to make Rangers more attractive to buyers.

Their deadline for takeover bids is 5pm today and Duff & Phelps expect at least four offers. They have also been made aware of renewed interest from Brian Kennedy, whose initial bid was rejected last week, and the Sale Sharks owner is expected to make a revised offer today which could take the number of runners and riders to five.

All Rangers' creditors will learn Duff & Phelps' view on the bids tomorrow when the firm uploads a progress report to the club's official website. But yesterday the administrators, who said an undisclosed West Bromwich Albion bid for striker Steven Naismith had been rejected, revealed that a futile attempt had been made to secure a licence to play in Europe next season.

That was a baffling, given that it already had been made clear that Uefa would not grant them a licence and therefore there would be no point in the SFA putting them forward as one of Scotland's representatives. Clubs cannot "apply" to play in Europe – the representatives are picked at the SFA's discretion – but they do have to meet the necessary Uefa criteria, and Rangers do not.

They fall short on two of the conditions of Uefa's club licence guidelines. They did not submit audited accounts with the SFA by the deadline of March 31 and nor had they met all their outstanding tax liabilities by that date. The club went into administration on February 14 because of £9m of unpaid VAT and PAYE. And, in accordance with the rules, the club submitted a letter to the SFA highlighting the issues that would preclude them from getting a Uefa licence, which include some unpaid money to the Swedish club Orebro for Alejandro Bedoya and the lack of a payment plan for outstanding debts.

Duff & Phelps had held discussions with Uefa, the SFA and SPL over Europe and the punishments to be expected if Rangers went into liquidation and emerged as a reformed, "newco" club. Rangers also face outstanding SFA charges of bringing the game into disrepute and improper conduct, partially because of missing the deadline for audited accounts.

The value of European football to the administrators, as a selling point, is obvious. Gate receipts and TV/radio income from any qualifying ties would provide precious funds for any of the potential new owners and the financial landscape would change enormously if Rangers made it to the Champions League group stage.

But the Uefa rules offer them no encouragement. Its club licensing guidelines state: "Each licence applicant is required to provide a copy of its audited annual financial statements . . . prior to the deadline for submission of the application to the SFA and prior to the deadline for submission of the list of licensing decisions to UEFA. Audited financial statements must include the auditor's report. The auditor must be independent."

On unpaid taxes, Uefa refers to payables overdue towards employees and tax authorities: "Licence applicants must demonstrate that as at March 31, 2012, they have no payables overdue towards their employees or social/tax authorities as a result of contractual/legal obligations to their employees that arose prior to December 31, 2011."

It was reported yesterday that owner Craig Whyte had agreed to transfer his 85% shareholding to Paul Murray's Blue Knights, only for that to be corrected. Instead, administrator David Whitehouse said Whyte had promised not to stand in the way of any bid on a point of principle, if he otherwise saw it as acceptable.

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