FORMER Rangers owner Sir David Murray has spoken of his "profound regret" over the decision to sell his majority shareholding in the Ibrox club to Scots businessman Craig Whyte.
Sir David sold his 85.3% controlling stake for £1 in May 2011 to Wavetower Ltd, a company owned by Mr Whyte's Liberty Capital. It emerged Mr Whyte had borrowed £26.7 million from Ticketus against future season ticket sales to fund the takeover, which had included a pledge to pay off £18m of debt to Lloyds Banking Group accumulated under Sir David's tenure as chairman.
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However, the club was plunged into administration on February 14, 2012, amid a multi-million pound alleged tax evasion case with HMRC, and eventually liquidated in June that year. The assets were then bought by Sevco Scotland Ltd, a consortium headed up by Yorkshire businessman Charles Green.
In the chairman's statement accompanying the latest accounts filed by Murray International Holdings Ltd, Sir David said: "Looking back, we continue to profoundly regret selling our majority shareholding in Rangers to Craig Whyte. We remain staggered at the revelations that materialised after the beginning of 2012, bitterly disappointed at the outcome of the administration and saddened at the ongoing uncertainty that appears no closer to resolution."
Sir David bought Rangers for £6m in 1988 and his 23 years as chairman were one of the most successful periods in the club's history. However, he has also been criticised for leaving Rangers in debt and for the controversial tax arrangements which ultimately led to the club's liquidation.
The problem related to some £36m paid to players and staff via employee benefit trusts, an arrangement HMRC claimed was illegal but Rangers argued amounted to legal tax avoidance. This was known as the Big Tax Case.
However, in November 2012 a first-tier tax tribunal ruled in favour of the Rangers oldco and said the tax bill should be "significantly reduced".
HMRC has appealed and the case continues.
Sir David added: "After the decision of the first-tier tax tribunal, it was evident for all to see that the club need not have entered liquidation. It is also abundantly clear that it would not have gone into administration or liquidation had the purchaser fulfilled its contractual obligations and responsibilities. Similar to our own complaint relating to the leakage of confidential information, we hope that the relevant authorities conclude their investigations and commence proceedings at the earliest opportunity."
On the field, Rangers, who recently secured a second successive promotion, were beaten 1-0 by Raith Rovers in the Ramsdens Cup final yesterday.