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£134m debt mountain looms over Rangers FC

RANGERS' total debts may rise to more than £134 million, with the extent of the crisis-hit club's toxic liabilities laid bare for the first time.

The administrators revealed in a report to creditors yesterday the 140-year-old club has confirmed debts of £55m, and a possible further bill of £75m if it loses its main tax case to HM Revenue and Customs.

Over the six weeks since it went into administration on February 14, the club has lost more than £2.5m.

Duff & Phelps's fees since administration until the end of last month are £1.2m – £200,000 more than the club has made in that period, the creditors' document revealed. Read it here

The administrators also accepted for the first time that agreement with chairman Craig Whyte is relevant to any club sale, with three of the four bids submitted by Wednesday's deadline being examined.

US tycoon Bill Miller emerged as a bidder for the Ibrox club. Mr Miller, whose offer was one of four submitted in time for Wednesday's deadline, made his fortune through a towing and recovery equipment firm, but a source admitted he is "not a big soccer fan".

However, the head of Tennessee-based Miller Industries, the world's largest manufacturer of towing and recovery equipment, has built a reputation in business circles of "resurrecting dead giants".

The administrators said they were further examining three of the four final bids, with an offer from a mystery German sports company no longer under consideration.

The extent of the debt, which does not include liabilities to employees, surprised fans, who have been left reeling by a series of negative headlines since the club went into administration in mid-February.

Despite previous claims by Duff & Phelps that Whyte was "absolutely irrelevant" to the sale of the club, the report acknowledges that agreements over a sale are needed from the controversial venture capitalist.

They acknowledge that Whyte's company Rangers FC Group has a hold over the assets of the club, including Ibrox Stadium and the training ground Murray Park, near Milngavie.

Apart from having an 85% controlling stake in the club, the company inherited a floating charge over the assets granted to the Bank of Scotland after paying off £18 million of club debt.

The report says: "The joint administrators have sought to clarify the level of indebtedness, if any, due to RFC Group in respect of this charge and are liaising with RFC Group in respect of this matter. Creditors will be provided with an update in due course."

Duff & Phelps also said any sale would be dependent on, among other things, "the ability to obtain control of RFC Group's majority shareholding".

The report also shows HMRC could be the biggest creditor, with a potential debt of £93m, made up of £14.4m confirmed debt, £75m unconfirmed from the "big" tax case and a further £4m from the "small" tax case.

Administrators said the estimated £4m tax case centred on the use of the tax scheme to pay players Tore Andre Flo and Ronald De Boer between 2000 and 2003.

It also shows that, if HMRC wins the main tax case, private finance firm Ticketus could not veto a company voluntary arrangement to get the club out of administration. The company put up in excess of £20m to help Whyte complete his £1 takeover in May last year through the sale of four years of season tickets.

The administrators confirmed they could break Ticketus's hold over the season tickets and leave the club open to a claim for damages over a breach of contract.

But they believe it would rank as an "ordinary unsecured claim" in administration.

Duff & Phelps indicated that they may still challenge whether the Ticketus deal with Whyte is illegal on the grounds that it was indirectly providing financial assistance for the acquisition of Rangers shares, contrary to the Companies Act 2006.

The report said: "Investigations continue into the circumstances surrounding the struc- ture of these agreements and there is the possibility of further legal action being taken in relation to them."

Administrators also confirmed they had held several meetings with HMRC about "the progress" and "likely exit routes from administration".

The report also reveals Rangers owes cash to 276, individuals, businesses and public bodies.

Also included among an extensive list of unsecured creditors are debenture holders, fans who loaned money to the club, who are owed £7.7m and former owner Sir David Murray's com- pany Murray Group Holdings, which is owed £278,964.

Celtic are owed more than £40,000, while English Premiership club Manchester City is due £328,000 and Arsenal is owed £136,000. Also, Rapid Vienna is due more than £1m.

Other football clubs owed cash include Hearts (£800,000) and Dundee United (£65,981).

Rangers were also owed £3.8m from other football club over deferred transfer fees and the administrators said they may seek to accelerate the receipt of the money.

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