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Whyte 'will not profit from sale of Rangers'

RANGERS owner Craig Whyte will not profit from the perilous financial state of the club, the administrators said last night.

Craig Whyte

Duff & Phelps said it does not believe Whyte has preferred creditor status with first claim on its assets because there is no evidence he paid any money into the club.

Whyte's security on assets including Ibrox and Murray Park had been seen as a hurdle to selling the club.

The venture capitalist, who bought Sir David Murray's majority shareholding in Rangers in May 2011, finally admitted last month that he raised more than £20 million through selling off supporters' season ticket money to Ticketus to help complete his £1 takeover of Rangers and pay off the club's £18 million debt with Lloyds Banking Group.

Whyte had said he had a legitimate claim over Rangers' assets, including Ibrox Stadium and Murray Park, because he is underwriting the ticket agency's investment through his offshore company Liberty Capital and was "on the line" for £27.5m in guarantees and cash.

But joint administrator Paul Clark said: "From what I understand, there is very little benefit that is likely to be made available to Craig Whyte. There are no obvious signs or information or clarification that we've seen that would suggest he personally paid any money into Rangers Football Club so therefore I cannot see at the moment that he has secured creditor status.

"In all likelihood, whilst there is a security that remains on the public record in favour of Craig Whyte, my view is that that security has no value."

He said Ticketus had a "different claim", which is the right to three years' worth of season tickets "and that's something we are trying to resolve with them".

As Duff & Phelps moved to clarify the position, a source said Whyte believed he remained in the driving seat to take Rangers out of administration on the day a Scottish Football Association inquiry ruled he was "not a fit and proper person" to own a football club.

In separate developments, it emerged that Whyte and the administrators were embroiled in a court battle over £3.6m that could keep the club afloat.

Two companies linked to Whyte, Merchant Turnaround and Jerome Group Pension Fund, have submitted claims for part of the money.

Whyte was also understood to be in talks yesterday with the administrators about how a transfer of ownership and shareholding could happen if a new buyer is found. Former Rangers director Paul Murray, who is fronting the Blue Knights consortium bid with the club's second-biggest shareholder Dave King, was known to be concerned about Whyte's supposed hold over the assets.

There were also concerns revenues would be cut in half over the next three years through the season ticket deal with Ticketus and Mr Murray was understood to have been holding talks with the agency yesterday.

A 48-hour deadline to find a buyer for the club, which expires today, was set by the administrators after they said the club was in a "perilous financial situation" and may not be able to fulfil the team's remaining fixtures without the promise of new income or drastic cost-cutting measures.

A source close to Whyte said he still believes the club can emerge from administration with debts, including the "big tax case", through a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The club stands to lose at least £49m if HMRC wins the case.

The administrators believe a judgment will not happen until the end of this month or April.

Mr Clark said he hoped to deliver £1m a month in cuts over this

weekend and was still hopeful of securing a CVA which would slash the debt owed to creditors.

The administrators warned of "significant" redundancies at Rangers if agreement is not reached with players over wage cuts or they are unable to make progress in finding a buyer.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said Rangers now faces a charge of bringing the game into disrepute after an independent inquiry by Lord William Nimmo Smith said Whyte is "not a fit and proper person" to own a football club.

Mr Regan said: "Principally, it is the belief of the board, taking into account the prima facie evidence presented today, that Mr Craig Whyte is not considered to be a fit and proper person to hold a position within Association Football.

"We will be writing to Mr Whyte in relation to those findings and shall seek a response within seven days."

Responding to the SFA statement, a spokesman for Whyte said: "The SFA has indicated it will be writing to Mr Whyte within seven days.

"Until that happens and he has had an opportunity to consider Lord Nimmo Smith's findings, it would be premature to make any comment."

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