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Membership of Club 9 remains a mystery after statement raises even more questions

E ven in breaking their silence, Club 9 Sports only generated more suspicion.

Peter Ridsdale  was Leeds United chairman before their fall into ruin and relegation, a story that was raised as an example for Rangers by Club 9 Sports. Picture: Getty Images
Peter Ridsdale was Leeds United chairman before their fall into ruin and relegation, a story that was raised as an example for Rangers by Club 9 Sports. Picture: Getty Images

In a 337-word statement presumably intended to begin the process of winning over the Rangers support, they only generated more questions about who they are working with, what their intentions are, even if they understand exactly what they are dealing with.

It is understood that Club 9 Sports have not carried out any due diligence on Rangers, or made use of the data vault set up by Duff & Phelps to allow interested parties access to financial information about the club. Yet they begin their statement, posted anonymously on their website last night, by saying that they have been "investigating, analysing and considering a potential purchase of Rangers Football Club plc, on behalf of a group of interested parties from the US and UK".

There is no information offered about the size of this consortium, who the UK element is, or what funds it has. Club 9 Sports assert that they have not, nor will be, bidding for Rangers, but fail to make any such statement about the consortium they claim to be part of. So are they bidding today or not? The declaration that they have never "spoken to or otherwise been associated with Craig Whyte in any way" would not be enough to waylay scepticism. Have any of the other parties in the consortium spoken to Whyte? What about Andrew Ellis, who was on the board with the Rangers owner?

Most troubling for the Ibrox support is talk of Leeds United. The Elland Road club had to use the newco route after their Company Voluntary Arrangement with creditors was halted at the last moment by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. Club 9's statement refers to "saving" Rangers and "preserving its past and future", because in "an asset purchase, all of the good and valuable assets (records, marks, names, trophies, players, staff, history) are preserved and separated from the bad and harmful liabilities (tax bills, bad contracts, creditors), which have put the club into administration and which act to force the entirety into liquidation.

"By putting all of the assets into a different corporate structure, the assets are rescued from liquidation. Such a transaction would be very similar to the one that occurred at Leeds United in 2007, which simultaneously rescued that club, maintained its proud history and allowed the club to shed its debt burdens so that it could have the opportunity for future success".

This statement came hours after David Whitehouse of Duff & Phelps briefed the media about "other routes [out of administration] which are a hybrid of both [CVA and liquidation] – you could either acquire the assets and lease them back to the company through a CVA, so you have a clean business unencumbered by legacy but you can retain an operating vehicle, again ideally exiting through a CVA. Or you can potentially exit through a CVA and then hive-down to a newco post-CVA on a solvent basis, which would be a lot easier sell to the SFA and UEFA."

Independently, the administrators and Club 9 Sports raised a scenario that had never been discussed before. One insolvency expert last night said that Club 9's statement "contradicts UK law", and was uncertain about the mechanisms Duff & Phelps refer to. The example of Leeds is flawed, since Richard Fleming, the KPMG administrator who dealt with that club, told The Herald that Leeds United's history, "doesn't relate to the legal entity, but in reality what happened was from one day to the next, the club was playing football at the same ground in the same competition."

The involvement of Club 9 Sports, and their explanation of it, has only brought further anxiety to the Rangers support.

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