A Rangers administrator said fans' attempts to be involved in the purchase of Rangers were "akin to herding cats" and had referred to one supporters' representative as a "c*ck".

David Whitehouse of Duff and Phelps spoke out as liquidators of the club business accused him of giving no consideration to Ibrox or the training ground Murray Park being bought by a fan trust.

He said it was "not a reasonable judgement call" to break-up the club and sell off Ibrox, the training ground Murray Park and other property believing it was more valuable to sell it as a complete entity.

Mr Whitehouse and Paul Clark, who were joint administrators of Rangers appointed by Craig Whyte when the club he owned financially imploded in 2012, are being sued for £56.8m by Rangers oldco liquidators BDO which says their flawed cost-cutting strategy meant creditors lost millions from the handling of the club’s financial implosion.

Papers in the case revealed that while the Rangers assets were bought by the Charles Green Sevco consortium for £5.5m, an independent fair value assessment to the company on the day of the purchase was put at £27.2m.


The action comes nine years after the Craig Whyte-controlled Rangers business fell into administration and then liquidation leaving thousands of unsecured creditors out of pocket, including more than 6000 loyal fans who bought £7.7m worth of debenture seats at Ibrox.

BDO are suggesting that an ordinarily competent administrator acting with reasonable care would have researched a sale and leaseback of Rangers property and sought advice if accepting bids less than the break-up value of the club to get the best value for creditors.

But Mr Whitehouse says the strategy could be summed up in a comment he made at the time in which he said: "We've got to make sure that we have a blend of players that are capable of performing well on the pitch but also retain a business which is capable of attracting an investor."

Mr Whitehouse said while he regarded the fans as "passionate" they had been "very disruptive at times".

He knew that fans had put in place a support process which had 11,500 offers of support, but it did not amount to cash offers.

Asked about whether the administrators considered a sale and leaseback with a fans group involvement, he said: "I don't think we would have considered it. And we wouldn't have considered it a viable proposition to debate."

He questioned how the fans would have gone about crystallising that into a formal constitution, which would have produced an offer to buy Ibrox.

Kenny McBrearty QC for BDO questioned Mr Whitehouse's attitude to any fan involvement in the purchase of Rangers saying he had referred to one fans representative as a "c*ck".

"Might it fairly be said that it's reflective of an offhand and dismissive approach to the fans' representatives, do you agree with that," he asked.

Mr Whitehouse said: "This was at a time when there was a great deal of frustration I think in our minds over the level of influence which the fans were having on a process. In my view that influence, although well intentioned, was not of a positive nature.

Mr Whitehouse, a Duff and Phelps managing director and insolvency practitioner said there had been tensions which arose about how fans were able to fund raise cash.

"I remember one conversation for example where they were doing bucket collections outside of Ibrox and I said what if you raise a sum of money, who's going to own that investment. And they all looked at each other without any, any answer," he said.

Mr McBrearty said: "What I suggest is at the time, no consideration was given to the prospect of, for example, selling Ibrox or Murray Park to a fan trust, do you agree or disagree.

Mr Whitehouse said: "I disagree. I think the fans were very well meaning, but unco-ordinated and lacking in a core focus."


He said that they had a "disrupting influence" which was the Blue Knights consortium which was fronted by former director Paul Murray and included motoring tycoon Douglas Park, now club chairman and former Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy and the backing of Rangers director and then second highest shareholder Dave King.

He said they had said they were going to acquire the club and did not think any fans bid "would ever be a realistic prospect".

He added: "I don't think there was ever a discussion about selling Ibrox to the fans.

"There were discussions about the fans, investing in bids or supporting bids. But I  don't believe there was ever a specific discussion around the fans, acquiring Ibrox, for example, and it's not a discussion we would have encouraged because we were aware of their difficulties in co-ordination and the very, very clear and obvious challenges, which would have arisen, had they tried to mount such a bid."

Mr McBrearty suggested that by reaching that view he had underestimated the fans potential and that faced with the prospect of losing their club, it was "perfectly feasible" that they would have come up with enough money and found sufficient organisation to buy Ibrox.

Mr Whitehouse said: "They definitely didn't think there was a prospect of them losing the club, because they were being reassured by the Blue Knights that they would ultimately succeed in their attempt to acquire the club.

He added: "I think we saw an email earlier in this evidence where there was some sort of support process put in place, and they had 11,500 offers of support, but not cash offers of support, well, how would they have gone about actually crystallising that into a formal constitution, whereby let's say they produced £5m to acquire Ibrox, what would have happened to the rents, who would have had what shares, what would have happened when people pass away.

"It was miles off of any sort of concept which would have been deliverable and to try and encourage the idea would have just further destabilised the bidding process."

He said they had never reached the position where they thought there was value in the break-up of the club for sale.

"If you're saying to me that in the circumstances of the closure of the club, the aggregate value of bits for the brand and the heritable property would have been greater than that which those bidders had on the table at the time of the conclusion of the bidding process, I find that quite a leap of faith, and I don't think that's a reasonable judgement call that an insolvency practitioner would have taken at that time."

After the Sevco consortium takeover, the Rangers Supporters Trust (RST) launched a campaign to allow fans to purchase a stake in the Ibrox club.

Club 1872 a group formed in May 2016 by the amalgamation of two supporter shareholder projects; Rangers First, and RST aimed to encourage fan representation at the club.

The group is now the sixth biggest shareholder in the club with 5.02% of the stock.

Mr McBrearty said: "There may have been bidders who were prepared to live with the idea of restructuring the club and paying a rent rather than having ownership of a stadium."

The former Rangers adminisrator responded: "In my career, which is sadly quite long now, I've never experienced a situation which has been so widely marketed and so visibly available for sale on a global level. So to speculate there may have been other bidders out there that would have come forward on a different basis is hindsight."

The BDO QC said:"It is one thing to say that something is widely marketed. But the point made is that you were the administrators, and you should have taken control of it. You should have obtained specialist property advice, you should have realised that sale and leaseback was a possibility, and therefore, you should have been putting, to those who were interested in the club, the possibility that you may hive off the heritable property and only sell what remained. This was a matter within your control, not simply for people in the market to come to you and make a suggestion. Do you follow me?

Mr Whitehouse said: "Well, I follow what the accusation is. We weren't just waiting for people in the market to come to us, we were proactively marketing the business, and my judgement or our judgement was that we were marketing it in the most appropriate way and taking account of feedback from bidders and understanding how they wanted to retain the fabric of the club as one entity."


Earlier in the case, Mark Dingwall, editor of the Follow Follow fanzine and who was at the time a spokesman for the Rangers Supporters Trust said that the fans would have been keen to make an offer for the whole of the company's business and assets had the opportunity been available.

He said in his statement to the hearing: "I have to say that some of us who have maybe been involved for a little bit longer took a more reflective view, which was that buying the club is only the start of your problem.

"This is because in order for Rangers to compete at the level that they competed over the previous 20 years during the reign of Sir David Mruray, then the ability to pay wages is your major cost.

"To have sustained that Rangers really needed somebody to have the ability to pump in £5m a year on top of what was generated from season ticket sales and normal commercial activities.

"So, if you wanted the club to get back to what it was during the nine-in-a-row era under Sir David, to me there was always this need for funding that had to be filled by somebody like Dougie Park, Brian Kennedy or David King.

"Therefore what was probably needed was for the RST to be in some kind of partnership with these guys. But what we always said was that all the evidence of other football clubs tells you that with the size of our support, we should be able to raise anywhere between £10m and £15m from the fans.