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Rangers close to wage reduction deal

By Gavin McCafferty

Rangers players and administrators are closing in on a wage-reduction deal that would prevent significant redundancies.

It is understood that Scotland pair Steven Whittaker and Steven Naismith have both signed an agreement to accept 75% wage cuts.

The Scotland pair were among about half a dozen players to have stalled on a deal late on Tuesday night but negotiations resumed yesterday afternoon and agreement was reached late last night.

Like the rest of the squad, they had agreed in principle to the wage cuts but wanted guarantees that their sacrifices would ensure there would be no job losses among the entire workforce.

It is understood the pair are now happy with assurances from administrators that there will be no forced redundancies.

Administrators are now understood to be pushing ahead with attempts to sign agreements with the whole squad.

Given many players had been happy with the deal several days ago, there is hope that process can be concluded today.

Naismith arrived for training this morning and explained his position.

Naismith told Sky Sports News: "We just want to get the best for the club, everybody at the club's doing all they can to get a solution.

"There's a lot of Rangers fans in the squad and we just want to get it fixed.

"Everybody's trying to come to a good conclusion and get the best for the club.

"Everybody wants to succeed, there's a lot of innocent people here that just want to go on with their lives and get a job at the end of the day."

Administrators Duff and Phelps had warned an agreement to cut players' wages by up to 75% needed to be completed today to avoid significant redundancies.

The corporate recovery team had blamed the failure of a deal on Tuesday night on players' advisors for demanding personal conditions.

Some players had sought exit clauses in their contracts in return for wage cuts and administrators were wary of a mass summer exodus of key players that would have put off potential buyers.

But administrator Paul Clark appears content to accede to some demands for a caveat in the contracts given the uncertainty over the club's future.

Clark told BBC Scotland last night: "I don't think that should be considered that any or all of the players are considering that they want to leave the club in the summer.

"It's just a safety mechanism from their point of view, in exchange for the very substantial amounts they're giving up, to give them some flexibility depending on what the new ownership structure looks like when the club comes out of administration."

Talks are also set to continue with prospective buyers.

Clark told BBC Scotland: "We've got several parties who appear to be asking all the right questions and we are looking for them to move forward to make some bids to us, we hope at some point next week."

Clark also insisted there was no benefit for majority shareholder Craig Whyte in Rangers moving into liquidation.

Whyte's motives and actions have come under serious scrutiny and it has been unclear what rights he has as a creditor and what claim he may have over the assets.

Whyte bought his stake for £1 in return for pledges to pay off the £18million bank debt and invest his own money, £9.5million initially, but Lloyds were paid with money secured on the back of future season ticket sales.

Clark said: "There is a security that remains on the public record in favour of Craig Whyte. My view is that security has no value.

"There's no obvious signs, or information, or clarification we've seen that would suggest he's actually paid any personal money into Rangers Football Club, and therefore I don't see at the moment that he has secured creditor status.

"Liquidation tends to be the death of a business, or a football club in this case, and death tends to destroy value, so I don't fully understand why it's felt Craig Whyte, or indeed anyone, could benefit or profit from that."

Whyte was yesterday declared unfit to hold a position in football following an independent inquiry launched by the Scottish Football Association.

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