Whyte used Ticketus cash in Rangers takeover
Administrators have confirmed that money from the Ticketus deal was used by Rangers owner Craig Whyte to complete his takeover of the club.
The firm paid £24million to secure the right to sell future season tickets.
According to a statement from the administrators released yesterday, the cash was used by Whyte to pay the club's £18million debt to Lloyds Banking Group when he completed his takeover last May.
David Whitehouse, joint administrator, said: “Since being appointed administrators last week there has been concern raised with us, not least by Rangers supporters and season ticket holders, about the agreement between the club and Ticketus.
“Following information received, it is now apparent that the proceeds from the Ticketus arrangements amounted initially to a sum in the region of £20 million plus VAT.
“Subsequently, £18 million was transferred to the Lloyds Banking Group.
“The application of the remainder of these proceeds is subject to further examination.
“We are now investigating all the circumstances surrounding both the purchase of the majority shareholding in Rangers Football Club plc and the flow of funds which stemmed from the transaction and were intended to fulfil the purchasers' obligations at the time of the sale.”
Whyte — who has revealed he will not continue as Rangers chairman post-restructuring — said of the Ticketus deal: “The arrangement with Ticketus — which was a three-season deal, not four as has been reported — was originally to provide additional working capital as had been the case previously under the old board.
“My corporate advisors came to me with the proposition that it was entirely possible, as well as highly beneficial, to negotiate a deal with Ticketus that would allow us to complete the takeover and maximise working capital.”
He continued: “The Ticketus deal was by far the best way to protect the club given the circumstances in that they have no security over any assets.
“The only person at risk from the deal is me personally because I gave Ticketus personal and corporate guarantees underwriting their investment — the club and the fans are fully protected.
“In terms of exposure, I am personally on the line for £27.5 million in guarantees and cash.
“By any stretch of the imagination that is a very substantial commitment to the football club
of which I have been a supporter since I was a boy and dearly wish to see through this crisis so that Rangers emerge as a financially fitter and stronger institution.
“I am the biggest stake-holder in Rangers and I face huge financial losses personally if the restructuring fails or is not allowed to proceed.”
In an open letter published on the Rangers official website on January 31, Whyte gave an account of his takeover which was widely interpreted as an assurance Ticketus funds were not in any way used.
Whyte yesterday denied trying to make “a fast buck” out of Rangers.
He said: “Despite the frenzy of media speculation and misinformation, everything I have done has been with the best interest of this football club at heart.
“Any suggestion that I am trying to make a fast buck or have indulged in illegal manoeuvring is clearly ludicrous.”
Whyte also claims he was able to satisfy previous owner Sir David Murray and Lloyds that he had proof of funds amounting to £33million in November 2010 — months before a deal was struck with Ticketus.
According to his statement, “it was several months later, when negotiations were still on-going that the proposed Ticketus deal was mooted”.
Whyte added: “There is nothing irregular or untoward about it, much as sections of the press would like everyone to believe.
“In business terms it makes perfect sense and is the best possible deal for the club.”