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SBD Global/June 15, 2012/Franchises

Charles Green Has Purchased the SPL Rangers For $8.6M, But Questions Linger

SPL Rangers preferred bidder Charles Green announced that his £5.5M ($8.6M) takeover of the club "had been completed," according to the SCOTSMAN. The news came shortly after former Rangers Manager Walter Smith confirmed he had made "an 11th hour bid to buy the club." Smith said that he had "the backing of several prominent Scottish businessmen" including Jim McColl and Douglas Park. Smith issued a statement shortly after the Rangers announced they had been forced into liquidation, saying that he had submitted a bid in the range of £6M ($9M). He added that his bid "was designed to ensure that the club could be stabilised" and to "provide a platform for Rangers for generations to come." Green also announced that he wanted Manager Ally McCoist to stay with the club. Green said that he believed McCoist "to be the best person to take the club forward" despite "rumours that McCoist was set to leave the club" (SCOTSMAN, 6/14). The BBC's Douglas Fraser reported that the fan group Rangers Supporters Trust has urged fans "not to renew season tickets in a bid to put pressure" on Green to sell to Smith's consortium (BBC, 6/14). In London, the DAILY MAIL reported that Green "could conceivably make a quick profit" by agreeing to sell Rangers to Smith's group immediately, but "his statement pointed to a longer-term involvement." Green said, "Our consortium wants Ally McCoist to remain as manager and we firmly believe he is the man to take Rangers forward. He embodies everything that is great about the club and without question we want him to continue as the Rangers manager" (DAILY MAIL, 6/14). In Edinburgh, the HERALD SCOTLAND's Richard Wilson reported that Green was "brought onto the scene by a Manchester-based investment bank when one round of bidding had already resulted in [one-time bidder] Bill Miller walking away." Green bid late and high, and "talked his way to the front of the queue." Since then, he has "weaved his way" to almost acquiring the business and assets of the club for £5.5M ($8.6M). Green has "promised to reveal the names of his backers," which could include British citizen Rafat Rizvi, who was on Interpol's wanted list after "being accused of stealing assets" from Indonesia's Bank Century in '10. At one stage, his personal wealth was estimated to be £385M ($598M) (HERALD SCOTLAND, 6/14).

PLAYER'S FUTURE: Meanwhile, HERALD SCOTLAND's Hugh Macdonald reported that Green and Rangers administrators Duff & Phelps "have insisted players' contracts would switch to a newco" in the event of the club being liquidated. Professional Footballers Association Scotland, employment lawyers and sources at FIFA "rejected this claim." Under Protection of Employment regulations in '06, contracts can be switched to a newco but this "must be done under existing terms." Employment Lawyer Paul McQuade said, "If a player decides to object to the transfer, there is no breach of contract on his part. By exercising this statutory right to object under the [Protection of Employment] regulations, he is not dismissed and neither is he entitled to any statutory or contractual compensation on account of the termination of the contract" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 6/14). The SCOTTISH SUN's Gareth Law reported that Rangers players "are fed up being kept in the dark with a newco set to replace the liquidated club." Employment laws "could allow them to quit for free, yet doubt remains over who would hold their registration." The Scottish Football Association has failed to "shed any light on the question of whether or not a Rangers newco will still retain the players’ registrations."  The SFA have written FIFA for clarification (THE SCOTTISH SUN, 6/14).

MEDIA RAMIFICATIONS: In Glasgow, the DAILY RECORD's Mark McGivern reported that Sky TV is "poised to tear up" their £110M ($171M) deal to screen Scottish football if the Rangers are moved to the Third Division. The broadcasting company agreed to their five-year deal with the SPL on the basis of four "money-spinning Old Firm clashes a year." Sources said that without those audience-grabbing games, Sky will have "no commercial reason to stay in Scotland." A Sky insider said, “Three years without Rangers, while Rangers climbed from the Third Division to the Second, then the First and then the SPL, would blow the whole deal out of the water." The Sky deal, which also involves ESPN, is worth £16M ($24.8M) a year to the SPL, plus at least another £6M ($9.3M) a year from shirt sponsorships and pitchside adverts. This "would collapse without TV cameras at games" (DAILY RECORD, 6/14).
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