Battle erupts between BBC and Rangers’ administrators

A WAR OF WORDS has erupted between the BBC and Rangers FC administrators from Duff & Phelps.

Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, both partners at Duff & Phelps, were appointed on 14 February to the collapsed club.

In last night’s BBC Scotland programme, Rangers, The Men Who Sold the Jerseys, the broadcaster alleged that administrators from Duff and Phelps were potentially conflicted in their role.

The argument is centred around whether or not Duff & Phelps partner David Grier knew about a deal that would see the club hand over three years’ worth of ticket sales to Ticketus.

Craig Whyte bought the club in 2011 but it was later revealed he used some funding from finance firm Ticketus by selling most of the next three years’ worth of season tickets.

Duff & Phelps has launched legal action against Whyte and his lawyer Collyer Bristow claiming that at a meeting, days before the deal was signed, they failed to declare the funds being used to complete the purchase of Rangers were from Ticketus, not Whyte.

BBC Scotland’s documentary alleges Grier knew about the deal and had ordered an invoice to be raised to Ticketus in June.

Grier denies any knowledge of the Ticketus deal.

In a response statement Grier said: “I categorically deny that at the time of the Craig Whyte takeover of Rangers, I had any knowledge that funds from Ticketus were being used to acquire the club. This accusation is wrong, highly defamatory and betrays a lack of understanding of the facts.

“Neither I nor any of my colleagues at MCR [now Duff & Phelps] provided any professional assistance to Liberty, Wavetower or Craig Whyte, in raising funds, performing financial due diligence, structuring or agreeing the terms of the purchase of the club from the Murray Group.

“Financial due diligence and other work was provided by Saffery Champness, a firm of chartered accountants who specialise in this area, and our primary role was to provide assistance to Liberty Capital in negotiating a settlement and assignment of the debt due to Lloyds Bank.

“The reality is that when my concerns about the use of Ticketus funding crystallised over the summer of 2011, I took immediate steps to raise these concerns with controlling directors of Rangers and HMRC.”

The BBC also claims it has seen an email from Whyte’s lawyer to Grier concerning the completion of the takeover, which states that the “Ticketus agreement will become unconditional”.

“The email referred to in tonight’s programme to Ticketus dated 19 April 2011 mentions the possibility of raising funds for working capital but does not provide any information of quantum or terms of such a proposal. To suggest this email establishes an awareness of Ticketus providing acquisition funding is absurd and ridiculous,” said Grier.

“Once we discovered the full extent of the funding relationship between Ticketus, Liberty Capital and the club, we took immediate steps to raise our concern with controlling directors of Rangers and HMRC.”

Duff & Phelps is currently in discussions with its legal advisor on whether it will bring a claim against the BBC.

Administrator Clark said: “The allegations made in tonight’s programme against Duff & Phelps are untrue, a distortion of the facts and highly defamatory. Discussions are already underway with our solicitors with a view to bringing legal proceedings against the BBC.

“We made a number of offers to assist the BBC in order they would not make the fundamental errors broadcast … and for some inexplicable reason, the reporter Mark Daly declined these.

“We had also hoped to give interviews stating our case on camera but received strong legal advice against this course of action, bearing in mind the legal proceedings Duff and Phelps have raised against Collyer Bristow. The BBC were informed in writing from our solicitors.

“In broad terms, Mr Daly failed miserably to understand the difference between working capital arrangements for the club and acquisition funding.”

Related reading