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Administrators hunting for Withey.


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And Whyte's days in charge are almost over !


After a weekend in which the ghosts of insolvency past and present came together, the spectre of Rangers’ future will likely assume more solid form on Monday if, as expected, the embattled club’s administrators make cuts to the playing squad and other staff.

Sunday was the 18th anniversary of the day that Celtic came within eight minutes of bankruptcy before they were saved by Fergus McCann in 1994, but no such simple solution presents itself to Rangers.

McCann had the means to take control of Celtic and a business plan to liberate the club’s latent value which could not be exploited by the family dynasties that had been in charge at Parkhead for the previous century.

In contrast, the administrators at Ibrox must not only untangle the incredible mess made by Craig Whyte since he became owner nine months ago, but they also have to deal with the legacy of overspending that marked the era of Sir David Murray.

Gary Withey, Rangers’ company secretary and a partner at the law firm of Collyer Bristow – who acted for Whyte when he bought Rangers for £1 from Murray in May last year – remains a person of “crucial importance to the administrators”, one Ibrox source told The Daily Telegraph last night. The source added: “He is key to all sorts of guarantees and deals.”

David Whitehouse, one of the two administrative partners in charge of Rangers’ affairs, said on Saturday: “We have been trying to speak to Gary Withey. It has proved extremely difficult.”

It was Whitehouse’s understanding that Collyer Bristow were not aware of Withey’s whereabouts. The administrators were therefore surprised by The Daily Telegraph’s disclosure on Saturday that Withey – a member of the exclusive Hurlingham Polo Association – was at a location known to his employers and they will be in touch with Collyer Bristow again today in a further attempt to make contact with him.

In Friday’s The Daily Telegraph, I wrote: “Everybody associated with Rangers wants Craig Whyte gone as soon as possible.” That Whyte had been told as much by the administrators was confirmed publicly for the first time the following day when Whitehouse said: “We have made it clear that we think it highly unlikely and improbable that he will retain ownership of the club.”

What that outcome would mean for Whyte in personal and financial terms is anybody’s guess at this stage.

However, although Whitehouse expressed confidence that by the administrators’ March 16 deadline prospective buyers with the means to move Rangers forward – albeit with the club in a leaner and weaker state – will be identified, any interest must be conditional.

At this stage nobody knows or, it seems, can reasonably predict, whether Rangers will emerge with a Company Voluntary Agreement that will allow the club to extend its

140-year existence, or if it will be forced to emerge as a phoenix company after liquidation – or what attitude HMRC will take if the imminent tribunal judgment on alleged arrears of tax relating to Employee Benefit Trusts is delivered in their favour.

Amid all these concerns Rangers fans, management and surviving players have the problem of regenerating some kind of momentum in a domestic campaign that is imploding. Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Hearts was Rangers’ third in a row at home and their second successive loss in the league at Ibrox.

Without Kirk Broadfoot, who was injured, or the suspended Maurice Edu or Sasa Papac – all of whom might well have played their last games for the club – the burden partly fell upon the likes of Salim Kerkar, Andrew Little and Rhys McCabe, a trio unlikely to be found together on the bench if Ally McCoist had anything like a full strength squad at his disposal.

The overbearing backdrop of Rangers’ troubles should not diminish achievement of Hearts, who prevailed by use of sound organisation and enough adventure to outdistance the stricken champions with goals from Ian Black and Jamie Hammill.

A dictum of Scottish football is that neither Old Firm side is ever more than two defeats from a crisis and in normal circumstances McCoist’s management credentials would be derided by now. However, the existential drama being played out around him day by day – has positioned McCoist as the anchor which prevents Rangers from smashing completely on the abundant reefs and shoals.

As happens to Prime Ministers after a couple of years of office, an air of profound weariness has insinuated itself into his characteristically chirpy demeanour. And for two weeks now, Whyte has not mustered even the cosmetic decency to pick up the phone and call his battered manager with a vestige of support.

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