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saw this post about us on Reddit (/r/HobbyDrama) "How one of Scotland's biggest clubs was liquidated and had to start all over again"

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just sharing. don't know who wrote it. (if the link doesn't work then i've copied it at the bottom)



Background - The Establishment Club

Rangers FC has long cultivated an image as Scotland's 'establishment club', it isn't just a sports team, but an institution that embodies a particular way of living and worldview. Alongside other institutions like the Church of Scotland, the club is perceived as embodying traditional and small-C conservative Scottish values. Alongside celtic (more on them in a bit) Rangers have dominated Scottish football since the league started. No club other than the two Glaswegian sides has won the league since 1985. Rangers have 54 league titles, celtic have 51. The joint 3rd best sides (Aberdeen and the Edinburgh pair Hearts and Hibernian) have just four a piece. And yet as a legal entity the club ceased to exist in 2012. What happened? Does Rangers FC still exist?

It would be impossible to tell this tale without telling the tale of the Old Firm and the profound political, cultural, and religious divides involved. Glasgow's two largest clubs have a rivalry that defies comparison to anything in the rest of Scotland or in England. Essentially Rangers FC and its supporters represent Protestantism and British Unionism, while celtic FC are considered to be aligned with Catholicism and Irish Nationalism. When the two sides meet, the Scottish saltire is rarely flown by supporters. Rangers supporters prefer the Union Jack or Ulster Banner, celtic fans are likely to fly Irish tricolours. It is as if somebody took the socio-cultural conflict of Northern Ireland and transplanted it into a football ground.

Which is sort of what happened. Ultimately a big factor was migration to Glasgow in the early 20th century - Irish Catholics in Glasgow set up celtic FC as their club, while Protestants from Northern Ireland (who are historically of largely Scottish extraction) who worked in the shipyards of the Clyde came to adopt Rangers which was located near the shipbuilding areas. Local Scots, being generally Protestant, inclined to support Rangers and many would have shared the religious and political feelings of the newcomers from Northern Ireland. This has meant that at matches both clubs have sections of support who chant about the Northern Irish conflict - some Rangers fans have a 'songbook' including the Loyalist anthem The Sash (which commemorates King William III, the Dutchman invited to become King of England and Scotland who defeated a Catholic army at the Boyne in 1690), while celtic fans might sing in support of the Irish Republican Army. This involves by no means the majority of supporters, but it is important in setting the atmosphere at games.

Rangers FC had until the late 1980s an alleged policy of not signing any player known to be a Catholic. This led legendary celtic manager Jock Stein to joke that if offered a Catholic or a Protestant to sign for celtic, he would sign the Protestant in the knowledge that Rangers would never sign the Catholic. I cannot find evidence of any player ever transferring directly between celtic and Rangers in the postwar era, with the low number of players who have turned out for both having had a 3rd club in between. Another example of the intensity is the way in which the clubs traditionally share shirt sponsors. This sounds innocuous, but the only way to sponsor one of the clubs without triggering a mass boycott by the other supporters was to simply sponsor both.

No other football rivalry in Britain has a dynamic like this (Liverpool and Everton did to a far lesser extent before about the 1960s, but sectarianism largely died out there decades ago), even in the days when hooliganism was a serious blight on English football it never quite reached the sort of scenes on display at the 1980 Scottish Cup Final.

Which club is the 'biggest'? It is impossible to say. Rangers have had more League titles, but celtic being the first British club to win a European Cup in 1967 is a fairly potent trump card. What is without a doubt is that they are the two best supported Scottish clubs and their rivalry is possibly like no other.

Chasing the Rainbow

Avid readers of this series will notice a theme. The 1990s were a boom time for football and everyone involved in the sport. TV revenue started to really take off, as did the prizes for winning European competitions. Many clubs sought to capitalise on the windfall and Rangers were no exception.

Their chairman, Sir David Murray, had become one of Scotland's weathiest businessmen by leveraging debts against future revenue. He spent big on Rangers in the hope that they would win a major European trophy and repay his investment. Top players like Paul Gascoigne came to Rangers where before it was fairly rare for big name players from other leagues to move to Scotland. Domestically his investments paid off, from 1989-97 Rangers won nine League titles in a row, equalling the record set by Jock Stein's great celtic side between 1966-74.

Unfortunately this did not translate to the windfall a Champion's League win would have given. While Murray was bankrolling Rangers, other clubs around Europe were likewise chasing the new massive financial prizes. Rangers came close to getting past the group stage of the new Champion's League format in 1992-93, but no Scottish club would enter a Champion's League knockout round until Rangers do so in 2005-06.

The debts mounted and Murray sought ways to manage the debts and hedge them against future revenue anticipated from TV fees and European prize money. He allowed the Bank of Scotland to buy a stake in the club with a mortgage allowing them to recover their losses in the event of the club defaulting on its repayments. Nothing to worry about, surely? David Murray had become a wildly successful businessman by effectively managing credit lines and debt against future income to fund expansion.

But a far bigger problem was just three small letters.


Put simply, Employee Benefit Trusts are a way of not paying tax, it was legal in some cases at the time but is generally illegal now.

Murray sought, from 2000, to pay his players through EBTs. This meant that they would be able to offer high net wages to players while cutting tax costs. In Britain most employees have all their tax payments deducted by the employer, so schemes like this and ones where employees are paid in dividends are a way of essentially not paying tax.

By 2010 HMRC had begun to investigate the case, concluding that Rangers may have evaded £49m in taxes, a vast amount for a club already overleveraged in debt in a league not known for being particularly wealthy.

By about 2008 Murray had had enough of Rangers and was looking to sell up. He had gambled and lost huge amounts of money on the club, which was now saddled with huge amounts of debt. The prospect of paying £49m to HMRC if the courts ruled against Rangers deterred any serious buyer and it took some years for a buyer to emerge. Another serious issue was the sheer amount of debt Rangers had to Lloyds (who had taken over the Bank of Scotland), with fans in 2009 threatening a boycott of the banking chain if the bank called in its debts.

Would a buyer emerge and save Rangers from this predicament?

Well, a buyer would emerge in 2011. Not the other bit, sadly.

Enter Craig Whyte

Craig Whyte had once been Scotland's youngest millionaire as a venture capitalist. He bought the club for £1 from Murray but desperately needed to leverage some funds to settle the Lloyds debt, so he borrowed a cool £26.7m against future season ticket sales. This on the face of it should have set alarm bells, even the biggest clubs don't make huge amounts of money on matchday tickets in relation to their massive costs.

Whyte also indulged in a bit of tax fiddling. But rather than setting up an avoidance mechanism and letting the lawyers fight it out, he just stopped sending Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs the income tax payments for the club players and staff. Definitely not the sophistication of Murray.

Matters only got worse. In early 2012 BBC Scotland aired a BAFTA-winning documentary about Whyte and Rangers, which revealed that Whyte had been once banned from working as a company director for seven years. The Scottish Football Association agreed, Whyte was not a 'Fit and Proper' person to own a football club.

At about this time Rangers entered administration. When this happens in Britain, the company's creditors can agree to a 'Company Voluntary Arrangement' (CVA) which essentially means agreeing a plan for the company to continue operating while in administration so the creditors can recover their debts. HMRC, with the outstanding £49m tax case from Murray's era plus the money owed by Whyte's outright failure to pay tax, voted against allowing this to happen.

In the absence of a CVA and agreement with creditors, this meant that Rangers FC as a company ceased to exist in June 2012, with all assets transferred to 'Sevco Scotland Ltd'.

Could this have been avoided? In the end, the £49m owed to HMRC which proved such a millstone has been substantially reduced and the cases around it are still ongoing. But ultimately, Rangers had vast amounts of debt not just to HMRC.

For his part Whyte would be bankrupted by his loan to buy the club and would be faced with a far longer ban on acting as a company director.

Sevco FC?

Sevco inherited everything Rangers had. The players had an opportunity to transfer their employment to Sevco, which also gained Ibrox Stadium and Ranger's membership of the Scottish Premier League.

For the club owned by Sevco to be able to play in the SPL next season, 2/3rds of members had to vote in favour. Clubs such as Aberdeen, Dundee United, and Hearts bowed to fan feeling that Rangers could not continue where they left off. In the end, no club voted in favour of Rangers remaning in the SPL with only Kilmarnock abstaining. This event would generate a huge amount of bad feeling and bitterness from Rangers fans who felt that supporters of other clubs were content to throw them under a bus for reasons not of their making. There was definitely a sense of schadenfreude from supporters of other clubs, watching Scotland's 'Establishment Club' go to the wall.

Could Rangers join the Scottish First Division and gain promotion to the Premier League? First Division clubs didn't want to face the consequences of a Premier League problem, so they also rejected it.

In the end, the Scottish Football League allowed Rangers FC to rejoin the league in the Third Division, a largely semi-professional league three divisions below the Premier League. Their first competitive game was a Challenge Cup (competition for the two lower leagues in the Scottish Football League) tie against Brechin City, who represent a sleepy town of just 7,000.

Clawing their way back up

Most of Ranger's players had refused their statutory right to transfer employment to the new company. Nonetheless, the 2012-13 season started well with their first home league game setting a world record for the best attended fourth division match in history as over 49,000 attended Rangers vs East Stirlingshire. A strong league performance saw Rangers confirm promotion into the 3rd tier by the end of March.

2013-14 saw another promotion as Rangers had an unbeaten season in League One (the leagues were renamed at about this time) to secure promotion to the Championship, the first league which would be wholly filled with professional clubs after the mix of professional and semi-professional that plies their trade in Scotland's lower leagues.

Rangers didn't make it three back-to-back promotions as they lost a promotion play-off final 6-1 to Motherwell, one of Scotland's more successful non-Old Firm clubs who had suffered a stint in the 2nd tier.

During this season they met celtic in the cup. Some celtic fans placed an advert in a newspaper claiming that the 'Old Firm' was over and while they had enjoyed a rivalry with Rangers FC they did not recognise the new club as the same entity. This caused some controversy, not just with Rangers fans, but with celtic fans who were indeed looking forward to the first Old Firm in some time. The accusation that Rangers were 'Zombies' or 'Sevco FC' would become a common one from celtic supporters at games and remains as such.

Rangers won the 2016-15 Scottish Championship to secure promotion, while also beating celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final. But, the 'Gruesome Twosome' of Scottish football would once again grace the top flight together.

Same as before?

celtic had done very well out of the previous few years. They had won a succession of League titles at a canter with the accompanying European qualification giving them financial muscle the other clubs couldn't compete with. Rangers finished a respectable 3rd, but celtic once again dominated the league.

After an embarrassing elimination out of the Europa League at the hands of a semi-professional side from Luxembourg, Rangers didn't improve on their 3rd place and celtic won again. It wasn't until 2018-19 that Rangers finished 2nd.

With celtic winning again.

Could celtic's domination be broken before they won 10 titles in a row and broke the record jointly held by 1960s-70s celtic and 1990s Rangers? Perhaps not yet.

2019-20 started well, Rangers had a fantastic run in the Europa League under Steven Gerrard and beat celtic at their ground for the first time since 2010. COVID put paid to an increasingly close title race with celtic awarded the title based on Points Per Game with the season abandoned.

This season has very much been Ranger's season though. At the time of writing they seem, barring a miracle/disaster, overwhemingly likely to win the League this year and deny celtic the coveted ten in a year.


Is the Rangers FC of today the same club as that pre-2012? Displays from celtic fans would say not, and as a legal entity it certainly isn't the same. But UEFA allows for 'sporting continuity' for a club in terms of identity and honours even if the holding company or corporate structure changes. This suggests something that many football supporters would agree with - a club is as much as community asset as it is a company or business and the stories we have looked at explore the issues when the business and the community collide.



AljayBoy and RFC Eagle like this
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Gives a definite opinion in subject title, then skirts around the main issue in the lengthy prose with no conclusion to justify title.

File under "Old stuff with provocative title, but no clarity of reason, justification or conclusion"


Ironic he mentions Arsenal aat the bottom. I believe Arsenal were in a similar position with HMRC, but were aided by the English FA and allowed a pay off £11,000,000 to the taxman to clear any issues.. 

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The guy does appear to be have some authority on Notts County dickpics.

"The first six episodes covered Nottingham Forest's 21st century woes, the dickpic that consigned Notts County to the non-league, a reignited rivalry between Derby County and Leeds United, Stoke City's legendary shithouse era, the English Golden Generation of the 00s descending into farce, and Wimbledon FC's controversial relocation to Milton Keynes"

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Could have the winning lottery numbers in it or a free hooker but by christ im no reading that :lol: Everyone on here is well versed on the utter heartbreak we've been through the past decade.

From the intial punt down, to players not even having names on the back of the shirt, balls getting stuck im hedges, getting put out cups by part time teams, losing to motherwell in the play offs, to hibs in the sc final, the massive loses to celtic etc etc 

Get the sentiment on here, but we all know firmly what happend :pipe:

qwerty, GWR1979 and Mclean RFC like this
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Were we sevco when they were beating us 5-0 no we were Rangers from the 90s, When the sevco patter flows you know they are hurting, the obsession with all things sevco could also be a contributing factor to why they  are in the trouble they are in at the moment. 


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24 minutes ago, RfcSevco said:

Hes posted some right strange stuff at times.

The last throw of the dice from moon howlers. Sevvvcccooooooooo

He posts every 30 seconds in the match thread and it’s a right pain in the arse :lol:

Mind he also said Gerrard should “fuck off back down to Liverpool” and removed his profile picture of him while we were losing at home to Motherwell

TamCoopz likes this
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