Alastair Johnston asks for inquiry into Rangers takeover

Exclusive by Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland
Former chairman Alastair Johnston and new club owner Craig Whyte
Former chairman Alastair Johnston and new club owner Craig Whyte

Former Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston has asked the government's insolvency service to clarify "certain financial arrangements" relating to the takeover of the club.

Craig Whyte acquired Rangers from Sir David Murray last year, but the club remains financially troubled.

Whyte has admitted securing funds of about £20m from the company Ticketus in a deal over future season ticket sales.

Johnston said: "Rangers' stakeholders are now demanding full transparency."

"I have had numerous approaches following the recent revelations in the press about the acquisition of Rangers Football Club and the use of future season ticket money.

"I am not in a position to answer all the questions put to me, but I do recognise the issue is causing much concern.

"I believe this is a prevalent view amongst Rangers' stakeholders who are now demanding full transparency about the funding of the acquisition of the club, its current financial status, and most importantly, the way forward.

"In order to allow all of the options potentially available to stabilize the club be explored, there must be total disclosure of all the underlying obstacles that need to be surmounted in order to achieve this.

"Therefore, in my capacity as the chairman of the club during the period when it has been alleged that certain financial arrangements of concern were executed by the buyer, I have formally requested that the Intelligence & Enforcement Directorate investigate and clarify this matter once and for all which is surely in the interests of all concerned."

BBC Scotland has learned concerns have been raised of a breach of financial assistance regulations.

A spokesman for the Murray Group said: "Following recent press allegations we have also sought clarification of the financing and security arrangements which the purchaser appears to have put in place.

"We can confirm that, at the time of the takeover, there was no debt owed by the club to Ticketus."

Whyte met a delegation of supporters' representatives on Sunday and again played down concerns over the Ticketus deal.

In the minutes of the meeting published by the Rangers Supporters Assembly, Whyte is said to have told delegates the reason for borrowing in this manner was because borrowing from a bank would be difficult and that it was necessary to meet running costs of around £3.5m.

The chairman also subsequently assured the RSA, following a meeting on Monday with the club's auditors, over the state of the club's accounts.

An addendum to the minutes states that the auditors "confirmed that they now have the majority of the documentation that they require to complete the accounts".

It continued: "Anything else that they require will be provided this week. They are confident that the accounts will be produced well in advance of 31 March. An AGM will be held as soon as possible after the accounts are signed."

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