Money for nothing: Whyte used 24m season ticket deal to pay off bank
Craig Whyte sold off four years of Rangers season tickets — one month before he bought the club.
The embattled owner flogged the seats to London-based Ticketus to fund his entire takeover last April — four weeks before he persuaded Sir David Murray to sell up for just 1.
Sportsmail can reveal Whyte convinced Ticketus to advance him 24.4million on the proviso that he would then buy Rangers. That cash was deposited into a client account with his London-based lawyer Collyer Bristow on April 7.
Question marks: Craig Whyte financial dealings are under scrutiny
Whyte then showed Murray that balance as evidence he had sufficient funds to give Lloyds Bank the 18m they were owed — one of the key conditions of the sale.
He then bought Murray’s 85.3 per cent shareholding for 1 on May 6, paid off Lloyds and used Rangers employees’ personal tax — which should have been handed over to HMRC — to help run the club. Until it ran out and forced administration eight days ago, that is.
Had Murray refused to sell to him, Whyte would have returned the money to Ticketus — a gamble he was prepared to take.
The latest revelation means that Whyte, who stayed away from the first post-administration game against Kilmarnock on Saturday, effectively bought into the club for nothing before installing himself as the ‘preferred creditor’.
It is widely assumed he will never attend another game at Ibrox and there are now questions marks over that ‘preferred creditor’ status.
Strathclyde Police are examining files pertaining to Whyte’s nine-month tenure, which were handed to them by former chairman Alastair Johnston.
The SFA have also launched a full inquiry into Rangers in a move that was welcomed by manager Ally McCoist at the weekend.
Uncertain future: Rangers fans show their support for their crisis club
The ruling body claim to have been hampered in their efforts to establish if Whyte fulfils the ‘fit and proper person’ criteria.
Rangers are now 17 points behind Celtic in the SPL after receiving an automatic 10-point deduction.
The Ibrox club plunged into administration last Monday and, three days later, the administrators revealed they had ‘no visibility’ of the Ticketus money in the football club’s account.
The announcement came despite Whyte previously insisting that ‘every penny’ of the money had gone into the running of the club. Two weeks ago, the embattled owner also claimed to have sunk 33m of his own money into the club.
It emerged that lawyers Collyer Bristow had handed ‘significant information’ which provided ‘some visibility’ on the whereabouts of some of the cash.
An 18m payment was made from the account to Lloyds on May 9 — three days after the takeover went through, but it is still unclear where the remaining 6.4m is.
Exactly how much of the 6m proceeds from the sale of Nikica Jelavic to Everton landed in the club’s account is also unknown.
Last Thursday, joint administrator Paul Clark said: ‘Some of it is deferred. Some of the funds appear to have gone into the club — but we need to go through the detail.’
Tough times: Manager Ally McCoist has backed calls for a full investigation
There is also a question mark over what security Ticketus now hold for their part in the April deal. Were Rangers to be liquidated, the firm would have no obvious means of re-selling the seats they have bought between now and 2015.
Financial experts believe it is inconceivable that they would have agreed to advance such a huge sum without a safety net.
Whyte’s credibility among the Rangers support is at an all-time low. When news of imminent administration broke last Monday, he initially said he had been left with no alternative due to the so-called ‘big tax bill’ which the embattled owner claimed could cost the club 75m.
However, when the application was heard in the Court of Session, that story was exposed as a fallacy. The real reason the club had been forced into administration was down to the fact that 9m in VAT and PAYE had been unpaid. Duff & Phelps believed that this had been used for the day-to-day running of the club.
Just a week before administration, Whyte’s evidence was called ‘wholly unreliable’ by a sheriff after a civil case.
As players and staff at the 140-year-old club brace themselves for job cuts on Tuesday, the whereabouts of the 41-year-old Motherwell-born businessman were last night unknown.
He avoided the Kilmarnock match, claiming he was ‘taking a backwards step’.