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Cash-strapped Rangers set for administration


Scottish champions Rangers' financial problems intensified Monday when they announced plans to enter administration.

The Glasgow giants have lodged papers with the Court of Session in Edinburgh notifying an intention to declare an administrator.

Rangers are awaiting the verdict of a tribunal which could leave them with a bill of up to £49 million ($77.5 million) should they lose their dispute with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the UK tax authority.

If Rangers do enter administration, they are set to be hit with a 10-point penalty from the Scottish Premier League that would all but end their title hopes this term.

Rangers chairman Craig Whyte, who bought the club from Sir David Murray for £1 in May and pledged to pay off its £18 million debt to Lloyds Banking Group, blamed the previous regime for the current problems and said administration represented the best hope of long-term survival.

"As I have said before, Rangers costs approximately £45 million per year to operate and commands around £35 million in revenue," Whyte said Monday in a Rangers statement.

"There is no realistic or practical alternative to our approach because HMRC has made it plain to the club that should we be successful in the forthcoming tax tribunal decision they will appeal."

"We should not forget the tribunal relates to a claim by HMRC for unpaid taxes over a period of several years dating back to 2001 which, if decided in favour of HMRC, the club would be unable to pay.

"There will, no doubt, be people -- some of them who presided over the club in past years --- who will contend that the steps we are announcing today are unnecessary," Whyte added as he turned on those who formerly ran Rangers.

"In the past unfortunately, there were people who not only failed to prevent Rangers being engulfed by our current problems but chose not to invest their money to help put it right."

The Ibrox club were forced to sell star striker Nikica Jelavic to English side Everton on last month's transfer deadline day in a bid to bring in cash.

But deadline day also saw Whyte admitting that under him Rangers had borrowed more than £20 million in lieu of season ticket sales.

Rangers and arch-Glasgow rivals Celtic are Scotland's two most successful clubs and their rivalry is arguably the most bitter in all of British football.

It mirrors the city's religious divide, with Rangers a largely Protestant club and Celtic a mainly Catholic one.

Celtic currently lead the SPL by four points from Rangers, who are a huge 19 in front of third-placed Motherwell.

But while the duo dominate Scottish football, they've struggled to make an impact upon the lucrative European Champions League.

Monday's announcement by Rangers came just hours after Celtic revealed a pre-tax profit of about £180,000 in the second half of last year.

However, Celtic's turnover was boosted by £1 million thanks to a reprieve from the second-tier Europa League following the exclusion of Swiss club Sion.

Talk of Celtic and Rangers joining the English Premier League has often been presented as a 'doomsday scenario' for Scottish football.

But Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said on Monday they could live without Rangers, insisting: "We have a strategy that's independent of Rangers or any other club in Scotland."

Asked if Scottish football could survive without Rangers, Lawwell replied: "If people take some clues from what we are doing, then why not?"