Rangers administrators talk to potential buyers

Administrators for Scottish champions Rangers said on Thursday they would meet possible buyers of the Glasgow club in the coming days to try to rescue one of the best supported teams in British football.

In a fresh blow the stricken club, the Scottish Football Association said Rangers faced a charge of bringing the game into disrepute over their financial affairs.

Following an inquiry into the club, the FA said it did not consider club chairman and majority shareholder Craig Whyte to be a "fit and proper person" to be involved in the game.

The plight of Rangers, Scottish champions a record 54 times, has sent shockwaves through British soccer where many clubs are struggling to make ends meet.

Rangers are part of the fabric of Scottish society, their bitter rivalry with city rivals Celtic illustrating the divide between Protestants and Roman Catholics north of the border.

The club's administrators said on Wednesday that they planned to accelerate the sale process after failing to agree a wage-cutting deal with players.

A statement on Thursday played down suggestions that a rescuer had to be found by Friday, but the club still faces a struggle to survive until the end of the season.

"We are continuing to meet prospective purchasers over the next few days," Duff and Phelps said in a statement.

"This does not mean that the club has to be sold within the next 24 hours - we are establishing how quickly we can get to that point," the administrators added.

Talks with the players are continuing and there is hope that an agreement on wages can be reached on Friday. The alternative would be big cuts to the playing squad that would further damage the club.

TAXING TIMES

Rangers went into administration last month over nine million pounds in unpaid payroll and sales taxes.

The club also faces a larger tax bill of 50 million pounds relating to the use of trusts to pay players over the past decade. That potential liability complicates the sale process, with buyers likely to be reluctant to commit until it is resolved.

A lawyer for Duff and Phelps told a London court there was a risk the cash-strapped club could fail to complete the season and be forced to drop out of the Scottish Premier League.

Duff and Phelps had gone to court to try to get their hands on 3.6 million pounds held in a lawyer's account pending resolution of a dispute with chairman Whyte.

"There is a risk that the club will fail to fulfil its fixtures," lawyer Mark Phillips, representing Rangers' administrators, told the court.

"There is a risk that the club could go into liquidation and be demoted by the Scottish League, which would eliminate any realistic prospect of a sale of the club for any sum worthwhile to creditors," he added, Britain's Press Association news agency reported.

The court ordered a further hearing on on March 30.


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