First off, if the book title “Into the Bear Pit” is Cockney rhyming slang for ‘Into the Shit” or into the Shitiest deal you will ever see in your life, then that’s a fair and good title.
The book opens with Craig Whyte’s education and quest for wealth from a young age. His love of ancient mythology and mathematics, and how they set him on a course for playing the stock markets from a relatively young age, whilst running to some old Greek prophet’s thought process. He got quite good at this apparently, moving cash from fund to fund, collecting the gain before he even paid the last fund. This point is important later.
In my opinion the book makes Craig Whyte out to be a bit of a coward honestly. The way I read this, he seemed to avoid the tough conversations when the true picture of what he was buying became clear, yet he did nothing about it, or even tried to stop the transaction. When the demise of the then Rangers Football Club was flowing in full effect, he, and the real villain in this story David Murray, were keen to “hide behind their advisors”. Their advisors got paid to appease them, telling them what they wanted to hear, not what was actually going on, I think.
If the accounts in the book are true, the old company was going under whether Craig Whyte, or anyone else stupid enough, stepped in or not. There was a squeeze and incentive from Lloyds Bank in that they were starting the default management process against Murray’s company (Murray international Metals ~ AKA~MIM) to the tune of about $130 mill that was owed. Murray’s company was Corporate Guarantor for the Rangers’ loans, which didn’t help.
Knowing that administration was coming, the book states that Murray provided financial incentives to the then Old Boys Club of a board to “get this deal done”. Lloyds would be paid by the sale of Rangers in exchange for Lloyds selling Murray back his repossessed assets for, yes £1 (I Pound Sterling GBP). But Rangers were £18-30 mill in debt. How can you satisfy £18-30 million pounds for only £1? That’s a bargain, right?
Well that’s where the poor gullible buggers we know as Ticketus come in. £25 mill hush hush (see you in court later on – let’s try and do a Man United type deal). Ticketus fronted the amount owed to Lloyds to pay off Rangers’ debts in exchange for the next 5 years of season ticket revenues, AKA a payday loan.
What’s the difference between Man United and Rangers deal? Man United had an experienced “Billionaire” owner with a global reputation for sourcing funds and turning around asset rich and cash poor companies. They floated a very successful bond sale which raised about £500 Million, which was more than enough to pay off Ticketus in full, stopping any further interest payments owed.
Man United were bought using 3rd party money and then sold the company to the market raising enough capital to satisfy all the debt. Basically the Glaziers bought Man United with nothing and now they own a £3.6 Billion global brand business. Not bad, eh? Rangers could not raise even one million if my memory serves me right. Yes we laughed – they were, and are, the gift that keeps on giving.
Now back to Rangers who had Craig Whyte, who was afraid to put his hand in his own pocket knowing that every penny was going down the toilet to the administrators. That and two tax owed cases against NHRC to deal with, and a stadium facility that was falling apart.
So even though Craig Whyte knew administration was happening before he bought the club, the crazy man still went ahead and bought the club. I think he saw the fame game, and sure there was pressure mounting from Murray’s camp. To be fair it’s usually the buyer pushing to buy, not the seller pushing the sale over the finish line. Most notably it was his “I’m nobody, about to be somebody” ego that tripped him up.
A short nine months later it was Happy Administration Day. February 14th 2012. Yep, it was Valentine’s Day for all you romantics. After this they could no longer use EBT’s to employ the services of players they could not really afford, and their once proud, sorry loyal team were falling apart. They also had an Assistant Manager who wrote his own contract extension language to say that when Walter Smith packs it in at the end of the season for Everton (Big Wally knew – what was about to happen), the Managers job is mine by default or you have to pay me £1 million in compensation. (Yeah no kidding, that actually got approved by Murray when he just wanted out. By the sound of it Murray would have signed anything at that point.)
The board subsequentially thought Derrek McInnis at Aberdeen was a better fit, but they didn’t have the £1 million to pay off fat Sally, so congratulations you are now the new Manager at the worst time in their history. All of that mismanagement, and misappropriation of funds, was followed by a failed European Campaign that cost them a significant loss of revenues. Revenues that were really needed to cash flow the business, after serious borrowing from Paul to pay Peter then using Peters cash to pay John, just like when CraigyBhoy was a financial investor, with other people’s money.
This is similar to kiting in financial terms. The well at the bank ran dry, with no new offers of support, nothing left to sell, and no back up savings account. CraigyBhoy was definitely not putting his hand in his own pocket now. Point to note that some Celtic fans of significant celebrity, fame and wealth would, I imagine, pitch in if roles were reversed.
Rod Stewart or Billy Connolly to name two of the many faces that grace Celtic Park on game day. Like Wee Fergus the Bunnet did. No offers came in from the likes of former players or Gordon Ramsay or even their board, and forgive me but I can’t think of any other celebrity fans with access to any wealth.
There was the fear of not 1 but 2 cases against HMRC, and losing confidence that they could even win 1 case. Add to that a stadium facility that was “falling apart” that needed a “major” overhaul at a proposed cost of around £15 million. There was only but one option, and on October 31st, 2012 the Ranjurs died, after failing with a CVA, and HMRC, for some weird reason, not trusting that a club with such integrity, morals, and good standing and wonderful character as The Rangers could keep to an agreed payment plan.
The club founded in 1873 was liquidated by the court. Their debts and their history were extinguished, in a 20 minute court session. That day will always be celebrated with jelly and ice cream as the day when the Ranjurs died. They claim the world, the media, the SFA, every other member club wanted to see them fail. That is probably true. Both Old Co and New Co are probably equally hated to this day.
Craig Whyte, AKA The Whyte Knight, AKA The Saviour, AKA Money bags, AKA The Billionaire Fan. Call him what you want, but from here on in CraigyBhoy will always be an honorary Tim. Fans stopping him in the street to take selfies, with green and white scarfs on, not the blue ones he followed for years.
Sometime after their arse fell out, and they had started rebuilding from the 3rd division up, the Old Boys establishment decided to pursue CraigyBhoy through the courts by alleging improper use of funds to take over a company and the charge that CraigyBhoy lied on his director application. They needed something to pin on our lad for crimes against their feelings. They had him arrested, hauled off a flight, put in a cell. To be fair, this was not the usual lifestyle he was accustomed to, between his castle in the Scottish Highlands, his place in Monaco, and his Posh Pad in London. Boo-hoo, anyway, he was busted.
The court argued that he misled the Old Co about the source of funds, not disclosing in detail that he was funding this acquisition via a 3rd party. They said he misled them about his personal wealth and how much he planned to inject into the Club. Apparently when the Daily Record printed that a Scottish Billionaire wanted to buy Rangers, that was all the old board’s due diligence done.
That’s all the research they needed, because the Daily Record said so. CraigyBhoy had to lawyer up and defend himself. Like OJ got Johnny Cochrane, CraigyBhoy got the biggest Rangers Man going. A man who held a grudge against his former employer, where he tickled the palms of many a man as a director, until he was embarrassingly removed from his position by the one and only David Murray, would help save CraigyBhoy.
One who was qualified and held the title of registered QC and could defend him. Yep, one of the old establishment old boys club, Mr. Wig himself, Donald Finlay, agreed to defend Craig Whyte.
Per the book, the court case and trial against CraigyBhoy was a piss take and a waste of public funds. Every argument the prosecution lodged against our Bhoy, Donald Finlay QC, the horrible wee man with the wig, had an answer. He took all the witnesses to task. From Duff and Phelps (he ripped them a new arse), to the old Rangers Board, some of whom he had served as a director with, yep he ripped them a new arse too.
Then came the Pay Per View Event – Donald Finlay versus The Bold Davy Murray. Not an empty seat in the courtroom. Councillor had the stage. He had the power to ask Murray anything he wanted about the demise of “his” club. When Murray scuppered and danced with his answers, Finlay reminded him he was in the witness box for the prosecution and it was Finlay’s job to defend his client. To defend him, he had to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. Therefore he had to ask What the FUCK happened for this once great club to go into tatters. He didn’t get all the answers he wanted, but he got some. Enough to clear CraigyBhoy and for the jury to find our lad not guilty on both charges.
I guess when the purchase and sale price of any asset is £5 Million and the seller calls you to negotiate the price down to £1 to complete the transaction quickly, sweet baby Jeysus look at the red flags warning you that you are not buying what you think.
There are still so many questions out there:
I hope you enjoy this humorous book report. The book actually reads well and quickly, 227 pages, 24 chapters. Although I have pretty much summarized it all for you here.
Into the Bearpit
Text / Chrisybhoy (Boston)
If you would like to support our Independent Celtic Fan Media Platform you can become a Member, Subscribe, Buy or Donate for the Price of a Pint. Your Support helps us continue to produce Daily News & Articles, Weekly Newsletter, Two Weekly Podcasts, Monthly Fanzine, Video Content & Live Shows.