x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Rangers are staring into the abyss in the Scottish Premier League

Glasgow club are in danger of going into liquidation with players being asked to take 75 per cent pay cut.

Rangers fans display banners during the a Scottish Premier League match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PA
Rangers fans display banners during the a Scottish Premier League match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PA

A beleaguered and bruised Glasgow Rangers may be glad to have the week off from the Scottish Premier League (SPL) today but will face Dundee United next week with an uncertain future, an uncertain past and even an uncertain line-up.

Since entering administration on Valentine's day last month following action from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs over a £9 million (Dh52.65m) tax bill, the former European giants have slumped in form, been deducted 10 points and talk of liquidation and relegation loom large over the club.

Five players have been reported to have voluntarily left the club to alleviate the wage bill, including Scotland Under 21 international Gregg Wylde and January signing Mervan Celik.

Yesterday, top earners such as Steven Whittaker and Steven Naismith were among those who agreed to a wage cut of up to 75 per cent to help keep redundancies to a minimum.

Administrators have delayed a decision on cuts in the hope of a deal being made with all current players. Paul Clark, one of the administrators, said he aimed to cut costs by £1m a month.

On the field, a 15-point lead over local rivals and champions-elect Celtic has turned into a 21-point deficit and Motherwell sit only three points behind the current champions in third.

The SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster has said Rangers could be thrown out of the competition if the club has failed to disclose payments to players amid suggestions of additional payments to staff.

The SPL will investigate if regulations were breached.

"The most serious sanction would be expulsion from the league," said Doncaster. "At the other end, in terms of the most lenient, it would be just a warning."

Rangers director David King has said he believes the club will not exit administration and that liquidation is "inevitable" due to the tax bill accrued during current owner and venture capitalist Craig Whyte's time in charge. Whyte bought the club from former owner Sir David Murray in May last year.

In an investigation by the Scottish Football Association on Thursday delivered a damning verdict on Whyte, claiming he is "not considered to be a fit and proper person to hold a position within association football".

However, former Rangers director Paul Murray does not agree with King and has said he is working with the administrators to avoid liquidation. He has said he will make a "conditional" offer to buy the club before the March 16 deadline set by the administrators for prospective suitors to lodge bids.

Only in the two-horse-race SPL could one of the Old Firm be deducted 10 points and still sit in second place in the league, but, if Rangers are relegated or consigned to the ever-growing list of defunct football clubs, this can only mean a darker future in terms of competition for the Scottish top-flight.

msmith@thenational.ae

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