Duff & Phelps - conspiracy or cock-up?

Last updated : 24 May 2012 By Mark Dingwall

Wednesday's BBC documentary - Rangers: The Men Who Sold The Jerseys - fell into several parts.  The first part - concerning the operation of Employee Benefit Trusts under the auspices of the Murray Group - I will leave for now except to say that in general it confirmed guesswork as to the beneficiaries of the schemes rather than presenting confirmation of an elaborate conspiracy. 

The second part of the programme was far more substantial and worrying.  Rangers fans are naturally suspicious of the spin attached to BBC Scotland’s output on the club given the widespread perception that the organisation’s North British operation is institutionally biased against the club.

Merely to dismiss the material presented because of the media source would be both childish and stupid for those with the club’s best interests at heart.  A cool examination of the source evidence is what is needed.

The central argument is that Duff & Phelps should be removed from their position as administrators of the club due to the involvement of David Grier in his role as advisor to Craig Whyte during the May 2011 takeover of the club.  Further than that - the evidence presented paints a picture of his being aware that the £24million deal with Ticketus was being used to fund the deal to purchase the club and not merely being used to provide working capital.  Mr Grier denies this.

From a reading of the email traffic generated between various parties there is no mention of the sums involved in various transactions.  However, in the email from Ross Bryan of Octopus Finance (the Ticketus parent company) of 24 May 2011 he mentions “this first season’s tickets” and the invoicing arrangements.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-18175731?

I would say that clearly demonstrates that more than one season’s worth of tickets are involved and that the sums involved would be known to the recipients of the email - David Grier and Phil Betts.   Then there is the email of 23rd June from Phil Betts to David Grier where he requests the raising of an invoice and backdating the issue date to 9th May.

Whatever else he may by Mr Grier is not an unintelligent man.  It beggars belief that a man employed as Whyte’s chief adviser during negotiations for the purchase of the club who was intimately involved in the operations of the club in May/June 2011, following the takeover on May 6th, would be unaware of the sums involved in the invoices he is arranging for the issuance of.  And secondly, would David Grier, as one of the architects of the deal and aware of the finances of RFC not raise an eyebrow at the eye-watering sums Ticketus were providing supposedly as working capital?   And if the Ticketus money was working capital why had it been dropped in one huge payment into the Collyer Bristow account and not called upon as and when necessary?



The behaviour of Duff & Phelps throughout the period of administration has been a mystery.  Why did it take so long to organise pay-cuts when the players wage bill is the single biggest cost to the club?  Why did they entertain ludicrous get-out clauses?

It is in the evaluation of various bids that their behaviour has been at its oddest.

The price of obtaining exclusivity ranged from half a million (Blue Knights), £250k (Charles Green) to zero in the case of Bill Miller.

Bill Miller was led up the garden path with regard to what he was taking on.  Mr Miller is a wealthy man but a cursory examination of Bill Miller's finances showed he simply didn't have pockets deep enough to finance Rangers by himself.

It took his advisors all of two days of due diligence to discover they were the latest in a long line to have been lied to by Duff and Phelps. He was led to believe there would be a funding shortfall of between 1 and 4 million over the next three years whereas we are in fact looking at approximately 10 million for this coming season.

He would have been a disaster as an owner. And he realised that himself once he knew the facts.

Bill Ng - look at his statement and comments after he withdrew from the process.

The Blue Knights - three times they went to bed assured they would be announced a preferred bidder the next day - and each time the goal-posts moved.  Then at the last minute Charles Green appears from nowhere?  It’s curious to say the least.

You have a choice to believe they are bent or organizationally unable to cope with the complexity of the administration of Rangers given the wreckage David Murray and Craig Whyte left behind.



This is the crucial question.  Or perhaps a series of questions?

I found it very curious that David Grier accompanied Paul Clark to meet with David Murray, they are pictured coming out of the Charlotte Square offices together.  In fact in a meeting with the administrators I asked why the two of them were not interviewed separately as a means to discover any discrepancies between their stories?

Paul Clark was the cofounder of MCR - the company for which David Grier worked (joined them in 2005) when advising Whyte and which was bought over by Duff & Phelps.  Mr Whitehouse worked for MCR.  Mr Grier is now a partner in Duff & Phelps.  Had Mr Grier failed to fully brief Mr Clark on the facts of the takeover and funding arrangements?  Was Mr Clark perhaps a little too trusting of his old employee?

Administrators should have been all over their own records and those of RFC - did they simply miss email traffic and lawyers letters where one of their own partners was - on any reading of the material - centrally involved in the Ticketus transaction, the Revenue investigation of which was the trigger for the collapse of the club?

£24 million from Ticketus - what did David Grier imagine it was it for?   The purchase from Murray Group of a consignment of moonbeams and snake oil?  Did he ask?