Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond (file photo). Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/Press Association Images
Political Football

Rangers cannot be allowed to go bust, says Salmond

Scotland’s First Minister has encouraged the Revenue and Rangers to come to an agreement which would ensure that club’s survival.

Updated 15.20

SCOTLAND’S FIRST MINISTER believes that the future of Scottish football and “the fabric of the country” could be under threat if Rangers are allowed to go out of business.

Alex Salmond has made representations to both Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Rangers to come to some sort of agreement over the tax debt saw the Ibrox club placed in administration this week.

Rangers appointed administrators Duff and Phelps on Tuesday, a move which saw them docked 10 points by the Scottish Premier League. Club officials await the outcome of an tribunal which could see them landed with a bill of up to £75m in unpaid taxes.

In an interview with Sir David Frost, due to be broadcast on Al-Jazeera tomorrow (see STV), Salmond said that even “the most diehard Celtic supporter” knows that the Hoops need their Old Firm rival to prosper.

This afternoon, Celtic said that they are “very disappointed” with Salmond’s comments and claimed that the club’s position had been “misrepresented for political reasons.”

“Obviously HMRC have got to pursue in the public interest, taxation,” Salmond said. “Equally, they’ve got to have cognisance of the fact that we’re talking about a huge institution, part of the fabric of the Scottish nation as well as Scottish football, and everybody realises that.

The most diehard Celtic supporter understands that Celtic can’t prosper unless Rangers are there. The rest of the clubs understand that as well. Therefore you have to have cognisance of these things when you’re pursuing public policy.

We’ve certainly been arguing to HMRC on one hand, and indeed to Rangers, to for goodness sake get a settlement, get a settlement and a structure over time whereby Rangers can continue because Rangers must continue for the future of Scottish football and for the fabric of the country.

Salmond’s call was backed by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who is in Scotland to encourage people to vote against Scottish independence in a forthcoming referendum .

“I want that club to survive and to thrive,” Cameron said (see “I hope HMRC will work as closely as they can with the administrators to solve the problems at the club.”

In response to Salmond’s comments, a Celtic statement read: “We are very disappointed with the First Minister’s claims that Celtic ‘need’ Rangers and that Celtic ‘can’t prosper unless Rangers are there’.

“This is simply not true. In a series of interviews given just three days ago, we made it abundantly clear that Celtic has a well-defined strategy and a business plan independent of the fortunes of any other club. That remains absolutely the case.

“The predicament of Rangers is clearly a serious and complex matter with a whole range of possible outcomes.

“However, we are extremely well-qualified to make our own position clear and have no wish to see this being misrepresented for political reasons .”

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