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Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012

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Dark day: Scottish champion Rangers was forced to seek bankruptcy protection on Tuesday after a long-running tax dispute. AP

Rangers enters administration


LONDON — Scottish champion Rangers was forced to seek bankruptcy protection on Tuesday after a financial meltdown, triggering a 10-point deduction for the 140-year-old club and effectively handing the title to Celtic.

Rangers became the most prominent European club to go into financial administration after a long-running dispute with the tax authorities came to a head, and is now 14 points behind its fierce Glasgow rival because of the automatic deduction by the league.

"It has been a very disappointing and black day," manager Ally McCoist said. "Going into administration obviously wasn't ideal but it's the opinion of many people that it might be the best thing for this football club."

Rangers is not only the most successful club in Scotland, but its 54 domestic titles are a world record.

UEFA has been warning about the perils of rampant overspending in soccer, revealing last month that the combined debt of leading European sides exceeded €8 billion ($10.5 billion).

Rangers was forced into administration over tax debts of £9 million ($14 million) accrued in the nine months of Craig Whyte's ownership. But the Ibrox outfit is also awaiting the verdict of a tax tribunal over long-standing contested liabilities of up to £75 million ($117 million).

The Scottish Football Association described Rangers being plunged into administration as a "dire situation" that reflected badly on the country.

"This is a profoundly sad chapter in the history of Scottish football," SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said. "We should not underestimate the potential ramifications for the image of the game as a whole."

Rangers is now being run by financial advisers Duff and Phelps, whose task as administrators is "to ensure the ongoing survival of the business."

"We fully recognize the great history of this club and what it means to people throughout the world," joint administrator Paul Clark said. "Whilst today is a sad day for Rangers, it also addresses the terrible uncertainty that has been hanging over the club."

The takeover by Whyte last May appeared to be Rangers' first step toward financial recovery, as he pledged to pay off debts of £18 million ($28.4 million) left over from the tenure of former majority shareholder David Murray.

However, Whyte has been unable to solve the club's financial problems and tax authorities are demanding the settling of unpaid taxes "over a period of several years dating back to 2001." Whyte said the tax authorities could demand £75 million ($117 million).

"Due to its cost structure, the club has been loss-making for many months," Whyte said. "This situation has resulted in increasing liabilities and the club has been in discussion with (HM Revenue & Customs) regarding these liabilities.

"These liabilities combined with the threat of the outcome of the first tier tax tribunal left the club no option but to formally restructure its financial affairs . . . it remains our firm belief that the club's future can be secured and we hope this period of administration will be as short as possible."

Tevez returns to City


LONDON — Carlos Tevez backed down in his long-running feud with Manchester City on Tuesday, returning to the Premier League leader after an unauthorized three-month absence spent at home in Argentina.

After arriving from Buenos Aires, the 28-year-old forward was surrounded by police and photographers at Manchester Airport as he held one of his children.

At City's training ground, Tevez underwent medical tests to determine when he will be fit enough to return to a team he has not played for since Sept. 21. As he left the Carrington complex, fans stopped Tevez for autographs.

"All the players are excited to have Carlos . . . back to help achieve our goal," City defender Joleon Lescott wrote on Twitter.

But Tevez is yet to apologize to City manager Roberto Mancini for walking out on the club, and he has not withdrawn his appeal to the Premier League to reclaim some of the £9 million ($15 million) in fines and earnings that have been deducted by the club during the dispute.

Having previously had transfer requests refused, Tevez's battle with City intensified in September when he refused to warm up during a Champions League match at Bayern Munich.

"I've decided to return for personal reasons and turn around the situation and win over the fans," Tevez said on Monday. "They turned on me after what happened with Bayern because they were poorly informed."

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