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Page last updated at 00:28 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 01:28 UK

Rangers confirm club being investigated over tax issue

Ibrox Stadium

Rangers have confirmed that the Scottish Premier League club is under investigation by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over a tax issue.

BBC Scotland has learned that the investigation relates to payments made into offshore accounts.

The club is still up for sale with estimated debts of about £30m.

BBC Scotland has also learned that the investigation does not signal an end for the proposed takeover by businessman Andrew Ellis.

"There is an ongoing query raised by HMRC which is part of a pending court case," the club said in a statement.

"On the basis of expert tax advice provided to Rangers, the club is robustly defending the matters raised.

It is not a new problem. It has been there for a long time, so this just hasn't come up

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston

"It would, therefore, be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

Lyon's defeat on Tuesday by Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League means that Rangers are destined to go straight into next season's lucrative group stages of the competition without the need to play any qualifiers.

And Rangers were also moved to reject reports that Champions League and club season ticket income had already been "ring-fenced" by the club's bank to reduce the debt.

"This is totally incorrect and discussions with the bank in relation to the business plan will take place in the coming weeks," said the club.

"The club would also like to reiterate once again that at no time has director Dave King made an offer to purchase Rangers Football Club."

Rangers have been unable to purchase a player for 20 months as Lloyds Banking Group tries to control the £30m debt.

Three transfer windows have opened and closed without the Ibrox club bringing out their cheque book.

The last arrival was USA midfielder Maurice Edu, who they signed from Toronto in August 2008.

Despite their financial problems, manager Walter Smith has guided Rangers to two successive league titles, the latest being secured on Sunday.

US-based Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston is due in Scotland next week to hold talks with Ellis - and will also hope to come up with the assurances required to persuade Smith to remain in post.

Johnston told BBC Scotland that money would be available for the manager to strengthen his squad and stressed that the HMRC investigation was being handled by Rangers owner Sir David Murray's parent company.

"It is not a new problem," said the chairman. "It has been there for a long time, so this just hasn't come up.

"This is more in the holding company of Murray's. It has been one that the Murray Group has been taking care of and been involved in on a day-to-day basis in the past and I would continue to defer to them on that one."

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see also
Rangers head for the group stage
27 Apr 10 |  Rangers
Rangers chair hopeful on signings
27 Apr 10 |  Rangers
Rangers can handle debt - Smith
06 Apr 10 |  Rangers
Group mulls over Rangers takeover
11 Mar 10 |  Rangers
Smith warns of Rangers dark days
03 Feb 10 |  Rangers

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