GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) – Rangers filed legal papers Monday indicating its intention to go into administration, placing the future of the financially stricken Scottish club in jeopardy.
The Scottish champions, who have won their domestic title a national-record 54 times, served the notice at an Edinburgh court in a pre-emptive bid to avoid liquidation following a dispute with Britain's tax authorities.
Rangers could be left with an estimated bill of 49 million pounds ($77 million) if it loses a protracted tribunal case with HMRC Revenue and Customs.
''Rangers chairman Craig Whyte said there is no 'realistic or practical' alternative to this course of action due to a combination of the club's ongoing financial situation and the impending result of the HMRC first-tier tax tribunal,'' the club said in a statement.
Rangers now has 10 days to formally declare that administrators have taken over the club, which would bring with it an automatic 10-point penalty and a transfer embargo.
''Should the club proceed into administration, the appointed administrators will in all likelihood implement a cost-cutting program and staffing levels will be reviewed across all departments of the club's business,'' the statement said.
Rangers is currently four points behind city rival Celtic in the Scottish Premier League standings.
Whyte bought Rangers in last May and pledged to pay off debts of 18 million pounds ($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 with HMRC demanding the settling of unpaid taxes ''over a period of several years dating back to 2001, which ... could result in liabilities and penalties substantially more than the 50 million pounds reported which the club would be unable to pay.''
''It is extremely disappointing the club finds itself in this position but decisions have to be taken to safeguard the long-term survival and prosperity of the club both on and off the field,'' Whyte said. ''The harsh reality is that this moment has been a long time coming for Rangers and its roots lie in decisions taken many years ago. If we do not take action now, the consequences and the risks to the club are too great.''
Rangers, which was formed in 1873, won the now-defunct European Cup Winners' Cup in 1972 and lost to Zenit St. Petersburg in the final of the UEFA Cup - the forerunner to the Europa League - in 2008.
The team has also won 33 Scottish Cups and 27 Scottish League Cups.