STRICKEN Rangers ace Fernando Ricksen has revealed stress caused by the “big tax case” fallout is worsening his illness.
The former player – who has an aggressive form of motor neurone disease (MND) – faces a possible six figure bill from the taxman.
Last week Supreme Court judges in London ruled unanimously that Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) payments made under the David Murray regime were not loans, but earnings that should have been taxed.
The step means a host of former Rangers players – Ricksen included – face potentially huge bills.
Dutchman Ricksen, whose EBT value was £684,225 is believed to owe approximately £342,000 in tax.
However, the former star, who insists he was badly advised, has suffered due to the stress the bombshell has caused.
“Of course it doesn’t help with my fight against MND,” he said.
“I think everyone was badly informed about this. I don’t think it’s the players’ fault.
“If it applies to me, I will handle it as it comes, like everything in my life.”
Murray’s Rangers splashed out nearly £48 million in EBT payments to directors, managers, players and staff. Experts say the taxman may demand around £24million back.
That could mean crippling financial pain for a whole squad of Ibrox old boys including former stars such as Lorenzo Amoruso, Ronald de Boer and Tore Andre Flo.
Critics say it gave them a massive advantage over rival clubs by enabling them to sign players they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford.
Key among the critics is Old Firm rival Celtic. Last week, Parkhead officials said they are confident a previous league ruling on Rangers’ use of the scheme will be reviewed.
An earlier Scottish Premier League commission found Rangers “did not gain any unfair competitive advantage” from the use of tax-free loans between 2001 and 2010.
“We are sure the footballing authorities in Scotland will wish to review this matter,” said Celtic.
Away from all the wrangling, Ricksen, 40, is trying to live a simple life with his wife and daughter, despite his condition.
“I will never give up,” he said of his health battle, insisting he continues to draw strength from well-wishers in Scotland.
“There is nothing more I can wish for from the support,” he adds. “The only reason I’m still here is because of that support. So please don’t stop believing.”
Ricksen was diagnosed with MND in 2013 and has received the support of the footballing world as he battles the illness.
He was recently invited to be the personal guest of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo at a match.
The former Rangers midfielder has also raised around £100,000 for MND charities.