Happy New Year

A private dining room in a Glasgow hotel is the setting for addressing the issues that require a deft touch. I envisage Paul Murray, Neil Doncaster and Stewart Regan sitting down once the SPFL delegate’s report on Monday’s match is filed in the circular filing cabinet with the pedal lid.

PM: “Happy New Year Stewart. What are you going to do about that hair? Who’s cutting it? Glasgow City Council? I fancy an asparagus starter. What about you Stewart? The ginger-infused syboes look appetizing.”

SR: “Cheers Paul, if your fans could only learn to sing Auld Lang Syne in preference to The Billy Boys. I fancy the pickle with a garnish of dill.”

ND: “Great hair Paul. How did it spend ‘the bells?’ I fancy the Melon Balls Assortment. The initials remind me of my MBA. Did I tell you about my dissertation?

PM: “Give it a rest Neil or I’ll have to comb my eyebrows over my eyes and pretend that I’m listening.” 

SR: “Don’t knock eyebrow combing Paul, it’s served us both well over the years. I would be careful with that asparagus. Green urine is not befitting of a Real Rangers Man. Raise your glasses gentlemen to Her Majesty The Queen.”

ND : “What do you suggest we do about these ditties Paul. The PC brigade are in a froth. I fancy the foam amuse bouche as a main.”

PM : “It’s a storm in a teacup. The green tea marinated salmon looks a treat.”

SR: ” I won’t be touching this with asbestos gloves. How’s the roof on the Main Stand? Will we be chalking up the loose fittings at The Sandy Jardine Stand to poltergeist activity?  I fancy a kipper to match my Rangers Club tie.”

PM: “I asked you not to wear that in public Stewart. It’s all well and good in The Thornton or Argyle Suites where we are surrounded by people like us. I might have to downgrade you to the personal issue clip-on that we provide to Craig and Sandy of the SOS.”

SR: ” How’s Craig’s novel doing? My oven has not been the same since he started out on this writing malarkey. Does he not realize that I cannot heat the balls to ensure a home Scottish cup tie if they’re coated with grease?The SFA bake-off is a tradition I hold dear.”

PM: “It’s sinking without a trace. I’m using it to prop up one of the legs on my home office desk. Would it be inappropriate to have jelly and ice-cream as a dessert?”

ND: “Paul getting back to the ditty. Could we not come up with a synonym for fenian  blood. How about northern flood,  which has the advantage of being topical?  I’m going with the  Mille- Feuille as pudding.”

PM “Up to our knees in a Northern Flood works for me, how about you Stu?”

SR: “I’ll have the batteneau with the creme de menthe frappe.The northern flood works for me. What about Surrender or you die?”

ND: “How about ‘for a tender we must vie.’ It adds the edge of competition, women and children excluded of course.”

PM: “We’re up to our knees in a northern flood, for a tender we must vie. Great work Neil. If I don’t choose the Irish coffee will I be accused of racism?”

ND: ” Hilarious Paul. I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing all John  James readers a happy new year?”

PM: ” WTF! That guy says I’m all hair and no trousers. I’m not toasting him. No-one could accuse Stu of the same.”

SR: “Does Mike Ashley have a floating charge on your hair Paul?” 

 

 

 

A Deflection Failure

As I write this site has achieved 1.7m hits since inception fifteen weeks ago. I would like to think that those who have taken the time to read my articles and make comments will at the very least be much better informed than they were prior to this site’s genesis. I realize that my views challenge established orthodoxies and preconceptions. I make no apology for this.

On Monday Mark Warburton’s team prevailed against Hibs in a ‘six point’ game at Ibrox. However this has been largely forgotten as approaching 50,000 supporters sang a proscribed song. The Vanguard Bears, one of the more respected Rangers sites, welcomed the return of this song. But as I watched on I knew a media storm was on its way. Chris Graham of the RST also foresaw the fallout. He created a narrative that beggared belief. He suggested that the supporters actually sang that they were up to their knees in EBTs;  and when Graham Spiers and Tom English reported on the actual use of ‘fenian blood‘ they would be exposed as Rangers haters. Graham and another individual with even less sense than his mentor suggested that EBT and Fenian Blood were synonyms. Is it any wonder he lasted only 48 hours as a director with this paradigm shift in stupidity?

Rangers issued a statement at 18.30. It stated that the transgressions were the responsibility of a minority and that the club would liaise with Police Scotland in identifying those responsible for the unacceptable behaviour. Which will lead to the inescapable conclusion that almost 50,000 were responsible. Thirty-three thousand of these are season ticket holders.  With their seat numbers and CCTV they could easily identify them. Would the police then follow up with arrests? Would perpetrators be charged under the Offensive Behaviour at Football (Scotland) Act? Would those arrested by the police consider themselves to be ‘sacrificial lambs’ for a much greater malaise?

The question no-one has asked is why did they choose to sing this proscribed song. There are a number of factors. The first of which is Hibs who to all intents and purposes are Celtic-lite. The liquidation of Rangers and the creation of a new club has deprived these supporters of their familiar nemesis. The club for which they reserve their most deep-seated hatred. Then there is the onslaught by CFC supporters (and others) who have mercilessly mocked their club’s demise and even went so far as to publish an advertisement in The Herald to disassociate themselves from a club they refer to as Sevco. When Craig Whyte put the club into liquidation, many feared that there would never be a vital Rangers team playing in a competitive match at Ibrox. I’m not condoning  their behaviour. I agree with the board that this was unacceptable. There will be ramifications. The SPFL and SFA, who on occasions like these engage in a  game of pass the parcel in the expectation that the music will never stop, will be forced to act as the  FAI (Football Association of Ireland) will almost certainly petition UEFA to suspend Scotland from international football for not censuring a club whose supporters engaged in an anti- Irish anthem. If Je Suis Graham had led the choir and we replaced fenian with muslim blood, the club would be closed down within days. The SNP knitting bee that is The Scottish Executive would be set aside as London would intervene.

Some enterprising individuals decided to contact Scottish football sponsor, William Hill, via Twitter.  A spokesman for William Hill stated : “Obviously, we don’t condone what was sung and expect the relevant authorities to deal with the situation.”  Then there is the problem that the broadcasters have faced when screening Rangers games. If they and the sponsors chose to walk away due to this unacceptable behaviour, which offended their subscribers, then armageddon would be on its way to the Scottish game as a whole.

There is one other reason for the anthem at Ibrox. These supporters believe that they have the ‘right’ to denigrate the Irish. In my considered opinion, the SFA will collude with the SPFL to wash their hands of this. They will defer to the club, a few fans will be suspended until next season  or possibly sine die. We will then move forward as if nothing ever happened.

Up to our knees in EBT’s

A comprehensive win against Hibs, where the scoreline flattered the visitors, was watched a by a sell out crowd at Ibrox. It proved to many what we already knew from the play-offs last season. Hibs do not have the temperament for the big occasion. It should now be a procession to winning promotion this season.Thoughts should turn to strengthening for the Premiership, but as I confidently predicted Mr Warburton has had to make do with players released from their respective clubs, as is the case with Harry Forrester who had to buy himself out of what remained of his contract at English League One side, Doncaster Rovers, as Rangers were unable to do so. Those who foolishly thought King was going to bed in a couple of quality players have now been disabused of this notion. Rangers are shopping in the bargain basement of the third tier in English football as King continues to elude any responsibility for the product on the park.

Our career criminal chairman does not have the wherewithal to make any appreciable difference to a team that is considerably better than the fodder of the second tier, but no match for the fourth best team in the Premiership, St Johnstone. Apparently the cash crisis is so tight at Ibrox that win bonuses that were due for December have been deferred until January. Rangers First CIC will be expected to pick up this tab as the money to pay bonuses has had to be diverted to pay King’s legal bills. I guess one should expect a disproportionate amount of the budget to be spent defending a career criminal. It’s an occupational hazard.

Some of the singing at Ibrox seems to have been offensive, with anti-Irish pejorative chants aimed at Alan Stubbs. There was also the return (has it ever been away) of a proscribed song that in its original form is inordinately offensive. The surprising alteration was that a lyric had been changed from ‘We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood’ to ‘We’re up to our knees in EBT’s.’

It was an interesting twist as it celebrates the fact that we got away with it. It rubs the weak and complicit snouts of the denizens of the CFC boardroom in our EBT detritus. The underlying message was ‘Thanks for the twenty titles suckers, and by the way let’s do lunch.’  This lyric alteration lacked none of the hubris, bombast or supremacy of the original lyric. It hit home at its target audience.

Scottish football clubs are not deemed to be responsible for the actions of their own followers. This is the ‘banana republic’ politics that we expect from the SFA and the Scottish Executive. The latter ushered in the offensive Behaviour at Football Act.In recent months an assortment of MSPs, defence lawyers, Sheriffs and more have all decried the Act, with the words of Sheriff Richard Davidson, a Dundee judge who referred to the legislation as “mince”, remaining particularly resonant. But then what did we expect from the bumped-up councillors of the SNP? They should confine themselves to surcharges on plastic bags.

There will be no action taken against Rangers for the singing at Ibrox. The police and the courts are overwhelmed by criminal acts. The co-founder of the Sons of Struth, Mr Alexander Milne Chugg, was the 42nd on the Judge’s docket at Glasgow Sheriff court this month. His hearing has been postponed until May. I trust that King’s army won’t lose a respected NCO in the season ticket renewal battleground?  Our no star general will drop by for his five star pitch, at our expense, with more lies of his planned investment on the park. The lack of quality on the park will begin to bite this time next year. We should not expect Mr Chugg or Mr Houston to lead the insurrection. One might be binding books for considerably less than the minimum wage, the other burning his novel on a brazier to keep warm.

On a final note I have been informed that up to five new indictments may have been served in regard to the criminal trial that resumes its preliminary hearings on the 5th January. I have not been able to corroborate my source, so it may just be a rumour. Someone who literally is up to his knees in EBTs might be paying closer attention to the rolls of Edinburgh’s High Court than the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

 

The Helpful SFA

Those of you who read my articles will have noted that I tend not to criticize Mark Warburton or his team. Only the board, primarily King, are anathema to me. To paraphrase Derek Johnstone, who opined on an unknown Alvechuch FC player, I like the cut of his jib, as he sails through the sea of tranquility that is the Rangers supporting Scottish media.

However Mr Warburton has been inconvenienced by a penalty award against Rangers. He was so incensed that he wrote to the SFA and apparently ‘received the right answers.‘ Mr Warburton was not willing to accept the myth that decisions tend to balance out over the course of a season. This might apply to teams with weak management and a toothless board, as is the case with CFC, but it’s not good enough for Rangers. The fact that Mr Collum ‘gifted’ a late penalty to atone for his error, was not good enough as this penalty was not converted. I wonder what the ‘right answers’ were? Did they include an apology?  Was Mr Collum apprised of the SFA’s blueprint to restore Rangers to the pinnacle of the Scottish game?  Did he promise not to award a penalty against Rangers for the rest of his career? Was he told that if he had attempted this at Ibrox it might have led to social unrest?  It has not taken Mr Warburton long to assimilate the fact that the SFA is an annex of Rangers. He demanded an explanation and he received one.

As you will have noted from a previous article, Stewart Regan asks for permission prior to any press release on Rangers. We have evidence that he drafted a letter to exonerate the SFA from their decision to allow Rangers to participate in UEFA tournaments in 2011/2012; despite the fact that HMRC sent a final demand for the payment of the outstanding balance from the operation of DOS in May 2011.

Mr Regan’s lame written excuse was that the Rangers board were in negotiations with HMRC. This was a lie. The negotiations had come to an end when there was no offer to settle. Craig Whyte was not negotiating with HMRC, he was avoiding them to evade tax. Stewart Regan’s letter was spiked. He knew that Rangers should not have been given a UEFA licence, but was concerned that ‘the social unrest’ that would have ensued would have resulted in his relocation to a safer address in England and the end of his SFA career. Mr Regan has done his utmost to join the English FA. He has applied for several positions. His applications have failed.

Mr Regan is in an invidious position. Having bent over backwards to approve a career criminal as ‘fit and proper’ his decision is going to be challenged in court. Mr Regan, Mr Ogilvie and Mr McRae will be called to the witness box to explain why Mr King’s 41 convictions for tax evasion, each of which carried a two year sentence and transgressed article 10 of their constitution, were considered no impediment to be a chairman of a Scottish football club? Mr Topping, who wears the hats of the SPFL and the SFA with such distinction, will also be asked why he voted for King as will the junior FA representative Tom Johnson. Mr Regan will be asked to explain why Mr Ogilvie. who was a former employee of Rangers who reported to a board where Mr King was a non-executive director, chose not to recuse himself from the makeshift panel; and why the decision to approve King was not submitted to the vote of the Professional Game Board?

A judicial review is the last thing this venal Rangers-facing cabal of officials would want. In a previous article I touched on the Scottish Football Monitor’s decision to challenge the flawed Emeritus Lord’s findings. They did not receive a response to their letters to those who govern Scottish football. They were informed, in no uncertain terms, that they do not respond to any queries that are not posed by a member club. Given that no member club is willing to challenge the SFA as they have all signed up to their blueprint, only a judicial review could expose the SFA.

A cynic might posit that the £5m repayment to Ashley may well have been conditional on Ashley withdrawing from legal action. If this is the case, this alleged transaction will fail. Ashley wants 100% of Rangers Retail. The £5m may well be too little too late.

 

 

Cognitive Dissonance

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Dave King is perceived as wealthy and the Rangers banker of last resort. The reason for this is sloppy journalism and the manipulation of James Traynor. The latter is almost certainly the author of King’s Wikipedia entry where a personal fortune of £500m is stated. The sloppy journalism took his tax bill, which included a 100% penalty, as the basis of his wealth. This red-top-rag nonsense created the myth of £240m. James Traynor chose to double it and rounded it up to £500m.

The truth of the matter is that he did not have sufficient funds to buy his own shares and that from 2002-2013 he had no income whatsoever and was forced to step down from a company he co-founded with Greg Morris, Micromega Holdings PTE Ltd (listed as MMI on the JSE). On his return to their board in November 2013 he wasted little time in repatriating NOSA, spinning it as a profitable addition to his group. Of course the truth of the matter was that his deal with the South Africa Revenue Service, which kept him out of prison and released their sequestration of his preference shares in MMI, demanded that any assets that he held overseas should be repatriated to South Africa. As soon as his preference shares were released, King awarded himself  circa £1m as a dividend on his preference and ordinary shares, prior to his company suffering a catastrophic fall of 45% in its value. King who was a business pariah from 2002-2013, is still toxic. 323 criminal charges point to the simple fact that he is a career criminal. His former wealth, which was independently verified as £93m in 1999 after his pension fund plundering at Specialist Outsourcing, has all gone to pay tax, fines and legal fees to keep him out of prison. His aircraft, fleet of  cars and winery have all gone. The inventory of wine that he ostentatiously displayed to Jim White has been returned to its rightful owner. King was wiped out.

His paper wealth in MMI is worth circa £35m. However no-one would buy this company as the meter reading of several municipalities, and advice on health and safety, yielded small profits which have been enhanced by creative accountancy. The 45% drop in capital market value was predicated by a 45% drop in turnover. King’s company is in free fall and he does not have sufficient wealth to buy shares in his own company to stem the precipitate fall in his equity. He is a penniless spiv.

His remit at Rangers is to convince as many shareholders as possible to buy Season Tickets. To buy season tickets from a Real Rangers Man, despite the fact that he was a stranger to Ibrox in his youth. He spent his weekends caddying and later hustling at golf. There is nothing real or Rangers-minded about King. His shares were paid for by others. I would not be surprised if they were ‘gifted’ to him as an advance payment for his services. The better the RIFC shares perform, the higher the return for the vested interests behind King.

Which leads us to the £5m and the statement that it has been repaid. The only guarantee in regard to this £5m is that King, despite his pathological lies, did not in any way contribute to this £5m. He fought tooth and nail to oppose it. He suggested to Ashley that he ‘swallowed it’ as the cost of doing business with the new regime. Has it been repaid on Christmas eve prior to a long weekend?  Sports Direct International might accept it as part-payment, but I would be surprised if the IP was returned. It’s the only asset of any value to SDI. If interest has been applied since King defaulted on the loan when the equity was de-listed, an invoice will be on its way to Ibrox. Any outstanding debts associated with the closing of stores in Glasgow and Belfast will also be due immediately. Ashley knows that as soon as King gets his hands on the brands and crests, he could set up a rival operation during the seven year notice period. Edmiston House could well be the new retail outlet for official merchandise and online sales. I would be inordinately surprised if the £5m raised will not be underpinned by the prospect of a new retail set-up.

We await developments with interest. The most attractive game in Scottish football this weekend, which will have the highest gate (but not receipts) is Rangers v Hibs.  I would be surprised if the visitors  took more than a point from Ibrox. There will be one notable absentee. Our chairman. Is it not about time that we removed this toxic pariah from Rangers? He has probably devalued our brand and capital market value by at least 45%, just as has been the case at MMI.

The Flat Earth Society?

I’m not sure about how the SFM came into existence. I invite others to apprise me of their genesis. I may be misinformed but I get the impression that the co-founders contributed to the Orwell prize winning site, The Rangers Tax Case, which lifted the lid on tax malfeasance by the former board at Rangers. This board included Dave King and Paul Murray. Despite being complicit in this deception and malfeasance, both King and Murray were passed as ‘fit and proper’ to take up positions at RIFC. This has led many to conclude that a cabal at the SFA, namely Campbell Ogilvie and Stewart Regan, aided and abetted by Ralph Topping and Neil Doncaster, colluded with Rangers to either assist in this malfeasance, or to engage in a cover up.

The most compromised of these four individuals was Campbell Ogilvie. The SFM allege that Mr Ogilvie engaged in the signing of contractual arrangements that both breached SFA rules and were subsequently ruled by HMRC to be illegal. The SFM have documentary evidence which proves that Mr Ogilvie engaged in this activity on the 3rd Septemer 1999. The SFM also have sight of the side-letters provided to Ronald De Boer, Craig Moore and Tore Andre Flo. These letters are available for inspection at their site.

One of the questions posited by the SFM, which has much wider implications, is how an individual as compromised as Mr Ogilvie was allowed to play a pivotal role in the purview and the conclusions of the LNS commission. When the LNS commission was established on 5th March 2012, the SPL (Doncaster and Topping) engaged Mr Smith’s team to investigate the registration and payment of players who had been employed by Rangers Football Club plc. The LNS commission was initially charged with a timeline from 1st July 1998 to the 5th March 2012. However this was subsequently changed to effectively limit the LNS investigation to review EBT from the 23rd November 2000. The predecessor of EBT, the Discounted Option Scheme, was excluded from consideration.

The burden of providing information in regard to RFC plc was primarily the responsibility of their  administrators,Duff and Phelps. When ‘Auldheid‘  commented on my previous article, he referred to documentary evidence that he had seen linking four of those indicted to face criminal charges. There are seven individuals listed to attend at Edinburgh’s High Court on the resumption of the preliminary hearing on the 5th January. Six of the seven are bailed to attend. Mr Ahmad is the only exclusion. If Auldheid  has documentary evidence in regard to four individuals, would it be fair to conclude that there is a possibility that Duff & Phelps might not have disclosed all the information that they had on file to Harper Macleod?

If this is the case, and I stress that I have not seen this documentary evidence and its provenance, we can but speculate as to their rationale for avoiding full disclosure. I have invited Auldheid to allow me to have sight of this information, but why would he choose to do so? I would be surprised if the SFM does not have access to this information. However they cannot publish anything that could be construed as contempt of court in regard to the seven listed to attend at Edinburgh’s High Court. Nor would I do so, but I would like to have sight of these documents and its provenance. This site is known to the SFM. They refer to one of my articles, and the comments by Bill McMurdo, in a post on the 18th December: http://www.sfm.scot/two-wrongs-and-a-right/                              I note their censure of my ‘casual invective’ in regard to the judiciary, which is apparently not befitting of the higher standards of the SFM. Well pardon me all over the place. I evidently have a higher opinion of the SFM than they have of me.

The effective change of dates, and the alleged non disclosure of documents, was of benefit to Mr Ogilvie, who at the time of the LNS commission was President of the SFA. There are allegations that Mr Ogilvie and his colleagues at the SFA, colluded with Duff & Phelps, so as to exclude Mr Ogilvie’s engagement in an illegal tax avoidance enterprise  from the ‘independent’ scrutiny of the LNS commission.

As the recipient of a £95,000 EBT golden parachute from Rangers in 2005, Mr Ogilvie should have been at ‘arm’s length’ to the LNS commission. Mr Ogilvie’s colleague,  the SFA’s chief executive Stewart Regan, appointed himself on a three-man panel which oversaw the the ‘independent’ commission. Mr Regan had good reason to exercise his influence on the LNS commission. Not only was his president compromised, one of his executives whose remit included ensuring that all players were properly registered, had permitted players from 1999 to 2011 to be ‘imperfectly registered.’

Regan, who would have been a member of the team had anyone chosen to appeal the recommendations of this report and any penalties imposed by the SPL/SPFL, should have played no part in the supervisory panel. The LNS Commission appears to have been set up to preclude the possibility of anyone at the SFA or the SPL/SPFL being accused of gross incompetence or collusion with Rangers Football Club plc. In my considered opinion, the actions of Mr Ogilvie, Mr Regan and Mr Bryson, will be alluded to in evidence which will be presented in the forthcoming criminal trial. They should be concerned, as should be others who leaked the Charlotte Fakes material to embarrass and undermine the former RIFC regime. I may write more on this at a later date.

The SFM have published other key documents that were not disclosed to Harper Macleod and consequently played no part in the considerations of the LNS commission. These include a letter  from HMRC to Michael McGill, the finance director of Murray International Holdings Ltd, dated 23 February 2011. This letter has a heading: The Rangers Football Club PLC (RFC) – Discount Option Scheme/ Value Shift Scheme (DOS). This letter refers to a meeting that occurred on the 10 February 2011 between HMRC and a delegation led by Mr McGill. The letter states that at this meeting, Mr McGill gave assurances that he would revert to HMRC by the end of February as to whether Sir David Murray was willing to voluntarily settle the tax due in regard to his operation of the DOS scheme, which ran from 1999-2004. The letter referred to another letter sent by HMRC to Mr McGill on 26 November 2010. In this letter, HMRC inquired as to whether they wished to settle as the precedent of Aberdeen Asset Management, which had engaged in an identical scheme, had been determined to be illegal. HMRC proposed that MIH settle the matter in regard to the RFC operation of DOS by May 2011. On 6th May 2011, SDM sold his equity to Craig Whyte and washed his hands of the matter.

SDM, being the wily individual we know him to be, would have included a clause in the sale agreement in which Craig Whyte would assume all responsibility for any actions of SDM’s board. The £2.8m settlement was not paid by Craig Whyte’s regime, nor was the 50% penalty imposed which led to demands for £4.2m and bailiffs issuing demands for payment at Ibrox  in July, 2011. It was inordinately foolish of Craig Whyte to accept this responsibility. This responsibility also included the  deliberate submission by RFC plc  of erroneous P35 returns. Was Craig Whyte aware of what he had signed up to in the bill of sale document? Was he duped by SDM?

Michael McGill was unable to provide a response to HMRC’s inquiries by the end of February. He was awaiting the advice of Andrew Thornhill QC of  Pump Court Tax Chambers in London. In Mr Thornhill’s letter of 3rd March, he stated that given the way the scheme was operated, arguing a case in its defence would be an uphill task. He stated that HMRC’s possession of two side letters demonstrated a true intention of putting cash in the hands of the players as part of their remuneration package. Mr Thornhill  specified that it did not help that these side letters were denied (on two occasions) or not revealed ( on one occasion) by the Club. Mr Thornhill strongly recommended, in this state of  affairs. that MIH  sought a settlement with HMRC.

The  LNS considerations were compromised by the information that was withheld. The eligibility of Rangers to participate in UEFA tournaments in 2011 is also subject to question. Rangers did not disclose the existence of DOS side letters to the SFA. They did not disclose the strong recommendations of Mr Thornhill to settle. They clearly were in default of social taxes, yet despite this the SFA allowed them to participate. Stewart Regan drafted a letter in an attempt to exonerate the SFA from their abrogation of their responsibilities. In this letter, Regan stated that Craig Whyte was using the issue of the outstanding DOS tax due, and penalty, as a bargaining chip with HMRC when the reality of the matter was that Craig  Whyte did not pay any PAYE tax, National Insurance tax (of the players and the tax due by the Club) or VAT on the Ticketus arrangement. The latter resulted in bailiffs attending Ibrox in August 2011.

The SFM have written letters to Harper MacLeod, with copies sent to those entrusted with Scottish Football governance. Harper MacLeod have responded to refute the allegations that by not presenting information on the Discounted Option Scheme, the conclusions of the LNS commission were fatally flawed.

The SFM are unshakable in their strongly held convictions. Are they ‘flat earth’ conspiracy theorists or a voice of truth? Their published documentary evidence supports the latter perspective.

 

Will the truth set us free?

Since i started this site a mere three months ago there have been 1.6m views of the articles and comments. There have been more than 300,000 visitors. A mere 1.33% of these visitors have chosen to comment. I have approved 1.16%. The 0.17% that I have not approved comprise some of the most vile insults and bile that I have ever experienced. Prior to starting this site I thought that the vile bigots were evenly spread throughout Glasgow. My personal experience is that most of them support Rangers, which causes no end of dismay on my part. Due to the actions of a vile CFC fan, who thought it was amusing to interpose a picture of his face on his red y-fronts, I have had to disable the ‘like’function on my posts as this is an area I have little control of. I am much better informed than I was three months ago, but I often wonder if anyone other than the more intelligent CFC fans is paying attention.

When the CVA failed we had to form a new club and start from the lowest division of Scottish football. Those of us who have supported Rangers man and boy could not accept that we had lost the club that we loved, so we were open to the lies of Charles Green, and Ally McCoist and now King and Paul Murray. Many of us ascribed to the red top rags’ narrative that Whyte killed our club and that Charles Green was the founding father of our renaissance, but this binary view will be  shattered in a forthcoming trial.

However the real culprit in the demise of Rangers is David Murray. David Murray was not a Real Rangers Man. He attempted to buy his home town club, Ayr United, but was blocked by their shareholders. On 23 November 1988 he took control at Rangers.

Successful businessmen need a hobby. If they can create a diversion from the stresses and strains of high command, then they should embrace it. Most of the successful businessmen I know play golf. They switch off their Iphones for four to five hours, have a couple at the clubhouse and await a lift from their wives to go home, returning the following morning to retrieve their cars. I personally have rarely been happier than when playing 18 at The Bali Golf and Country Club. Due to a tragic accident, these pleasures were denied to the best salesman to have ever entered the Blue Room.With £6m borrowed from The Bank of Scotland, he set off on an adventure that captured our imagination. We were Rangers, and we were ‘Super’ as we sang until we were hoarse.

This all changed in 1998 but we did not notice.David Murray invited the press to his estate in Jersey and bought their silence. With Traynor, Spiers and others in his pocket, he introduced tax avoidance. Flo, Moore and De Boer were signed, the former signed at the Scottish record price, to this day, of £12m. Why did these great players choose to sign for Rangers and not other leading European clubs? We would pay them tax-free. These players had a choice of playing in the desert, or at Ibrox. When De Boer left Rangers, he played in Qatar.

The Discounted Option Scheme was a complex masterpiece of tax avoidance, which was effective from 1999-2004, however it was illegal and as RFC owed £2.8 excluding penalties, Andrew Thornhill advised us to pay up promptly to avoid a 50% penalty. David Murray chose to avoid this advice. No Rangers administration paid tax or penalties on the Discounted Option Scheme.

What David Murray did next is a matter of public record  Those who are interested can find my thoughts on the EBT years in other articles in the archive. David Murray ended his association with the club on 6th May 2011. What followed will be determined at Edinburgh’s High Court.

What has been most celebrated by Rangers fans in the ensuing post- Murray debacle, was the Emeritus Lord  William Nimmo-Smith report and the advent of King.  We were delighted that we were not stripped of any titles won during the period of our financial misdemeanours.

We also warmed to his interpretation that a football club is capable of being owned and operated, or bought and sold, by a ‘parent’ company or operator. This led to the widespread belief that the club was sold to new owners, with only its parent company  liquidated. I found Martin Williams’  (at The Herald) analogy to be particularly interesting. He stated that ‘the engine room subsidiary had survived.‘ The press were in unison. We had survived the EBT’s unscathed. Those who did not accept the Rangers Then, Rangers Now, Rangers Forever mantra, notably Chris McLaughlin and Graham Spiers, were duly banned from Ibrox.

The stripping of titles was never mentioned anywhere in Lord Nimmo-Smith’s report, because no such action was within the purview of the commission. The report recommended that no sporting sanctions should be levied against Rangers because the financial misdemeanours were carried out by the “previous owners” and not by the “football club” itself.

Rangers were given sight of the document prior to its publication on 28 February 2013 and the PR machine carefully seized the agenda by leaking key elements of its contents to the BBC ahead of the official announcement at noon that day  with a specific emphasis on “there will be no stripping of titles under the commission’s punishment recommendations.”

Having not actually read the full report, but wishing to be first with the story, the BBC duly reported this as the fundamental outcome of the commission . The rest of Scotland’s media followed suit. When Lord Nimmo-Smith finally released his report later that day, and it became apparent to all that title stripping was never on the agenda, it was too late for any media outlets to run with the real story.

The Lord Nimmo-Smith report  found the club guilty of wrongdoing in respect of the improper registration of players and deliberately withholding important information from the SFA . The report recommended  that the football authorities fine whoever was willing to admit to being in charge of the club/company the grand sum of £250,000.

The Commission deliberated in August 2012 before the Big Tax Case delivered its verdict which supported the line taken by Lord Nimmo-Smith that an illegal tax scheme had not been used by the club and that no sporting advantage had been gained in doing so.

The DOS scheme  which was instigated by the former Scottish FA president Campbell Ogilvie ,who held a director’s role at Ibrox until 2005, was excluded from the scope of the commission’s considerations.

The SPFL Board and the SFA have been made aware of this ‘error‘ in a series of letters, but have chosen to take no further action on the matter. Rangers have never been punished by the SFA or the SPL for being found guilty of running the Discounted Options Scheme, despite the obvious sporting implications of an illegal tax enterprise

The £250,000 fine recommended by  Lord Nimmo-Smith’s commission is yet to be recovered by the SPFL as King and Murray maintain that it was a financial sanction levied on a completely different entity. The different entity being the previous owner and operator of the club, which was liquidated and therefore has no responsibility for its debts.

The SPFL claims that the current Rangers owners entered into an agreement as a condition of the transference of Rangers’ SFA registration to the club’s ‘new owners’  which stipulated that the new company would be liable for the football debts of the old company . This is an agreement which the SPFL is having difficulty enforcing because it can’t quite make up its mind if the current club is the same club or merely an entirely new entity which agreed to assume responsibility for the old one’s debts.

Lord Nimmo-Smith’s report makes frequent mention of “oldco” in reference to The Rangers Football Club PLC , which is a company which was incorporated in 1899 and is currently undergoing liquidation proceedings.  The logic applied here is known in psychology circles as cognitive dissonance. The human brain has a tendency to ignore the bad things about something unpleasant, while emphasizing the good things about the bad thing, no matter how incompatible with logic and common sense doing so may seem. Which has led to the three months of vile comments at this site.

In an addendum to the report published 8 days later  We are left with the conclusion that a club does not have a legal personality . If a football club does not have a legal personality then it simply does not exist in any tangible or legal sense. If it does not exist, it cannot be passed from owner to owner.

The Transference of Undertakings of Protection of Employment law (TUPE) entitles employees of liquidated companies to move to any new company that has assumed control of the former company’s assets under the exact same terms and conditions as were held with the previous company. Ten players chose not to move to the new company . Despite Charles Green’s insistence that he should receive compensation from the clubs that hired our ten best players on a free contract basis the upshot was that he was forced to pay the departing players’ legal costs for wasting everyone’s time.

The players were fully entitled under TUPE regulations to walk away from the new company, since their previous employer had gone bust and their contracts were voided as a result. Crucially, in line with employment law, it was ruled at a tribunal that the departing players’ SFA registrations were held with their employer , The Rangers Football Club PLC and not the separate ‘club‘ component of the organisation.

The Lord Nimmo-Smith determinations were not a legal ruling or a court judgement. They were his own personal interpretation of the SPL and SFA rules and Articles of Association. He was paid to produce a report by a commercial entity to protect its financial interests.

There has been only one legal ruling on the matter.In his opening statement at the start of a First Tier Tax Tribunal appeal hearing (the appeal being made by HMRC against the verdict of the “Big Tax Case”, Colin Bishop, Upper Tribunal Judge stated:

”Before coming to the detail of the case it is worth making a preliminary observation. I have referred (above) to the strong feelings of many football supporters. Perhaps because of such feelings, professional football clubs are often regarded as having a special status. In some respects that may be the correct view; but it should nevertheless not be overlooked that a modern professional football club is not a “club”, in the sense of an unincorporated association of members who join together in pursuit of a common purpose, but a commercial enterprise whose function is to generate profits for its shareholders. From that perspective it has no special status, and there is no reason why its tax affairs should not be as open to scrutiny as those of any other profit-making organisation. The players, too, have no greater right to conceal their tax affairs from public scrutiny than any other taxpayer. The fact that they are in the public eye is irrelevant. Any application for privacy, anonymity or redaction of detail must therefore be supported by the same type and quality of evidence as would be required of another taxpayer, and will be granted only for the same reasons.”

Does this truth, that I have always known, set me free? Far from it. When Neil Doncaster changed the terms of the Sky broadcasting contract to exclude the option of a  break in the third year, he did so in the full knowledge that Rangers were heading for administration. He knew the truth and its implications. He then gave us a report to subvert the truth.