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.