Taxing Times

Three years from now, those who benefitted from ‘loans’ when playing for Rangers will receive tax demands from HMRC. They will pay 40% tax and the prevailing rate of national insurance. Those who were in the boardroom during the disguised remuneration years will also be receiving a tax demand. If the recipients had been smart they would have set up an account to host their tax liabilities and earned interest on this sum. Today’s article in The Daily Radar is heavy on photographs and light on detail. It calculates liability at 40% across the board and in doing so ignores National Insurance contributions.

Irrespective of the BDO petition to the Supreme Court which will be heard in a matter of months, George Osbourne is planning to fast-track legislation to prevent  new tax avoidance schemes being created. The Exchequer makes it clear that individuals will be hunted for past liabilities:

“The Government are also committed to ensuring that those who have used these schemes in the past aren’t allowed to get away with it. To meet this objective, the Government will introduce legislation to put beyond doubt that all loans or debts from a disguised remuneration scheme will be taxed as earnings if they haven’t already been fully taxed or repaid on or before April 5, 2019.”

A Finance Bill will be introduced this year to facilitate The Exchequer’s plans. There is no need for specific legislation in Scotland but Trumpton love nothing more than giving the impression that they are ‘vital’ so we should assume that they will waste more money in their attempts to enhance their self-importance and to increase their burgeoning deficit.

Barry Ferguson will be facing a minimum bill of £1.3m assuming no penalties and interest is applied. If he was well-advised he would liquidate his assets now and settle immediately to preclude three more years of interest. The chances are that he has frittered it away on conspicuous consumption and that he will be declared bankrupt. Alex McLeish might well escape this fate that is coming down the pike. Aberdonians are renowned for their parsimony. Mr McLeish may have acquired a sense of thrift by osmosis. I’m confident that he will be able to raise £884,000. He would be prudent to approach HMRC without delay.

Rangers stars and senior staff during the club’s controversial EBT years between 2001 and 2010 raked in £47.65million from the scheme. When National Insurance is added, and a consideration for the DOS/VSS operation is included, the total bill is north of £72m

The schemes introduced by David Murray were brazen tax dodges.

 

HMRC’s Big Tax Case pursuits took on several companies within Murray International Holdings. Although many EBT beneficiaries had received “side letters” agreeing to cover any liabilities if the taxman came knocking, moves were made to wind up four of the firms last year ,eliminating this safety net.

 

The Daily Radar article states that:
“The case triggered calls for Rangers to be stripped of honours acquired during the EBT years, amid accusations of financial doping.Rangers won the Scottish Premier League on five occasions, the Scottish Cup four times and had six successes in the Scottish League Cup.”

A full list of the honours won from 1999-2011 can be found here:       http://spfl.co.uk/clubs/rangers/

 

The new legislation is targeted to claw back £24billion by 2021.
However, in the metaphysical world of Scottish Football, the laws of the land don’t apply. A former SFA president will be facing a bill of £49,400, but even this won’t change Stewart Regan’s mind. They have the LNS report and they cling to it as if their life depended on it. Doncaster, Regan and Longmuir agreed that fifteen titles should be withdrawn. They signed up to two draft 5 Way agreement documents, one for Rangers in the SPL, one the old First Division. They threatened teams with a SPL II with Rangers one season from elevation to the top tier. Every chairman knew that these fifteen titles were unsound, but the sugar coating was not sufficient to tempt them to pervert the rules of the game. Regan, Doncaster and Longmuir were called corrupt in public. They remain corrupt.

The bent players and officers will go to the wall. The unsound titles will reside in the Rangers museum, as soon as RF CIC pay for its construction.

The players won’t get away with it, but Regan and Doncaster did and they are laughing all the way to the bank as they anticipate a 10% hike in their combined revenues for next season.

 

John James’ World II

To mark the achievement of breaching the 9,000 comments threshold and the 3.5m hits milestone, on a site that is just over six months old, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the global reach of those who have chosen to contribute to this site’s continued success. There have been a few kinks in the road and some hostility, but who can deny that they are now better informed? At one time we had both sides of the Glasgow divide well represented by Bill McMurdo and Auldheid. The latter made the 9,000th comment. However I value every contributor who takes the time to pen a thoughtful response to the topics that I introduce. As I have stated before, the comments are the site. I am merely your humble online correspondent.

This month has marked the advent of the most diverse geographical readership since the site began. Azerbaijan has dropped by on 121 occasions.  Its capital, Baku, is famed for its medieval walled city on the shores of The Caspian Sea. You are most welcome on this site. I’m particulary delighted that Laos has been the host of 101 visitors. I had a perfect holiday in Luang Prabang in 2011 in a city that benefits from an absence of all Western influence. Slightly behind Laos in popularity is the 26 coral atolls that form one of the Indian Ocean’s most idyllic countries, The Maldives. As it’s a honeymoon resort I trust that the 100 visitors to my site are not creating blog widows/widowers.

I’m heartened by 63 visitors from Greenland, which I have yet to visit, and the 48 visitors from Panama which will feature in a long-planned circumnavigation of South America. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay have dropped by this month, as has Belize in Central America, with its barrier reef an irresistible attraction. Less further afield I extend a warm welcome to my readers in Moldova, who gained their independemce in 1991.

This site has 9 readers in the delightful St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which is a southern Caribbean nation comprising a main island, St. Vincent, and a chain of smaller ones. With yacht-filled harbours, chic private isles and volcanic landscapes, it’s renowned for its major sailing destinations such as reef-lined Bequia island off Admiralty Bay, bordered by white-sand beaches like Princess Margaret. The main island is home to the capital, Kingstown. However I would be more adventurous by chartering a yacht to sail to the British and U.S. Virgin Islands who have a combined readership of 20.

Two countries that elicit happy memories, Cambodia and Myanmar, have dropped by. I would not hesitate in recommending the breathtaking Khmer temples of Angkor Wat in the former, and the stunning golden grandeur of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. If you decide to get off the beaten track and venture north to Mandalay, you will be rewarded with a memorable visit to  Mandalay Palace, which was founded by King Minden and moved piece by piece from its former site by elephant. It also at one time was home to a British Garrison. I would recommend a visit to my favourite electrical store, Loving Edison, and if you’re a single gentleman traveller looking for some company, do not eschew an invitation to a fashion show. If you stock up on tinsel (a story for another time) you will find yourself in the company of a very attractive companion.

Both countries should be on everyone’s bucket list. The last word is reserved for Phnom Penh, The Wild West of Asia,  which I would only recommend to the most seasoned traveller. If you like to shoot pool and AK 47, look no further than the capital of Cambodia. Nothing will prepare you for the poverty. crime and singular lack of personal safety, but give it time and you will be truly enchanted by the people. Unlike Glasgow where you need a £95,000 EBT for a good night out, you can have an evening you will never forget with ten dollars in you pocket.

Onward and upward to the next 1,000 comments and new readers in exotic places.

An Uphill Task

No-one will ever convince Stewart Regan that the SFA failed Rangers and Scottish football as a whole. As far as Mr Regan is concerned the use of EBT was a legitimate tax avoidance enterprise. Mr Regan takes the view that since the tax on the Discount Option Scheme/Value Shift Scheme had not ‘crystallised’ then the SFA were within their rights to permit Rangers to engage in UEFA tournament participation in 2011. Mr Regan is happy with Article 10.2 which allows directors to state that they have read article 10.1 and that they self-certify that they are upstanding citizens of the highest fiscal probity. Mr Regan stands firmly behind the conclusions and recommendations of an allegedly independendent commission, that is referred to as the LNS commission.

As Mr Regan has stated, the SFA has no authority to preclude the appointment of a director to a Plc, however as was noted with Craig Whyte he takes the view that he can ban him sine die and fine him £150,000. Mr Regan is being disingenuous. Articles 10.1 and 10.2 govern director appointments. If any director wishes to derive revenue from Scottish professional football, he must abide by these articles of association. Dave King breached articles 10.1 on 41 occasions, however when Mr Regan is caught in an obvious lie he reverts to the standard excuse that he acted on the advice of counsel, despite no written evidence to support his response.

Those who wish to challenge Mr Regan and his corrupt cabal at the SFA face an uphill task. Anything that he believes is not within the SFA’s purview is deftly passed to Neil Doncaster at the SPFL, as was the case with the LNS commission. However as the SFA retain and authorise all player registrations, under the auspices of Sandy Bryson’s department, they were called upon to provide evidence.

As we know, solicitors from Harper McLeod were tasked with liaising with Duff & Phelps apropos the existence of side letters and tax malfeasance.The side letters that accompanied the Discount Option Scheme/ Value Shift Scheme, which prior to the commission had been established as illegal by way of The Aberdeen Asset Management precedent where HMRC’s position was upheld after appeal; were not disclosed. Despite this being common knowledge prior to the LNS commission being established, no documentation was submitted to William Nimmo Smith for his consideration. I posit that this had a material influence on his conclusions. Let’s look at these in more detail.

In paragraph 107 of William Nimmo Smith’s decision, he states categorically that: “While there is no question of dishonesty, individual or corporate.”  Had Harper McLeod not failed in its duty to uncover details of the DOS/VSS operation, and had presented these to the commission, Mr Nimmo Smith would have had access to the letter by Ian McMillan, The Group Tax Manager of Murray Internaltional Holdings Limited, of 7 April,  2005. Mr McMillan responded to HMRC, under the heading The Rangers Football Club Plc, thus:

“I have now completed my review of the personnel files at Rangers and confirm that there are no contract variations or side agreements for any of the players.”

Is this not a clear and unequivocal instance of individual dishonesty, and, as Mr McMillan was writing in his official capacity as The Group Tax Manager of Murray International Holdings Ltd, is it not clearly an instance of corporate dishonesty?

Mr Nimmo Smith did not receive this letter or the three letters that provide proof of the DOS/VSS remuneration of  Craig Moore, Tore Andre Flo and Ronald De Boer.

As Andrew Thornhil QC stated in his letter to The Murray Group on 3rd March 2011:

“The scheme (DOS/VSS) was carried out in a way which suggests that arguing the case would be an uphill task. However the deciding factor in settling the matter is the existence of side letters in two instances demonstrating that there was a true intention of putting cash into the hands of the players as part of their remuneration package. It does not help either that the existence of these letters has been denied or not revealed by the club. In this state of affairs, it would be sensible to seek a settlement. This appears to be HMRC’s wish. I would strongly recommend this course.”

Mr Nimmo Smith’s commission was oblivious to the existence of this letter. Were Harper McLeod directed to avoid any consideration of the DOS/VSS operation, were they misled by Duff & Phelps or were they incompetent?

One individual who could have provided an insight was the SFA President, Campbell Ogilvie, who provided evidence to the LNS commission. Was it remiss of him not to mention his letter of 3rd September 1999, where in his capacity as secretary/director of Rangers Football Club Plc, he wrote to the Secretary of Montreal Ltd in Jersey thus:

“Dear Sir

On behalf of Rangers Football Club Plc I hereby subscribe for two £1 shares in Montreal Ltd at a subscription of £2 and a share premium of £149,998.The purpose of this subscription is to provide remuneration to a valued employee of Rangers Football Club Plc.” 

Perhaps this slipped Mr Ogilvie’s mind when meeting with Mr Nimmo Smith. Darryl Broadfoot would have us believe that we should look back on Campbell Ogilvie’s tenure as President of the SFA with pride and with a sense of thanks and appreciation. However I choose to demur in regard to how he concealed his active participation in an illegal tax avoidance enterprise.

Mr Regan was quick to point out that Mr Ogilvie’s EBT of £95,000 was beyond reproach, however he has never been questioned on the former president’s DOS/VSS involvement.

There are some smart minds and wealth behind those who are pursuing UEFA for clarification on what they believe was malfeasance or incompetence by the SFA. Would it be inappropriate of me to suggest that they should pool their energy and resources to petition for a judicial review of the LNS recommendations and his commission’s flawed rationale for arriving at their conclusions?

 

 

EBT Blues

“A senior SPFL source has revealed the Ibrox club have been told to pay the penalty originally handed down to oldco Rangers after an inquiry by Lord Nimmo Smith in February 2013. Rangers newco, under Charles Green, were asked to accept liability for the £250,000 fine as part of the controversial five way agreement that led to the award of a licence to play in the Third Division in the summer of 2012.”

The preceding statement is from Gary Ralston at the Daily Record on Saturday 26th March.

By the following day, David McCarthy in The Sunday Mail stated:

“Seven days from title and EBT fine won’t impact on Warburton’s 7 figure budget.”

This is an excellent example on how the Trinity Mirror stable mates play the Rangers supporters for fools. David McCarthy’s spin is shameless. His source to counter Gary Ralston’s piece was either Je Suis Graham, our resident Islamaphobe, or one of the boys at Level 5. Of course he could have just made it up and claimed that it was an ‘exclusive.’

The facts are that the fine has serious consequemces for Rangers as they struggle with a hand to mouth operational expenditure budget. Four per cent compound interest will be applied to the original fine and costs, which is £449,946. The cost of the appeal and the time of three Lords Ordinary won’t come cheap. I posit that there will be little if any change out of the £474,750 which would ordinarily be paid as ‘prize’ money. The bulk of this prize money is from broadcasting and sponsorship. However there is one catch that  you won’t read about in a David McCarthy column. Rangers have already received and spent 75% of this sum. The outstanding £118,687 will be offset against the money owed, which will be a minimum of £356,313.

Using the Level 5/Je Suis Graham rule of thumb, where budgets are enhanced by 150%, the actual budget that was earmarked for players would be £400,000. Informed sources are suggesting this figure is as low as £375,000. This is the amount that Rangers paid for their most expensive recruit, Michael O’Halloran. Dave King, in his statement attached to another set of depressing loss-making accounts, which took the total to £31.5m since the inception of RIFC, stated that: “He was confident that the case would be settled in its (Rangers) favour.”  

If money was not as tight as it clearly is, King could take a £300,000 punt on taking the matter to The Court of Arbitration for Sport. This would kick the £356,313 into the long grass, but he would still have to find £300,000 with the distinct possibility of losing the appeal. Charles Green signed up to paying the football debts and governance fines in the 5 Way Areement. It was a small price to pay for the transfer of 114 titles.

In Mr Ralston’s piece he correctly gauged the mood of the Ibrox board. They were not only incensed that they had lost their appeal, they were apoplectic that the news had been leaked from the SPFL prior to King’s season ticket appeal. The Messiah will soon be on his £12,000 first class way to Ibrox to rattle the collection can. He has a positive balm to soothe the masses. He has delivered Scottish Premiership football ergo his new regime is a resounding success.It’s now time for the Rangers supporters to keep their part of the bargain and buy their more expensive season tickets, which will be spun as a positive where the board did their best to keep the price down. Concession prices will take the smallest hit as King wants to promote the conceit that they are a caring board who have gamely fought the good fight against Mike Ashley and prevailed. The fact that they only raised £5.7m of the £6.5m that they announced on January 1st will be airbrushed in the next set of accounts should RF CIC have made up the £800,000 shortfall. Campbell Dallas have their work cut out to find ways of spinning solvency from a situation where only £700,000 of the £2.5m required was raised this season and there was no income from player sales. We can confidently anticipate accountancy euphemisms for serious problems (Emphasis of Matter) in the next accounts.

Of course as the season ticket holders will know, they signed a contract that allows the club to take their direct debits automatically in May. King’s appeal will not be pitched at the 38,000 renewals, it will be pitched at the 7,000 he anticipates now stepping up to the plate. Mr Warburton will have significant problems finding 4-6 players with no signing on fees for his free transfer recruits and no down payments for loan players. We can but hope that the two Bosman signings from Accrington Stanley are as good as David McCarthy and Chris Union Jack are lining up to tell us.

Of course King’s get of jail free card would be a win against CFC in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final. Mr Warburton, with one eye on his dwindling transfer budget, stated that there was no difference between his team and the top teams in the Scottish Premiership. A win against CFC would prove his point. Even a close defeat would be spun as a positive. The last thing King wants is questions about his promised £30m from his Children’s Inheritance Trust Fund. I’m sure none of our SMSM would have the audacity to take our Dear Leader to task?

 

A Minority Match Report

The central premise of the 2002 movie ‘Minority Report’ is one where a police force can intervene prior to a crime being committed. The source of this intelligence is three ethereal beings.

What crimes could possibly be created at Hampden Park at noon on Sunday 17th April when Rangers meet Celtic in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final. We have long established that Scottish football is no more than an ‘entertainment’ therefore the movie analogy is apposite. The three ethereal beings at this Faustian dystopia will be Stewart Regan, Alan McCrae and Rod Petrie, who recently enjoyed a red carpet trip to Geneva. They would have preferred Cannes, where Minority Report was screened.However plans are being made to attend their own private screenings of the European Championship from The Negresco Hotel on Boulevard Des Anglais by way of compensation. No expense will be spared for the three most senior executives of a private company with a £33.6m annual turnover.

In my match report, I have decided to eschew the quaint construct that was formerly known as ‘sporting integrity.’ The SFA march to the drum of commercial expediency. They have created a formidable team with an unbroken history since 1872. The SFA and Rangers were both founded in 1872, and at times their boards have been indistinguishable from one another. Any tenure at Rangers is the key to Hampden’s 6th Floor. The SFA eleven have enjoyed unparalleled success during the past 144 years, with thirty-three Scottish Cup wins in their total haul of 114 titles. Celtic FC, the arrivistes of 1888,  have won 36 Scottish Cups, but their inferior haul of 96 titles could have been improved had their board used EBT that were fashionable at Ibrox and the SFA from 2001-2011. How remiss of them.

The match officials were referee Craig Thompson,assistants Willie Collum and Andrew Dallas. Alan Muir and Steven McLean were positioned behind each goal.

Celtic opened the scoring in the 18th minute. When Rob Kiernan hauled down Leigh Griffiths a couple of yards outside the penalty box, Kris Commons’ sublime curling free-kick over the defensive wall gave Foderingham no chance as it crashed into the back of the net off the inside of the near post.

With Celtic’s midfield dominating the early exchanges, Wes Foderingham was relieved to see Tom Rogic’s thunderous shot crash off the outside of the post to safety. The Gers keeper who had an excellent game, was then on hand to push away a strike from Leigh Griffiths.

 

Powerful drives from Stefan Johansen and Kris Commons had Foderinham making claims for the man of the match award amid waves of Celtic attacks before the half finished in controversy. When the ball fell to Griffiths at the back post, Kiernnan’s outstretched hand prevented the striker’s header finding the net, but referee Craig Thompson did not blow his whistle. Alan Muir, from his position behind the goal, stated that Kiernan had saved with his head. He repeated this assertion into his radio microphone. Craig Thompson took his lead from Mr Muir and waved away the protests of the CFC players.

Half Time Score Rangers 0 Celtic 1.

Rangers started much brighter in the second half with Law, Holt and Halliday exchanging slick passes on the rutted Hampden pitch. James Tavernier and captain Lee Wallace were unchecked as they made probing runs down the flanks. This early enterprise resulted in Kenny Miller beating CFC’s offside trap and as he approached Craig Gordon in goal he pushed the ball to the right, dragging his left foot against the keepers outstretched hands. Craig Thompson was minded to book Miller for simulation, but Steven McLean from his position behind the goal asserted that it was a penalty. Gordon was replaced by Logan Bailly, with Kris Commons sacrificed to make way for the reserve keeper. Bailly had no chance with Miller’s penalty which he drove high and straight into the centre of the net. After 55 minutes, the score was 1-1.

 

Now exploiting the additional space in midfield, the extra spring in Rangers step had Celtic on the back foot as the Gers began to dominate play. However neither team managed to score in regulation time. Extra time was required. The first period of extra time was only six minutes old when Nicky Law scored with a low drive past the flailing arms of Bailly. After 96 minutes the score was 2-1 in Rangers favour.

Celtic, against the run of play, equalised when the ball bounced off the shin of Kazim Richards, who prior to this goal in the 103rd appeared to be miming a statue.The absence of a road cone on his head, which is the fashion for statues in Glasgow, gave the game away for Kazim-Richards, but it was a valiant effort to do nothing for the entire game. The first half of extra time ended with the score Rangers 2-Celtic 2.

In the second period of extra time, Warburton’s men continued to stretch the ten-men of CFC and it was no surprise when Kenny Miller scored with his head from an inch-perfect Tavernier cross within two minutes of the restart. Rangers saw out the game with a passage of possession play, only broken by passes going astray on the city farm surface.

Final Score Rangers 3 Celtic 2.

After the game, John Collins incurred the wrath of the Rangers support as he remonstrated against the officials. Ronny Delia put his hands in his empty pockets knowing that a P45 was on its way. No Pistol Pete Lawwell left early in the SFA limousine to avoid the traffic as they made their way to Hotel Du Vin. After a seven course repast Regan convinced him that he should show some grace in defeat and suggested that should he need a dog to kick, he should take aim at a Norwegian hound.

Mr Warburton, the coach of Rangers, had the final word on the matter when he stated that: “Celtic are always cheated never defeated. It’s high time they owned up to their indiscipline.”  Mr Warburton was reading from a script that Darryl Broadfoot had kindly provided as he dropped by the home changing room to wish Rangers Bonne Chance prior to the game.

Some in the CFC support thought that they had seen this movie before. They had an overwhelming sense of Deja Vu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Enquiries

Those who have followed this site will know that even one conviction for VAT avoidance can preclude a director from being approved by The English FA under its owners and directors statutes. Massimo Cellino, who was fined £29,200 for avoiding VAT on an imported Land Rover, was disqualified by the FA in October of last year. Dave King, by contrast, can admit forty-one convictions for tax evasion and use £20m of the proceeds of tax evasion, with the SFA not prepared to raise an eyebrow. This could only happen in the corrupt backwater that is Scottish football.

On 3 March 2006, The Football Association established an enquiry that was headed by Lord Stevens, the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the former head of an enquiry into corruption in cricket.The initial findings of Stevens’ report were announced in December 2006. This enquiry was established in response to allegations in a BBC Panorama programme.

On 20 September 2006, The Football Association asked the BBC to provide all of their collated evidence and announced that it would investigate these allegations.It was announced on 2 October 2006, that Lord Stevens’ inquiry into football corruption, conducted via his  Quest commission, had been extended by two months to investigate 39 transfers involving eight clubs. On 20 December 2006, Stevens presented his preliminary report, which found that the level of corruption within English football was not as high as had been anticipated. There were, however, seventeen transfer deals that were still subject to further scrutiny.

On 15 June 2007, Lord Stevens’ inquiry issued its final report which raised concerns over issues involving 17 player transfers, involving five clubs, three managers and numerous agents and other third parties. In summary, the report stated:

 

There is no evidence of any irregular payments to current club officials or players, and they are identified only as a consequence of the outstanding issues the inquiry has had with the agents involved.The inquiry remains concerned at the conflict of interest that it believes existed between Craig Allardyce, his father Sam Allardyce – the then manager at Bolton – and the club itself. Agent Pinhas Zahavi has failed to co-operate fully with the inquiry. There was an initial failure to disclose his involvement in a number of transfers but, more seriously, he has failed to provide the inquiry with complete bank statements due to the confidential nature of them. There has also been a lack of responsiveness by Zahavi. There remains questions relating to his relationship with, and payments to, licensed agent Barry Silkman, and with Silkman’s failure to initially disclose his involvement in all the transactions in which he has received fees.There remains inconsistencies in evidence provided by Graeme Souness – a former manager of Newcastle United – and Kenneth Shepherd (son of the former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd)— apparently acting in an undefined role but not as a club official – as to their respective roles in transfer negotiations.”
On 28 November 2007 there were a number of arrests by City of London Police which included Harry Redknapp, Peter Storrie, Milan Mandaric, Amdy Faye, agent Willie McKay, Karren Brady and David Sullivan. At a subsequent trial, Harry Redknapp was acquitted by a jury of his peers.

This is how the English FA deal with issues of concern. They liaise with police and allow justice to run its course. The highly respected Quest team are currently investigating equestrian irregularities and the running of twelve phantom races.

Compare and contrast this to how the cackhanded SPL and SFA conspired to establish and subvert the findings of an inquiry into allegations that were tantamount to match fixing. Emeritus Lord Nimmo Smith was not free to publish his report without fear or favour. He had to first run it past a panel of three that was chaired by Stewart Regan. No evidence was led to support title-stripping. RIFC/TRFC refused to co-operate with the enquiry. Campbell Ogilvie, Chairman of the SFA, presented evidence and an affidavit to the enquiry despite having been compromised by his engagement in the illegal Discounted Options Scheme. To circumvent this problem the scope of the inquiry was altered with DOS excluded from LNS’ considerations. Sandy Bryson of the SFA was allowed to get away with the preposterous ‘imperfectly registered although eligible’ falsehood. Mr Nimmo Smith arrived at the conclusion that there was no sporting advantage as the EBT scheme was available to all clubs and were not illegal. He singularly failed to note that most other clubs settled their tax liabilities in regard to EBT in 2004/2005 in an amnesty offered by HMRC. The predetermined outcome was a £250,000 fine on a £72m exchequer fraud. There were no arrests. No participants and beneficiaries of the EBT scheme were interviewed by Police Scotland. It was an epic whitewash that exposed the SFA as corrupt and willing to subvert an enquiry to exonerate themselves and officers of Rangers of any blame.

This charade by Stewart Regan, Campbell Ogilvie and Sandy Bryson has reduced Scottish Football to no more than an entertaining situation comedy. Those hoping for sporting integrity should note that it left the sixth floor of Hampden some time ago.

 

A West of Scotland Malaise?

When Stewart Regan appeared at Potter Row at the request of Professor Jarvie, he was not anticipating any difficult questions. When he encountered a question on the incompetence of the SFA, he referred to a phenomenon that he classified as a West of Scotland malaise. This situation has been exacerbated by the SFA’s response to systemic cheating by a member club. Despite claims to the contrary, I have always been a Rangers supporter and until relatively recently a shareholder with 20,000 ordinary shares. I sold all but one of these shares when a career criminal engaged in a hostile takeover of the board. My position is that Rangers are a new club as I have more than a passing acquaintance with Scots Law and The Companies Act of 2006.

 

They are the spiritual successor of the old club that is currently being liquidated. My position is an informed, well-researched response to the events of 2012. I do not envisage any title-stripping nor do I advocate that this is pursued. However it has been established that David Murray’s board, which included Dave King and Paul Murray, engaged in systemic tax evasion for a period of twelve years. Should there be redress for this systemic tax evasion? Absolutely. Will there be? Absolutely not.
The matter is far too complex for the average supporter. I have tried to break it down in articles of no more than 1,500 words as I note that when I exceed this amount individuals tend to switch off; or find it too difficult to scroll down to the often more interesting comments. Have a look at the guest article by Finloch at The Scottish Football Monitor. I have read this interesting article. However having done so once, I suggest you later attempt to access the comments, scrolling down through thousands of words rendering them inaccessible to all but the most committed who wish to see their comment in print. I encourage comments on this site. I have a couple of simple rules. If you wish to engage in comments in a quasi-language that you might use for brevity in a text, I will not approve anything with ‘u’ where ‘you’ is required. I will permit colloquial Scots occasionally, but if you revert to ‘whit’ in preference to what, if it’s not a quote from Burns, Scott or some other literary luminary, then I may decide not to approve it. I will not tolerate ad hominem comments. I allow CFC supporters to comment, but I draw the line on those who wish to celebrate their history or use ‘bhoy’ in their title. I would prefer that those of a CFC persuasion don’t advertise the fact. I can assure them that it does not add gravitas to their comments. I extend a warm welcome to supporters of other clubs and those expats who can no longer stomach the invented nonsense at The Sunday Radar.
However I digress. The antipathy of supporters apropos Rangers’ renaissance is not confined to the West of Scotland. A company is being liquidated. This company’s titles have been conferred to a new company. From a common sense perspective this should not occur. However it has occurred and this grates on supporters whose clubs paid their taxes and managed their debts. The Scottish football authorities arrived at the conclusion that fifteen titles were unsound. They advocated that these titles were withdrawn. They were prepared to confer 99 of them. However they chose to confer all of them to a new company. They transferred the licence of the old company to a new company. Neil Doncaster, the CEO of the SPFL, went out of his way to state that Rangers is the same club/company that was formed in 1872. This statement has no merit whatsoever in regard to the laws of the land. One could posit that Mr Doncaster’s misrepresentation of the facts of the matter is an act of fraud. Fraud is defined as gaining a pecuniary advantage through deception. If Mr. Doncaster exacts a higher price from broadcasters on the basis of promoting a club/company formed in 1872, incorporated as a company in 1899, he is perpetrating a fraud.
This fraud is exacerbated by the fact that during 1989-2011, which is part of his timeline, systemic tax evasion and UEFA participation was approved when a £2.8m tax bill was outstanding.

 

I personally would prefer to leave this all behind. We start anew from 2012 onwards and we accept that although we look back fondly at the old club, we can do things better this time. I would prefer that the sectarian singing stopped. If I won a nine figure sum on a lottery, I would buy a controlling interest in Rangers. If I heard The Billy Boys being sung in any stand, I would withdraw access to this stand for the next home game. If it persisted I would close these stands for the season. My new Rangers would leave the bad history behind.

 

My Rangers would not sell season tickets to supporters in Ireland. I don’t want their politics anywhere near a football club. My Rangers would support our armed forces by paying our taxes. My Rangers would wear poppies to venerate the fallen in all conflicts where our ancestors have given their lives in service of their country. Those who wish to make a statement about army abuses in Northern Ireland can take their support elsewhere. When I wear my poppy I think of The Devil’s Pass in Myanmar (Burma) where I have laid a wreath in memory of the fallen.
I emphasised paying taxes. If we were to choose to draw a line in the sand in 2012, as I have, why would we choose a chairman with forty-one convictions for tax evasion? It is an outrageous decision by unconscionable shareholders. Why would we choose a regime that agitated for change so aggressively that female stewards had their teeth punched out in their name? Why are we naming our youth academy after an organisation that has a convicted drug dealer at its helm? Why are we putting our faith in a regime that having driven the share price down to 18p, took control and subsequently de-listed it? Having decimated the value of Rangers, this board stand in front of our shareholders at an AGM and receive a standing ovation. You could not make it up. It truly is a metaphysical universe.

 

When we revert to reality, a question will be asked on the 28th April on how seven individuals, and one non-voting guest, arrived at the conclusion that a career criminal Dave King, with forty-one convictions for tax evasion and one for contempt of court, was fit and proper to be approved as a director of Rangers. As Graham Spiers succinctly stated, he failed the articles of association so comprehensively that, even allowing for the discretion of the makeshift panel, he could not possibly be approved. The SFA panel were willing to ignore any semblance of governance in the hope that King would give them the vital, competitive Rangers of their dreams. They did not care where he found the money. They did not care if it was the proceeds of tax evasion or money-laundering. They wanted King and his perceived wealth in Scottish football. This was a unanimous decision, and despite what CFC fans like to tell themselves (they can also be deluded) No Pistol Pete Lawwell also approved of King.
The decision of the three Lords Ordinary to uphold the fine of £250,000 and costs is an indictment of Dave King and Paul Murray. They both served on a board that approved side-letters and illegal registrations. Will they both be banned from Scottish football for this malfeasance? Will the fine imposed by the SFA of £160,000 plus interest in 2012, which was upheld in an appeal, finally fall due to Rangers?
When looking at the facts, the governing bodies have played so fast and loose with their articles of association, to expedite the return of Rangers to the top tier, that the only conclusion that we can arrive at is that they are corrupt. If we start from this premise we should ask how far are they prepared to go to further their ambitions for Rangers? As we have seen they are prepared to allow participation in UEFA tournaments when Rangers should have been disqualified by dint of an overdue tax payable. Are they now prepared to ensure that Rangers win the Scottish Cup this season and qualify for UEFA tournaments next season? Three home ties were no coincidence. As we saw with our own eyes in May of last year, ICT were allowed to cheat their way to UEFA participation by officials who would have been imprisoned in other football jurisdictions.

 

Once you start perverting the rules of the game, where do you stop? Is there honour among thieves?