To say that Ralph Topping, the outgoing Chairman of the SPFL, made an arse of himself in his interview with Alan Patullo does a discredit to other fundaments. He is not fooling anyone. The go-to-counsel for the rebranded SPL, who now refer to themselves as the SPFL, is Rod McKenzie. He is not a QC. As Topping has no intention of revealing his name, he disingenuously suggested that a QC was engaged in four consultations. To sit down on four occasions with a QC would have cost a minimum of £14,000 plus VAT, £16,800 plus expenses. Topping’s narrative is as fishy as a smoked Arbroath haddock.
When one considers Rod McKenzie and Ralph Topping, the late Rod Hull and Emu comes to mind: jj passim – Rod Hull & Emu v Rod McKenzie. The following, in bold italic typeface, is an extract from my archive:
In one of the preceding photographs is an individual with a penchant for the comedy of the absurd; in the other is the late Rod Hull & Emu. The inclusion of a glove puppet masquerading as a bird was no accident. It is an apposite metaphor for the curious case of Rangers 2012, the Club with a capital C, whom our learned friend would have us believe is Rangers 1872 or Rangers 1899 as per its date of incorporation.
If I were to rank all three characters in terms of their credibility, I would plump for Emu, followed by Rod Hull’s exhumed cadaver, with Rod McKenzie a distant third. Mr McKenzie is so slippery that he could qualify as a UNESCO Heritage Site for Tree Frogs.
Scottish Football has evolved into a corrupt mutation of association football to accommodate a lie. The Lie that Rangers 1872/1899, the club with a Capital C, was sold to Charles Green’s Sevco Scotland as a going concern. Mr Green, with a deft touch of smoke and mirrors, renamed Rangers as RFC 2012. Rangers was finally put out of its misery when Lord Hodge consigned it to Liquidation on October 31, 2012. HMRC, with £92m in unpaid and evaded taxes, voted against the CVA. Rangers were hoist by their own corrupt petard.
As Rangers twisted in the wind like an effigy at Celtic Park, Charles Green was alive to the possibility of making a fast blue buck by acquiring the trading assets of the distressed company and repackaging them as a bastardised version of Rangers. Those who came down in the last shower, wearing bread wrappers on their heads, did not notice the difference. Colour me surprised with a capital C.
Mr. McKenzie is one of the founding partners of Harper McLeod. He acts for the William Hill Organization in relation to betting licensing and general litigation matters in Scotland and the north of England. He is also the legal adviser to the Scottish Premier League and has acted for them in numerous litigations, disputes and contractual matters.
He is best known for his sleight of hand when he conveniently excluded the illegal DOS/VSS tax-evasion instrument from Bill Smith’s Whitewash Commission. In his esteemed opinion, EBT were a legitimate means of tax ‘efficiency’ which did not confer a sporting advantage. I trust McKenzie, whose integrity has no beginning, as far as I could throw him. In the entertainment that was the Kinloch v Coral civil case, which I nicknamed The Hunfight at the OK Coral, McKenzie’s testimony elicited the most incredulity.
When Counsel asked McKenzie if he had a good knowledge of SPL rules , he duly responded:
“I suspect I am the person with the best knowledge. I am phoned up and asked about SPL rules on an almost daily basis. The Club, with a capital C, had been sold to Sevco Scotland ltd. We learned this from the press mainly.”
I have highlighted this statement in red as it beggars belief. McKenzie, who must be more than aware of the failed CVA, would have us believe that he would take the fanciful flights of folly of those such as Keith Jackson and Shug Jack as the perceived wisdom of the age.
Mr McKenzie is a Charlatan with a Capital C.
The following exchange was instructive:
Mr Sandison inquired:
“Was the football team called Rangers FC ever relegated from the SPL?”
“That would require me to make a judgement on what is ‘relegation’ and I’d rather not do so.”
Forgive me if I pause with exasperation. The self-styled consigliere of the SPL, the go to guy on the rules that he drafted and ratified, was not prepared to make a judgment call on relegation. Was he not prepared to make this call in deference to one of his paymasters, Neil Doncaster, who would have us believe that Rangers are the same club, who through some as yet unspecified sanction found themselves in the lowest tiers of Scottish football?
The prosaic facts of the matter was that McKenzie was not prepared to lie under oath. He is however more than comfortable to lie to the SPL. I have access to the minutes from the SPL Interim Board Meeting of 28 February 2013, which was conducted by conference call.
At this meeting:
“Rod McKenzie summarised the charges brought against Rangers FC over an 11-year period relating to non-disclosure of side letters involving around 50 players. He explained that the (LNS) Commission had found that the SPL was right to consider that SPL Rules had been broken and that OldCo had been found guilty of a breach of those Rules. The Commission had found that OldCo had not, during that period, gained any sporting advantage by the non-disclosure of the documentation. The Commission had also found, based on the evidence and a construction of the Rules, that during the periods in issue the Players were Registered and, therefore, eligible. A financial sanction of £250k had been imposed upon OldCo for failing to disclose the documentation but no sporting sanction had been applied, nor were any penalties imposed on Rangers FC.”
Rod McKenzie advised that Lord Nimmo Smith had elected to reference explicitly within the judgment the SPL Board’s instruction not to seek any specific sanction. Lord Nimmo Smith had also made reference to the fact that the Commission had power to apply any sanctions.
In relation to recovering monies from OldCo, Rod McKenzie indicated the limited prospect of recovery of the £250k financial sanction imposed by the Commission. During discussion, the following points were noted:
The Commission Hearing had been based entirely upon the issue of a breach of the SPL Rules as instructed by the Board.
The tax case had been referenced significantly within the judgment but it had been made clear that the issues before the Commission were entirely different and that whether or not payments to players were taxable emoluments was irrelevant to the Commission.
The proportionality of the sanction, i.e the level of the fine, was questioned.”
The text in blue italic typeface unequivocally states the scope of the LNS commission. The board instructed Nimmo Smith to only consider registration breaches. They did not want the vexed question of the tax evasion to be considered.
Eric Riley of Celtic FC dialled into this interim meeting. The recent statement of the Celtic board is precise. They want the vexed question of the tax evasion on the table.
The SPL Interim Meeting was called to consider whether the SPL should appeal the £250,000 sanction. There was a feeling that the sanction was inappropriate given the scope of the registration irregularities. Any appeal would have been submitted to the SFA. Mr Topping wrote the following:
“From: Ralph Topping Sent: 07 March 2013 14:49 To: Iain Blair; Neil Doncaster; Duncan Fraser; Stephen Thompson; Eric Riley Cc: Rod McKenzie
Subject: Appeal to SFA STRICTLY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
Gents I understand that Iain has spoken with most people from the Board about the appeal process and having spoken with Rod I have his advice that in a nutshell we have to appeal today and be clear as to the grounds of appeal . I also understand that Eric is overseas on holiday but for the understandable reason of time zone difference is uncomfortable with the timescale being asked of him . As things currently stand Duncan , Michael , Stephen and Neil are in favour of no appeal being made . In the circumstances , given this is as important a subject as I think the SPL Board has discussed in my time as Chair I want to make my own position clear and not hide behind arithmetic as I could do.
I believe the proportionality of Lord Nimmo Smith’s determination is questionable . A fine of £250,000 for an enterprise of Rangers Oldco’s size and turnover and indeed strong leadership position in Scottish football on the evidence led as to the scale of the undeclared payments is not proportionate . I am also uncomfortable with Lord NS’s view that whilst the SPL Board wanted no sanction ruled out we seem to have led no evidence or made no statement in the course of the consideration by LNS on competitive advantage Ranger’s Oldco enjoyed which effectively ruled LNS from considering it . My question therefore to all Board Members is this : are you happy that in not appealing you are effectively saying that competitive disadvantage to all SPL clubs is immaterial and that you are happy with the scale of the fine ? My question to Rod is having not led evidence on Sporting disadvantage is this ruled out as a ground of appeal ?
My question therefore to all Board Members is this : are you happy that in not appealing you are effectively saying that competitive disadvantage to all SPL clubs is immaterial and that you are happy with the scale of the fine ?
My question to Rod is having not led evidence on Sporting disadvantage is this ruled out as a ground of appeal ?
I remain uneasy on both counts but accept that recovering monies from Oldco is unlikely no matter the quantum . The outcome in my view is still not proportionate .
I would have liked more time to discuss this in person but as I am advised we don’t have it if you could confirm that you are not for turning I would be grateful . Sorry to ask but I feel I must given the importance of this matter .
Let’s look at this e-mail, which has never seen the light of day, carefully. To reiterate for emphasis, Topping states:
“My question therefore to all Board Members is this : are you happy that in not appealing you are effectively saying that competitive disadvantage to all SPL clubs is immaterial and that you are happy with the scale of the fine ?”
Topping is asserting that all SPL clubs were at a competitive disadvantage, and that this was a ground for appeal. Neil Doncaster, The Cover Up MC, evidently gave Topping a flea in his ear. Less than three hours later, Topping recanted:
“From Ralph Topping Sent: 07 March 2013 17:47 To: Stephen Thompson; Duncan Fraser Cc: Rod McKenzie; Iain Blair; Neil Doncaster; Eric Riley; Michael Johnston Subject: Re: Appeal to SFA
The consensus is clear on an appeal . There is a majority against .
We will though review this matter at the Board on Monday to look at key learnings and implications.
There are many emails appended to the minutes. None of these were from Eric Riley. Doncaster quashed the appeal in less than three hours, blindsiding Riley who was on vacation. Welcome to the SPL who give the corrupt SFA a good run for their money.
As a final note it should be flagged that the discredited Topping will not be stepping down on the first of August. He will hang around like a bad smell for two more months to show MacLennan the ropes. One can assume that the key to room 101, where all the bodies are buried, will be conspicuous by its absence,