When David Murray bought a controlling interest in Rangers with a suitcase containing one million dollars – a bribe delivered by a trusted MIHG executive to Lawrence Marlborough – and a £6m loan, he lit the touch-paper on a regimen of systemic cheating, tax evasion and mendacity the likes of which we had never seen before. When he signed Maurice Johnston in 1989 he engaged in an as yet unknown tax artifice to pip Billy McNeil’s ambitions at the post. One can but assume that Sir Bribe & Lie spent the first decade of his reign flagrantly breaking the rules but little is known about this period. The second decade of his regime will live long in the memory. Murray at first introduced a Discounted Option/Value Shift Scheme to sign three players. He then graduated to Employment Benefit Trusts. He signed 55 players on this basis. That’s five teams of eleven engaging in aggressive tax avoidance. It was subsequently established at The Supreme Court that EBT were a means of disguising remuneration. Rangers had abrogated on their fiduciary duty to deduct PAYE and National Insurance at source. They had also shirked on paying their employer taxes. When Sir Bribe & Lie issued side letters he knew that he had entered the realm of tax evasion. He should have been sent down for this. With a bank betting £800m on him Murray not only avoided being indicted but in an irony that never gets old he was awarded a KBE for services to industry. Murray’s tax evasion resulted in Rangers recruiting players that they could otherwise not have afforded. Rangers pressed home this competitive advantage to acquire seventeen trophies, all of which were bent.
As Sir Bribe & Lie was financially doping at Ibrox, Armstrong was doping his way to win the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005. However in 2012 when Rangers went bust owing £168.6m, Armstrong was also busted. He was banned from sanctioned Olympic sports for life as a result of long-term doping offenses. As part of those sanctions, all results going back to August 1998, including his seven Tour wins, and a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, were voided.
Which begs two questions:
1. How did Murray & Armstrong get away with it for so long?
2. Why were the trophies won by Rangers during this period not voided?