Sir David Murray is the son of a convicted tax-evader. A tax-evader who concealed earnings from two racehorses that he owned. He was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment.
Sir David Murray paid a one million dollar bribe, in addition to the six million pounds official price, to secure a controlling interest in Rangers FC. The bribe was delivered in a suitcase. The courier was a trusted senior executive in Murray Metals. The recipient was Lawrence Marlborough.
These facts are incontrovertible. When Ayr United FC spurned Murray’s overtures they were fully aware of the sins of his father. One would not be surprised if they took the view that the apple had not fallen far from the tree.
When Murray Metals metamorphosed into Murray International Holdings, David Murray ran up debts of £942,000,000. Despite being the son of a Roman Catholic mother, Murray was accepted by the Edinburgh Establishment and taken under the wing of Sir Angus Grossart who had so many fingers in establishment pies that a thimble might have come in handy. Murray’s Edinburgh contacts are pulling strings on his behalf, no doubt for a taste, in a new Edinburgh Village of 1300 homes in green belt land adjacent to the RBS HQ in Gogarburn. RBS, unsurprisingly given the influence of their former vice-chairman Grossart, are supportive of the scheme.
Murray was never the sharpest tool in his private school’s box. However he had a flair for networking and a penchant for flattery. If you met him face to face he would inquire whether you had a ‘bit on the side.‘ Those who saw this as a portal to gaining his confidence soon learned that the information that they had imparted could be used against them. Murray deployed more that succulent lamb to control the SMSM.
If he had not controlled the narrative and had a former police superintendent on his payroll he would have been sent down just like his father. The odious Gordon Brown ennobled him for services to business. Services that included racking up losses at Rangers to the tune of £175m in one business year. Murray even had the clout to make a good fist of putting Celtic out of business. Despite the fact that Celtic were a far better run club than Rangers, the Bank of Scotland, at Murray’s behest, called in their overdraft. Had it not been for the eleventh hour intervention of Fergus McCann, Murray’s Rangers would have had a clear field.
Having achieved Nine-In-A-Row by obscene financial doping, and having narrowly failed to put Celtic out of business, Murray pursued other avenues to give his calling card of a club an edge. He engaged in aggressive tax-avoidance schemes. The ones that we know about, DOS and EBT, were both illegal. Murray paid 63 players and 24 others off the books. When Walter Smith was at Everton, his purchase of players for top dollar from Rangers was rewarded with an EBT gratuity. This was also the case with Graeme Souness. Once you had accepted Murray’s EBT largesse he had a hold over you. When Campbell Ogilvie pocketed a £95,000 EBT severance payment he knew full well that he was supping with the devil.
The following Rangers EBT timeline is instructive:
2000: Rangers begin making payments through an Employee Benefit Trust (EBT), which was set up by major shareholder Murray International Holdings (MIH).
2010: April 27 – Rangers confirm they are under investigation by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over offshore payments to players from 2001. Rangers say they will “robustly” defend the case on the basis of expert tax advice.
2012: January 18 – A three-day first tier tax tribunal closes in Edinburgh, following earlier hearings to determine whether Rangers are guilty of tax evasion through EBTs.
March 2 – The Scottish Football Association confirm they will investigate claims made by former Rangers director Hugh Adam that payments made to players were not disclosed to the governing body.
March 5 – The Scottish Premier League confirm that their board have instigated an investigation into the alleged non-disclosure of payments made to players by Rangers, which prompts the SFA to drop their case.
May 23 – A BBC documentary team claims 63 Rangers players and 24 staff members received EBT payments and says 53 of them were provided with “side letters” detailing the structure of payments.
May 31 – Rangers’ administrators Duff and Phelps provide files requested by the SPL in their investigation into undisclosed payments.
June 14 – Oldco Rangers are formally consigned to liquidation after HMRC reject a Company Voluntary Arrangement proposal. Charles Green’s Sevco Scotland company buy a basket of assets.
August 2 – The SPL appoints an independent commission to probe the contentious payments.
August 6 – Murray denies cheating took place during his stewardship.
September 10 – Sevco Scotland (Rangers Lite) announce they will refuse to attend a scheduled hearing of the SPL-appointed commission.
November 20 – Rangers win their appeal in principle against a tax bill – the so-called ‘big tax case’ – for use of EBTs.
2013: January 29 – The commission begins hearing evidence with Rangers sending legal representation.
January 31 – The SPL concludes its hearing into allegations of undisclosed payments with a written decision to come.
February 28 – Rangers Lite ( who agreed to accept sanctions applicable to the former club in the five way agreement) are handed a fine of £250,000 for breaching rules over disclosing payments but the new club, which was conferred with titles won by the former club, avoids being stripped of titles after the commission finds they obtained no sporting advantage.
July 7 2017. The Supreme Court finds for HMRC in Rangers EBT case.
Note how Murray when caught bang to rights admits no wrongdoing and shows no remorse. Two fully equipped and fully staffed hospitals could have been established had Murray paid the taxes that were due. Murray helped himself to a £6.3m EBT.
Murray is a fucking rogue, yet quite incredibly he is still feted by the Edinburgh establishment. Would you buy a house from Murray? If you do you will feather the nest of a man who singlehandedly assassinated sporting integrity and ransacked Scottish football for more than two decades.
So how did Murray get away with it for so long? He also had friends in high places in Glasgow. No more so than Campbell Ogilvie and Stewart Regan. Ogilvie’s £95,000 EBT put him at the disposal of Murray. However Murray also had a hold over Regan. Was the latter bribed to look the other way. Was Regan slipped some complimentary tickets for a test match at Lord’s over a slap-up meal at Hotel Du Vin?
Or could it be as simple as all the estimable Lords offering legal advice to the SFA being in some way indebted to or influenced by Sir David Murray?
Prior to Regan’s dismissal – he will be paid his one year’s notice in full – he went on the offensive with Yuanker Traynor’s new lickspittle, Gary Ralston. Keith Jackson has grown tired of publishing Yuanker’s fake news.
The audacity of Regan in the following Q&A truly beggars belief. There are many takeaways but I will highlight only one in bold red italic typeface for further consideration:
Q: What do you have to hide by refusing Celtic’s request, via the SPFL board and on behalf of all 42 league clubs, for an independent review?
S.R: The decision has been taken as a board and having considered all the facts on the table. Since 2011 the board have relied heavily on advice from four QCs and three law lords, supporting us on that journey. We also have two independent directors on our board. Independence has been at its heart and we feel there is enough belief around our board that the decisions have been made with the best interests of Scottish football at heart.
Q: So there’s no appetite in the game for a full review?
S.R: Other than one, we haven’t had a single member asking for this to be undertaken. The fact we have put in place such an independent process since 2011, including independent directors on our board, has significantly moved on the decision making since before I came to Scotland when it was old fashioned committees.
We are in a very different place now. Four QC’s, three law lords, significant amount of financial and legal investment, scrutiny at every step of the way. We have got to the end of the process in our mind. We have made decisions on all the key areas and the one area we feel is still in need of further consideration is from comments made in the Craig Whyte trial relating to the (UEFA) licensing decision of 2011. That has been referred to the compliance officer and is now a live case.
Q: Do you suspect we will never draw a line under this?
S.R: It would be really difficult to convince those who believe in conspiracies there isn’t a conspiracy at play. My pushback to them is do we really think that four QCs, three law lords, all the club execs, all the independent panel members are all part of some huge conspiracy? We have spent too long looking through the rear view mirror and we’ve failed to look at the road ahead.
We have to be able to move on. We won’t get closure in the eyes of some parts of Scottish football – some fans, some stakeholders, won’t ever get closure.
This will be one of those topics that will be talked about for years to come. There isn’t a right or a wrong answer. It’s a judgment call and a group of guys around the boardroom table with independent legal scrutiny have come to the conclusion this is where we draw a line.
Q: How much has been spent on your legal fees?
S.R: Hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Q: Celtic figures would have been on SFA boards at the time decisions were taken in the past?
S.R: Our senior clubs have all been on the various committees and bodies that exist in Scottish football so they have been party to those decisions. And they have also been party to the improvements made.
Q: How many sit on the SFA board and was the decision not to grant an independent review carried by a majority vote or was it unanimous?
S.R: There are eight people on the board and seven were at the meeting. It works through collective responsibility. We don’t publish every decision or score or vote, that’s how boards work.
Q: Are there ramifications for Rangers newco if oldco found guilty of a breach with regards the UEFA license?
S.R: The range of sanctions could – I stress could – be linked with how the five-way agreement comes into play in the future. ( Record Sport understands part of the five way agreement was for Rangers newco to accept liability for issues arising under the jurisdiction of oldco as part of the transfer of SFA membership).
Q: Celtic are asking why there is no review into the Big Tax Case when the SFA are willing to look at the Wee Tax Case?
S.R: We haven’t had any new information raised with us by member clubs. If they have new information or evidence they feels falls into our jurisdiction then we will deal with that.
Q: Are you surprised Celtic haven’t provoked their own investigation via the SPFL?
S.R: Celtic have the ability to do that through their own organisation, if they want to do so.
Q: Celtic’s statement said that if there isn’t an inquiry, it would call into question the SFA’s accountability, transparency and leadership. How do you react?
S.R: We have listened to everybody. That’s not to diminish the points made by Celtic. I have a lot of respect for Peter (Lawwell) and I understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. He has a fiduciary duty to do what is the best interests of Celtic.
Q: Is your relationship with him now damaged?
S.R: I have a great relationship with Peter. We actually sat at the Champions League draw while all these letters were being exchanged. He understands my position. I am acting in the best interests of the game.
Q: Is this really all about title stripping?
S.R: I would actually say Celtic have gone to great lengths in their letters to emphasise it is not about title stripping, it is about process and learning. For some people out there, some stakeholders, groups, fans, maybe title stripping IS at the heart of it. But that matter has been discussed by the SPFL and a line has been drawn under it by the SPFL and they have moved on.
Our board’s opinion is we have had independence all the way. Are we going to have an independent review of an independent review? Where do you draw the line? It has been independent from day one.
Q: Will it ever go away?
S.R: The word that’s been used, ‘closure’? I don’t think it is realistic, I don’t think it is something people will ever be happy with. There are those who want an outcome that can’t be delivered. We’ve gone as far as we can.
Q: Was any part of SFA’s board’s decision-making informed by what might happen if you granted a full review into Rangers EBTs? You can only assume they might want other historic issues addressed?
S.R: That’s not how boards work. Boards deal in facts and information and advice. We treat all our members in exactly the same way. You cannot consider ‘what if’? There are too many what ifs in Scottish football. You deal in the here and now.
Q: Is your claim to independence compromised by the position of Campbell Ogilvie as SFA president throughout much of this time?
S.R: Campbell made a very clear point of recusing himself from every single decision and discussion relating to Rangers. He stepped outside and wasn’t involved at any time.
Q: How much is this about Celtic, Rangers, EBTs and SFA and how much is this, in reality, a power struggle between the SFA and SPFL?
S.R: We could sit here and second guess the politics behind it. That’s not for me. My job is to try to drive the game forward and focus on all the positives we are dealing with and now allow the past to drag us back.
Q: All this must be wearying, will you consider walking away?
A panel of seven voted against a review. Let’s assume that Pathetic Petrie, the 5 Way Agreement Gopher, was one of them. McRae would have also indubitably supported Regan. What about Mulraney, Maxwell and the head of the amateur game? Were the non-executive directors, the clue is in their titles, not allowed to vote? Could it have been a 3-3 tie with President McRae given the casting vote?
McRae and Petrie should be tried in the court of public opinion for crimes against Scottish Football.
Sir David Murray should be sent down for much longer than his father. He has never been punished for his circa £50m in tax evasion. It must be those friends in high places wearing blindfolds as they bare nipples and knees. Murray has always been adept at a knuckle shuffle. What’s £50m between brothers?