Campbell Ogilvie’s appointment as president of the SFA was always controversial. As general secretary and director of Rangers, Ogilvie was the club’s chief administrator during the final 11-year period they refused to employ Catholic footballers. In many other walks of life, this background would make him an embarrassing relic of a former era, but in Scottish football it was enough to see him promoted to the ultimate honour position.
He remained in position at Rangers long after the new regime of Sir David Murray arrived and set aside the decades-old sectarian employment policy but left the club in 2005, joining Hearts as operations director two months later. All of this puts the SFA president in central position regarding the on-going tax tribunal, which is charged with deciding if Rangers illegally evaded tax from a period starting in 2000 and going on well beyond Ogilvie’s departure.
If the First Tier Tribunal finds against Rangers the SFA must ask for Ogilvie’s immediate resignation. The association cannot have a president embroiled in a tax evasion scam which, even before a verdict has been decided, has already caused untold harm to his former club and the reputation Scottish football. The scale of the damage to public finances has yet to be definitively established but it will not make good reading.
The SFA has just embarked on its first proper investigation into whether directors of a football club, in this instance Rangers, are fit and proper persons to hold such a position. Office holders at the association cannot exercise power over the game if they are not subject to the same standards they demand from clubs. Pending this investigation, and the outcome of the tax tribunal, Ogilvie should temporarily step aside. Scotland is not yet a banana republic, public bodies must have robust ethics and must not allow the shadow of contagion to be cast over the body charged with ensuring legal and moral standards are adhered to.
The SFA has some enormously important months ahead. Its president is currently in a position to influence which course it takes and, if the tribunal verdict falls against Rangers, could be implicated in the scandal which precipitated the crisis. While I am sure Campbell Ogilvie will be shown to have acted with impeccable ethical standards, the SFA must quickly establish a structure clear of contagion.
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