Campbell Ogilvie was an executive director of Rangers for the first five years of their Employee Benefit Trusts and during their earlier illegally-executed tax avoidance Discount Options Scheme. He received a ‘loan’ from a Rangers EBT, which he has not repaid and is not expected to repay, and recently described his company responsibilities during this period to a friendly journalist as being administrative, and then legislative.
He has been a director of the SFA for 22 years and is now president.
During the period when Ogilvie was director of both Rangers and the SFA the club illegally registered dozens of footballers with the SFA. All directors are responsible for actions of a company, executive directors especially so. Those who represent themselves as having administrative and legislative roles, absolutely so.
SFA chief executive, Stewart Regan, yesterday defended Ogilvie’s shameless refusal to resign by offering a defence which echoed Rangers ‘Craig Whyte acted alone’ defence, which was comprehensively dismissed by the SFA Judicial Tribunal.
Regan said, “We have had very clear feedback that the president was not involved in any letter or correspondence with regards to player EBTs.
“We are all aware of businesses being run where you have one owner and operator running the club and a number of directors sitting below. The way this process has been managed, a lot of this correspondence was done much higher up the chain than Campbell Ogilvie.”
This is cringe-worthy nonsense and gets to the heart of the lack of corporate governance at the SFA. Mr Regan is not qualified to assure us that Mr Ogilvie has no case to answer. That is not a judgement for him to make and is certainly not an inference that can be made on the basis of private comments from Mr Ogilvie or other former Rangers directors similarly contaminated by this issue.
Before the chief executive can state as fact how Rangers conducted their business, and the limited involvement of Mr Ogilvie, some form of inquiry must have taken place. No such inquiry happened.
“We have had very clear feedback”, said Mr Regan. Who is “we”, was it an independent panel that received this feedback, or did Mr Regan deal with this personally? Who gave the feedback? Was Mr Ogilvie subject to the same independent scrutiny as anyone else in the game, from Neil Lennon to Craig Whyte, or was this passed off with a handshake?
Mr Regan’s failure to recognise the serious corporate governance failures in his conduct is alarming. We don’t need this guy to know the offside rule but he has to understand good corporate governance requires questions against your president to be openly and independently investigated.
When these are our standards, what else is the executive turning a blind eye to?
Mr Regan was careful to limit his claim on what Mr Ogilvie was not party to. “We have had very clear feedback that the president was not involved in any letter or correspondence with regards to player EBTs” sounds like a substantial piece of information but it’s not.
This only claims that Mr Ogilvie did not author any side letter or contract relating to an EBT, which is not in doubt. The important issue is clearly Mr Ogilvie knew dozens of players had EBTs, he knew football players’ remuneration is subject to detailed written contracts and he knew all money paid to a player, from any source, in relation to football, must be detailed on his contract and registered with the SFA.
For Rangers players’ EBTs to be consistent with SFA and Fifa requirements they would need to be completely discretionary, an optional extra the players were unable to rely on. Mr Ogilvie, the Great Football Administrator, knew all of this.
Instead of good corporate governance we appear to have a self-certified president – we know Mr Ogilvie did nothing wrong because Mr Ogilvie said he did nothing wrong. He is at once, a Great Football Administrator and unaware of the football administration actions of the company he was legally responsible for.
Ogilvie was an executive director of Rangers. It was his responsibility as a director of Rangers to ensure that the club contracts and legislative responsibilities were conducted in a proper manner. He was simultaneously a director of the SFA. It was his responsibility as a director of the SFA to ensure the Association was run in an even-handed manner, that one club – his club or any other – could not load the dice.
Regan went on to say “Since February 14 he has had no involvement at all in any board meetings, any decisions or any meetings with the club.”
It is reassuring that he has withdrawn from an important part of the legislative process of the SFA but his prominent participation in yesterday’s AGM confirms that his influence in other areas remains.
Regan added “[EBTs] are illegal if they are used knowingly in an incorrect manner. That is something we are still waiting for facts on. But I am satisfied that Campbell has discharged his duty of care. He has done everything we could have asked of him and, so far as his integrity is concerned, he is a man with many years as a highly respected administrator across the game of football in Scotland.”
“So far as his integrity is concerned….many years …. respected administrator”. Those words may bring to mind all those years Ogilvie was at Ibrox while Rangers sectarian signing policy was in place.
Regan dismissed calls for his own resignation, no doubt confident he can self-certify his performance.
I am hugely reluctant to open a political debate, but does the painful lack of accountability and scrutiny in Scotland not alarm you? The actions (inactions) of Ogilvie and Regan would never be accepted in England, where structures exist to hold officials to account. As a relic from Rangers sectarian signing policy days, Ogilvie would be regarded as an embarrassing dinosaur, he would never be made president! The ability for officials to state facts without an inquiry would never be tolerated.
We look more like a rotten borough than a country with the mechanisms necessary to nurture a successful state. Where’s your voice now, Mr Salmond?