Disguised renumeration. Your triggered emotion


Yesterday, the Premier League charged Manchester City with more than 100 financial rule breaches over the period 2009 – 2018.  The club have not cooperated with the ongoing inquiry since 2018.  A lot of water has flowed under the bridge, but the cuts from 2010-12 run deep, when similar charges were successfully brought against Rangers.

Problems started for City over innocuous-sounding investigations into Related Party Transactions.  These are areas where an owner or controller of a club pays money, for example, to sponsor the stadium.  Uefa Financial Fair Play rules prevents clubs artificially inflating such deals in order to pump more money into their coffers.

The Premier League charge, among other matters, that City did not disclose full player and manager renumeration between 2010 and 2016.  City deny all allegations.

The clearest difference between City and Rangers is the protagonist.  HMRC were active against Rangers and other Murray Group companies.  They pursued the club for disguised remuneration through the inappropriate use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs).  The matter went to the Supreme Court, which rules these Trusts were renumeration and should have been subject to employment taxes.

HMRC are not involved with City, so it is unlikely public services have lost out on this occasion.  The League have appointed a KC to head a commission of inquiry to investigate.  Before the HMRC action against Rangers concluded, but after liquidators were appointed, the Scottish Premier League asked Lord Nimmo Smith to investigate rule breaches.  Nimmo Smith found Rangers broke player registration rules of both the SPL and SFA.

In surprising testimony, the SFA’s Sandy Bryson gave evidence to the inquiry that, “even if there had been a breach of the SFA registration procedures, the registration of a player was not treated as being invalid from the outset, and stood unless and until it was revoked.”

So if you break the rules, you get away with it unless and until HMRC catch you.  The gods of good governance hid their faces.  England is different, of course.  There, their administrators, public prosecutors and police are not partial to any one club.  Without the City of London Police raiding Ibrox and passing information along Whitehall to HMRC in 2007, Rangers liquidation would never have happened.

If charges against them are upheld, Manchester City’s period of domination of English football is over, a return to the days of the enigmatic Kinkladze beckons.  Few will weep.

Throughout season 2011-12, Rangers, their fans, much of the media and several football administrators, backed owner Craig Whyte and his plan to flush the club’s liabilities, form a Newco and apply for SPL membership.

They were stopped by fan action which started on these pages in October 2011 with ‘The prepack route for Rangers Newco FC’.  I did not dream this up on my own.  The day before, Peter Lawwell called, worried that this would happen, “We need to stop this.”  He called practically every day for the rest of that season urging more action.

I was given credit for my prescience, he took the blame for not going public, believing it would undermine his influence with other clubs.  Neither were deserved.  Without his Machiavellian strategizing, you would have lived under a red, white and blue cosh for the last decade or so.  There’s more I could write, but probably best not.  I just thought you should know some of what happened.

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  1. “There’s more I could write, but probably best not. I just thought you should know some of what happened.”



    Many know what happened. Come on P67, continue on. “Some?”



    ‘mon the PHILCOOL!

  2. Hmm. Not sure I agree Paul. Going public and making it clear that there would be no dodgy dealings and everything was transparent to the public could have got rid of the corruption once and for all…

  3. Gaining sporting advantage has probably always been practiced from earliest times; from standing ahead of your opponent in a two person sprint as children to sports washing like Manchester City and Newcastle United, allegedly.


    In the SPFL and SFA all of the ‘sporting advantage’ of Rangers 1872-2012 was not only proved but admitted to by those involved, see Alex McLeish’s admission that without the EBTs the original and deadest version would not have been able to afford the players and therefore would not have won the championships and cups during that period. Punishment? A few thousands pounds fine (probably never paid) and nothing else really, apart from the death of Rangers. However, as the Rangers, in whatever form, the SFA, SPFL, other clubs and the media are joined at the hip, even the ultimate sporting sanction death, and there can be no other more catastrophic than death, even this was denied and the invention of continuity of a long dead Club lives on playing from Ibrox.


    We don’t do reality in sport in the SPFL and SFA.

  4. Lets be honest here, the governing bodies could make this so much more transparent if they want to.


    For a start, they could limit the number of players who are allowed to sign for any club. There was a point last season that Chelsea had 6 goalkeepers out on loan. It’s not enough for clubs like Newco and Man City to have all the advantages, they need to cheat to just make sure. I genuinely hope that Man City have trophies removed as this is the only indication that the authorities actually take cheating seriously.

  5. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “The day before, Peter Lawwell called, worried that this would happen, “We need to stop this.” ”




    Out of interest, Paul – can you confirm if he was equally against Newco being parachuted into SFL1?

  6. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    “Without the City of London police raiding Ibrox………”.



    A good reminder that we live in a parochial backwater.

  7. Just wondering. . .


    What, with all these stories about Ange being lured to the EPL, there wouldn’t be an important game v Sevco coming up is there?

  8. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    So Lawwell did care after all. Fair play.



    What a rotten, corrupt, Hunnish little country we live in. Or at least, the central belt is.

  9. Had PL put his head well above the parapet, the cries of DUCK FFS!, from DD would have been deafening! por cierto.

  10. “AVE! AVE! on 7TH FEBRUARY 2023 12:54 PM



    What, with all these stories about Ange being lured to the EPL”



    Are `all these stories` in the MSSM ? If so, I`m surprised a fine chap such as yourself thinks them worthy of comment.

  11. Paul 67,



    Let’s see what transpires with Man City. Personally I don’t see much happening to them, apart from their highly rated and expensive legal team may be putting in a bit of OT.



    Thank God for the City of London police.



    Again personally I’ve reached exhaustion and saturation with the huns since 2011.


    Reluctantly I think we have to move on, enjoy our team and embrace the future.



    I fear that if we don’t move on we do more harm to ourselves rather than the actual protagonists, cheats and establishment.



    I know this view will not be universally popular, but its what I now believe



    HH, the journey continues.

  12. glendalystonsils on

    HOT SMOKED on 7TH FEBRUARY 2023 1:10 PM


    A very interesting article,Paul. I am surprised it hasn`t given rise to a greater response.



    Perhaps people are too sickened by the fact that the Ibrox club(s) have got clean away with the same dirty, cheating business which is now being properly dealt with in England in a way which it never would be here .

  13. GREENPINATA on 7TH FEBRUARY 2023 1:23 PM












    ‘Thank God for the City of London police.’






    And Dr Heidi Poon.

  14. Tom McLaughlin on




    Reading the Tirnaog09 article, particularly the concluding paragraphs, he clearly had high hopes that the imminent promotion of NewCo to the SPL would herald a new era of local rivalry minus the worst excesses of sectarian hatred and violence.



    How wrong he was, sadly.

  15. Canamalar it looks like OCD obsession on

    Rememebr guys, they only got away with it because the PLC wanted it that way, they buried Res12 to assist.

  16. ‘Without his Machiavellian strategizing’







    Yeah, we had an insight into that with how he dealt with Res 12.



    Never mind, it all worked out in the end. A functioning, viable Old Firm business model.



    And here is, back in the role of an independent, non exec chairman.

  17. ernie



    Although I really detest the way `Scotland` responded to Rangers` liquidation, I am nevertheless left wondering how enjoyable following Celtic would be without `A functioning, viable Old Firm business model.`.


    Ideally, I would prefer it if Abredeen or even Hearts provided that challenge but that is nigh on impossible.

  18. The other clear difference between City and Rangers is that City where spending their own money, money they could afford.



    The one aspect of the City allegations that I don’t understand is the disguised renumeration aspect – it should be clear what their players income was because that’s what they used to work out tax and national insurance contributions which were forwarded to HMRC. As p67 says, HMRC are not involved in this, there’s no suggestion that City have cheated the tax man. Where they disguising renumeration then I don’t understand why HMRC aren’t all over this. They’re not, as things stand. And they’re not well known for letting things slide past them.



    So we await the outcome. My guess is that City beat these charges. There does seem to be a whiff of old money clubs going after new money clubs to me but we shall see. Its high stakes now. City will undoubtedly push for change at the EPL administration level should they beat these charges.

  19. The returnof weeron on




    Two things….



    1. Peter Lawell’s preferred outcome was that the cheats be kept in the PL, but be given a multi year points deduction so we could have it easy on them for a wee while.



    2. I very much doubt that the EPL will strip titles from Man City. It would be bad for the EPL brand. These asterisks would live forever, telling sponsors that the EPL had been rigged all these years. My bet would be a financial punishment (that would be well within Man City’s ability to pay, and they will move on and never talk about the subject again.

  20. What a phenomenally interesting lead.



    It should be no surprise that the prepack lead came from the Celtic PLC; Paul67, was rightly, highly respected for his knowledge on football finances, yet that lead smacked of an inside tip off…



    By that time many had suspected that CQN was been heavily manipulated by the PLC Board.



    Of course, I can’t claim to have any such prescience as my happy clapping was up there with the best of them.



    You look at the posters then and say – what could have been!?






    … then similar charges were successfully brought against Rangers. …



    … the Scottish Premier League asked Lord Nimmo Smith to investigate rule breaches. Nimmo Smith found Rangers broke player registration rules of both the SPL and SFA.



    The LNS investigation was brought by the SFA not the SPL and the findings were partially used in more ways than one then the report shelved



    The LNS Commission was not an investigation but a highly suspect, pseudo judicial inquiry, with no prosecution worth the name



    So although some charges were brought against Rangers but they beat the wrap



    They were stopped by fan action…



    True but not Celtic fans action, I’m not sure how many Aberdeen season ticket holders read that piece



    Any Celtic fans initiative was thwarted by the Celtic board, as they controlled the narrative and managed expectations – remember “keeping our powder dry!?”



    We get it straight from the horses mouth, CANAMALAR @ 1:37 PM,



    They got away with it because Celtic PLC wanted the old firm



    Hail Hail

  21. Funny how recent it all feels when you look back on it now



    CQN at its difference-making best, I can remember learning so much almost daily.



    And we were lucky we had people at our club who saw the blag and worked so hard to stop it.

  22. BBC Site:


    “Former Ibrox star Brian Laudrup reckons this month’s Viaplay final is a chance for Rangers to sow seeds of psychological doubt in Celtic, which could affect next season’s title race. (Daily Mail, print edition)”



    If we beat them in the Final, I wonder if the bold Brian will say that we have taken a chance to further germinate ` seeds of psychological doubt in` Sevco. :-)))

  23. Ernie



    Can you explain exactly what the realistic gain would have been if the res12 had been taken further ?

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