Exploiting Hillsborough, Scottish football laid bare by illicit finance campaigners


Two important issues to discuss today, Exploiting Hillsborough and Tax Justice Network.  Do you think newspapers are above exploiting the Hillsborough tragedy?  Think again.

Exploiting Hillsborough

Last year Celtic announced they received permission for safe standing at Celtic Park from the start of next season.  The club hasn’t spoken about the matter since then, but season ticket renewal information was published yesterday, including details for those in what will become safe standing areas.

Some sharp-eyed operator spotted an opportunity.  A bereaved Hillsborough mother was called, information put to her which led her to believe Celtic HAD made an announcement this week, before commenting “It’s insensitive to announce that right at this time, a week just after the verdicts”.

Readers were then treated to comments from Peter Lawwell to hammer home the point, “Celtic has worked tirelessly on this issue and we are delighted this permission has finally been granted”.

That comment was made in 2015, but was printed in the context of being made a week after the Hillsborough inquest.  If you want a Celtic comment contemporaneous with the Hillsborough inquest, you’re out of luck, none was made.  A comment was taken from the past, dressed up as new – and insensitive to the Hillsborough tragedy – then put to a bereaved mother.

This beggars belief.    This coverage did not happened by accident, it was planned and executed with a clear objective to undermine Celtic, and the chief executive in particular.  It was a vile act.

Tax Justice Network

Tax Justice Network (TJN) are an international activist think-tank who push to “‘change the weather’ on a wide range of issues related to tax, tax havens and financial globalisation”.  They train journalists on how to cover illicit finance and tax havens, and last year launched The Offshore Game, a look into football ownership and transparency.  Their testimonials are impressive:

“TJN has done more than any other organisation to put fiscal justice at the center of the policy agenda. Tax issues should not be left to those who want to escape taxes! Changes will come when more and more citizens of the world take ownership of these matters. TJN is a powerful force acting in this direction.”

Thomas Piketty, author, Capital in the Twenty-First Century

“Founded at a time when tax was a Cinderella subject, the Tax Justice Network was one of few voices challenging the status quo. Since then, its energy and international reach have greatly magnified its influence as the issues it championed moved up the political agenda.”

Vanessa Houlder, The Financial Times

“In some ways I feel responsible for TJN’s creation since I suggested in a 2000 OECD Observer report that civil society needed to have a stronger voice in the international tax debate. Well, over these 12 years it certainly has achieved this, moving tax issues up the political agenda.”

Jeffrey Owens, former head of tax, OECD

“The Queen has asked me to thank you for your letter of 4th November from which Her Majesty has taken careful note of your comments and concerns about taxation and offshore financial secrecy.”

Queen Elizabeth II (cough)

So that’s the OECD, The Financial Times, the Queen and Tam Piketty.  When a body with a list of testimonials as authoritative as the TJN turn their focus on Scottish football, we should all take note.  Yesterday evening the TJN released their report into the SFA, Rangers and governance in Scottish football, entitled ‘Doing SFA for Fair Play?

Their extensive report’s conclusions are:

Issue 1 – The SPL inquiry into rule breaking at Rangers

The first concerns the judge-led Commission set up by the SPL into alleged rule breaking by Rangers in the run up to their collapse.

The Commission considered whether Rangers should be stripped of a series of league and cup titles.  The documents reveal that the then President of the SFA, Campbell Ogilvie, misled the public and the judge presiding over the inquiry, which led them to make a material error of fact in their judgement.

The fact that Mr Ogilvie (former Rangers director and SFA president) had previously been one of the longest serving officials in the history of Rangers Football Club clearly raises questions as to the motive behind his statements – since the inquiry’s own findings imply that, in full possession of the facts, they would have to have reached a different decision and possibly have stripped titles from Rangers.

Issue 2 – Rangers’ licence to play in Europe 2011/2012

The second issue concerns the grant and retention of a licence to play in Europe to Rangers in the 2011/12 season, when the finances of the club suggested it was on the verge of imminent collapse.

UEFA rules are clear that in order to get a licence to play European football a club must prove that it has no overdue payables to tax authorities. Our analysis of the evidence shows that Rangers clearly had an overdue payable as defined in the UEFA rules and could not have met that test.

However, regardless of this, the SFA did grant Rangers a licence. Although the SFA were informed by Rangers of an on-going issue concerning a large tax bill, they accepted Ranger’s erroneous argument that this did not break any UEFA rules.

It appears that the SFA did little to test the explanation regarding the status of the bill given by Rangers, and subsequent correspondence reveals an unhealthy degree of co-ordination between Rangers and the SFA over the PR around the decision.

As history unfolded, Rangers were knocked out before reaching the group stages of the Champion’s League. Had they managed to achieve victory in the qualifying rounds, they might well have gained the resources they needed to keep the company afloat and pay the overdue tax bill based on Champions League income, thwarting the very purpose of UEFA FFP Articles in respect of overdue tax.

Instead, Rangers went into administration and other Scottish clubs were denied a chance to play European football. That was not only unfair, it came at a cost to those clubs. Also, had Malmo and Maribor, not won their qualifying games against Rangers, for them, the consequences of this breach in the fair play rules would have been far more serious.

On the SFA

Regulators also have a duty to ensure fair play, over and above the usual rules that govern competition between companies. To ensure that competition stays on the pitch and doesn’t retreat behind the closed doors of the boardroom, regulators must make rules to ensure clubs do not gain unfair and unsporting advantages over others.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in order to execute these functions, a regulator must itself be fair. To preserve the integrity of the system, the regulator must be beyond reproach, and behave in a way which does not produce any suspicion that that they might be exercising their power unfairly, in favour of one team over another.

It is on this last point, that The Offshore Game team have serious concerns about the behaviour and conduct of the Scottish Football Regulator, the Scottish Football Association (SFA).

In conclusion

The two cases that are dealt with in this report, which have nothing to do with the matter under consideration by the criminal court, call into question whether the SFA can be considered a fair and impartial regulator of Scottish football.

This is a question that the SFA has, thus far, flatly refused to answer. And that itself points to a much bigger question: is the SFA an organisation capable of fixing itself and adopting the required standards of transparency, accountability and fairness that fans of Scottish football deserve?

The evidence presented in this report does not amount to proof of corruption, and we do not allege corruption at the SFA. But the evidence does strongly suggest that the SFA is unable, if not actively unwilling, to ensure fair play. Major changes in personnel and governance structures will be necessary if the SFA is to show itself fit for purpose.

The first step to restoring confidence would be for the SFA to engage with UEFA over the clearly misleading returns Rangers’ submitted to them in order to get a licence to play European football in 2011.

Secondly there needs to be a fully independent inquiry, including substantial fan representation, to assess the role of the SFA and the actions of key, senior staff in respect of each issue outlined in this report; and with a mandate to learn from more accountable sports authorities in other fields and to recommend sweeping governance changes to the SFA if deemed necessary.”

No attempt was made by the SFA to tidy up their reputation, they refused to engage with TJN.  They are not the first sports body to recently avoid examining issues of financial probity, but in the current climate, this line is becoming increasingly difficult to hold.

On a related matter, more work has taken place on the Resolution 12 issue than anyone will be able to quantify.  Unable to go into any detail, I marked your card on this last month and can do so again now.  The process does not have long to go.

My expectation is that the TJN report will reach Uefa today, irrespective of whether the Scottish media collude to suppress such a story.  The ducks are aligning.

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Mary’s Meals appeal yesterday.  “Gerry”, who won the Magners tickets, hasn’t checked his email yet!


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    Should you not be in the pub,armed wi a fire extinguisher?



    Congrats,mate. Enjoy this one-nail up yer letterbox next year,shut the curtains and pull the duvet over yer head.



    Ducks are in a row,I wonder if that is why Level 5 have suddenly had their invoice settled.



    I also wonder who paid it…





    Fae you?



    Telt you before not to reference me in your poison.



    Do one,you’re really not a welcome addition to the site.

  3. Jungle Jim Hot Smoked on

    ” This beggars belief.”


    Unfortunately, it is all to believable in Scotland. Celtic really must respond in the strongest manner possible to whoever the culprits are.



  4. thetimreaper on

    Happy Birthday Paul



    I have faith that the Resolution 12 issue is in hand. Campbell Ogilvie and friends, their day is coming.

  5. EmeraldBee, thanks.



    CRC, thank you.



    Phyllis Dietrichson, cheers!



    timbhoy3, thanks.



    Catman, many thanks.



    traditionalist88, thank you.



    starry plough, thank you!



    Taurangabhoy, cheers.



    An Tearmann, many thanks.



    Hankray, thanks.



    Tully57, I sure will, thanks.



    ayrshirtim, big wavy, you are both very welcome.



    KEVJUNGLE, cheers.



    celtic40me, thanks. Thought of you when I read that THN report……..



    Nye Bevan’s, aye, indeed.



    Park Road 67, I sure will, thanks.



    Bob LobLaw, cheers.



    Joe Filippis Haircut, thank you.



    mayanman, thanks.



    Dharma Bam, it sure is.



    BRTH, aye, just and no more.



    connaire12, thanks, C. Catch up soon.



    corribokie04, cheers.



    Mountblow tim, I will do.



    corkcelt, thanks.



    dim sam, many thanks.



    Parkheadcumsalford, me too. We’ll get there……..



    Greenpinata, aye, well………….



    North Cyprus, many thanks.



    thetimreaper, thank you.



    OneMalloy, I will!



    Hamiltontim, you can count on it.



    Minx 1888, cheers!



    blantyretim, thanks, S.



    Cowiebhoy, cheers 



    bognorbhoy, thanks.



    Peter T, ha! I know who you are!!



    BOBBY MURDOCH’S, cheers!



    Zbyszek, thanks for your kind wishes. You hang in there for the next 11 hours………….

  6. traditionalist88 on

    Although it was a setup, Margaret Aspinall needs to exercise better judgement and stick to her remit.



    She has not been privvy to the application process for safe standing and her unchangeable stance is based on raw emotion , which is understandable but flies in the face of years of research and hard evidence from Germany.



    Also, there is a safety issue if safe standing is NOT introduced, given the tendency of an increasing % of fans to stand at football matches up and down the UK.



    But shame on the ‘journalist’ responsible for the headline yesterday. Ms Aspinall – keep fighting the good fight.




  7. Paul67,



    Congratualtions to “Gerry” , who won the tickets. H, can you not give him a cut off time to reply and redo the draw if he misses it?











    StillHopingToCelebrateMy5othInStyle csc

  8. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “No matter how Charles Green attempts to dress it up, a newco equals a new club.”




    Hmmmm, remind me who said that again……?

  9. CultsBhoy can not relate to Celtic Board ambitions on or off the park on

    Happy Birthday Paul



    That was one of the most enlightening lead articles I’ve read on CQN for a very long time.



    Fascinating that this is not on mainstream media.



    Mr Ogilvie and Reagan must be feeling exposed…

  10. JJHS,



    From memory, The Daily Record didn’t have a name on the byline. That’s according to James Forrest’s article on the issue.

  11. traditionalist88 on

    Jungle Jim Hot Smoked on 6th May 2016 12:31 pm



    I first read it in the Telegraph – not 100% sure this is where it originated




  12. From last night;



    CharlieBhoy on 5th May 2016 10:32 pm



    Good Evening Tontine Tim ! Thanks for the grammatical correction re my incorrect spelling for “jeelyeater” – can only excuse myself by admitting that I’m not a 100% born & bred “Vale Man” – born in Bellshill and lived in Coatbridge till 5 yrs – then emigrated to Bonhill !



    Presume that you’re Ex St Martins PS then St Pats ( I was St Mary’s then St Pats )



    *Naw St Marys like you, I use the Tontine name as that’s where our first captain and goal scorer honed their skills, plus I enjoyed a portion of my teens down there.



    I’m like EDB on here a Haldaneite.



    Incidentally my mother’s grandparents and siblings moved tae Bonhill from the Black North and raised their own families there; they are buried in the same graveyard as the famed Neilly McCallum. One of the family party pieces at wee socials was “The Braes O’ Bu-nill”.



    Are you still in the area ?



    *naw 3.5k away.



    Would you go to The Lennox for a pint much ?



    *did at one time as Mrs TT’s fae the Rock as was my da.



    Ian Ferns – the Da of THE BABE of my youthful acquaintance – was with the Coop Insurance when I knew him and sadly passed away a few years ago ( RIP ) – good wee guy as was Mrs Ferns ( teacher in St Peters, Bellsmyre )



    *Mrs TT remembers a Mrs Ferns who taught at Notre Dame, Clerkhill tae you.



    I went to a few games on the Renton bus when W.Scullion was involved – I know “Big Jim” McC from Dumbarton ( Bellsmyre ) well….presume that you might also



    *W Scullion’s bhoy is a committee member in the Renton CS. Last summer I met one of the RCSC founder members out here on vacation in the wee town I live approx 60kms north west of Toronto.



    Meant tae add there was a charity hike least week in memory of a wee Bankie that lived up Bellsmyre, he sadly passed away last year from Alz, Willie Coyle was his name and he was a great wee Tim, I knew him well.

  13. glendalystonsils on

    The board should demand a retraction from these publications or threaten action.

  14. Paul67



    I saw a link to the article earlier. Since that awful day in 1989, Celtic as a club and as a support, have stood shoulder to shoulder with the city of Liverpool and supported the fight for justice for the families of those unlawfully killed at Hillsborough. To tarnish anyone linked to Celtic in such a manner is utterly reprehensible.

  15. Jungle Jim Hot Smoked on

    Dharma Bham


    Do you have a link to the James Forrest article?



  16. Paul67 may I add my congrats to the many others, should b3e quite a weekend – enjoy. Hail Hail Hebcelt

  17. Happy 67 Paul, sorry! Happy birthday Paul67. Thanks for giving us this site and long may it continue.


    First thing I read in morning in Jndonesia (6 hrs ahead of uk) then wait on Jobo giving weather from EK, after that I can get on with my day




  18. HamiltonTim,



    You’re right, we have and it is reprehensible.



    Have you read the 1970’s fanzine article about the Ibrox disaster and the inquiries after it? after having read how they would stitch up one of their own, I am not as surprised as I feel I should be when this attempt at smearing Celtic surfaces.



    And I’ll bet there’s a lot more, and worse, to come if The Offshore Game article gains momentum.

  19. fieldofdrams on

    A bereaved Hillsborough mother was called, information put to her which led her to believe Celtic HAD made an announcement this week, before commenting “It’s insensitive to announce that right at this time, a week just after the verdicts”.



    I wonder whether what actually happened is that a journalist put information to her, then said ‘Do you think it’s insensitive to announce that right at this time, just a week after the verdict?’ and all she actually said was ‘Yes.’



    If that’s what happened, and I don’t doubt that it’s possible, it would be interesting to put to the journalist ‘Don’t you think it was insensitive to do that to Mrs Aspinall, just a week after the verdicts?’

  20. Dharma Bham you in the BV tomorrow? may have something for you. Will there be enough space in the BV, going by the number of potential attendees?? H H Hebcelt

  21. Dharma



    I’ve read other literature on it. To try and link the Hillsborough tragedy to PL’s comments is absolutely disgusting. But yes, not surprising.

  22. Read the report from the Tax Justice Network this morning and forwarded it to a few people.



    The walls must be close to crumbling down by now……..damning in the extreme



    Dirty cheating bar stewards the lot o’ them!

  23. clogher celt on

    I hadn’t read that story about safe standing. I googled ‘hillsborough relative and Celtic Safe Standing.’



    A link to a Scottish rag comes up marked ‘insensitive’. When I tried to read it, the link says ‘Sorry…we can’t find the page…moved or deleted.’



    I searched the tabloid’s own search engine but no joy. I did find a number of articles confirming that journalists at the newspaper believed that there was a very strong case for safe standing.



    The Torygraph has the story but it looks like a lift from the rag.

  24. Paul67 – Happy Birthday!




    Interesting to note that the RMVP is alive and well and can be found these days in Blythswood Square as opposed to its former residency in the Ordenspalais across from the Reich Chancellery.

  25. Absolutely disgusted to read the attempt to besmear the Celtic name by the English press. At the same time I am left wondering if some one in the SMSM put the paper up to it.



    That said, I hope that the Liverpool fans coming to our next game will be fully informed of the truth about the setting up of a standing area at Celtic Park. We would want them to know we have always felt for them in their time of family suffering and that our welcome on Sunday will be to reassure them that they “will never walk alone.”

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