When asked on Twitter four years ago how Rangers were granted a licence to play European football in season 2011-12 when they were overdue with HMRC, SFA chief executive, Stewart Regan, replied, “If someone sends you a bill you disagree with then you do not accept it was overdue”.
Any business is allowed to dispute a tax demand, but former Rangers director, Donald McIntyre’s evidence at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday was clear, Rangers had accepted liability for unpaid PAYE and National Insurance claims in connection with the Wee Tax Case (DOS) in 2010.
If, as Regan suggests, Rangers misrepresented this fact to the SFA Licencing Committee in their March 2011 application, the Association now have action to consider.
If you have been around this story for the best part of the last decade you will recall a number of us writing on the perilous state of Rangers finances while the club was under the control of Sir David Murray. This was robustly disputed by the club at the time, but in his evidence McIntyre noted that, under Murray, the club appointed an insolvency expert to ensure they were not trading illegally.
Just one month before the sale of the club to Craig Whyte in May 2011, in an email produced by Craig Whyte’s counsel, Donald Findlay, Mr Mike McGill of Murray Holdings, advised that “it would appear forecasts for club have deteriorated, we will breach bank facility”.
Asked by Findlay if “HMRC were coming for the club and were after blood”, McIntyre said “Yes.” The directors of Oldco Rangers omitted this sentiment from their public comments at the time.
Rangers were a football club running a perilous financial strategy from the 1990s until liquidation was eventually confirmed in 2012. They established a mindset, not only in their own support, but in parts of ours too, that spending money you couldn’t afford on casino football was the only acceptable way clubs should behave.
You still hear the echoes of those times, from Willie Henderson’s request that Newco spend £50m, to comments a lot closer to home when Celtic fail to win a football game.
Please remember that while it is OK to report evidence discussed at court, you should not comment on matters pertaining to the charges against Craig Whyte.