There are a bunch of Norwegian journalists walking around Glasgow today asking, “What, they cheated all those years? What are the FA going to do with them?” So many titles, so many trophies. Then they ask about tonight’s crucial Europa League game between Celtic and Molde.
I have concerns for tonight. Jozo Simunovic looks unlikely to feature, a fresh injury on the back of a lengthy injury absence. Dedryck Boyata and Mikael Lustig are definite starters, but you can perm any two from four for the other two places. Uncertainty in defensive selection is seldom regarded as a positive.
What I’m really hoping for is a tight game. One where we protect our penalty box and allow Molde to make the mistakes. They did this when Kris Commons pounced two weeks ago, so there’s every expectation they are far from impregnable, but Molde will have examined the mountain of evidence which suggests you can sucker Celtic in and hit them on the break.
If we keep it tight, we’ll win. If we try to sweep Molde off the park, as Fenerbahce did in Istanbul, any result is possible.
Late yesterday we ran an article on the boundary Lord Nimmo Smith’s SPL Commission put on their ruling. It’s worth a reprise today:
The Commission wrote:
“The Tax Tribunal has held (subject to appeal) that Oldco was acting within the law in setting up and operating the EBT scheme.
“The SPL presented no argument to challenge the decision of the majority of the Tax Tribunal and Mr McKenzie (solicitor acting on behalf of the SPL) stated expressly that for all purposes of this Commission’s Inquiry and Determination the SPL accepted that decision as it stood, without regard to any possible appeal by HMRC.
“Accordingly we proceed on the basis that the EBT arrangements were lawful. What we are concerned with is the fact that the side letters issued to the Specified Players, in the course of the operation of the EBT scheme, were not disclosed to the SPL and the SFA as required by their respective rules”
Lord Nimmo Smith was clear: the possibility that Rangers operated an illegal tax scheme did not enter his consideration as to whether the sum total of their activities amounted to a sporting advantage.
The SFA’s Sandy Bryson, in evidence to the Commission, saw no sporting advantage in an administrative lapse over an otherwise legal tax arrangement, albeit a lapse which the Commission found to be deliberate.
The question of a deliberate falsification of submissions to the SFA and SPL over an illegal scheme designed to prevent the payment of tens of millions of pounds of tax, has not been considered.
Ignore the PR coming out of Hampden today that this matter has been dealt with. Former directors of Rangers brought the game into serious disrepute, and their friends still walk the corridors of Hampden, but it’s the clubs who will have the final say on what and who is investigated, not a PR man, or football body chief executive.
It is critically important that fans of all clubs let their custodians know their feelings on this matter. Celtic pushed themselves to the brink of what was financially responsible during the EBT years. This cost our club the opportunity of building a sustainable strategy (like we’ve been building since Rangers liquidation).
More than this, the division and recrimination amount the support as we pulled back from spending ever-more, while Sir David Murray’s splashed inordinate amounts of cash, never completely resolved.
Had Rangers been submitting legal tax returns, the entire landscape of what was possible for others in Scottish football would have changed. Hearts, not Celtic, were the biggest financial losers of this fiasco (figures next week), but dozens of others lost out on cup runs, trophies and higher prize money.
Right now those in power at Hampden have no idea what the clubs will demand of them, they do not even have plans to discipline those who brought the game into such complete disrepute. If the clubs want to put honesty and integrity at the heart of our game, they can do so. I know one club who will put this case very forcefully.