Lord Nimmo Smith’s Scottish Premier League’s commission made clear their remit and the bounds on their decision:
“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.”
On this basis, Lord Nimmo Smith’s commission found that a legal tax loophole, inappropriately administered and which broke SFA and SPL rules, did not amount to a sporting advantage.
The Commission was clear their determination was bound by the Tax Tribunal and not influenced by the possibility of a successful HMRC appeal. We have no ruling on today’s question – whether a decade-long illegal tax regime conferred sporting advantage.
In noting their thoughts so clearly, the law lords opened the door to a subsequent determination based on a successful HMRC appeal.
The SFA and SPFL (previously known as SPL) must now address this question.
It is worth noting; SFA and SPFL officials have been trying to steer media away from looking into their affairs. These executives have no power on this matter. The clubs will determine what happens, not those watching their own hide.