The Daily Record today report the contents of a document drawn up after a meeting between the SFA, the SPL, the SFL and Sevco suggesting “punishments for Rangers for the Employment Benefit Trust tax dodge used by Sir David Murray’s regime to pay players”.
The document details that Rangers would be stripped of titles and trophies ‘won’ by the club while they fielded illegally registered players, described by the Record as “the harshest ever seen in football”.
While Rangers EBTs had been in the news for close to two years, it was Celtic Quick News who first raised the question of Rangers players being illegally registered in an article on 22 February this year. Clubs are required to note all payments players receive in connection to football with both the SFA and SPL as part of the player registration process. Failure to register EBT payments is completely separate to the legality or otherwise of how the EBT was conducted, and until we raised the issue, there was no question over player registration, and no possibility of league titles being stripped.
Two weeks after Celtic Quick News brought the matter to public attention the SPL appointed solicitors Harper MacLeod to investigate the case. The subsequent report concluded Rangers had a case to answer.
There are a number of alarming aspects to today’s Daily Record report (the newspaper appears to have the main story but don’t notice its relevance):
Sevco should not be involved in any discussion around the guilt of Rangers or any subsequent consequences. Fan power in recent weeks had shown that we are not a Banana Republic. Disciplinary issues are subject to establish procedures. Any attempt to meet with a party acting on behalf of Rangers to agree an outcome with both the investigating body and the appeals body, before an independent inquiry takes place, contaminates all who participate.
Scottish football has independent judicial procedures for dealing with serious breaches of rules. Executives from the SFA and SPL have absolutely no authority to set-aside these procedures, nor are they appropriate people to act instead of the independent procedures.
Stripping Rangers of titles and trophies if they are found guilty of cheating is not a punishment; this simply reflects the legitimate winners of past trophies. When an athlete is found to have cheated to win a medal, his punishment is not the withdrawal of the medal, which is an obvious consequence of being caught, he will also face a sporting or financial penalty, often a ban.
There seems to be no end of attempts to subvert sport in Scottish football. There must be no backroom deals, not even if they bring a barrel load of trophies to Celtic, we cannot be bought-off by bling. Independent disciplinary procedures must take place.
Although Rangers failed to register players EBTs, this matter is separate from what the Record calls “punishments for Rangers for the Employment Benefit Trust tax dodge used by Sir David Murray’s regime to pay players”.
If the First Tier Tribunal (remember that?) rules that Rangers broke tax rules the club could yet face football disciplinary procedures for failing to pay social taxes.
Last month we reported that the SFA was set to remove independent judicial oversight from the game as its existence was getting in the way of their plans for ‘Rangers’. Although the Daily Record seem to be oblivious to the fact, they appear to have found documentary evidence that this is the case.