Former SFA president George Peat was asked by the BBC this week what regrets he had from his time at the SFA. There should be an abundance of items on that list, but there was only one – that a club asked him not to change competition rules to help Rangers with their fixtures in 2008.
In 2009, during Peat’s time as president, the SFA were subject to a Schedule 36 notice from HMRC demanding Rangers players’ contract details to be handed over. This was the time HMRC were building a case against Rangers, who disclosed one contract to the tax authority and the SFA, but decided against lodging a second contract, for EBT payments with either body.
The SFA were in a unique position to counsel Rangers on correct process. Had they done so, Rangers would have been advised that they were in breach of SFA and SPL player registration rules, which required them to submit all contracts to the sport’s governing bodies.
The SFA would subsequently be obliged to forward these contracts to HMRC and the tax crisis, which ultimately liquidated Rangers, would have occurred when the club benefited from the support of Champions League income.
As it happened, George Peat did nothing, Rangers continued to play improperly registered players for a further three years, and Rangers sold for £1 before being liquidated.
Peat, an accountant, made his way through the SFA as a director of Airdrieoneans. Despite his financial background, Airdrieoneans were liquidated in 2002 after a legendary period of mismanagement. He was SFA treasurer and vice-president, and would have had to resign his position at the Association, but managed to cling-on after becoming a director of Stenhousemuir.
A year after Peat retired as SFA president, but when he was still at Stenhousemuir, his team were the only club to vote to allow Newco Rangers direct access to the Scottish Football League Championship. Peat did not get his wish and Newco started life in the bottom tier of the SFL.
Peat also had the misfortune to lose his Head of Referees in an inappropriate email scandal connected with the visit of the Pope to Scotland. The existence of the email was denied by the SFA until evidence reached the BBC.
Perhaps most regretful of all during Peat’s SFA presidency was the handling of the lies told by referee Dougie McDonald after a Dundee United-Celtic game in 2010. McDonald lied to Celtic manager, Neil Lennon and asked his assistant referees to affirm the lie.
It became evident that linesman Steve Craven was not prepared to do so and McDonald came clean to the SFA. Despite this, the Association conspired to hold the line, as Craven claimed the Association twice asked him to stick to the lie.
All of this was reported openly but it was only the Celtic manager who was lied to, so Peat found no reason to consider his position, or anything regretful in the actions of the SFA.
He was replaced as president by a recipient and signatory of Rangers EBTs, Campbell Ogilvie. Despite Ogilvie’s acknowledged “heavily conflicted” status, it is telling that he was considered more even-handed than his predecessor.
As it happens, the subject of Peat’s one regret was ignored, the season was extended to accommodate Rangers fixture congestion, but in a twist of irony, they lost the title to Celtic and Uefa Cup final to Zenit.
George Peat is a perfect example of dysfunction at the SFA. An accountant at a liquidated club who rose from Association treasurer to president. He should be a national embarrassment, a salutary lesson on poor governance. But he’s not. In fact, he is not even that exceptional.
Foundation preparations for winter
The Celtic FC Foundation work goes on all year but the winter months are critical for those most in need in communities in and around Glasgow. There are families with more problems than you or I have imagined, who are dependent on the Foundation for the most meagre of Christmases. The homeless and countless other vulnerable people are challenged by the winter cold more than is bearable.
I am doing the Great Scottish Run half marathon on at the end of next week to raise funds for the Foundation. You can get involved by donating here.