The heavily conflicted will not decide what happens next


Here’s the problem: this is a can of worms. If contagion was limited to Sir David Murray and other Murray Group executives, there may be more “appetite” to analyse what went wrong and what to do about it.

Rangers were a rogue football team, operating a tax scheme out with the law, failing to disclose appropriate documentation to HMRC, the SPL and SFA. Legal responsibility for the club’s actions lies with all directors, not just the majority owner. They have collective responsibility to ensure business is conducted appropriately. David King, Paul Murray, Alistair Johnston and former SFA president Campbell Ogilvie, were all Rangers directors during the EBT and DOS years.

The SPFL (formerly SPL) are also implicated. They set terms of reference for what became the Lord Nimmo Smith Commission, then amended those terms to only include matters which were, at that time, regarded as legal, explicitly excluding matters already confirmed as illegal.

They then failed to present evidence to Nimmo Smith of the five matters Rangers admitted guilt on during the First Tier Tribunal process, preferring only to present matters that were in dispute, but (temporarily) found in Rangers favour.

Having done this, they instructed their lawyer not to ask for an opportunity to appeal if the pending HMRC appeal was upheld. Instead, closing the book on a procedural appeal.

The SFA executives side just along the corridor from their SPFL counterparts. Yesterday they issued a remarkable statement:

“Specifically, Senior Counsel was asked to anticipate whether a determination in favour of HMRC, as announced today, could imply that there had been a breach of the Scottish FA’s Disciplinary Rules as they applied at the time of the EBT payments.

The clear opinion of Senior Counsel is that there is a very limited chance of the Scottish FA succeeding in relation to any complaint regarding this matter”.

I refer you to SFA Disciplinary Rule 71, Article 94.1:

“No recognised football body, club, official, Team Official or other member of Team Staff, player, match official, or other person under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall bring the game into disrepute.”

They are asking you to believe that Senior Counsel told them no Rangers official brought the game into disrepute as a consequence of this matter. A matter which has left over £100m debt and hundreds of creditors unpaid, saw 55 players incorrectly registered, and one of the largest clubs in the country liquidated – the consequences of which will be permanent, no matter your view on Newco/same club.

All for an issue which Rangers directors gave evidence in court that the EBT scheme was undertaken to allow them to sign players they would otherwise be unable to pay. Ensuring an illegal sporting advantage.

Possible SFA sanctions for this include fines of up to £1m and/or expulsion from the game.

Sorry, but this is not a tenable position. The game was massively brought into disrepute; to issue a statement claiming otherwise just adds the stench of cover up to an already dreadful state.  And bringing the game into disrepute is just scratching the surface, without going into consequences of the club’s actions on competitions.

I question the scope and remit given to Counsel, which was clearly limited in order to make it possible to deliver this statement. Who issued that scope and why it blinded Counsel to the clear matter of disrepute is another question to answer.

Executives at Hampden will have scoured news coverage this morning in the hope that this this will blow over. Scottish newspaper, TV and radio coverage is irrelevant. Instead, they should be looking to establish a recovery position for our game.  This is not finished.

Those implicated by the contagion – the “heavily conflicted” do not get to decide that no action is to be taken; Scotland is not yet a Banana Republic.

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  1. Good Afternoon!



    Cracking piece Paul.



    In case of interest, here are two new pieces about the outcome of the Big Tax Case at the Supreme Court



    One about the appetite for title-stripping…





    And one about why the SFA can’t take any action against Rangers (IL)…



  2. thetimreaper on

    Strip the titles.



    Absolutely disgraceful corruption in Scottish football that cannot be allowed to pass.

  3. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    When the guy at the top of Scottish football says “Scottish football needs a strong Rangers” that is your starting point for everything that happens in Scottish football.


    That is your starting point for their three home games against Hearts in 2008-09.


    That is your starting point for the honest mistakes in 2009-10.


    That is your starting point for Allan Macgregor getting a fast-track disciplinary hearing (while on international duty!) so he could miss a game v Motherwell and be back for a game v Celtic in 2010-11.


    That is your starting point for the awarding of a UEFA licence in 2011 (and 2017).


    That is your starting point for Sevco being allowed to call themselves Rangers.


    That is your starting point for Sevco Rangers getting into the league in 2012, ahead of established clubs with audited accounts.


    That is your starting point for attempts to get Sevco Rangers into the SPL then SFL1.


    That is your starting point for eleven years of cheating and deception resulting in a £250,000 fine which wasn’t even paid!


    If we can’t get proper people to run the game here then we need to get out. The other clubs must be happy with the way things are.

  4. This is a big moment for Scottish football.



    It cannot and must not be swept under the Hampden carpet and ignored.

  5. Auldheid on 6th July 2017 12:32 pm




    THE EXILED TIM on 6th July 2017 12:09 pm




    We need all groups who represent Celtic supporters to express their view. The CSA already did a on SFA a couple of weeks back and they and CSA are well acquainted with the facts.



    Dons supporters trust have already made a statement to galvanise action.



    http://www.donssupporterstogether.com/index.php/news/dst-news/113-statement-big-tax-case-ruling and they have contacted other NE trusts.



    Its time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. (Then party :) )

  6. I’m sorry to disagree Paul but banana Republics around the world cringe in embarrassment at what goes on in Scotland.



    THIS story is the BIGGEST sporting/banking corruption case in Brittish sport in which the Scottish media and judiciary have been, and indeed still are, complicit.



    Only the club(s) fans can steer this but where is the muster point to garner support?

  7. When Grant Russel suggests that Senior Counsel advice is privileged it puzzles me.


    Privilege prevents Counsel from revelations without permission of client.


    It does not prevent client from making revelations.


    Or is their a third party involved other than SFA and Counsel ?


    Or perhaps as many as 5 .

  8. Totally agree with your article and many other similar articles. The big question is what can football supporters do about it? If Celtic FC don’t persue the matter what can the ordinary supporter achieve?

  9. Every time a newspaper article or news report talks of ‘Oldco’ being liquidated, it is saying that Rangers Football Club died, given the 1899 incorporation. To then talk about them as if they are still here reduces everything to a nonsense. In the same way that the resolution 12 bhoys got an unexpected admission from Andrea Traverso that Sevco is a new club, maybe the demand for title -stripping, and the resistance to it, will force this fact to be recognised.




     Here’s an example from the Scotsman today.




     “The so-called “big tax case” came to a conclusion yesterday as five Supreme Court judges unanimously dismissed an appeal by BDO, the liquidators of oldco Rangers, bringing to an end a seven-year legal dispute that involved the club’s use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs).”




     And, at the same time, “Although yesterday’s verdict will not have a direct impact on the current iteration of Rangers, the ­Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) have been urged to take action, with demands the 
club be stripped of the titles it won while using the EBT scheme.”




     Start making sense!

  10. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    Would love to hear what Zbigniew has to say about their current high profile visitor and the marker he is laying down .

  11. Podium today, holidays tomorrow.



    It’s been a pretty decent week considering all the events that have occurred!! :-)

  12. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on




    Good stuff.


    Except, Scotland is indeed a ‘Banana Republic’, we would not be in this position otherwise.


    When you have people in authority deciding to bend the law for their own interests, an infantile compliant media, and a police force who do absolutely nothing about it. Then id say id have a good case for seeing Scotland as exactly that, a ‘Banana Republic’.


    Silly wee men with blazers and bigotry in their veins, treating at great powerful club like Celtic, and all our wonderful supporters, as if we are nothing.


    Well…Im breathing fire, and whatever happens, i will not let this go, and i wont be the only one.


    This cannot go on.




  13. Hrvatski Jim on

    The SFA’s statement should act as a red rag to a herd of charging bulls. Count me in the herd.



    But, don’t pressurise Celtic to go it alone. This is a matter for every fan of every club. Let the others get on board and demand a full governance review of the SFA and SPFL.



    Let the fans of any club chairman who does not want to participate make him/her answer to them just like was done when newco was place into the 4th tier.





    Nice of David Healy to have done Brendan’s team talk for him:


    “We’ll fly flag for Rangers connection when we face Celtic, says Linfield boss David Healy”

  14. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    jimbob71 on 6th July 2017 12:36 pm




    This is a big moment for Scottish football.



    It cannot and must not be swept under the Hampden carpet and ignored.




    If anything else gets swept under the carpet there they won’t be able to open the doors!

  15. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan on

    I see some comment from the last thread about the basis on how the case was decided and thought I would comment as it is important to note what actually happened after the FTT



    Hopefully it is not to dry.



    Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan on 6th July 2017 12:37 pm



    The appeal decision as a whole can be gleamed from reading the following paragraphs of the judgement.


    HMRC changed their argument subtly and started from the premis that they did not want to have to prove that the trusts and loans from the trusts were shams and they stuck to their guns on that. What they reinforced was that any payments to or through these vehicles (whether classed as loans or anything else) were no more than a redirection of earnings which were liable to tax.



    In the jusgement, you will see that the supreme court rely on the findings of the majority in the main but reverse one crucial finding about who is in control of the trusts etc.



    3.The Advocate General for Scotland on behalf of HMRC appealed to the Inner House of the Court of Session and advanced a legal argument which had not been presented to, or at least had not been developed before, the tribunals, namely that the payment of the sums to the remuneration trust involved a redirection of the employee’s earnings and accordingly did not exclude those earnings from the charge


    to income tax.



    8.Thus, as Lord Drummond Young stated in delivering the impressive judgment of the court, the central concept in the tax regime governing employment income is the payment of emoluments or earnings derived from employment; and an employer who pays emoluments or earnings to or on account of an employee is obliged to deduct tax in accordance with the PAYE Regulations



    17. As this is an appeal on a point of law and as the UT did not make separate findings of fact, I derive my summary of the facts from the judgment of the majority of the FTT. Some of those findings are terse and require explanation from the documents which were before the FTT and have been made available to this court. Dr Poon, who wrote the minority judgment, made additional findings of fact, which she derived principally from the documents before her. I do not have regard to her findings in so far as they are inconsistent with those of the majority. I refer to herfindings on two occasions, first, where they explain findings by the majority which need clarification (para 29 below) and, secondly, as a check on a conclusion which I have reached based on the majority’s findings (para 27below). I state below when I am drawing on her findings for these purposes.



    The majority of the FTT recorded (para 207) that RFC offered the prospective employees this form of deal, combining a payroll payment and the transfer of funds through the trust mechanism on a “take it or leave it” basis.



    24.The Scottish Football Association (“SFA”) required football clubs to register players’ contracts with it.


    RFC registered the contracts of employment but did not disclose the side letters to the SFA.



    The FTT summarised the position (in para 103(v) of the majority decision) in these terms: “the employee could also be appointed protectorwith extended powers in respects resembling trusteeship, but without title to the trust assets, and not enabling the conferring of any absolute beneficial right on the employee himself”.



    27.This statement by the majority of the FTT is accurate in so far as it states what the employee could do while he was protector. But the employee had, as I have said, a power to appoint someone else as protector in his place and that person as protector had power to alter the beneficiaries of the subtrust. The majority of the FTT recorded (paras 23 and 227) that foreign players who left RFC and moved to reside overseas were able to “unscramble” the legal framework and receive an absolute right to the moneys which had been put in the subtrust. The majority of the FTT stated that this could be done “only with the consents of those interested in the capital of the sub-trustconcerned”. I am not persuaded that that is correct.



    The basis of this appeal



    32.The majority of the FTT found that the trusts and the loans were valid and were not shams. It refused to hold that the trustee was a cipher and concluded that the trustee genuinely exercised discretion in its appointments upon the sub-trusts and the making of the loans. HMRC does not challenge those findings in its defence of this appeal.



    33. HMRC succeeded in its appeal before the Inner House on the basis that income, which is derived from an employee’s work qua employee, is an emolument or earnings, and that it is assessable to income tax, even if the employee requests or agrees that it be redirected to a third party. The Inner House held that the scheme, which involved payments into the Principal Trust and the application of the funds


    through the sub-trusts, amounted to a redirection of the employee’s earnings and did not remove the employer’s liability to pay income tax under the PAYE system. It held that the redirection occurred when the employing company paid the sums to the Principal Trust; the fact that the employee took the risk that the trustee would not apply the funds as he requested was irrelevant. The payments by the employing


    company into the Principal Trust were derived from the employee’s work as an employee and so were emoluments or earnings.

  16. Every club has to grow a set, and get-together to call these clowns into account.


    In not, the fans should boycott all games until the appropriate and obvious action is taken.

  17. Scotland has let it’s fitba’ descend into a Banana Republic dominated by a hun-thinking, mono-culture. The problem now facing us and like-minded supporters is that the sleekit arbiters of the game will do everything to maintain power and influence.



    Scotland The Brave?

  18. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan on




    Now there is a leader worth disseminating! There is an awful lot in there!



    Let’s start with this:



    “Here’s the problem: this is a can of worms. If contagion was limited to Sir David Murray and other Murray Group executives, there may be more “appetite” to analyse what went wrong and what to do about it.”



    Stop: Read: Consider: Analyse: Discuss – and let the inevitable sink in.

  19. I wasn’t shocked by the SFA statement because, well, it’s the SFA.



    However, I guess how I initially took it was that they were claiming that they would not pursue because they would be unable to punish rather than because there was no guilt. This in itself is not an acceptable stance but a different one… but I could be reading it wrong.



    Rangers are dead. They can’t be fined or thrown out the game because they no longer exist.



    Would it not be down to the SPFL to strip titles from Oldco?

  20. GTTF



    Very true!!


    They’ll need a joiner in to plane a few inches off the bottom of each door!!!

  21. Paul67


    Excellent article


    Your work and may others


    Mcconville Rtc and Phil auldheid alex thomson and many others has been exceptional


    And proves beyond reasonable doubt


    The MSM Is full of apologists and liars


    And is a wing of rangers propaganda



  22. Nice of David Healy to have done Brendan’s team talk for him:



    “We’ll fly flag for Rangers connection when we face Celtic, says Linfield boss David Healy”





    At half mast ?

  23. BABASONICOS71 on



    I admit to thinking negatively at times,so much so that I get medication and counselling for it.I can’t say for sure that’s why I don’t hold out much hope for title stripping but I don’t believe so.I reckon it’s because the dead can continue to live in Scotland,but only if they wear the proper colours.


    I hope i’m shown to be wrong but i’ll not be betting on it.


    And I prefer Tesla. ;)

  24. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    I replied to the Dons supporters statement as follows:



    “Hi – I wholeheartedly support your stance on this, and find the SFA’s immediate statement to be an affront to all fans of all clubs in Scotland.



    I am a Celtic supporter, but see this very much as a fundamental issue of proper even-handed governance of our game. The rules are bent / re-written / corrupted / ignored for the benefit of one club only (well, two actually – Rangers and The Rangers).



    The press policy of trying to portray this as an “Old Firm thing” cannot be allowed to persist.



    The attitude of – “move along little people, there is nothing to see here” – must be challenged by all clubs, and I am glad to see the Aberdeen fans remain vocal about this, although the muted reaction of the board yesterday was disappointing.



    Are you in touch with other fan-led groups / supporter’s associations (e.g Celtic Supporters Association / Dundee United / Hearts / Hibs)? A concerted voice might be more powerful.



    Regards – BGFC…”



    Will post if I get a reply.






  25. leftclicktic on

    Celtic Underground‏ @celticrumours 11m


    11 minutes ago




    Mario Pasalic?

  26. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on

    Im just wondering if any contacts between the CSA and other supporter associations is happening?


    A national campaign would bring much light and heat to the blazer mob.






  27. Unless all the clubs band together, which the may but it is unlikely, I believe this will be up to supporters to push through.



    I don’t think boycotts work. Fans want to see their team play and all it does is damage the clubs we all support. But fans of Scottish clubs banding together to march on Hampden and demonstrate their desire for justice would start the ball rolling.

  28. “We’ll fly flag for Rangers connection when we face Celtic, says Linfield boss David Healy”



    Another creature from the Orange Lagoon paps his heid above the swamp waters.



    In keeping with their 17th Century traditions, I hope the Hoops go medieval on their arses next Friday.

  29. The Green Man says SACK THE Board on




    Well done bud.


    I think that is a good approach.


    The Huns have shafted all Scottish teams.




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