A Tribute to The Rangers Tax Case


Excellent piece RTC re A Permanent Embarrasment and an Occassional Disgrace. I have been away for a while and not kept myself up to date with whats been happening. Many Many Congratulations on the Orwell Prize. A truly deserved award for your efforts in showing up the failings of our “Objective Press” in Scotland, although I appreciate this was not your driving force behind the blog. It does remain however a stinging slap in the face for the many Scottish journalists, sporting and political, who failed in their duty to investigate and report on the serious and damning actions of the self proposed establishment club in Scotland, RFC.

I, like many others was motivated by your stand to open the laptop and blog about the goings on of RFC. As well as providing a platform for the nation to voice their thoughts on the shameful actions of RFC I think you also harnessed that voice and gave it momentum to the point that notice has been taken. The Orwell Prize is testimony to that achievement.

I would urge you to continue your campaign. The job is not yet finished. In fact if the events of the recent court findings that overturned the transfer embargo tell you anything, it tells you that RFC are viewed by many as untouchable and that they should be treated diferrently from other clubs or businesses who mismanage their financial affairs or operate in an alleged illegal manner. The job of ousting the cancerous root in Scottish Football that is RFC is only just beginning. Fair minded and honest fans and football clubs cannot sit back any longer and be subjected to the arrogant and dishonest actions of a club who in the last 20 years single handedly destroyed the development of home grown talent in Scotland which in turn has had an effect on the Scottish National team. Yes, Celtic, Hearts, Aberdeen and other clubs also brought in foreign players, however as you pointed out, they were playing catch up and trying to compete honestly against a club who were breaking not only finacial rules but the rules of fair play that make our game special.

In summary RTC, your voice needs to be stronger than ever now. You have the support of many thousands who read and contribute to this blog. Together we need to ensure that Uefa and Fifa hear and react to the collective call for action against an organisation that quite simply for the last 100 years never mind 20 years have looked upon the rest of the Scottish game with disdain and disrespect.

The only satisfactory result for this whole saga is for RFC to removed from the Scottish game altogether. Any punishment other than that will simply give licence to other clubs that it is ok to cheat not only the tax man but also, member clubs, creditors and the simple fan on the street who hands over their hard earned cash every week.

The Cheeky Chappy and Fan Chief Show Their True Colours


As if there was not enough scrutiny upon the goings on at RFC, the manager, Ally McCoist has brought more shame upon his club by his moronic comments this week in relation to the judiciary panel which handed out the sanctions to the club in the wake of their financial mismanagement and fall into administration. On the news that the club had been fined and handed a 12 month transfer embargo, McCoist, who to be fair has acted with a sense of togetherness and dignity during this whole affair, let his true colours shine through in his reaction to the news of the transfer ban. Instead of perhaps showing leadership and strength, he instead chose to fall in with the rank and file of the RFC following and react in what this writer believes was abhorrent and dangerousl manner. As reported on the BBC Website I enclose the transcript of his comments;

“Plain and simply, I think it is an absolutely shocking decision,” manager McCoist told the club website.

“This decision could kill our football club, simple as that. Make no mistake about it.”

The Ibrox boss said that, on hearing of the SFA’s judicial panel tribunal’s decision on Monday night, he was “shocked and absolutely appalled by  supposedly independent judicial panel was coming down on us”.

“Who are these people? I want to know who these people are,” added McCoist.

“I’m a Rangers supporter and the Rangers supporters and the Scottish public deserve to know who these people are, people who are working for the SFA.

“Make no mistake about it, this is an SFA decision. They have appointed the panel so therefore they are working for the SFA, but who are they?

“I think we have a right to know who is handing out this punishment to us, I really do.”

Tell me Ally, what difference does it make who it was that was on the panel? What are you implying? Do you think they had an agenda against Rangers? How does knowing who they are change what RFC are guilty of?

What an outburst! Here we have the Manager of the self-appointed establishment club in Scotland focussing attention on 3 men who in the interests of Scottish football as a whole have dared to hand out a punishment to a club who have openly and been found guilty of breaking the association rules. McCoist is an intelligent man. Surely he knows that by acting in such a manner he has lit a fire under the Ibrox faithful and which could only result in one thing and one thing only, retribution for the 3 who dared to support the game!

Now, lets take a moment though and give Ally the benefit of the doubt and perhaps look at some of the things that the media have been saying in his defence after his statement. The fact that he is under severe pressure as a result of his clubs troubles. He is inexperienced in dealing with the media as a football manager and so on and so on. Yes, I would say that you could offer these as excuses if it were not for the fact that he has been in the media spotlight for years as a player and also TV celebrity and as a result he is well versed on how to conduct himself. However, more damning for him is the fact that their was a representative of Rangers at the hearing and therefore Ally knew who the 3 man panel were! Therefore what was he looking to achieve by his what can only be described as an attempt to bring pressure to bear on the SFA through negative fan reaction to the decision and also unwarranted scrutiny and sinister attention on the 3 men involved.

It should also be added that in the same week, Tuesday, Rangers supporters chief, John MacMillan, also brought further shame on the club by his ill-advised comments on BBC Radio Scotland. When being interviewed by John Beattie and Liam Millar in the wake of the announcement of the transfer embargo Mr. MacMillan commented that it was not a decision that had been made on a level playing field and was not consistent with other clubs who had fallen into administration. His reaction is understandable as he loves his club and it is well on its way to oblivion however what follows cannot be condoned. When asked by John Beattie did he feel that Rangers had brought shame on Scottish football his reply was and I quote

” Neil Lennon has brought more shame on Scottish Football than Rangers ever will”

What an astonishing statement to make from a man who is supposed to be the objective and representative voice of the supporters association. In a year were his club are facing embarrassing investigations into their conduct over the last 10 years his reaction to being given an opportunity to express the abhorrence and dismay of all fair-minded and football loving Rangers fans in his privileged position as fans chief was to shift the spotlight to Neil Lennon?! Now, Lennon does bring a lot on himself however to imply that he has brought more shame on Scottish Football than the current behaviour of Rangers Football Club is a truly shocking statement to make and Mr. MacMillan was quite rightly cut off by the program. You should now resign from your position of fans chief too Mr. MacMillan as you have now dishonoured  your association and misrepresented the true thoughts and feelings of the Rangers fans. If your ego stops you from doing so the association should remove you so as to distance themselves from the suggestion that they too hold the same misguided and biased feelings as yourself.

Unlike John MacMillan, Ally McCoist did try to limit the damage of his comments by making the right noises in a later statement this week condemning any violent actions or behaviour that might occur as a result of his comments however that is the proverbial bolting the door after the horse has bolted. The information is out their Ally, the men have been named and the damage has been done. Honest people will now be in fear for themselves and you have to take responsibility for that. Your cheeky chappy smile just wont cut it on this one!

 

 

 

From “Succulent Lamb” to “Humble Pie”


The recent reporting of the problems at Rangers by Channel 4 have at last for me really exposed Rangers for what they have been over the last 25 years, never mind the arrogant and discriminating institute they have been for over 100 years before that.

Alex Thomson, the Channel 4 reporter delivered some damning evidence last week on the goings on at RFC as well as some damning evidence of how protective our so-called “Objective Press” have been towards RFC during David Murray’s reign at Ibrox.

Firstly lets look at the Channel 4 report and what it presented.  The EBT’s, which are  a medium through which loans were paid to Rangers employees, have never been repaid. This has been confirmed by a MIH source.  Secondly, evidence taken from a letter written by Martin Bain to then Chairman John McClelland shows that the EBT scheme was being abused to administer pay rises to Directors and employees of the football club. Channel 4 used quotes from the correspondence between Bain and McClelland such as;

“…any pay rise I got should be paid through the trust, obviously as a discretionary bonus as it cannot be contractual…” [Source: Channel 4 News]

“…my increase was to be non-contractual put through as a discretionary bonus as I do with players. Coaches and more recently John Greig.”

An open admission then that the EBT scheme was being used out with the terms of an Employee Benefit Trust scheme!. If this was not bad enough more evidence was presented to show that not only was it happening, they were aware they were doing something wrong as the next piece of presented evidence shows;

“at the end of the meeting I gave her back the letter addressed to me from you that stated my contractual increase for her to shred”

So, clear evidence then that there was wrong doing and prominent employees were actively trying to hide what they were doing.  This though is not the main theme of  my post today.

The title of my post today is taken from a quote from Alex Thomson himself who reported in his blog of the 24th of March his astonishment of the reaction of the Scottish press over his investigation into Rangers. I enclose an excerpt from his blog, which by the way you should read in full as it is an excellent piece of writing.

http://blogs.channel4.com/alex-thomsons-view/succulent-lamb-menu-questions/1010

This was his comment in relation to the reaction from our “Objective Press”

What I didn’t expect were the insults (and in at least one case a direct physical threat) not from fans but from Scottish journalists.

Sarajevo, Mogadishu, Kabul, Islamabad, Tripoli, Baghdad…I could bore you with more – in none of these places have I ever got this interesting reaction from local journalists.

Only in Glasgow.

He goes on to report his discussion with other members of the press and their admission that there is something seriously wrong in the culture of reporting on things that relate to RFC. This was very clear during the “Succulent Lamb” years and David Murray’s control of not only RFC but also the Scottish Press. On reflection, when you now consider what has been happening with EBT’s and alleged non-payment of taxes during the lamb years, our “Objective Press” should be eating ” Humble Pie” from now on such has been their embarrassing and cringe worthy begging for the scraps at Murray’s table over the years. Out with what has been going on for the last 25 years, this same fraternity of brothers have also failed to provide strong reporting and condemnation of the failings of RFC in others areas of their daily operations, namely their arrogant and discrimination employment policies for over 100 years.

The eyes of the nation are on you, boys and girls of the Scottish media, as well as the eyes of the media outside of our little country. Questions are being asked of your reporting policies and instead of putting forward a strong case of denial, as has been the case for many years over your pathetic crawling to the establishment club in Scotland, the reaction has been to insult and threaten a man who dares to expose the truth. Where is your freedom of speech now I ask you?!

“So that makes it ok then David?”


David Murray apologised today!

“I wish I’d never done the deal with Craig Whyte,” said Murray.

“I was primarily duped,” said Murray. “My advisers were duped, the bank was duped, the shareholders were duped. We’ve all been duped.”

He followed that up with the following;

“I’m not defending me – because I’ve made a huge mistake here.

“And I deeply regret, I deeply regret, selling the club to Craig Whyte now. Deeply.

“And if the information had been available to me at the time I wouldn’t have done it. I did it in good faith.

“Again, I can only apologise how this has turned out. And if I could turn the clock back, of course I would. There’s not much more I can say than that.”

Well..that makes it all ok then David!.

I have to say that I am astonished at Sir David Murray’s comments today (I read them in the Herald and on BBC Sports internet page) for two reasons. Firstly, I am astonished at the level of his admission. If he truly has been duped I am stunned at his “baring all” stance through these comments. Secondly, if he is being truthful, then what the hell happened Sir David? How the hell were you, the banks, the lawyers, your advisors and whoever else was involved in this whole sorry mess so easily hoodwinked into selling your club to this “Grifter” (another name for con artist).

If you are asking us all to believe that you truly were duped along with the rest of your team then this is the biggest con since Paul Newman and Robert Redford  stung Robert Shaw in the Sting! (Classic con movie from 1973 directed by George Roy Hill. Its worth a watch!)

I am sorry Sir David, but this just does not cut it. Alarm bells should have been going off during this whole process of due diligence with Craig Whyte. Remember, you had been trying to sell your shareholding for 4 years with no takers due the fact that no sane man with even the slightest element of business acumen would go anywhere near the deal you had on offer. Therefore it was clear for everyone else to see that this was an opportunity for you to bail out at the first opportunity regardless of what the intentions of the new owner were. Even your Co-Directors were telling you not to touch him. I have to ask why you did not trust men like Alistair Johnstone and Paul Murray, who you obviously had a close working relationship with, over someone like Craig Whyte who you knew nothing about. If you were genuinely looking after the best interests of the club then surely you would be listening to like minded others who had the best interest of the club at heart also?

This has been the biggest jump ship exercise since the Titanic hit the Iceberg and bugger the consequences. The Captain of that particular ship’s apology did not cut it either!

Tell us something we don’t know!


So…..Lord William Nimmo Smith has completed his enquiry and has presented it to the SFA who in turn have passed it on to the Judicial panel for scrutiny. It has been a rigorous process with, you would assume, no stone left unturned in an effort to truly get to the facts and bring out the truth of what was going on at RFC.

You could sense the excitement and anticipation among the press pack as they awaited the statement from Stewart Regan. What stunning truth were we about to hear? What golden nuggets of fact were about to be shared with the nation over the goings on at Ibrox? You could hear a pin drop as they waited with bated breath and Mr. Regan uttered the following words,

“Principally, it is the belief of the Board, taking into account the prima facie evidence presented today, that Mr Craig Whyte is not considered to be a Fit and Proper person to hold a position within Association Football”

Really?!! Do you think so?!! A panel consisting of our most learned judge, Mr. William Nimmo Smith, Professor Niall Lothian, OBE no less, a past President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Bob Downes, former Director of the BT Group and our very own Stewart Regan. This is the stunning tit-bit of truth they hand us after two weeks of enquiry!

Gentlemen! Tell us something we don’t know! You could have put Rab the plumber, Tam the bin man, Shug the bus driver and Senga the dinner lady in the same room and they would have told you the same thing in ten minutes and been back at their work in time for the morning tea-break! Come on Stewart, Joe public deserves better.

Where do we go from here then? Well, Mr. Regan did also go on to say that Rangers will be charged with bringing the game into disrepute (another stunning revelation) and that the report did highlight a number of other potential rule breaches by the club and its owner. The potential breaches being considered include obligations and duties of members, Official return, Financial records, Division of receipts and payment of expenses (Scottish Cup). It would appear then that there are a long list of rule breaches being considered by the Judicial panel.

The process now, we have to assume is that the Judicial panel will sit and use as evidence this report put together by the Independent Enquiry Board, along with whatever else they have as evidence to RFC’s wrong doing over the years. Lets hope that after whatever time it takes for them to consider the evidence that Mr. Regan can issue a statement that does not insult our intelligence.

Next they will be telling us that Celtic play in Green and White!

Gordon Smith Did He Know?


An idea has been formulating around my mind for the last few weeks and I have delayed bringing it up until I did my research in an effort to try and be as accurate as possible in this blog. Now, what I am about to share is in no way an allegation of fact but merely a sharing of a thought based on what is now being alleged of RFC regarding player contracts, and, also me looking into Gordon Smiths association with RFC since the year 2000 and seeing a possible link.

Just to set up the scene RFC, as we know, are being investigated regarding the use of EBT’s for their players since 1998 by HMRC. Also now being investigated by both the SPL and the SFA is the use of alleged so called second contracts that may relate to these EBT or “Off Shore” payments as they are also known. My question is what did Gordon Smith know about this if anything? Was he aware this was happening? I would present the following time line to support my questions:

June/July 2000 Kenny Miller signs for Rangers from Hibs. Gordon Smith was his representative during these negotiations and contract agreement.

June 2007 Gordon Smith is appointed Chief Executive of the SFA.

April 2010 The Guardian Newspaper reports that Rangers are under investigation by HMRC over “Off Shore” payments to their players (We now know that HMRC’s investigation is going back to 1998)

April 2010 Gordon Smith resigns as Chief Executive of the SFA due to “personal reasons”

It was widely reported at the time that the SFA were left reeling and stunned at the sudden departure of Gordon Smith from his post and did not see it coming. Along with personal reasons and family pressures other reasons were suggested also such as Mr. Smith had had several controversial run ins with member clubs over his involvement in things considered not to be within his remit for example, calling for extreme punishments for Robbie Winters over an alleged diving incident at the time.

What if it were something more? Was Gordon Smith running away from something that was potentially going to blow up in his face? Was he aware of the alleged issuing of second contracts at RFC that were linked to off shore payments for players. Did Kenny Miller have such an alleged contract and if so was Gordon Smith involved in the negotiation of that contract? Was this then a direct conflict of interest if this was the case and therefore such an investigation might highlight the fact that the current Chief Executive of the SFA had full knowledge of these alleged second contract practices that were a breach of the SFA and SPL rules of full disclosure? Would this have been an embarrassment for Mr.Smith if this came to light?

The sudden resignation of Gordon Smith from his role of SFA Chief Executive so close to the breaking of this story I think allows the question to be asked “What did you know Gordon?” As a players agent he would be involved in all contract negotiations and therefore if such payments where made to Kenny Miller, and it is a big if, was it ethically correct for him to take up the role as the SFA’s Chief Executive if any second contract in place had not been disclosed?

I am very surprised that I have seen nothing of this in the media now that Mr. Smith has gone from Rangers and the HMRC story is in full swing. I would have thought at the very least he would have been asked by our “Objective press” “Gordon, were you aware that this was going on or where you ever involved in any contract negotiations of this nature?”

I am merely thinking out loud and have no evidence to suggest that Gordon Smith was aware of anything and I stand to be corrected if this has appeared anywhere else and Gordon Smith has stated his case that he knew nothing. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who has the answers!

The SPL Investigates Rangers Payments


I read with interest today the comments attributed to Neil Doncaster by certain areas of the Media who have reported that the SPL is set to investigate payments made by Rangers Football Club (RFC) to their players which may be in breach of SPL rules D9.3 and D1.13.

These rules “impose a prohibition on players receiving payments for playing football or participating in an activity connected with football except where such payments are made in accordance with a form of contract approved by the SPL and require that all such contracts are submitted to the SPL within 14 days of being entered into” as it was presented in a statement from the SPL.

The investigation it seems is centred around the alleged non-disclosure of payments to the SPL made by or on behalf of RFC to players since July 1st 1998. If this is found to be true then RFC will be found to be in breach of SPL rules as laid out above.

What is of real interest to me though is the strong language of intent from Neil Doncaster which has been somewhat missing from his counterpart Stewart Regan at the SFA. Mr. Doncaster it would appear, if his comments are to be interpreted correctly, will be applying the rule book in the event of RFC being found guilty of the alleged wrong doing. Comments such as “We will be looking into it and taking whatever action is necessary,” and “Our role here is to apply the SPL rule book” give the clearest indication yet that there may well indeed be serious repercussions from RFC’s fellow membership at the SPL.

It may be premature to applaud the SPL at this moment however credit must be given for Mr. Doncaster’s strong words of intent that punishment will be meted out. If only the same could be said of Mr. Regan and his colleagues at the SFA. Yes, of course the SFA have appointed Lord William Nimmo Smith to chair an independent enquiry into RFC’s recent practices and they have also advised that they are aware of the claims made by former RFC Director Hugh Adam that such payments were made to players and that the SFA will investigate, however why this stance of no further comment which seems to be the party line coming from the SFA?

The reluctance to engage in any confirmation that if RFC are found guilty of any wrong doing that conflicts with SFA policy and rules, that they will be punished as a result is astonishing. By continuing this no comment policy regarding the applying of the rules in the event of guilt, they are merely feeding the paranoia machine that operates in the West of Scotland. Come on Mr. Regan, what are you afraid of? This blog asks you directly,

” If RFC are found to be in breach of SFA rules regarding contracts, undisclosed payments or any other malpractice, will the maximum penalties for these breaches be applied?”

I won’t hold my breath for an answer (I would need an Aqua Lung if I did) but I will say well done Neil Doncaster. Credit where it is due for your transparency and defence of the SPL rule book. I would add though, don’t let yourself down should the necessary be required come the time!