• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Big hole blown in case for stripping titles

RANGERS fans will have had all sorts of emotions swirling through their heads in the days since the tribunal looking at the so-called big tax case found in the club's favour.

A tribunal backed Rangers' appeal against a tax bill of millions stemming from their use of EBTs but an SPL investigation into an alleged undisclosed payments to players continues Photograph: Getty
A tribunal backed Rangers' appeal against a tax bill of millions stemming from their use of EBTs but an SPL investigation into an alleged undisclosed payments to players continues Photograph: Getty

Some will be thinking, 'thank God, it has been proved we didn't cheat', while others will simply feel the verdict came far too late as you could see now how the club might have survived in its previous form had this not been hanging over it.

The decision should at least provide some peace of mind about what went on at Ibrox in the past,

What the whole affair does show is that we are far too quick in this country to jump to conclusions and condemn people. We should wait and see what the verdict is before we judge people and we should all use this as a learning curve.

People rushed to make judgment on the likes of Sir David Murray and Campbell Ogilvie, even though they didn't know the ins and outs of what was going on. I didn't know them all either but I felt as though people were judging me, too.

I have said my bit previously in this column and on the radio and I stand by my statements: I have never taken more money than I should have out of any club I have ever played for and did not have an employee benefit trust at the time of any game I ever played for Rangers.

Mine came when I got my pay-off for going back to Dundee United, so I never kicked a ball for Rangers while I had an EBT, yet still people were calling for the SPL title I won to be taken away.

I don't want to get ahead of myself as Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs are still considering whether to appeal, but I believe the tribunal's ruling is certain to have an impact on the Scottish Premier League's ongoing investigation into alleged undisclosed payments to players, with the independent commission's hearing now due to take place in January.

How can the tax tribunal say they have found the scheme to be legitimate, and the SPL then turn round and strip the club of titles for not declaring payments which have been shown to be discretionary loans? For me it would make a mockery of the SPL if they ignored that and took titles away. Craig Whyte came out this week and tried to blame everything on the length of time the tribunal took to reach a decision, but ultimately the buck still stops with him when it comes to Rangers' demise.

He would be best advised to stay out of the limelight because if he hadn't failed to pay tax and national insurance the club might not be in the Third Division today. But then if he had stayed in charge, God knows what would have happened.

As for Murray, he will always be remembered as the man who sold Whyte the club – perhaps under pressure from Lloyds Bank in the end – but for me this ruling means his legacy remains intact.

When Murray was in charge, all the small businesses got paid. He was a businessman and the business got done. The most galling thing for me is that if he had kept control of the club, Rangers might just have still been going in their previous form today.

Okay, he was outspoken but he put his money where his mouth was. Obviously tax loopholes were used – which was a huge risk – but this week's judgment proved he played within the rules.

No doubt there will be further court cases and revelations to come, but if Rangers have no case to answer in the first tier tax tribunal then end up being stripped of titles for the administration of their EBT scheme I think it will do the SPL's reputation no favours. And they are having a hard enough time of it as it is.

I DON'T see eye to eye with Neil Doncaster on much, but I do agree with him that our game is facing Armageddon if the clubs can't get their heads together and sort out league reconstruction. Don't get me wrong, the standard of football in the SPL without Rangers has been great, and it is a good tight league because challengers have only one Old Firm team taking points off them, not two.

I have no problem about the actual football being played – I have seen the Highland derby, Kilmarnock-Dundee United and Aberdeen-Dundee United in recent weeks and all were great games, but we need a structure put in place that helps teams financially and attracts people back to the games.

I have heard everybody's suggestions and they are all good, all worth listening to, but we need to strike while the iron is hot. We were talking about this four years ago and nothing happened. Something has to be done now or there will be no Scottish football.

Contextual targeting label: 
Business

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

127425