THE tax haven owners of one of Scotland’s oldest football clubs have secured a deal to bring their shareholding back onshore.

Historic Dumbarton FC remains officially controlled by an English shell company wholly owned by an entirely opaque offshore structure registered in Belize, Central America.

However, its owners, understood to be English businessmen, have now announced an agreement with HMRC to “normalise” their tax arrangements.

The move will pave the way for formal ownership of the club to be transferred back onshore in line with an aspiration announced nearly a year ago.

It comes as Dumbarton – currently in the Scottish Championship – pursues a plan for a new stadium and housing development outside the town.

The club’s controlling interest is held by Brabco 736 Limited, which is turn owned wholly by a business called Granada Enterprises Limited.

Ian Wilson, a director of Brabco 736, issued a statement on behalf of Dumbarton’s owners.

It said: “As owners, we are very proud of having been involved in the progress the club has made in recent years as the most successful part-time club in Scotland.

“Dumbarton Football Club punches way above its weight as a club, and we are determined to keep it that way.

“Our recent success in reaching the Scottish Challenge Cup final is another milestone for the club and we hope the town will come out in numbers to cheer the team on. Everyone will appreciate how fragile football club finances can be and we are delighted that our ambitions to normalise the tax arrangements of the ownership of the club within the UK regulations are now in place having recently been approved by HMRC.

“Our plans are no less than to completely modernise and improve the club’s finances and facilities, which is why we have put forward ambitious proposals for the new Dumbarton Community Football Stadium and hub for community football.

“We are very pleased that these have been so widely welcomed in the area. Hopefully, we will get the council’s support to give one of Scotland’s most historic football clubs the success and brighter future it so richly deserves.”

More than a year ago The Herald’s sister paper, the Dumbarton Reporter, revealed that Mr Wilson had been a member of a controversial “aggressive” tax avoidance scheme and that another owner, a former Brabco 736 director, Andrew Hosie, had been disqualified from being a director for 12 years.

Another Brabco director, Chris Stainton, last year said that Mr Hosie and current director Calum Hosie, had a combined shareholding of some 28 per cent of the company. Mr Stainton said he and Mr Wilson each had some 23 per cent of the business.

There are two other owners who have not been made public.

The decision to take Dumbarton onshore amid concerns about transparency comes amid growing concern over tax haven ownership in Scottish football, including Rangers and Celtic.

Earlier this month, with no fanfare, Irish tax exile Dermot Desmond was formally declared as the only “person of significant control” in Celtic plc, with a holding of between a quarter and a half.