McCoist sounds the alarm?

“I’m sometimes not sure the supporters realise just how serious our situation will be if we are not taken over. Some of them do but I honestly believe the vast majority don’t.” Alistair McCoist quoted in yesterday’s Scottish media.

When the history of these tumultuous days is written, I hope that mention is made of the efforts by both Walter Smith and Ally McCoist to signal to the club’s supporters about the dangers that lie ahead.  Not everyone is reading the signals well. The usual head-in-the-sand brigade who dominate Rangers supporter websites see these words as playing some role in a fanciful pincer-movement designed to get Craig Whyte to sign on the dotted line.  We are all entitled to opinions, but it seems quite obvious to me that this is a sincere attempt to warn fans without upsetting his employers: the Rangers board of directors.

Both McCoist and Smith have to walk a thin line in what they say.  Their bosses on the board, and the nominal owner in Edinburgh, have all signed off on the scams that place Rangers in mortal jeopardy.  They are all as guilty as Sir David Murray in that they failed to fulfil their fiduciary responsibilities as directors.  They have mismanaged Rangers FC and most of them will understand their culpability. I suspect that Alastair Johnston’s frank comments and head-nod were an attempt to insulate himself from both blame and liability.  He does now have a defence of  “Well I did tell you!”  The subsequent restatement of the boilerplate about legal opinion and optimism will not be mentioned if the worst-case scenario kicks in.  He has his excuse at the ready.

The other directors have not been at all forthright.  Their failure to level with Rangers fans, and to have participated in the deception that anyone would buy Rangers before the tax case is settled, is a betrayal.  They will feel that they have no choice but to follow the road they have chosen regardless of its destination.  After all, each director “signed off” on Rangers’ tax strategies in each of the last ten years.

On seeing what was at best a high-risk venture, and at worst a criminal enterprise, someone should have had the courage to speak up on behalf of the club and its fans.  John Greig might have been one, but as a lifelong football man, it is questionable whether he would have understood what was was going on.  As an aside, Greig’s seeming inability to act reflects on the unsuitability of purely football men for seats on any board of directors.  Directorships are not sinecures or retirement watches.  Directors have a broad range of legal responsibilities and need to have the education and experience to do the job.

The failure of Rangers fans to heed the many warnings means that time may not be available to act.  The most prominent internet supporters have gone to great exertions to stifle any discussion of the tax case over the last year.  Feeding a constant stream of soothing disinformation under the guise of being ‘in the know’, they have built hope and faith in the idea of imminent rescue and that the tax case is not a problem anyway.

How else can Rangers fans explain the current restrictions on how their club operates?
With funds from two consecutive Champions’ League group qualifications and debt that is moving in the right direction, why else would no one be rushing to buy one of the premium brands in the world of football? Do you really believe that Lloyds are singling Rangers FC out for special treatment? (Yes, I have read the ‘stab in the back’ theories propounded by bloggers. When the truth is awkward, find a scapegoat. It is not a new idea.)

Will Rangers fans accept reality in time to organise some form of rescue? Or will the fate of their team be left in the hands of vulture capitalists who specialise in picking over the bones of companies in administration?

It is very unlikely that HMRC will use its option to file criminal charges in this case, but that is at its own discretion. A bigger danger for anyone who served on Rangers board since 2001 is that the fallout from losing the tax case might bring lawsuits for failing to do their jobs. There is no guaranteed result in the First Tier Tribunal, but the evidence is stacked against the club. Unless the three judges sitting on the tribunal are as sympathetic to their plight as an SFA Disciplinary Panel, the coming weeks will involve many sleepless nights for Rangers’ board of directors.

About rangerstaxcase
I have information on Rangers' tax case, and I will use this blog to provide the details of what Rangers FC have done, why it was illegal, and what the implications for what was (updated) one of the largest football clubs in Britain.

72 Responses to McCoist sounds the alarm?

  1. henky68 says:

    Where a company fails to pay over PAYE deductions and NI contributions because of a director’s ‘negligence’, under Section 121C of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 HMR&C has the power to issue a personal liability notice or PLN.

    The effect of a PLN is to make the director personally liable for the company’s unpaid taxes.

    HMR&C can issue a PLN ‘whenever contributions are unpaid because of the neglect of a culpable officer.’ While failure to pay contributions can obviously constitute neglect, in practice HMR&C have only considered issuing a PLN in the most serious of cases where they will look at factors such as:

    •any persistent failure to pay over PAYE/NIC when other payments are being made on time;
    •if directors’ remuneration has continued to be paid during the period; and
    •has the individual been involved with other companies which have failed to pay over taxes?

  2. Sir Dirty Money says:

    I suspect the laptop loyal are more afraid of what SDM has on them becoming public knowledge.

  3. henky68 says:

    re my previous posting, as a company director myself I must add.

    The directors on the board and members previous, surely before signing up must have asked to see the books or at least sought professional advice if not they have been hoodwinked or at least been very stupid I’m gobsmacked by this.

    welcome sign here……….thanks you are now liable for a share of the tax costs that maybe coming to the fore soon…..WATP.

  4. bert says:

    Wasn’t he also (briefly) disposed by John McLelland in his role as chairman. I’m sure McLellend was vice-chair around 2001/02 and very quickly onto Chair for a period thereafter before Sir Minty returned.

    Makes you wonder why Sir Minty would remove himself from that position for a couple of years, when you overlay the correlating timeline of their tax evasion scheme..

  5. Jeepster says:

    RTC would Sir Minty be likely to lose his knighthood? As technically he could be seen as stealing from her they all worship

  6. Boab says:

    Again, alleged tax avoidance.

    Tax evasion is a criminal offence. I have never heard or read any remotely substantiated accusations of tax evasion.

  7. Jeepster says:

    Sorry just seen this further down

  8. bert says:

    Wasn’t he also (briefly) disposed by John McLelland in his role as chairman. I’m sure McLellend was vice-chair around 2001/02 and very quickly onto Chair for a period thereafter before Sir Minty returned.

    Makes you wonder why Sir Minty would remove himself from that position for a couple of years, when you overlay the correlating timeline of their tax *cough* scheme..

  9. Ian Ferguson says:

    How Clever of Mark to realise Wrong when he sees it on a Non Relevant Theme yet defends RFC in it’s dis-honest dealings.

    Funny old world isn’t it?

  10. The laws that are broken are the same in both cases. It is simply a matter of collections strategy for HMRC which path they choose.
    It is easier, faster, and cheaper to get a civil tribunal to make a judgment in your favour than getting a criminal conviction (which requires proof that the party knew that they were breaking the law).
    The evidence in this case could easily have supported a criminal trial. Just that it would not make sense from a collections vs cost perspective.
    I will talk more about the evidence after the judgment is released, but Rangers appear to have ducked one of the better lines of defence open to them because of a fear of this escalating into a criminal trial.

  11. McClelland was Chairman in 2002 and 2003. The EBT was already well underway during this period and continued through it. However, the role of every director cannot be overstated here.

    In most insolvency cases, no one cares enough to go after directors so they rarely pay for their sins. I think that if this goes as I think is likely, the recriminations will be bitter and deep.

  12. I Still See No Subs Except... says:

    I can’t WAIT for that one RTC – not that a lot of them don’t already!

  13. gerry says:

    Season ticket renewals cut off?

  14. Boab says:

    Sorry but that simply isn’t the case. In order to successfully prosecute someone for the fraudulent evasion of tax you would have to prove.

    1, Who did it, knew they were doing it, and knew it was illegal.

    2, Who was the victim of the fraudulent scheme.

    3, What deception was involved

    4, How did the fraudster benefit directly from the deception.

    You and others are treating a tax avoidance case as if it was, in essence, a quick and cheap tax evasion case. They are not the same thing. Avoidance and evasion, in legal terms, are different animals and not just by degrees of seriousness. Before anyone suggests that’s just semantics, of course it is, semantics are important in issues like this.

  15. Pedro says:

    I’m afraid that people won’t bye tickets if the deal might happen – only if it happens, so I don’t see how delays help them sell tickets. Just my opinion though

  16. At the risk of repeating myself, all of the conditions you cite for a criminal prosecution are present in the Rangers case.
    It is at HMRC’s discretion whether to pursue charges.

    I have not said anything that contradicts what you have posted i.e. that the standards for a criminal conviction are much higher than in a tribunal and that I do not expect any criminal charges to be filed in this case. But be in no doubt, that the evidence for a criminal prosecution does exist. The fear of such a situation developing has altered Rangers’ appeal strategy.

  17. Boab says:

    The point is not that there is evidence of fraud, the fact of the matter is that no-one has been charged, far less found guilty.

    It’s clearly up to you, mate. However I would not go down that road, I think it is wrong.

  18. droid says:

    I would like to put a question to all board the this good vessel.

    When Mr Murray stepped down from his position some years ago, did he HAVE to return because those left to run matters could not fathom the permutations of his financial shenanigans?

    Was Mr Murray required by the board or some other(s) to return to address these misdemeanours?

    Was this the point that the iceberg made itself known?

    Their heart MAY go on but there is a clear cautionary tale about overconfidence.

    Unsinkable? Aye, right!!

  19. droid says:

    The mighty mighty HMRC are definately hardcore, consider their tenacity this week for £200K –

    A source close to the distress said ‘ football clubs in general understand that there now exists something of a zero tolerance relationship between them and HMRC.’

    Do you think RFC could claim the following as some form of mitigating factor? –

    it was ‘a valued asset for use by the whole community and not just for 3,000 football fans’

  20. Weefatbhoy says:

    If they do driod, It will be a short sharp :- “The liability is HMRC’s money not Rangers Football Clubs”…

    Trust me m8, I have had this answer (Albeit under slightly different circumstances) on a few occassions and also for a fraction of said amount’s……

    I’ am sure RTC would concur, this is (Rightly) the mindset of HMRC and it’s staff – NO MATTER WHO IS THE PERPETRATOR………………

  21. droid says:

    This is a bit more like it –

    Sources from Ibrox Park have said:-

    “This tax bill is a catastrophe for us.

    We’re already struggling to pay £30m we owe the bank. Another £50m could tip us in to the abyss of administration.

    We’ve been hit with a £24 million ‘assessment’ from the taxman. The implications are HORRIFYING. The interest could be £12m and there may also be a penalty element of between £12 and £18 million. This is a desperate situation.”,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=142&cntnt01origid=468&cntnt01returnid=468

    Sing Loud, Sing Proud!

  22. droid says:

    What utter nonsense –

    The independent committee is comprised of Rangers board members, including chairman Alastair Johnston, chief executive Martin Bain, John McClelland, Donald McIntyre and John Greig.

    How can anyone can describe this collective as independent?

    More akin to vested self-interest.

    Is this a manoeuvre to enable those cited to be on holiday / out of the country when the worst happens?

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