Craig Whyte’s Confessions: A Critical Analysis

I might be giving Mr. Whyte and his media advisors too much credit for advanced planning, but it seems obvious that the recent spate of Whyte interviews had two objectives:
– a) Admit the truth, for it has become pointless trying to deny it any further
– b) Immediately distract from that truth before its full implications can be analysed

Whyte raising the possibility of Rangers entering the English Premier League (EPL) seems like a transparent attempt to “lay down smoke”.   No one who is thinking rationally can believe that there is any serious chance of any Scottish club moving to the EPL.  There simply would not be a large enough increase in SKY revenues to pay off all of the current EPL chairmen, the SFA, SPL, and then leave any profit to be divided between Rangers, (presumably Celtic too), and SKY.   Too many Scottish football fans already pay for EPL coverage, so the number of new subscriptions would be quite small.   A calamity would have to befall English football before any significant restructuring occurs.   While that is not impossible over the next decade, it is not something that outsiders can accelerate or plan upon.

I do not believe that Whyte is so detached from reality to believe any of this nonsense, but rather I am sure that he was advised by his media team to raise this subject knowing that it would quickly become the talking point. It draws attention away from the real implications of what Whyte has now admitted:

When the tax bill hits, Whyte will stiff everyone else who has dealings with the club!
The tax man, Rangers’ players, Rangers’ season ticket holders, and suppliers: anyone, other than Whyte himself, who is owed anything by Rangers at that time is going to get screwed.

This is the awkward truth that Whyte has been trying to hide. Behind all of his “billionaire” and “front-loaded investment” disinformation, he has to now try to run Rangers for 12-18 months with all of these parties knowing that trading with Rangers is a high risk venture.

Players who signed 5-year contracts with RFC have given Whyte a free one-way option. If (when!) Rangers become insolvent, it will be at the discretion of the receiver appointed by Whyte as to which players are retained. So long as the players continue to receive their salaries, their contracts will survive i.e. they will remain under contract to Whyte.   However, if someone is no longer a valuable asset- e.g. carrying an injury or simply off-form- Whyte can simply stop paying him and he will join the long list of unsecured creditors who will ultimately receive next to nothing.  Let me put this more directly, once Rangers experience an insolvency event, players under contract can be freed without penalty by Whyte, but Whyte (acting through a receiver acting solely for his personal best interest) can decide to retain or to sell them.  If Craig Whyte wants rid of a goalkeeper who develops butter-fingers in the second year of his contract, that five year deal would suddenly become, for all practical purposes, worthless and easily torn up.

If I was one of Rangers’ trading partners, I would be demanding cash on delivery.  If I was a Rangers player, I would not sign any long term deals, at least not without a promise of contractual release upon an insolvency event.  This would allow players who still have value to get a new signing bonus, either from The Rangers FC (2012) Ltd or whomever is willing to pay them most.  If their value to clubs has dropped to zero?  Unemployment, with only the statutory minimum payment, will be their fate regardless.  They  inadvertently gave Whyte a free option under the misguided belief that they had ensured their own financial futures.

Players screwed by Craig Whyte may find some comfort in the knowledge that they signed contracts with a high-risk employer voluntarily. The UK government did not sign up for being cheated out of a large amount of tax revenue. Her Majesty’s government has expended significant costs over several years to investigate this scam.  Rangers’ evasiveness and duplicity have increased the government’s costs significantly.  Yet, Whyte has now effectively admitted that he believes that HMRC will get nothing regardless of the findings of the tribunal process.

Will HMRC will take this situation lying down? I would hope not.  I expect that they will be digging very deeply into their legal toolkit to avoid a humiliating and very public loss of face.  Following the Vodaphone and Goldman Sachs debacles, a failure to collect from Rangers would solidify the public impression that ‘taxes are for little people’: smart, rich people do not have to pay.  The widespread belief that you can cheat on your taxes and then negotiate a deal to pay pennies on the pound or simply duck the bill altogether would solidify.  If I was the taxman, I would be thinking laterally. I would not confine myself to the narrow issue of Rangers FC.
If I was Craig Whyte, I would not sleep easily at at night if I thought that I had any unresolved legal issues with any UK government departments.

Whyte has thrown down a public gauntlet: even if you prove that Rangers have illegally underpaid taxes for a decade and gone to great lengths to disguise its illegal behaviour, you are getting nothing.  Craig Whyte has publicly declared that he is the sole beneficiary (owner) of The Rangers FC Group Limited. Whatever assets Whyte has managed to accumulate “under the radar” – (his words, and a strange way for a businessman to describe his past. What do you think he means?) – his public professions of ownership of Rangers would enable the sequestration of Rangers FC should it be discovered that he has been as economical with the facts of his other business dealings as he has about Rangers.

Upon the tribunal process finally reaching a conclusion, the only certainty is that this situation will be decided in courts by people with vastly more legal experience than I have. In fact, I have spoken with a number of leading lights of the Scottish legal profession in recent weeks and it is clear that this situation is going to make many of them quite a bit wealthier. It will be a messy and expensive case that will be dragged through the courts for a long time.

This sudden change in media strategy by Whyte and his team might yet prove to be another in a long line of mistakes.  It will be interesting to see what other tactical changes they will make.

As a measure of unmitigated gall, and as November approaches, it will be interesting to see if Whyte will indulge in the patriotic fervour of his predecessors during the Remembrance Day period.  Perhaps under-equipped infantrymen returning from Afghanistan will be given free body armour this year rather than a free ticket to a minor game?

Analysis of the Bain Papers

After 17 months of ignoring the abundant evidence that much was wrong at Rangers FC, the mainstream media appear to have been roused from their slumbers by this weekend’s revelations within the Bain Papers.  Reaction has varied from claims of surprise to defiant finger-pointing.  (According to one especially corpulent hack, Rangers’ problems are all just a product of meddlesome bloggers.  He has to say that, doesn’t he?  With over 25 years of obsequious subservience on the lap of Sir David Murray, he cannot now turn on him.  Rangers problems are a direct function of the failure of journalists at Scotland’s leading publications to do their jobs).

The reaction to the Bain Papers is finally proportionate to their significance.  Without fear of exaggeration, this is the most important story in the history of Scottish football.  It is good that the media has finally been shocked into saying something.

Journalistic  investigation of the scandals within Rangers over the last decade has amounted to nothing more than telephoning Rangers’ PR firm for a comment.  Obviously, it will  take them some time to catch up.  In their analysis of the Bain Papers, these neophytes have made several errors in analysis and I thought that it would be a good idea to help clarify a few of the most important points.

  • Securitization of Ticket Sales
    The media reported that the Bain Papers made reference to Rangers having started the process of selling off four year’s worth of future season ticket sales in return for cash now. What these reports have missed is that Bain’s information on Rangers stopped being accurate as of 23 May 2011. The Bain Papers are themselves just snapshots in time and do not necessarily reflect the current state of affairs. As regular readers of this blog will already be aware, Rangers FC did indeed file paperwork related to the mortgaging of four years of season ticket revenues. However, this filing (an MG05s) was botched and actually released all of Rangers’ assets except the season tickets! The MG05s was later withdrawn and, to date, has not been replaced. This means that either the transaction was not completed or the finance company has given a loan without any security. Lending to Rangers without security is very unlikely, so in the absence of any more recent evidence, I believe that this securitization of season ticket revenues has not taken place. (Rangers might have found it easier to keep up with its bills if it had).
  • Assignment of Rangers’ Debt
    Given the number of new readers to this blog, it is worth repeating my questions over the terms of Whyte’s purchase of Rangers’ debt. Had Whyte paid Lloyds in-full for the debt, there would be no doubt that Whyte would have also received £18 million of priority protection (and the probable right to appoint a receiver for his own benefit). However, I have received credible information that questions whether most (or any) of the debt has been paid for. If Whyte has only signed a promissory note and not actually fulfilled his end of the transaction, the benefits of the security interest would remain with Lloyds. Whyte would have no say in events should Rangers become insolvent under these conditions. Until Whyte or Lloyds make an unequivocal statement on who holds the floating-charge on Rangers’ assets, we will not know for certain who will determine Rangers’ future.
  • Amount of Tax Bills
    The amount of the tax bills reported to be in the Bain Papers is slightly in error. The £14 million interest and penalties is actually just penalty. Interest is included with the £35 million assessments. A trivial point, but worth recording in the interest of accuracy.

Perhaps the most significant comment that can be made is over the timeline for a Rangers insolvency event. Despite all of the fevered speculation, all I can say is that I do not know if or when this will happen. Football clubs are odd businesses. They start their financial years in the summer with large cash-piles from season ticket sales and will see their funds gradually deplete until they start selling tickets for the following season in March or April of the following year. In between, the club must ensure that it is able to pay wages and other bills from the cash-pile, matchday receipts (food, a small number of ticket sales, etc.) and TV money. In Rangers first season in three years without significant European cash, there was always going to be a question on whether the club could remain solvent through to spring. The “wee tax case” has taken an additional £2.8m that would be badly needed. Without a line of credit at a bank to tide Rangers over, the risks are real and significant.

However, the reports of unpaid suppliers do not automatically mean that a crisis is days away. This could be part of the bureaucratic malaise that has fallen over the club since the takeover or it could be part of a stringent cash management plan to see the club through to the next transfer window in January. The key point being that there is no information to support a projection on how immediate a cash crisis is at Rangers. Rangers might have a problem tomorrow or next week, but my money is on the club surviving until a result is obtained in the First Tier Tribunal for the ‘big tax case’.

Assuming that Rangers lose the ‘big tax case’, Whyte will have the option to file for insolvency or he can appeal to the Upper Tribunal to buy more time. HMRC for its part would have the legal right to demand payment as soon as they they get a positive result in the First Tier Tribunal. By custom, HMRC do not generally enforce payment while an appeal is active if it would cause insolvency. However, if they feel that a delay in enforcing payment is just creating an opportunity for the alienation of assets, they might be more inclined towards flexing their legal muscles. Given these caveats and conditions, it is possible that Rangers could delay the hangman’s noose until this time next year.

In summary, I am delighted that this case has broken open. While Rangers’ supporters might not be in any mood to thank anyone for helping shed light on this situation, it is good for their club (if not its current and previous owners) that this information is in the public domain. It is especially good for our national game as a whole that we discuss the problems of the last decade openly. Rangers supporters need to ask themselves why they have meekly stood by while the future of their club has been imperiled and whether their “friends” in the media have done them an injustice by becoming complicit in the cover-up of this story.

Martin Bain, His lawyers, Rangers & Insolvency

I was contacted this week by a source who has uploaded a rather remarkable document to a file-sharing service. He forwarded a link to me and even I was astounded to find that Mr. Bain has become an advocate for truth and transparency. The document in the link below confirms for even the most sceptical or blinkered, the truth that this blog has been bringing to you.

The document appears to be a court filing from Bain’s lawyers laying out their case for an arrestment of cash from Rangers on the grounds that the club is at risk of insolvency before the Bain dismissal case will be heard.

Coming a day after Rangers FC issued a press release declaring: “The remarks in the Court of Session today made by Levy & McRae with regard to their concerns about the club’s solvency are unfounded and unwarranted” I found it interesting to read that one of of Scotland’s leading law firms is arguing that Rangers are close to bankruptcy.

Read it for yourself. Digest. Let us do what this blog does best: discuss it in detail.

[Link removed]

There is enough material in this link to keep us slicing and dicing for weeks to come.

The decision to post this link came after weighing up several pros and cons of doing so. Ultimately, the central mission of this blog is to explode the myths and lies surrounding almost everything to do with Rangers FC in recent years. Therefore, I felt that benefits outweigh the costs. I hope that you will agree.

The Craig Whyte disaster: who benefits?

Over the months leading up to Craig Whyte’s takeover of Rangers, I was sceptical, to say the least, that anyone would want to take over a club so riven with problems. The options for explaining the motivations of a buyer were:

  • Billionaire ready to lose close to £80 million to cover the cost of repairing the damage left by the Murray legacy
  • Asset stripper intent on liquidating the club and making a quick profit
  • Shrewd strategist who will help Rangers to safety and survival
  • Idiot

The claims that Whyte was a billionaire with “off the radar” wealth were obvious fictions propagated by Hay McKerron (Whyte’s PR firm at the time) and eagerly repeated by a cowed and compliant Scottish media.  It is difficult to believe that any journalist wrote those stories without knowing that they were baseless.  Evidence then and now renders the idea of Billionaire-Whyte as laughable.  The preponderance of evidence seems to indicate that Whyte is just an aspiring entrepreneur with a string of business failures behind him.

Similarly, we can dismiss the notion of Whyte as a cynical asset-stripper, at least he is not one intent on maximising profit.  Had Whyte been interested only on a quick profit he would have been a little more focused on selling players and his club would not have had a net spend during the recent transfer window.

One of the theories which we have speculated upon on in this blog is that Whyte would be protected in the event of a Rangers insolvency.  Rangers’ debt holder is protected by a floating charge security interest on that would give the holder of that floating charge priority in repayment ahead of HMRC and other unsecured creditors.  This idea seemed to make a lot of sense. The Shareholder Circular released by Whyte seemed to confirm this idea.  It seemed like Whyte had bought a no-lose propisition: Rangers continue to qualify for the Champions’ League for the next few years (and all debts including the tax bills would be affordable) or he gets to control the relaunch of a debt-free Rangers following bankruptcy.  Was Whyte really the only “wealthy” man in Scotland with an affection for Rangers who could see this opportunity?  Or do fools rush in where angels fear to tread?

In reviewing some old records related to this situation, I started to wonder about the idea that Whyte will win regardless of what happens.  The MG05s that was filed with Companies House some weeks ago: it listed Lloyds’ subsidiary, the Bank of Scotland, as the beneficiary of this security interest.

With the reported purchase of Rangers’ debt by Whyte’s company, we should have expected that Lloyds would have assigned the mortgage on Rangers assets to The Rangers FC Group Ltd, the holding company Whyte uses to own Rangers. The assignation of the mortgage on Rangers’ assets would usually be the subject of a public filing in the form of an MG01s form filed at Companies House. No such filing has been made: the Bank of Scotland are still listed as the holders of the floating charge on Rangers’ assets. This alone did not give me much pause for thought as such a filing would be voluntary. However, a source has approached me with information that Whyte’s deal to purchase Rangers’ bank debt was something other than what Whyte and his co-conspirators in the Scottish media have made out. I am told that Whyte has indeed signed a contract obliging him to buy Rangers’ debt but that he has not paid for much of that debt, possibly not any of it. This would imply that Whyte does not “own” the security interest on Rangers’ assets. If this proves to be true, it would deny Rangers of their perfect rescue. In the event of an insolvency filing, it would be Lloyds who would control a receiver and it would be for Lloyds benefit that assets would be sold. This would crush the “shrewd strategist” theory.

When we add up the evidence: Whyte’s lack of any track record of legally making significant money since the collapse of his plant hire business and his dash to Monaco; the compliance problems involving corporate records for many shell businesses in which Whyte has been involved; the rank incompetence of Whyte’s leadership of Rangers to date- evidence is building that point to another explanation of Whyte’s takeover of Rangers: he was a useful idiot for the real villain of this piece, Sir David Murray.

If we stop and ask: “what was Sir David Murray’s worst fear related to Rangers?” The answer must surely be that the extent of the club’s illegal actions while he was in charge would become public knowledge. What would be the perfect outcome for Murray now? That an idiot would emerge who could be persuaded to take on the glory of owning Rangers for the price of a single pound. This perfect idiot should be administratively incompetent and should not have deep enough pockets to help Rangers over any cash flow problems. His real specification for Rangers next custodian might have been very different from the one he discussed in public. Murray benefits most by having a bumbling amateur with little cash in the hot seat. If Rangers can go bankrupt, and even disappear, before the big tax case returns then Murray might hope to duck the blame for his own actions.  Murray’s media poodles would be able to muddy the waters with a debate over whether Rangers would have survived had so many fan groups not pressured The Great Leader to sell. Rangers’ problems could be blamed on Whyte, and Murray’s legacy would remain largely intact in the minds of the newspaper reading public in Scotland.

This hypothesis is very Machiavellian and assumes an extreme degree of advanced planning. However, of all of the stories about David Murray that have been circulated, none have ever claimed that he was stupid. Murray is a man of high intelligence and great cunning. I do not think that setting up Whyte as a patsy is beyond him.  During the takeover, the degree of harmony between buyer and seller was unusual.  The haste with which David Murray shot down the soundings of an alternative proposal from Rangers director Paul Murray was odd.  Lastly, I know of one other attempt to buy Rangers just before the takeover.  Graham Duffy may not have had the benefit of an expensive PR campaign to burnish his image and he might have had credibility problems of his own.  However, he made several desperate efforts to try to talk to Murray to discuss a deal in the weeks before the Whyte deal was announced, but Murray would not respond to his requests for a meeting.  Duffy may not have been any better for Rangers than Craig Whyte, but when you are surrendering your entire interest in a business for £1, you might be expected to explore all options before resigning yourself to your fate.  Murray’s actions certainly give the appearance of someone who was working hard to ensure that Whyte was the only option.  I find that difficult to explain.

As the wheels start to come off the Rangers wagon, we should not lose sight of the fact that the current custodian has inherited a situation not of his own making.  Whyte may just be another victim in a long line of businessmen who has fallen for a David Murray sales-pitch.

Leaks & Lawsuits

It has been quite a busy few weeks for matters related to Rangers:  a tense, and ultimately comical, transfer window;  disgraceful acts of distraction involving the club’s PR “expert” to deflect from his embarrassment over the fact that he could not contain the Sheriff Officers story; the manoeuvrings related to ‘the other tax case’; and just a few hours ago, the posting of an MG01s filing onthe Companies House website revealing an assignment of the securitisation of the club’s catering revenues.

For the benefit of new readers to this site, I will recap the situation as it stands currently.  We will then look at this new mortgage filing and discuss what it means for Rangers FC and its dealings with HMRC.  Lastly (for today) we will discuss the accusations of leaks from HMRC related to the tax case and Rangers’ own conduct in this case.

  • Recap: The “Big” Case

Rangers FC operated a tax scam called an EBT (Employee Benefits Trust) for a decade beginning in 2001.  While EBTs could be operated legally, Rangers took this process beyond any established case law by making contractual payments that would normally be subject to PAYE and NIC through an EBT.  This was no innocent mistake as several of Rangers’ directors were fully aware that what the club was doing was illegal but continued anyway.
This scam has resulted in combined bills for underpayment, interest, and penalties of about £60m being billed to the Ibrox club just over a year ago.  Contrary to the lies disseminated in the Scottish mainstream press, the amounts ARE known to Rangers.  They are printed on the tax assessments in their possession.  Unable to pay such a crippling amount, Rangers appealed these assessments to a process called a First Tier Tribunal (FTT).  An FTT began hearing Rangers’ appeal and HMRC’s evidence against the club, in October 2010.  It did not complete within the scheduled two weeks and a three week continuance was arranged for April/May of 2011.  Evidence presentation was not completed in this window either and another continuance has been scheduled for November 2011.  I believe that the evidence against Rangers is overwhelming and that the club is simply dragging out this process as a way of effecting a stay of execution.

  • The”Wee” Tax Case

Another tax case emerged on the 1st of April of this year.  Rangers’ Interim Results for 2011 disclosed that there are additional tax bills for £1.9 million in underpayment, £0.9 million in interest, and, later, £1.4 million in penalties.  (The closer the penalty comes to 100% of the underpayment, the more it signals the extent of consciously illegal behaviour and deception which HMRC believes was involved).  Rangers claim that this bill was for a Discounted Options Scheme used to compensate players.  This does strike me as odd.  Directors and employees who expect to remain with a business for many years will accept options in the company as part of compensation packages, but footballers?
Not for the first time (nor the last) Rangers’ shareholders, supporters, and the British taxpayer are not being told the whole story.  This tale, as told by Rangers, does not add up.  I suspect that either club directors actually used this scheme to compensate themselves (leaving the business to pick up the tax bill) or Rangers were involved in a highly fraudulent scheme like stuffing offshore shell companies with cash and then issuing shares in such sham businesses to employees / players.  Whatever the truth, it will be far from the simple story that has been fed to the media to date.

The £2.8 million for underpayment and interest for the Discounted Options Scheme has actually been agreed with HMRC.  This means that it cannot be appealed.  It simply must be paid per the required schedule or Rangers face debt recovery action.  To this end, Sheriff Officers acting on the instruction of HMRC visited Rangers on the 10th of April to serve paperwork that represented a major escalation of this case: Rangers had until the 29th of August to pay this amount in full or face the start of court proceedings that could lead to an insolvency event.  (The £1.4 million penalty can be appealed, and therefore delayed, as it was not part of the agreement between the club and HMRC).  At the time of writing, the vast majority of the amount due for the “wee” tax bill remains unpaid, and after a day of feverish speculation, it appears that HMRC gave Rangers a final warning that court action to wind-up or put the club into administration is imminent.

  • The Summer 2011 Transfer Window

Craig Whyte’s modest actions over the close season and in the final weeks of the transfer window confirm that he is not a billionaire who will spend whatever it takes to make his footballing fantasies come true.  In fact, with a net spend that could have been financed purely from season ticket cash inherited when he took ownership of Rangers, Whyte might just as well be an unemployed security guard for all the investment of personal cash that has been required so far in his tenure as club custodian.  (More on this in the coming days).  The merits of the ins and outs of the player-trading will be borne out in time, but it is the bungling ineptitude that will be the lasting impression.  In particular, the primacy of public relations over matters of substance may have contributed to yesterday’s turning of the screw by HMRC.  I can only imagine that the debt recovery staff at the tax office would have watched with jaws agape as Rangers’ spin-meisters fed their media lapdogs stories of fantastic amounts being offered to secure the services of the club’s star striker, Nikica Jelavic.  Boasting to the world of rejecting offers of £9 million in cash while pleading poverty to a creditor will generate a lot of dissonance.  Frankly, even had the story been true it would have been remarkably stupid to make public. This event lays bare the extent to which Craig Whyte is being advised poorly by Jack Irvine and Gordon Smith.  That the story was a transparent fabrication designed to burnish Mr. Whyte’s good-guy credentials for the most naive sections of the Ibrox support just makes the situation comical.

  • Securitization / Assignment of Catering Revenues

With all of these issues taken together we can just cut to the chase: Rangers did not have the money to pay the “wee” tax bill.  Whyte’s business plan was to hope and pray for Champions’ League qualification and the additional £18-20 million in revenue (which would be mostly profit) that would accompany playing on football’s top stage.  Those of us who follow football closely could see that any plan that depended upon Champions’ League qualification for the Scottish champions through two qualifying rounds was madness.  Craig Whyte appears to have thought differently.

So Whyte is left to rob Peter to pay Paul and to try to gather cash to pay the “wee” tax bill any way possible.  Having spent a decent amount of the season ticket cash required to get the club through to when next season’s ticket renewals will start coming in, the club faces a cash flow crisis before the end of the season.  Whyte is frantically exploring every financial device available to try to make ends meet.

A previous attempt to securitize future season ticket sales in return for a large amount of cash now fell through.  (Possibly in part due to the excellent forensic detective work on the part of readers of this blog).    Late yesterday, Rangers posted an MG01s Form on the Companies House website related to the assignment of a mortgage for Rangers’ catering revenues.

Regular posters to this site will doubtless apply their considerable expertise in dissecting this filing, but I will take a first stab at explaining this for the layman.  The Rangers Football Club plc (i.e. Rangers FC) had previously “sold” its catering rights to Azure Catering Services, a division of Sir David Murray’s MIH Ltd.  A few years ago, MIH sold Azure and Rangers reacquired the rights to their own catering revenues.  These catering revenues have now been sold, for the indefinite future, to a finance company called Close Leasing Limited, a firm which Whyte and other Rangers directors have had dealings related to some of their other distressed asset purchases.  A piece of the family silver has been sold off to fend off an insolvency event.

While the MG01s form does not specify the amount, Rangers’ 2010 Annual Report states that “events and catering income increased by 8% to £2.0m due to our participation in Europe.”  (However, 2009 was also a Champions’ League season for Rangers).  Without further European revenues, this income might be expected to be as low as £1.4m for this season.  (We also do not have information on how much events contributed to this profit).  Selling a cash stream under these circumstances is to present one’s posterior while bent over a barrel.  The discount rates that will be applied to valuing this cashflow will be horrendously high- as much as 15-20%.  This could see Rangers raise as little as £7 million in return for giving up this income every year into the future.  Subtracting events money and Whyte could be left with less than £5 million for this transaction.  However, £5 million would be enough to drive the wolf from the door for now.

So, I expect that Rangers will survive the immediate crisis presented by the “wee” tax case.  Operating without a credit relationship with a bank, a cloud over the club’s ability to get to the end of the season without similar family silver sales remains.  As for the “big” tax case?  Unless there is a silver mine discovered under the Copland Road Stand, Rangers have zero prospect of being able to pay that bill when it hits.

  • Leaks & Lawsuits

The last point to address for today is the recent spate of “Rangers angry at HMRC leaks” stories that have been spread by the usual suspects via their lackies in the Scottish media.  As diversionary tactics go, I imagine this one will help develop a unifying sense of being under siege among Rangers fans, so it may serve its purpose.  However, let us take a look at the facts.

The first journalist to publish specifics about Rangers’ tax crisis was Darrell King.  He not only got his story correct in that Rangers’ existence is at stake, but he got the amounts bang-on too.  Darrell King’s source?  Rangers director Dave King (no relation).  Dave King did not fancy Sir David Murray’s favoured takeover candidate at the time and was leaking to all and sundry to try to delay things until such time as his own tax troubles in South Africa might be cleared up.  The recent breaking story from’s Mark Dingwall claiming that HMRC had moved to freeze Rangers’ bank accounts (which I now understand to be fundamentally correct despite Rangers’ denials); where did he get his information?  Dingwall’s sources are invariably within Rangers FC.  The news that Gordon Smith was going to become Ally McCoist’s new boss?  Phil MacGiolla Bhain managed to tell the ordinary Rangers fan before McCoist himself knew anything about it.  I don’t suppose that there are any disgruntled ex-employees armed with explosive information on Rangers?

Rangers have not hesitated to plant disinformation and outright lies about the case when they thought that it suited them.  The downside of such short-sighted moves is that those who do have access to the facts have become increasingly angry that the truth- the mortal danger which the club faces- has been withheld from the only people who care enough to do anything about it.  Blowback.  The more Rangers’ executives have lied, the more people with access to the story have felt obligated to get the truth out.  Leaking information about the tax case does not help HMRC.  The case(s) will be determined through the normal legal channels and the outcome will be what it always would be.  Many Celtic fans will enjoy the discomfort of their rivals’ realisation of the scale of this problem.  However, a bit of glee would not be something that a wise Celtic supporting tax collector would risk a career over.  However, leaks do serve to alert Rangers fans.  Work it out.

My own motivations have always been primarily to highlight the corrupt nature of the Scottish media.  (Remember Graham Speirs’ Rangers-fed dismissals of the tax bill amounts as being wildly too high?)  My sources?  Well, they have developed a lot since starting this blog, but I am not going to indulge in a guessing game with anyone.

Anyway.  How are Rangers’ lawsuits against HMRC for leaking coming along?  Why would Rangers be so angry about falsehoods?  Afterall, this blog is “99 percent crap” according to Craig Whyte.  Surely Craig is not admitting that the substance of these stories is in fact true?