Well done!

On first reading of The Sun on Sunday’s article today about Rangers’ player contracts, I wanted to take my customary swipe at the traditional media. On reflection, congratulations are in order.

I am no fan of the Murdoch press, but let us acknowledge a job well done. This story is a quantum leap forward from what has passed as “traditional” reporting in Scotland in recent years. While the Daily Record still seems content to rely upon agenda driven scraps from the table of the Rangers old-guard- the same people who got the club in this mess- The Sun appears to have put in an honest day’s work.

This would have required some genuine investigation and they confirmed their interpretation by consulting with no less than three experts. While sports reporters have vacillated between claiming that tax issues are too complicated to discuss and then spouting comically inaccurate nonsense, The Sun has found a solution that might yet start a revolution: they asked for comments from people who understand the subject! Rather incredibly, I even agree with the article’s general findings. (You could have read much the same here in March of last year, but The Sun has published evidence). It was the absence of reports like this one, about the most important story in Scottish football history, that inspired this blog. So ‘better late than never’ and a sincere chapeau!

The timing of this story is also good. Much of the discussion recently has focused on the issue of whether Rangers’ players had letters saying that loans from the EBT did not need to be repaid. While interesting, and sure to become a topic for discussion once the First Tier Tribunal returns with its findings, it is a bit of a red herring.

The central issue in this case is whether the money received by Rangers’ employees from the EBT were “emoluments”. Cutting through the legalese, this basically means that the key question to be determined at the FTT is: did Rangers’ employees receive wages through the EBT that were not properly taxed? Obviously, evidence that the loans were not real loans would blow any pretence that EBT use was legitimate out of the water. If there was also direct evidence that Rangers’ staff were receiving payments that were promised in an employment contract, then it would be very difficult to make an argument that these payments are not emoluments.

Yet, make an argument that they are not wages is what Andrew Thornhill QC has been very well paid to do. In some uncharacteristically well informed posts on the Follow Follow messageboard, I noticed the appearance of the “substance over form” argument as a way of trying to explain away any damaging documentation. Without getting steeped in a comprehensive legal and accounting discussion, “substance over form” is a concept that tries to look through complicated legal contrivances in financial transactions and look only at the meat of the issue: where were we are the start and at the end. It seeks to just “look-through” any special purpose entities or legal trickery designed to complicate matters. How is this relevant? The poster on Follow Follow, is trying to make the point: it does not matter if Rangers have created this blizzard of paperwork all but admitting that they have perpetrated a scam, the “reality” is that the players currently still owe the trust. Therefore, the withdrawals from the EBTs are not emoluments. 

This argument has a certain superficial charm. However, the issue with “substance over form” is that it is not for Mr Thornhill QC (or Rangers) to determine what the start and end points of the transaction are. Such a line of reasoning would be effectively asking the tribunal to start and stop at mid-points in the process and to ignore the real substance- that Rangers’ employees received payments from their employer that were not taxed.

So I would agree with the Follow Follow poster. The form of how they were paid (through a trust)  should be ignored, especially if there is a mountain of documentary evidence supporting the notion that the substance is that employees’ wages were not taxed. (If there is a lot more evidence like that presented by The Sun, then Rangers’ case would look to be very weak indeed). Of course, if I was a skilled lawyer and one of my instructions was to slow down proceedings to delay an outcome, I would need to find an argument of some sort. An argument that allows me to ask the tribunal to go through the all of the evidence meticulously would be very useful indeed.

Looking to the future, Rangers’ fans need to take a realistic and dry-eyed look at the sort of people who will be running their club in whatever form it takes. The signs are not good that the lessons of the past have been learned.

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 are for one of the largest football clubs in Britain.

2,390 Responses to Well done!


    bhoyant says:
    02/03/2012 at 3:16 am
    0 0 Rate This

    Tell me I am not going mad but when you open the link above and float your cursor over the club badges look at what Rangers are called………………………….RANGERS UNITED!!!!!!!!!

    Motherwell are MOTHERWELL CITY????????

    Someone else please try it and confirm.


    That is strange.

  2. Torquemada says:

    Dirty, cheating, rancid bastards. Cheats and liars from cradle to grave.

    Their apologists in the MSM have been left with nowhere to go after Hugh Adam’s revelations. Title-stripping is now no longer just an option, it has become a necessity if the game in Scotland is to survive. I’m not sure it can. The only question left is how far back the SFA will be obliged to go in culling their purloined trophies.

    What a shocking price our game will have to pay. And all because of a twisted and warped ideology of Protestant supremacy. They were the people, indeed. Disgusting!

    How hollow do the cries of ”paranoia” ring now.


    only 5 hours late with the Hugh Adam thing. Sorry, my re-load missed a full page of comments…and I thought it was a slow night.

  4. Canuck Bhoy says:

    Re: Hugh Adams and the Daily Mail: HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!

    Why did I waste 4 hours catching up when this was waiting at the end?


  5. Bill says:

    Max B Gold says:
    02/03/2012 at 2:13 am

    The timing of this statement/admission of sorts is rather odd. Why come out with this confession now while RFC (IA) is on it’s deathbed? Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more nails put in the coffin (except those curiously held in reserve by RTC).

    Is he implying the titles Mr Hately et al won in the 90’s might now be considered as “tainted” because both the players and RFC (IA) operated in direct contravention of SFA registration rules?

  6. Bill says:

    (sorry correct spelling is Hateley)

  7. stunney says:

    Somehow, this scene seems appropriate at the present time:

  8. patna joe says:

    think with revalations in Dailly Mail re Hugh Adam if BTC is favourable for “Institution” then I’m sure HMRC would defo appeal if this info was not presented at original tribunal if HMRC win BTC then dont think would do any deals now. Also is the deeper cuts across the buisness requested by sally to accommadate the playing staff so much for were all in it together. It realy is becoming tawdry and unpleasant administrators just lining pockets till end think they should pull the plug now and just end the suffering.

  9. k3lly says:

    So an insider blows the full-time whistle: two decades of cheating, they knew it was cheating, but they all thought it a bit of a joke.

    As someone who shelled out quite a bit of cash following my team over those twenty years, I don’t think it’s a “bit of a joke”. I think it’s sickening.

    And they got away with it because the SFA was (and still is) stuffed with the “right people” who can stifle any and all discussion or questions.

    It isn’t a “bit of a joke”. It’s a criminal conspiracy and I hope you lying b*******s suffer for it.

  10. Long Time Lurker says:

    Article on the front page of the Daily Telegraph – Danny Alexander Chief Secetary to the Treasury will tell the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference that those who dodge taxes are ‘cheats.’

    Article makes clear he does not care about the plight of Rangers FC (IA).

    Is this a signal or ‘intellegence chatter’ that the end is in sight and that the outcome for Rangers FC (IA) is far from good?

    As Chief Secretary to the Treasury Mr Alexander must get high level briefings from HMRC. Has he been briefed recently on the BTC and seen evidence demonstrating Rangers FC (IA) have knowingly missused EBTs?

    One would imagine that he would not make such a damming and public statement without being fully aware of the facts.


  11. 100bjd says:

    I spent all morning in an acquisition meeting in Manchester and decided to have some lunch at San Carlo in town to end a busy week. I joined some friends and recognised other business acquaintances dotted around the restaurant. As the subject of conversation was a bit boring I asked my friendsif they were following the Rangers saga. We are from Manchester and we remember what their supporters did to our city was the general reply.
    Loads of City/United conversation started and we were joined by a man who runs a well known business in town. His business has a turnover of circa £20m and like many others is struggling a little bit. He joined in the Rangers conversation with a showstopper! “I am not following this Rangers business although I am not surprised by it.” I ask him why he is not surprised when he has not been following the story. He looks at me with a bit of puzzlement and says MCR are involved. He then recounted a story where Lloyds bank foisted MCR into his business who then created a report that the business should be received. He was furious with MCR as he felt they were trying to sell off assets simply to pay back a bank debt which his company was adequately servicing. Duff and Phelps then took over MCR and a new person came in and wrote a favourable report. His last words before leaving were “It was not just me, there were a number of Manchester businesses in the same boat………………..I would have thought you would know that!……No I did not……………This is a completely true account of a sensible conversation between serious people who could not care less about Rangers although it does enforce my posts about Craigy Boys inside track who were undoubtedly MCR. As in the story above, however, the Duff and Phelps takeover seemed to have an effect in the same way as David Grier was not allowed to run the admin which was probably Craigys plan in the first place.

    All very interesting and independent I might see if Ian Fraser is interested

  12. 100bjd says:

    Magic Circle says:
    01/03/2012 at 8:01 pm
    43 3 i

    Rate This
    VITAL Signs says:
    01/03/2012 at 7:51 pm

    Thank you sir (or madam). I do indeed have the hide of a rhino and, while I generally try to avoid personal insults, I do believe (a) if you can’t take it don’t dish it out and (b) sticking your head above the parapet attracts snipers. Sadly, I am not welcome by the bunnet brigade but this is a great blog and, time permitting, I’m not leaving.

    Good, do not leave as you are worth listening to and as this drama unfolds you will certainly have more input. It is now clear that the Administrators are going after the sale and purchase agreement so next weeks judgement is going to be a vital litmus test. My usual refrain of follow the secured creditor will still be in vogue although I still find it very hard to comprehend how you can create a CVA scenario, assuming you can achieve the 75% creditor backing, in a situation where most of your revenue is going to Ticketus. I do not believe the club is sustainable in this context so I am going to be interested in the solution.

    The only viable solution for a CVA is for an interested party to make a decent offer for the club which is accepted by the creditors, and after purchasing the club, provide in their war chest an amount of money to be paid to Ticketus for their asset. I would imagine there is a lot of horse trading behind the scenes although the administrators cannot prefer creditors and must divide up the revenue as the law dictates.

    Still liquidation for me with the administrators spending more time on asset title and class and less time on the people (no pun intended) for whom they now have a legal responsibility. Why would they get themselves into this poor position unless they know the end game.

  13. lurchingfrompillartopost says:

    please excuse my ignorance but i was just reading rtc posts from end march 2011 (soon be 1st birthday!) re interim accounts being required for 31st march – back then it was to keep plus market happy as well as for spl for uefa licence.

    so there’s the late set of annual accounts overdue since 31 december 2011 (for period ending june 2011) that still need signed off – does that mean agm? or does being in administration absolve from that? (the agm that is)

    but due to start and end dates of rfc plc financial year, isn’t it a set of interim accounts that’s actually required, as per the ones that were just about on time last year? obviously these are meaningless without the audited set of annual accounts…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 23,474 other followers

%d bloggers like this: