Wrapping It All Up
30/07/2012 934 Comments
On 27th March 2011, this blog started what was to become a remarkable odyssey. Attracting a range of very well qualified contributors from across the Scottish professional world, this blog quickly grew to become the place for informed debate on the subject of the disintegration of Rangers. It was also behind the vast majority of the factual revelations on this sorry story until it went mainstream with the broadcast of the BBC Scotland documentary “Rangers- The Men Who Sold The Jerseys” in late May 2012.
The motivation to write this blog was fired by a fear that backroom deals would allow Rangers to escape responsibility for its actions. After Darrell King (Evening Times & The Herald) rushed to get the first stories with specifics about Rangers’ tax problems into print in April 2010, the Scottish media (including King) implemented a policy of black-out and denial. In the silence of the first few months of 2011, it was feared that this entire story might run its course and never be reported. Indeed, the First Tier Tribunal (Tax) managed to complete two weeks of sitting in October / November 2010 without meriting a mention in the mainstream media.
Looking back, the idea of a deal or that Rangers could escape the consequences of their actions seems hard to believe. We can debate the probability that the required series of dark fixes could ever have happened, but in early 2011, it was an unacceptable possibility. The goal of this blog was simply to reveal the facts of the situation- no more and no less. The reputation of this blog grew because it was obvious that it contained facts, interpretations, and explanations not available elsewhere. Although in more recent months the replies began to look increasingly like a Celtic messageboard, the quality of discussion has always been of a high standard. (Sincere thanks to all contributors- and a special thanks to a few people who came forward with much more than just taxi driver tales and brother-in-law rumours. You know who you are!)
In starting this blog, armed with most of the facts that are now in the public domain, Rangers’ insolvency at some point in the near future was a certainty. What could not be predicted at that time was the meltdown that followed: liquidation and a new club forced to start in Division 3. Especially pleasing was the way supporters of every remaining club in Scotland came together to demand fairness and justice. Institutional efforts to forget 11 years of cheating met with a furious reaction from the most important people in the game- the fans. The availability of the facts helped everyone involved in this saga to make informed decisions.
That Rangers were forced to liquidate, form a new club, and restart in SFL Division 3 is a fair outcome. The last remaining task is to ensure that the sporting records are adjusted to account for the 5 SPL titles, 4 Scottish Cups, and 6 Scottish League Cups won during the 11 years of paying players with money they did not have. Drastic player cuts, or insolvency, sometime in the 2006-08 period would have been a virtual certainty if Rangers had not been avoiding tax. It is worth emphasising that had Rangers paid these players the same net salaries during the EBT period of 2001-2011, their wage bill would have been almost £50m higher (unadjusted for inflation). That extra £50m would have had to have been paid by Lloyds / HBOS or a chainsaw taken to the playing squad. This is the value of the financial advantage gained prior to Craig Whyte taking over at Ibrox.
Once the First Tier Tribunal (Tax) finally rules, the SFA will have to act. If, as I expect, that the FTT finds that Rangers had been knowingly operating an illegal implementation of the EBT scheme, it would discredit every trophy ever won in Scottish football if the honours acquired by Rangers during this time are not withdrawn. It is for others to decide if new winners should be appointed, but trophies gained through illegal means cannot be allowed to stand. Please do not believe the rubbish that somehow Rangers declared what they were doing to the SFA. You can see a typical “declaration” here. It does not even say that players were using the scheme. It does not say that any payments were made outside of contracts given to the SFA or SPL. It does not provide anything that would have let a tax expert know that something was amiss let alone football administrators- who are simply not qualified to do any kind of forensic accounting analysis. So let us stop with this “it was in the annual accounts” nonsense!
Short of assisting with interpreting the FTT findings (if necessary), the work of this blog is now complete. I urge you all to keep the pressure on the SFA to ensure that the last chapter of this story sees that justice is done.