Graham Souness has been touring Scottish football’s newsrooms for the past few days, telling all and sundry that Sevco will challenge Celtic for the league title.
I was glad that he was doing so, because putting that man in front of the media here was an opportunity, a golden one, to get some issues clarified, those a lot of us have sought answers to.
Since it was a current issue, which this site covered not that long ago, this was an opportunity to ask him if he’s heard from HMRC or anyone representing them about the possible repayment of his EBT. I mean, this is a big story and it would be interesting to get the perspective of someone who would certainly be faced with such proceedings.
Souness EBT was worth £30,000.
That’s on the low side compared to the amounts others got.
According to some experts, his exposure for repayment would be around half that, except that’s under normal circumstances.
In truth, Souness and the others are likely to face HMRC penalties, up to as much as 100% of the sum, plus late payment fines. The window for a negotiated settlement closed a while back, and HMRC will not look kindly on anyone who didn’t use it to pay up.
I think most Scottish football fans would have been very interested to hear what Souness, in particular, had to say on the issue of EBT use. Because aside from Campbell Ogilvie, his is perhaps the most damning of all the payments issued, because in his case it happened ten years after he left Rangers behind. This is the big question, of course, the one everyone wants to see answered, because it made no sense then or now.
How good would it have been had our intrepid hacks cut right to the chase and asked him for some clarity on the matter? Wouldn’t it have been a huge deal? Wouldn’t it have restored some faith in these people, and that they were capable of doing a job?
Souness’ EBT has never been explained, although there are theories.
One of them is that it was a pay-off for the Tugay deal, when Souness signed him for Blackburn.
That happened just five weeks after Souness requested the cash.
I’m not speculating here either; this was the angle HMRC were originally investigating, that this particular payment was illegal.
On top of that, when Souness went to Newcastle he personally handled the transfer of Jean Alain Boumsong for £8 million, a sum of money almost everyone in Scottish football (and many in England) knew was ridiculous. That transfer deal was one of several being investigated by the Fraud Squad when they raided Ibrox in 2007. This was the raid which led to the seizure of computer files and other data which was eventually passed to HMRC for their inspection due to the nature of what they contained.
And it was here that EBT use first came to light.
Souness was, quite literally, at the centre of the EBT controversy.
It is no coincidence that after Newcastle and the launching of the Stevens Inquiry (the fraud investigation) that no club would touch him, although he still found himself sought after as a media pundit. When his EBT came to light the BBC did initially try to get him on the record about it, but he resisted any overtures to that end.
That he could clear up one of the central mysteries of the financial doping years is not in doubt.
The media’s failure to get to the bottom of it, or even try to, is ridiculous.
This has zero interest to anyone outside the Ibrox bubble, but the issues that would interest Scottish football fans in the main are somehow never explored.
This was another wasted opportunity from a Scottish hack pack that is simply not fit for purpose.