Rangers used to describe itself as the “quintessentially British club.”
No secret there; everyone knows this well. Their flirtation with tax dodging might seem, on the surface, to be a contradiction of that standing.
The club that prided itself on loyalty to the Crown and which claimed to keep faith with the troops was not willing to pay its fair share to the first for the upkeep of the second.
It seems like a contradiction to claim loyalty and do that.
Yet as anyone who’s been studying the political pages today knows, tax avoidance is, itself, a quintessentially British pastime.
The Treasury knows we lose billions to it every single year, and with the banks caught up in yet another money laundering scandal, for which its senior executives will probably get knighthoods, you can only marvel at what the Ibrox club might have gotten away with had they been based in London.
For all that, Ibrox under Murray was a model of respectability compared to what it is now. He was made a peer of the realm whilst he was running the club, before the embarrassment of having his cushy deal with one of the banks uncovered when they were nationalised due to the stadium sized hole in the balance sheet, and before the sale to Craig Whyte.
Yet we know he manufactured the scandal of EBT’s.
Murray was the first of them. He is now a scandalised character, a guy who behaved appallingly and ripped off the taxpayer. His time at Ibrox may have been laden with trophies but he put them on the road to ruin, and then sold the club to Whyte.
But Murray could have been an aberration. He should have been. How many guys are there, in the UK, like David Murray? With that combination of ego and a lack of scruple? Amazingly he sold the club to someone even worse, and from there the road only goes down.
Whyte liquidated Rangers, and the assets were bought by a born chancer and serial liar in Charles Green. Amongst those who his people welcome onto the board were the Easdale’s, one of whom did time for tax fraud. Then there’s Dave King …
My God, when the lawyer defending Rangers at the tax case appeal in front of the Supreme Court has just been bankrupted over tax issues it begs a question; what is it about Ibrox that attracts these sort of people?
Other football clubs have seen bad people cross the threshold; Dundee had one, Hearts too … but the Ibrox operation attracts them over and over again.
Last night I saw a report saying RIno Gattuso has just stumbled into tax issues over in Italy. He’s no longer connected with Ibrox, but when you add this to the EBT recipient list you see a pattern that repeats over and over again.
Why? I’ve speculated before that this a combination of many things; the media, the fan base and the laxity of the SFA, but the news this week that Andrew Thornhill QC, the lead legal expert for Rangers, who advised them to settle over the Discounted Options Scheme, and represented the liquidators in court last week has just been ruined over tax debts is astounding.
It makes you wonder what’s coming next. If this really is the end of King, then the club will need a new chairman and a new sugar daddy candidate; what are the chances of this guy having clean hands? So many connected with Sevco thus far have not.