Scottish football was cheated for a decade. We know that. No measure of justice has ever been forthcoming for that. We know that too. For all the whining and wailing and bitching and moaning that has come out of Ibrox, everything that happened to them was a consequence of their calamitous financial situation.
No restitution has ever been paid for what they got up to, paying players from brown paper bags, the proceeds of a heist, and made all the worse because the ultimate victims of it were you, me and every other tax payer.
It needs repeating, and understanding, over and over again; what happened to Rangers was not punishment. It was consequences. The consequences of allowing their club to spend more than it earned, on a long enough timeline that the problems were all mounted up and waiting for them when crisis hit them in 2011.
Sevco fans are fond of reminding us that Craig Whyte took a decision not to pay PAYE, and that brought the disaster on … but the real disaster happened the night McCoist’s hapless team crashed out of the UEFA Cup. That’s what left Whyte with the unpalatable choices that led to that fateful decision. Of all the delusions Sevco fans labour under, the idea that their club would have been alright if not for Whyte is the biggest of the bunch.
What happened to them in 2012 was the result of crippling debts and over-reach. They collapsed and everything that flowed from it was the perfectly logical consequence of that. They were liquidated, a new club was formed and they started from the bottom. The biggest problem Sevco fans have is that they bought into the Survival Lie and never accepted what all of that meant. And the only way to support the Survival Lie was to create another toxic myth; none of it was the fault of people at Ibrox; they were the real victims.
Cobblers, the lot of it. And whilst the media and the SFA and others were scrambling to push that line, Sevco was allowed to assume the identity of Rangers without paying the price for any of their sins. Nobody was ever brought to book for what that club did for a decade straight. Nobody paid any kind of price for it. Until now.
It was always going to be Hector who brought these people to account. It was always going to be the iron hand of the taxman that introduced some level of justice to the proceedings. The news that every person who got an EBT is coming up to the window for making a settlement offer is music to my ears. Many of them won’t make such an offer. Many of those offers are not going to satisfy the busy people at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
And when that window closes, the words “vengeance is mine” will be inscribed on every brown enveloped letter these people get from that moment forward. Once the settlement window shuts paying the principle sum will be the least of their worries; HMRC traditionally levels 100% penalties in fraud cases and late payment fines on top of that.
They deserve it, each and every one of them, and the squealing like pigs you’ll hear in the media – many of whose broadcasters are caught in the web, especially at the BBC – should not make you feel a pang of sympathy. These people are getting what they deserve, and for some of them it’s going to mean financial ruin. Oh how my poor heart bleeds.
Don’t think for one moment that my glee over this outcome is merely down to these being the former employees of Rangers; I welcome any scenario where tax cheats get their comeuppance. That’s your money and mine, that’s cash that should be going to teachers and medical staff and firefighters and police … that’s public sector cash.
But there’s something sweet about knowing that the approaching deadline will have a lot of these Peepul in a cold sweat. Over the years, any number of them have appeared in the press to remind us that they “won their medals on the pitch” in an effort to divert us from the fact that many of them would never have rolled up to Ibrox in the first place without those sort of under-the-table inducements. The fact so many of them insisted on undeclared side-contracts shows you that they knew what they were doing was manifestly dodgy.
And to me, that makes it highly appropriate that many of them are set to suffer exactly the same fate as the club itself; to sink into a financial black hole. Those who are smart, and have been smart with their cash, will make good offers to get this monkey off their backs. Those who squandered it as the club itself was so fond of doing will be facing an uncertain future which I wouldn’t bet on having a happy ending. And yes, a lot of these people have families.
I feel bad for them, of course. They were real innocents – the real victims – just like the rest of us. But those who had a responsibility to them bear all the guilt for what happens next. They built their own houses on sand, as the club did. If I thought something was constructed on those kind of foundations, I wouldn’t let my loved ones near it far less inside it.
The window for negated settlements shuts on Thursday. But hey, those players and managers (including Scotland’s national coach, to the shame of the whole football nation) still have their medals and their tainted titles.
For now, anyway.