Our old friends at the Tax Justice Network are back on the scene again, revealing on Twitter last night through their offshoot organisation The Offshore Game – which looks at ownership of football clubs and other financial matters relating to the sport – that they have asked to meet with the SFA’s chief executive Ian Maxwell to discuss “Scottish football’s corruption issues.”
They contacted the governing body about this last month.
As yet they have yet to receive a reply.
This is why fans are already running out patience with the man Lawwell and others lauded as a voice of reason, someone capable of getting to the bottom of things.
The Offshore Game’s stunning report – Doing SFA For Fair Play – was published in 2016. It looked at the issues which this site and others have highlighted over and over again. It was the first independent report to accuse the SFA of not doing its homework over the little matter of Rangers European license in 2011. It was also highly critical of Lord Nimmo Smith and some of the decisions which were taken both in the setting up of his commission and during it.
One of the things The Offshore Game report called for was a full and independent inquiry into these and other matters. The report was a searing one for the governing body, especially coming from an organisation with this weight.
When Celtic made their own demand for an inquiry the SPFL board supported that. The SFA did not.
A section of the Offshore Game’s executive summary gets right to the heart of these issues. It reads thus; “The evidence presented in this report does not amount to proof of corruption, and we do not allege corruption at the SFA. But the evidence does strongly suggest that the SFA is unable, if not actively unwilling, to ensure fair play. Major changes in personnel and governance structures will be necessary if the SFA is to show itself fit for purpose.”
Two years on it remains difficult to argue with any of that; indeed, you could make a case that we’ve gone backwards. Celtic’s inquiry call has been summarily dismissed and although the Rangers license issue was considered by the SFA disciplinary board it, too, has been kicked into the long grass with the governing body apparently in no hurry to move the matter forward after Sevco presented an argument that the SFA’s right to hold the case had to be argued in front of CAS.
In the meantime, Sevco’s chairman, Dave King, has been allowed to flaunt court orders and openly defy the Takeover Panel of the City of London, whilst the SFA remains impassive and silent. They have allowed this to go on right in front of them, and thus risked the reputation of the whole of the national sport.
We were told that Maxwell was being brought into the SFA to move things forward and to ensure transparency and openness.
How much longer does he need with his feet under the desk before he starts the work on that?
Since he took over the only notable developments have been the decision to stay at Hampden – which we now know was paid for by someone else – and the changes to the way the discipline system works, and needless to say there are very few of us who are happy about recent developments in that area.
It is time that the governing body proved that it was fit for purpose. If an independent agency with the reputation of the Tax Justice Network wants to meet the SFA to discuss an issue of that magnitude – and can you think of a more important one? – then it falls upon the Chief Executive to clear his diary for a day and get them in there.
Maxwell is new in the job; presumably he personally has nothing to hide. So why is he continuing to cover for the people who do? As it stands, his organisation is not fit for purpose. We didn’t need an independent report to tell us that, but he probably ought to read it.