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Why The Rangers Tax Case Scandal Continues To Haunt Scottish Football And Ibrox.

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Yesterday, an interesting wee story broke online about a matter which many in Scotland wish would simply fade into the background and disappear. An organisation called TaxWatch has submitted a formal complaint to the Tax Disciplinary Panel – a body which regulates accountants and those in the numbers business – about an individual they will only call Mr Red.

Why Mr Red? Because that was the name he was given by the Supreme Court tribunal which had the final say on the Rangers tax case, and which found Murray and his companies culpable for what many of us believe amounted to a fraud.

Five years after that matter was “finally” adjudicated, he is still practicing in spite of being one of those singled out for excoriating damnation in the Supreme Court finding, and TaxWatch doesn’t believe that he should be. He is just one of a number of people who continues to be haunted by that verdict, and who will not easily be able to escape it.

Court cases continue to rumble on, most surrounding the way Police Scotland screwed up their many investigations into the collapse of the club under Craig Whyte.

The shadow of the Big Tax Case hangs over those verdicts too.

HMRC still intends to pursue people over those debts, otherwise they would be entirely swallowed up by the public purse.

That all of us are essentially paying for Ibrox’s previous largesse is not even up for the slightest debate.

It is one of the truly horrible things about what happened over there; that every tax payer in Scotland funded Rangers’ last big spending spree, and much of their latter success, whether we liked it or not.

You know, there are people who still wonder why myself and other bloggers devote so much time to the exploration of Ibrox’s finances. There’s still a lot of interesting stuff going on over there right now. No matter how he dresses it up, Van Bronckhorst has had to make the first cuts to the Ibrox squad over this window … more are definitely on the way.

But our interest in their financial position shouldn’t just be on how it impacts on their ability to win games. The Big Tax Case was a tale not only about one club’s greed but a wider cautionary tale on how football governance in Scotland simply ceased to function for the years in which their club ran its EBT schemes.

Let’s remember, in order for them to have concealed those payments from HMRC there had to be an entire cadre of people there who lied, constantly, or who corrupted their colleagues not only at Ibrox but at Hampden too.

That people with regulatory responsibilities at Hampden kept their mouths shut about what they knew was going on isn’t even in the slightest doubt. Campbell Ogilvie, the SFA President, was the man who personally signed the first EBT contracts.

Others who were involved at Hampden – including the notorious Mr Magenta, whose real name will be familiar to many of you – actually held the jobs inside the club which would have principally dealt with that concealment.

Some of them still operate at the upper reaches of the game here today, and that should concern football fans as much as TaxWatch are concerned that Mr Red is still engaged in the sort of business from which he should have been banned.

Indeed, life bans from any involvement in the sport should have been handed down to any number of people in the aftermath of what happened at Rangers, including David Murray, Dave King, Paul Murray, Andrew Dickson and Alastair Johnson.

All were “in the know.” All were involved up to their necks.

Not one of them should have been able to hold a role at a club here again, far less with the SFA as has been the case.

And that’s just one of the areas where those running the game here either behaved dishonestly, or were sound asleep at the wheel.

One of the reasons Resolution 12 scared, badly, those at Hampden, Ibrox and even at Celtic Park is that there was, and perhaps still is, a little corrupt nexus at the heart of the game here which is only interested in covering its own backs, and to Hell with the greater good of the sport.

Because, of course, as has been pointed out over and over again, Resolution 12 was never “targeting Rangers” or Ibrox, as some have erroneously pointed out. It was an attempt to root out the corrupt practices which were endemic at Hampden and perhaps still are.

This game can’t move on because nobody ever took the responsibility for cleaning out the Augean Stables in the aftermath of what happened at Rangers. Rules should have been tightened up, new ones put in place and the framework altered dramatically with domestic financial fair play at the heart of it, with the harshest punishments anywhere.

What’s worse is that non-disclosure of documents – which should have resulted in title stripping – was explained away by a corrupt joke, the groundwork for which was laid by an explicit guarantee which had its own side-letter as part of the notorious Five Way Agreement; those who were trying to get to the truth and see justice done never stood a chance.

The media wishes all this would go away.

The clubs – including Celtic – wish that it would all just go away.

But there are too many threads of this which still demand to be pulled on. There are still too many facets of it which leave a bad taste in the mouth and which stink to high heaven.

In spite of the best efforts of some good people within our own support, we haven’t nearly gotten to the bottom of this mess yet and there’s no interest in doing so in some of the places where it should be greatest.

The suspicion remains that there is much to uncover which would make some at Celtic Park nervous, and vulnerable.

The latest developments are just that – latest developments. This affair is no closer to being behind us than it was when HMRC refused the CVA and consigned Rangers to the graveyard. Part of the problem is that Scottish football simply would not accept that it happened at all … which is why we have the Survival and Victim Lies polluting the discourse.

None of this is the past.

You only have to look at what’s going on at Ibrox right now to see the old patterns repeating over and over again it … how can this stuff be behind us when, in fact, it’s merely on the other side of the wheel, coming back around?

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3 comments

  • Stuart Murdoch says:

    I honestly, and sadly, don’t think that we will ever know what truly happened, is still happening, over at Ibrox. The truth involves too many powerful people.

  • Charlinick says:

    New rules were put in place, after a’future’ liquidation event sevco, I mean the club in liquidation will no longer be demoted from the top flight

  • Christina says:

    James, we all know that the true full story of what went on in this case will never come out. For a start there are many involved who have membership of organisations outwith football which precludes that very thing from happening. Many of the younger generation, having enjoyed Celtic’s dominance over recent times (barring last year of course) are not interested enough about these matters to carry this forward. The ‘opaque’ nature of current Ibrox funding doesn’t seem to ring alarm bells for them. That income source is currently required to keep the lights on but should they access CL money to help with that then their ‘investors funding’ will once again be spent on getting better players in, determinedly out spending Celtic whenever possible. Now we all know its not as simple as that and spending money is not always a guarantee of success but….it puts them in a far healthier position than their current status quo and that’s when events of 2012 will come back to bite us on the bum!

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