It Is Now Almost Six Years Since The SFA Refused Celtic’s Inquiry Into The EBT Era.

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In 2017, Celtic released a series of letters exchanged between Peter Lawwell and Stewart Regan in the aftermath of the Big Tax Case verdict at the UK Supreme Court. During that hearing, the full scope of the lies Rangers told were laid out in front of the nation. Celtic believed that Lord Nimmo Smith had been entirely misled during his own inquiry.

And Celtic was right of course. We asked for a full-scale independent inquiry into what had gone on during the EBT period, and without actually stating it openly the implication was there that the SFA themselves would have questions to answer as part of it.

Celtic claimed that this was the view of the SPFL board at the time, and that it was something that the clubs very much wanted in order to put these issues to bed once and for all. Lawwell predicted, quite correctly, that these issues would continue to fester until proper answers were sought and lessons learned and seen to have been learned.

The SFA’s refusal, and their pitiful reasons for it, were spelled out across a number of replies Regan sent to Lawwell, along with his responses.

In one damning paragraph, Celtic’s CEO accused the SFA of “a failure in transparency, accountability and leadership.” No review was ever set up, and as Lawwell predicted the game has been living with this ever since.

The last thing certain people wanted was a situation like that which is facing Manchester City to come to prominence at a time when eyes are still on Ibrox over the way they conduct their affairs and the way their club is funded.

Manchester City are facing a raft of sanctions so severe that a lot of experts wonder if even their wealthy owners might cut and run because of it. That’s not just idle speculation either. If they were, for example, relegated as punishment or banned from Europe where does that leave these owners in terms of their investment?

This has already drawn comparisons with the situation at Ibrox, except that here I’m quite convinced that there will be consequences, whereas in Scotland there were none. This is the most misunderstood aspect of everything that happened in 2012.

People in our game still pretend not to know this. They still pretend not to recognise it. Rangers was never “relegated”, it was liquidated. It was not the fault of the other clubs but it was up to those other clubs to decide how to act towards the NewCo.

But in terms of historic punishments, neither Rangers nor the NewCo ever suffered anything serious.

The SPFL imposed a “registration ban” on the NewCo which was so ineffective they built an entire squad during it. The Nimmo Smith hearing was a farce in which Sandy Bryson, the Registrations Officer at the SFA, got away with the most diabolical excuse for a decade of cheating that any of us has ever heard, and assured no title stripping.

It was clear during the Supreme Court case that Rangers had lied. To the SFA and to Nimmo Smith. It was equally clear that at least some people at the SFA knew that at the time; Campbell Ogilvie, whose name was on the first EBT documents, would have had to have known. But then he was Regan’s boss at the time and Regan didn’t rock the boat.

In the aftermath of that case, Celtic’s call for an inquiry was the least the club could have done, and there was a brief period where some people thought we might get one, especially as the SPFL board were in favour of it. But it was not to be.

“Within the context of Scottish football these have been monumental events and the reluctance to consider them as a whole, on the basis of all information, in order to clarify the narrative and learn the lessons for the future is both surprising and disturbing,” Lawwell wrote at the time, and it is as true now as it was then … these stains remains on our game.

“The club believes that such a review is essential if a line is to be drawn under this whole affair. On that basis, Scottish football could learn lessons and move on. The club considers, however, that failure to carry out a full review of these events and issues, which have been without precedent in Scottish football, would represent a failure in transparency, accountability and leadership,” his most damning letter to Regan reads.

“Celtic’s consistent objective has been to establish the full facts, which is surely the least that all stakeholders in Scottish football – including the supporters of all clubs – are entitled to, and to learn the appropriate lessons. That remains our position.”

And it’s still our position today by the way.

As he predicted, closure was never going to come until these matters were properly aired and lessons learned from them.

That the new Ibrox club was allowed to fund itself using God alone knows what process these past ten years shows how little we actually know. But in England they take this stuff a little more seriously, perhaps because one club does not hold such influence over the decision makers and, most especially, the media.

Lawwell was right. The game hasn’t moved on. How can it?

Because part of the problem is that in not getting those matters into the light certain people have been allowed to construct a wholly false narrative around this whole affair, something that in a sense was inevitable when the governing bodies went down the route of propping up the Survival Lie. Did they realise that the Victim Lie would grow from it?

Perhaps they didn’t, but they ought to have and now that lie is as pernicious as any in the history of the game here. The stupid intervention yesterday from Richard Keys shows how widespread is the perception that it was Scottish football itself which committed the greater offence … and that should have been tackled and hammered back in 2017.

This stuff hasn’t gone away, and it never will, not until it’s finally faced up to and dealt with. The City situation will be watched closely by everyone at Celtic Park. We have not learned the lessons up here, which means that more lessons will undoubtedly come … but we’re about to see how a real inquiry deals with matters like these, and what the punishments are.

You can read the Lawwell-SFA exchange of letters here.

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  • Scud Missile says:

    So why are our board not taking this matter more seriously and force the hand of CAS to get involved.
    Or is it the bigger picture here with that 5 Way Agreement tucked away in a dark corner should Celtic ever think about calling the new kkub out on their SHENANIGANS they keep getting away with.
    You see the difference here is Man City don’t have a hold over those other clubs in their league the way sevco have up here.

  • paul obrien says:

    Double agent springs to mind,Dragged on far too long

  • king murdy says:

    if scotland…society..sfa….law society/judiciary….and..fourth estate were not as corrupt, bigoted and racist as they are…this would have been dealt with – would have not have occurred in the first place…..
    i’m sure they must despair at news of the man city case…because it brings into focus how they have NOT dealt with the hun cheating….
    i hope city are decimated in every possible way…..the EPL has become a despicable league.

    • S Thomas says:

      Why is the EPL a despicable league, no it’s not, the majority of clubs in it, have played by the rules. Manchester city, are the ones who have cheated, well not yet, but that’s what there charges are. The EPL is the best league out, and that’s why the other top 5 clubs in it, are wanting them severely punished, and they should be, if found guilty of wrongdoing.

      • Martin says:

        I’m really not a fan of the prostitute league and feel it is entirely detrimental to world football. But otherwise you’re correct. Within the framework the league operates, the other clubs have (apparently) played by the rules and Man City have (allegedly) not. Should that be proven, the league and FA must flex its muscle to deter future infractions. The aim, after all, is to avoid the sort of thing that killed Rangers.

        • S Thomas says:

          I think there is real jealousy when it comes to the EPL, because I’ll tell you one thing mate, see if Celtic were offered into it, we would be there in a split second. I’d love us to be going to the Emirates, Anfield, and Old Trafford etc. The EPL, is t like the NBA in basketball, it’s the best product, and with that, loads of money. Like I said the other big hitters in the league, have done no wrongdoing, and they have had to watch City, win league, and title after title. So they absolutely should be demanding there relegation, if they have tried to gain an unfair advantage.

  • John Copeland says:

    There is a world of difference between asking nicely for an enquiry into the EBT scandal and demanding one ! A letter or EMail should have been worded in such a fashion that the Governing bodies would have had little choice but to agree to full bore audit into the biggest sporting scandal in Scottish football history . I have a hunch that there were so many organisations involved ,that to expose it and them all to the rest of the world ,would have brought down Scottish football !

  • Martin.H says:

    They would have been gone forever but as we know, the Scottish government have the judiciary in their pockets, and if you read the transcripts at that time Alex Salmond and the snp were up to their necks trying to save them.

  • Brian says:

    The very man you are bumming up here (lawwell) is the man who refused to act on it. He himself denied the five way agreement, he wanted the blue pound to line his own pocket with an annual bonus, he brazenly lied to a Celtic AGM for gods sake. There should be a statue outside ibrox of him.

  • Johnny Green says:

    A great article, but at the end of the day I fear nothing will ever change what has went before. It’s history now and it will remain so. We just need to concentrate on our own future, we need to continue to dominate them and continue to rub their bug blue hooters in the dirt.

  • lordmac says:

    did the sfa director, not offer every club in the spfl 1 million to drop the inquire

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