The Everton Verdict Is Just The Start, And Celtic Have Questions To Answer Over It.

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Yesterday, a London based sports lawyer named Nii Anteson, who works for a firm call Sheridans, spoke to The Guardian about the Everton situation. His take on it was that the result has set a precedent and that two other clubs, in particular, should be very concerned by the verdict.

They are Chelsea and Manchester City.

He pointed to a section of the report which dealt with a claim by one of Everton’s financial controllers, who claimed that his responsibilities to his employer superseded those he and the club had to the league.

He told the inquiry it was his job not to blindly follow the FFP rules they have down there but to interpret them in such a way as benefited his club.

The EPL disagreed. The report fired back with the damning verdict that the impact to football and the spirit of the rules must be the primary consideration for anyone in such a position. That, said Anteson, crucially bleeds into the Chelsea and City cases.

Because Anteson generally accepts Everton’s claim that they did not knowingly, wilfully break disclosure rules.

They simply tried to find an avenue around them, which might sounds like semantics to you and I but is an important legal distinction.

“(Their) representative said his job is to creatively interpret the profitability and sustainability rules to benefit his employer – Everton,” Anteson said.

“But the commission in this case found that the general duty of good faith that clubs owe to the Premier League is a very high standard and trumps that, and frankly, because the Premier League is generally unsighted into the goings-on at a club, aside from these financial reports, which need to be submitted, it’s important that the clubs exercise the utmost care in providing those reports … the commission found that while Everton didn’t consciously intend to circumvent the rules it failed to discharge that duty of good faith and that was one of the aggravating factors.”

This, he said, would give problems to teams under the microscope but City and Chelsea are facing a far more detailed list of charges.

In the case of City those charges include “failing to give ‘a true and fair view of the club’s financial position’, failing to “include full details” of player and manager remuneration, failing to comply with fair play rules, and failing to cooperate in the Premier League’s investigation.” Does that remind you of another club?

Charges against Chelsea have been brought after their new owners complied with FFP rules and turned over a list of incriminating documents against the former owners, including claims that money was funnelled into the club through less than transparent means.

The most important development in the Everton case, and which should put both clubs on notice as to wide ranging consequences which might stretch out for years to come is that four clubs, Leeds, Leicester, Burnley and Southampton, have threatened to sue Everton’s owners, through the Premier League.

Their case is based on the fact that they were relegated when Everton was breaching those guidelines in order to stay in the top flight.

There hasn’t been a verdict in the City and Chelsea cases, of course, but it’s highly likely that they too will face not only the league’s severest sanctions but that they’ll face litigation from the other clubs as well, for loss of earnings .

There are a lot of us who feel that similar actions should have been launched here in Scotland.

There is the obvious problem, of course, that the club which was responsible for that cheating went out of business and was liquidated.

But one of the conditions on which The Lie is based is that the owners of Rangers’ assets were responsible for paying that club’s football debts. The moment the authorities declared that they would endorse The Lie, Celtic and others should have tested their resolve by filing immediate actions against Sevco’s owners.

Why didn’t they?

And there’s a better question of course.

In the Everton case, Anteson has pointed out the “duty of care” clubs owe to the league, but there’s another duty of care too of course and it is the one that the league owes to the clubs, and there is ample evidence in the public domain and in the court transcripts which proves that the SFA Chairman Campbell Ogilvie knew exactly what Rangers were up to, including the hiding of side-contracts.

He knew that because his signature was on the very first of the EBT’s, the Discounted Options Scheme – the Wee Tax Case – in which HMRC had already obtained the “side letters”, which Ogilvie must have known were being concealed from the SFA, where he was steadily climbing the ladder, and where he was in the President’s office when the EBT storm broke.

His denials of the time that he was involved in the drafting of contracts is as slippery as it is laughable. Even if he wasn’t in charge of drafting those contracts, nobody really believes that he didn’t know they were being with-held from the association.

Because the whole purpose of the EBT scheme was to be able to pay players more without declaring it … this oft-stated nonsense about the EBT’s being “in the company accounts” has never been more than window dressing. Crucial details were being with-held both from the tax man and from football.

Ogilvie knew what Rangers was up to.

He had a duty to the sport to inform the SFA of that.

As SFA President he had an obligation to the rest of the clubs to make sure they were all playing by the same rules.

That he did not do so violated the SFA’s own duty of care towards Celtic and other clubs … and we could have, and we should have, sued the SFA for that or threatened to do so to bring all this into the open.

Clubs in England are not prepared to accept what their fellow clubs have been up to. They lost a lot of money out of the actions of those clubs, and beyond whatever silverware they might at one point lay claim to.

Our own club didn’t do nearly enough … it will damn the people in charge at Celtic forevermore and in particular Lawwell and Desmond who as far as I’m concerned allowed our club to be cheated in their failure to pursue these matters as aggressively as they could, and should, have.

In addition to our own club’s failure, I have always been amazed that no other club stepped up to act.

There were sides who got to finals in that time against Rangers, teams who were denied Europe and even the chance to play in the Champions League who let it all pass without opening proceedings against the people who let that happen.

Part of that is fear.

Nobody wanted to stand up and take the flak from the crazies in the Ibrox support – not that it’s stopped the bloggers from writing about this stuff for years and demanding justice – but it’s still difficult to understand why they let so much money slip through their fingers.

What’s worse is that they squandered a clear opportunity to gut Hampden out and rebuild the entire structure. They surely had to know that was needed.

The Everton case has cast a dark shadow over clubs in their own league, but it’s also casting a dark shadow over people and events up here.

The Celtic AGM is next week, and whilst The Trust intends to push them on UEFA and Financial Sustainability, the people at the top of our club have gotten off light in relation to the scandal of 2012.

The injustice of that is their legacy.

They didn’t fight hard enough for us, that’s always been my view on it, a view that is shared by other people.

We couldn’t prevent a club calling itself Rangers from being constructed out of the broken bits, but aside from making sure it started in the bottom tier it’s almost as if we were happy to let them climb through the leagues unimpeded, and by following the same strategy which broke Rangers in the first place.

But we never took on the SFA.

We never tried to reform it, nor to secure compensation for years of cheating.

We rolled over and pitifully accepted first the SFA’s self-serving remit for the LNS inquiry which explicitly ruled out any investigation of Ogilvie’s role, and responded with meek acceptance when its sham findings and scandalously lax sanctions were announced.

We couldn’t even get the full, independent inquiry into those events which they more than merited and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is where some of us have always believed we should have pursued justice instead of leaving it up to the same corrupt cabal which had allowed the cheating to happen, was a path we never pursued at all.

I’m past caring whether Ibrox is ever held to account for this stuff; we’re way too late in the day for that, I think, although we haven’t even seen the start of the books covering this scandal in detail, and they are going to paint a damning picture for history.

We’ll make damned sure that asterisk is there, and it’s visible, for all time.

No, I am now more interested in seeing those inside our walls and who failed our club held to account instead … or at the very least to explain exactly why they failed to get the justice we deserved.

The more we hear from England the more obvious it is that the way things are done up here is just wrong.

Celtic is at least partially responsible for this continuing disgrace.

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  • John L says:

    So True. We wouldn’t be trying to catch up on a lie as that slate would have been wiped clean , it’s so disappointing and it is a stain on our integrity also , as looking the other way leaves a lot of egg on your chin.

  • Tenaka Khan says:

    Great article and I agree with pretty much every word of it.
    Where I would take issue and only slightly is that as big as the financial cheating was to us, it was essentially just another symptom of the institutional and societal bigotry that infects Scotland from top to bottom. This is probably the main reason why the other clubs sat on their hands, many of their boards covertly hold the same beliefs as the ibrox entity. I would love to have seen Celtic take more of a stand but I’m also aware that they would have been taking on more than just the SPL/SFA.
    I would prefer them now to start pursuing a strategy showing that Scottish football is nothing without us.
    Tell The SPL that Celtic are no longer contributing to VAR as they find their running of it to be “unsatisfactory” or “inconsistent” or some other vague term that can’t be explicitly called out even though everyone will know exactly what we mean.
    Petition to have matches suspended during the Asian Cup however much it disrupts other teams. We owe them nothing.
    Call out the lack of protection given to our players on the pitch. The pet pundits are allowed to spuriously spin most of the “honest mistakes” away but player’s safety being put at risk is one that they can be made to look foolish over. The attack on Kyogo should have been the starting point for this.
    There are more attack points available to us. BR highlighted one last week, the fixture “anomalies” that benefit one club so often.
    This should be the start of it.
    Don’t expect the authorities to one day wake up and see their errors.
    Don’t expect the other club to grow a set of balls or to own up to their own shortcomings.
    Demonstrate by any means necessary that they would all be down the toilet without us.
    Challenge everything that the authorities try to implement – it works for that mob.
    Find some allies within the other clubs, however few that might be and start loaning them players as a reward for their loyalty and as a sign to other clubs that we know their game.
    The Ibrox team are heading for trouble and it looks as though it’s worse than they or anyone else thought.
    Celtic needs to be ready to counter whatever shady scheme the SFA and their favoured club try to foist on us, because the other clubs wil sit there and drink their soup.

  • Mr James A Burns says:

    Just imagine if the ‘Bunnet’ had been in charge…..
    No Five Way Agreement denial like Lawwell lied.

    • James Forrest says:

      Fergus would have put blood on the walls mate, without a doubt.

    • MafMc says:

      All great points, but for me , as some one who has lived outside Scotland and worked in a championship football club we underestimate the sheer nationwide corruption of this country. That corruption is held and used by men usually with two second names such as Campbell Olgivie. Or Crawford Allan for instance. The World’s Most Liquidated Football Team Was & Is A Beacon For This Way Of Opperating.
      The Scottish Rite Some Would Say

  • William Melvin says:

    “They didn’t fight hard enough for us” is doing some Herculean lifting here, James !
    These bastards in the boardroom at Celtic Park,who are STILL almost to a man in situ in one role or another,are leeching their way through our bank balance like the parasites they have always been !
    The absolute fact of the matter is that they BETRAYED the Celtic Family by their inaction at the time and ever since !
    They see it as the cheap option by running our great club in the way they do as it costs less to keep the huns as a relevant opposition than it does to invest properly and make our team a force in Europe again.
    They will accept ANYTHING which makes the mob from G51 remain relevant as they cannot and will not see them become a tiny spot in our rear view mirror.
    Don’t anyone reading this,claim to be surprised when Brendan Rodgers decides enough is enough and heads out the exit door at Paradise once again.
    We,as fans,are our own worst enemies and deserve every morsel of shite this shower of freeloaders happily throw us as it is quickly devoured with gusto with cries of more and more of the same,if you will,from our grateful throats !
    We laugh at the huns support and ridicule them for their gullibility when we are no better,but more than likely worse,because we KNOW what they are feeding us is crap but we still swallow it.
    If you think the VAR and the decisions from our so called officials are bad at the moment then hold John Beaton’s beer in the Crown public house in Bellshill………Cos you ain’t seen nothing yet !!!

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    The ibrox club are the integral part of PL & DD’s SPL business model. Our board are makin sure tae keep them close, rakin in the domestic and CL money, while every year, showin practically no ambition for Europe.

  • Angus Ferguson says:

    The Rangers saga was as stated 2012, 11 years ago, the Everton one now! With the possibility of more to come. I have been a Celtic fan for over 50 years, but enough. Whatever happened to Rangers is long finished and Scotland needs competition, several strong teams. Please don’t use what is happening down in England to reopen long gone matters

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      “Whatever happened to Rangers is long finished”

      Nah Angus – Na Da, Na Da – Buddy…

      Just drop the first three words of the top line and that’ll be the TRUTH OF THE MATTER…

      Just a final reminder – Rangers is long finished…

      However I agree about several strong teams and competition –

      1980-1989 was a bloody half decent competitive time in Scottish Football !


    Just proves that The Celtic Board’s only duty is the fiduciary one, protecting the Share price for the benefit of the Shareholders.

    They don’t see that any fiduciary or moral responsibility is owed to it’s Customers, that’s us folks.
    No they are quite content to allow their Customers to buy into a corrupt game. No doubt if they were to be challenged on this they would squeal ‘Caveat Emptor’.

    A Club like no other? They trade on that when it suits the ‘ Suits ‘.

    When it really matters from a strictly ‘Moral’ standpoint then they are posted missing and ‘Mammon’ is King.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    The sad thing is that the English situation just proves how corrupt our game in Scotland is. The people in the boardroom of our club in 2012 should hang their heads in shame. To think that the Ibrox mob got away with financial cheating to the extent they did, makes me sick to my stomach.
    This shower have resurrected themselves with even more arrogance, bitterness and entitlement than the original club had. Lawell and Desmond allowed this to happen for I would guess financial reasons which they thought would affect Celtic detrimentally. This actually makes them and the rest of Scottish football partners in the in the cheating by turning a blind eye to what went on.
    The shareholders of Celtic and every other club in Scotland have been let down by the lack of integrity and courage shown by the people who run Scottish football.
    The trophies won by the original Rangers during their cheating years should have been wiped from the record books and awarded to those who finished second in the League or were beaten cup finalists.
    The media in Scotland have been part of this dishonesty and corruption and there is not one print outlet or broadcasting company, including the state broadcaster, that has come out of this whole debacle with any honour.
    RIP Turnbull Hutton and his club Raith Rovers, the only person and club to come out of this debacle with a clear concience.

  • John Copeland says:

    What about Gordon ‘the syrup ‘Smith , the SFA head of the posse at the time ? Now there is one slippery individual who knew most of it at then …if not all the illegal , unlawful activities spewing out from downtown Ibrox . He had to ,as Chief Executive of the SFA that was a big part of his mandate as cowboy- in -chief . Why has he never been forced to prove his knowledge of oldco was minimal ? That way he loses out both ways as he then becomes chief incompetent hump of the year 2012 …

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    What was it Desmond said “Rangers are a fantastic club” after they became deceased as well (c.2012)…

    And Lawwell is just his tea boy as well –

    And his arse licker when he’s over in Scotland if he needs it done…

    Thank Fcuk that none of ma money is no longer going over a turnstile at Parkhead no more !

  • Scouse bhoy says:

    The cup competitions they won during this period should also be null and void as every tesm they played on the way to a final were cheated not just their oppenents in a final. In reply to one of the posts this is not a saga it is a disgrace in a so called free press that the same club lie is not called out with the non payment of their shameful mountain of debt. They printed press and tv and radio actually told the truth in 2012 that 140 years of history had ended. We will never ever let them forget that fact. Andy gray was told this on live radio no holding companies or engine room nonsense was mentioned.

  • Effarr says:

    Everybody seems to forget it was the fans who, unknowingly at the time, were being fleeced.
    My son and I had season tickets at the time not knowing that Lawwell, Desmond and their like were sitting there knowing we were being conned. I couldn’t care less whether or not other teams were being robbed. The fans should have got motivated and claimed their ST money plus expenses back from L and D and let them do the same to get compensation from the football authorities. Celtic couldn’t have halted a civil case brought against them in the same way as they hampered the Resolution
    12ers. As far as I could fathom, the Res 12ers
    were more worried about Celtic losing out than they were about themselves and fellow victims
    and you saw where that got them.

  • Phil says:

    “Asterisk visible for all time”. To who.

  • paddy cairney says:

    said at the time can’t wait til it happens to an english team to see the difference. sfa corrupt to the core celtic board “privy” to the 5 way agreement. shood be stuck the nails right into the coffin if it was other way about what u think woodve happened

  • Jim Duffy says:

    Scotland is a rotten wee corrupt country,all this bullshit that Scotland is friendly and welcoming is great as long as you’re not catholic or Irish,I’m 65 and orange walks still go on ,what other country would allow this ,I know guys in jickland who are still bitter orangemen ,I live in England now and down here nobody gives a fuck about king Billy or the Pope it’s much nicer but jickland is corrupt and rotten to the core ,aka tiny Wharton ” if I can help it Celtic will never win a game ” tiny wanker more like , fuckin Scotland I hope they get humped in every game they play , because it still all about the established team in proddy jockland, fuckin sevco.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    For jickland,I mean jockland,hail hail.

  • MafMc says:

    All great points, but for me , as some one who has lived outside Scotland and worked in a championship football club we underestimate the sheer nationwide corruption of this country. That corruption is held and used by men usually with two second names such as Campbell Olgivie. Or Crawford Allan for instance. The World’s Most Liquidated Football Team Was & Is A Beacon For This Way Of Opperating.
    The Scottish Rite Some Would Say

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