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Posted by Douglas Cameron on 05/06/2012

Last week has the potential to be a monumental one in the history of Rangers if Miller's deal goes ahead and the club is saved. The coming week represents even more. The SPL vote will arguably be the most momentous week in the history of every member club and Scottish football as a whole.

Over the last few months I have touched upon what league Rangers should play in, whether we can rightly be called "cheats" and how I saw this whole sorry saga ending in terms of new ownership. Work commitments mean I probably won't be writing anything on here for a few weeks. In some ways this does seem an appropriate juncture to pause for breath. The business and assets deal I always envisaged as saving the club has emerged. The potential transfer of the SPL/SFA membership will be decided this week. Two weeks from now much will be resolved so I thought I would take a look at what I consider to be the most pertinent issues right now.

Bill Miller
For a long time the Rangers support was widely touted as all being behind the Blue Knights. The reality is we are far too divided a group for that to ever have been true. Many like me doubted the spin these were genuine Rangers fans. I think it is fair comment to conclude Paul Murray was too tainted by his association with the old board to be considered a genuine guy and Brian Kennedy is not a Rangers fan.

The worry is whether we can trust Miller? It has been speculated he is a front for everyone from Alastair Johnson to Craig Whyte to Club 9 to the Scientologists (no really). This won't make me popular but anyone looking for a bit of background on Miller would do well to have a read of the latest article on rangerstaxcase.com. I appreciate Rangers fans are reluctant to go on there. Often the comments section appears little more than the Jelly and Ice Cream Brigade with degrees. The main articles though often contain very interesting information. The latest effort was by the author's own admission an exercise in digging into Miller's past in the hope of discovering a Craig Whyte scale disaster piece. Credit where it is due he is honest enough to disclose that what he found was the opposite. I won't try and pass off his work as my own so have a look. In general terms his analysis fits with a growing consensus about Miller which is that he is a shrewd, he is (for a business man) a straight guy, he keeps costs down which has meant a good performance despite the current recession/depression, and this purchase would appear to be a business decision not something born out of a love for Rangers or the sport.

Should that matter? I am split on this. Obviously it is comforting to know that the guy in charge has the club at heart. In rebuilding though we simply cannot allow the heart to over rule business sense. Miller does not appear to be someone who will seek to appease criticism from the stands by splashing out on a new striker. This suggests a man whose philosophy is in keeping with Fergus McCann. I am sure there are not too many Celtic fans now who feel good about him being booed near the end of his ownership. Yes his frugal ways must have frustrated at the time but in the long run he was absolutely right.

The other question regarding Miller if we accept this is a business play is how he expects to make a profit? We are told there will be an initial £11m up front. I would imagine when you factor in advisor fees and working capital/capex spending you are probably talking about an investment of £20m. Is it realistic to think in 5 years Rangers will be restored to challenging for the league and playing in Europe? Is it realistic to assume the club will be run on a more commercial and professional basis? From what I see of Miller's past I'd say yes. It is a long road but it is not impossible. At this point would he be able to sell via a share issue? (This was how he exited his main truck haulage business) I would hope that the support would relish the chance to take the club into fan ownership after the horrors of the last year. Celtic plc have issued share capital of £24m. Is it realistic to suppose Miller could raise £30m? That equates to 30,000 shares at £1,000 each. I'd class that as challenging. If achieved though that represents a 50% return on his money in 5 years which would be an excellent piece of business in the current climate.

The Rangers Support
I have been delighted to see the hack-erati and phone in jibber jabber jockeys accepting that Bill Miller's plan to transfer the business and assets of Rangers Football Club plc (the stadium, the training ground, so far as they agree the players, the Intellectual Property, the admin staff and crucially the SPL/SFA membership) will ensure the survival of Rangers Football Club history and all. Happily the support have also accepted this. The administrators failed to explain this concept sufficiently. In the absence of clear direction from them the Blue Knights, their tabloid friends and their agitators in the official supporters groups sought to equate a newco with the end of the club. It never was. I have stated before that I think our support have been badly let down by the supporters groups, the most vocal of whom was the RST. This is a group with membership of less than 2,000. I think supporters groups can be a positive influence but in this case they have been manipulated, very possibly as a result of promises made by the Blue Knights of a seat on the board.

Rangers fans are frequently cast in a negative light. There is a tendency among all football fans to judge their own support by their best and others by their worst. Never was that truer than the attitude displayed towards Rangers. It is to our credit that we have such disparate views and that many have ultimately come to a conclusion on the acceptability of saving the club via a newco that is at odds with the party line fed by such influential voices. Others would do well to remember this the next time they rush to judge or lecture when elements let us down. Rangers fans are no more one single homogenous group than any other club's supporters.

Sporting integrity
This is a phrase wielded and abused by pundit, fan, chairman and tabloid scribbler alike. What though does it mean? In a basic sense I take it to be a moral view point and a basic principle of fairness. All legal/regulatory systems have as their starting point a series of basic principles which reflect that society's moral code. As a simple example let us consider the biblical commandment "Thou shalt not kill". This is universally accepted as a moral norm in all Western societies no matter how they have moved away from Christianity. However, this basic principle requires to be expanded upon. Consequently our legal system distinguishes between "murder" (where there is intent to kill) and the lesser crime of "culpable homicide" ("manslaughter" in England and the US). The legal system has also been refined over the years to reflect society's changing moral interpretation of this basic principle, so where once we hung people (another biblical principle, "an eye for an eye") society as a whole now views that as wrong and that punishment no longer exists. Likewise the legal system to an extent permits killing in circumstances where self defence is involved or, obviously, if you are involved in a war.

What I am illustrating is that Rangers cannot be guilty of breaching "sporting integrity", Rangers can only be guilty of breaching the football regulations as set out by the SFA/SPL which are designed to enforce the principle of "sporting integrity". To date the punishments imposed on Rangers by the SPL and SFA have been in line with existing regulations. We as a support can righty feel aggrieved that the club is punished for the misdeeds of Craig Whyte but if it is in line with the rules then there is really no legitimate grounds for complaint. Likewise everybody knew that administration meant the SPL would deduct 10 points so there really is no grounds for feeling sorry for ourselves in this respect.

Where we get into difficulties though is in considering the potential further punishments the SPL wish to introduce. I am afraid that when it comes to basic principles "the rule of law" will always trump "the rule of making it as you go along". It is perfectly legitimate for people to question whether the existing punishments and sanctions are sufficient to cover what is happening with Rangers. The fact some people have concluded they are not though does not though mean they can simply create a new rule book.

This morning's press are reporting that the SPL's own lawyer has advised that under the existing SPL articles any vote on whether to permit the transfer of Rangers' SPL share along with the business and assets to Miller's newco has to be a straight "yes" or "no" vote. In other words they have to apply the rules as EVERY club agreed them.

People mocked Mr Miller for stating he wanted comfort on future punishments. They questioned why he hadn't been over to Glasgow to discuss these matters directly with the authorities. In simple terms he didn't need to, interpreting existing rules and entering into direct discussion with the authorities on this is something his legal advisors are perfectly capable of doing themselves.

EBTs
Related to the issue of "sporting integrity" is Rangers use of EBTs. This seems to be the primary reason for the cry of cheat. As has been frequently pointed out EBTs were not of themselves illegal, it is a question of whether they were legally implemented. In amongst the howl for punishment the fact Rangers are yet to be found guilty on this has been lost. If this was an open and shut case it would not have dragged on for years.

Misusing an EBT scheme means you have breached existing financial and legal regulations. That is the framework by which punishment is administered. People seem to forget that if the EBT regulations are shown to have been purposefully breached then there are grounds for HMRC to pursue those involved in perpetrating this fraudulent action. That not only means directors potentially being liable it also opens the possibility of a few sleepiness nights for players, their agents, managers and advisors who all benefited, if it can been demonstrated they were aware this was tax evasion. HMRC's recourse does not begin and end with their pennies in the pound return via a CVA. In this respect the extended administration proposed by Bill Miller should be welcomed by anyone seeking real justice. Legal actions to recover monies from Whyte and his advisors will potentially improve creditor's returns. The playing out of the big tax case and other related investigations which will follow into the actions of former directors/owners may yet see criminal charges, something I as a wronged Rangers supporter personally feel very strongly about.

Anyone who works a 9 to 5 will rightly be deeply troubled by the ability to reduce your tax bill via an EBT whether legally or illegally administered. We have no such route to minimise our taxes. We pay our share. The rules were changed from 2010 meaning there are now no circumstances under which these can be used. In other words the rules were brought into line to reflect society's point of principle. What people need to accept though is that none of this equates to "cheating" in a football sense. Only a demonstrable breach of the football regulations can rightly be called cheating and can rightly see punishments follow. Misuse of of EBTS may well also mean a failure to register players and the payments they received per football regulations. However it is not a given. These are different rules, differently worded and open to different interpretations.

As ever, if and when Rangers are shown to have broken these footballing rules then there can be no complaints should the full range of available punishments be applied to our club. First though it must be demonstrated.

SPL or SFL3?
This week the SPL chairmen will meet to vote on whether Rangers are allowed to transfer SPL membership as part of Miller's deal to buy the business and assets (i.e. the club). In may respects this all seems very premature since nobody has yet fully investigated and concluded on the issue of player payments and registration. Perhaps it is felt the big tax case has to be resolved and they cannot do anything to prejudice that. As before though, these are two distinct sets of rules so I fail to see why it would. Blazers though do tend to duck responsibility as a matter of course. Generally I do not envy anyone voting since they would appear to be faced with two nuclear options.

If they deny Rangers then we will start over in SFL3. As ever, if that is what is decided and it is in line with the existing rules then you will certainly hear no complaints from me. After much reflection I have concluded it is foolish to view this as a good thing constituting some grand romantic adventure for Rangers. Neither though am I arrogant enough to feel we can ignore the agreed wishes of the rest of the Scottish football community. If we are to repent with such a route then we must accept and embrace it. Make no mistake though this would very much be a nuclear option. The SPL would be faced with reduced deals with Sky/ESPN and will struggle to replace Clydesdale Bank as a sponsor. All clubs will see budgets reduced and player quality will diminish further. The co-efficient will already be heavily impacted by the loss of Rangers as representatives in Europe. Scotland currently has a total of 21.141 coefficient points of which 10.932 (51.7%) were contributed by Rangers. You see the true destructive nature of a nuclear bomb is not simply the initial explosion, it is equally the nuclear winter that follows.

The alternative option of allowing Rangers to remain in the SPL, and I find it inconceivable this wouldn't be without at least the current SFA imposed singing embargo as punishment, will alienate the supporters of all the other clubs. Their fans are currently fond of attributing blame to the Rangers support for the financial misdeeds of our directors/owners. Every lecture delivered is peppered with "you" and "your club", little sympathy or understanding ever given regarding the lack of control your ordinary fan actually has. Well they should be aware that if the SPL clubs vote to allow Rangers to remain in the SPL then applying their sense of collectivism "you" and "your club" will be responsible for the prioritising of commercial interests. Rangers can rightly be criticised for creating this mess but the chairmen, and by extension using others' own logic their club/support, will have more than played their part in ensuring that justice is not served.

As I stated at the outset, two weeks from now much will be resolved and sadly many football fans of all persuasions will be disappointed no matter which nuclear option the football authorities choose. I suspect there will be much for us all to reflect on.



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Comments

Posted by trueblue on 05/06/2012

totally agree about the ebts but some people are either too stupid or too hell bent in destroying rangers too take the facts in and that is rangers havnt been found guilty yet of anything yet if we win the tax case either way well get flak but hey as the song goes NO ONE LIKES US WE DONT CARE i for one couldnt care less if other supporters go to a game theyll be killing their own club WE SHALL LIVE ON w.a.t.p

Posted by grout on 05/06/2012

it is interesting to note that those who wish to defend Rangers cite the lack of precedent. This is because the likely scale of cheating in terms of time and money is unprecedented. When there is no precedent it is not appropriate to act in any way you like subject to your personal bias. Guidance from the principles of natural justice is what should shape the response of governors Two principles are paramount here, First the punishment must be commensurate with the scale of the wrongdoing. second and particularly pertinent, the culprit should not profit from their misdemeanours. You can see clearly a debt free newco in the SPL next year will contravene both those prinicples of natural justice rendering the competition corrupt.

In relation to EBT's i agree let's wait to the result of the appeal. However RFC are already guilty of irregular payments related to the small tax case and the sanction for fielding incorrectly registered players are unarguable and must be implemented asap

Posted by bert on 05/06/2012

Let me make your article a bit more concise:

1) Bill Millar - will liquidate your club and "sell" the Newco to idiots too thick to know their 1872 club is dead.
2) Rangers fans - being treated like mushrooms. Kept in the dark and being fed...well you know the rest. Deserve all they are about to get.
3) Sporting Integrity - Rangers have none. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
4) EBT's - tbc, I won't pass comment. However PAYE, NIC, stiffing creditors including local businesses, the ambulance service etc. Oh dear.
5)SPL or SF3 - the fact you even discuss this and think Rangers are the "same club" is mind boggling. Your current club, Rangers plays in the SPL. ONLY because that club is surely about to die, is the reason you even need to speak about where your "new" club will play.

Cheerio Rangers 1872. And your "Newco" will be founded on running away from debts and sporting foul play and despised by any right thinking sporting fan. Maybe it IS the same club after all :D

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 05/06/2012

Grout,

I haven't cited lack pf precedent. I have said the existing rules should be applied. I think most would agree the existing football rules do on the face of it appear sufficient to cover what has happened and provide a resolution that suits most other fans' moral sensibilities i.e. Rangers in SFL3. The main problem we have here is that the other SPL chairmen are actually contemplating trying to create new rules rather than apply what already exits. They seek some sort of half baked resolution which rather than have Rangers in SFL3 will see Rangers in the SPL to benefit them but completely crippled so that they cannot win the league and are obviously unable to qualify for Europe. The end result of all that is fans of every club are unhappy.

They are scared to apply the rules as they don't like the end result.

As for the wee tax case you are correct that has been decided. Again though it is for the football authorities to charge and find Rangers guilty under the football rules regarding payment/registration. To date that hasn't happened. Why? All we have had is the SFA's punishment related to the disrepute etc charges which stem from Whyte's decision to fund working capital via HMRC.

Posted by Dave on 05/06/2012

For Bert->

6)The idiots that think there is a team called Rangers1872 will go into meltdown.

Rangers till I die, and that will be long before The Rangers do.

Posted by wallsa on 05/06/2012

54 and counting watp

Posted by grout on 05/06/2012

Point taken on the precedent issue, I was talking in more general terms in regard to the media take on things. I agree with you about the proposed fudge. Either football governors have the courage of their convictions and insist a newco follow the same process of application as any other organisation by applying to the lowest tier or they agree Scottish football cant survive in the absence of a Rangers and they play in the SPL without sanction.

I must stress I don't wish to see Rangers die and neither would I support a vindictive punishment. What is important to me is that the football matches I watch are between teams who are regarded and treated equally. No special treatment no special clubs, just fair and honest competition. For this reason I support a newco applying to the SFL. If this does not happen then I and many other will view the newco as irrelevant, any victories will be meaningless due to the unfair advantage they have been given. Scottish football will be shamed

Posted by Aitcho on 05/06/2012

What a long winded pile of pish!!! 1) You have CHEATED, 2) esp. for the benefit of trueblue(who is an intelligent guy,lol) you HAVE been found guilty of misusing EBTs, you are awaiting the outcome of an appeal!!.... And Wallsa, UR RANGERS TILL JULY!!!

Posted by Kieran on 05/06/2012

"The coming week represents even more. The SPL vote will arguably be the most momentous week in the history of every member club and Scottish football as a whole"

It will not be the most momentous week in Celtic's history for god's sake! nor will it be for most of the other Spl clubs.

Is that how bad Scottish football is getting now? Not having success in Europe or winning a trophy no...the most momentous thing in Scottish football's history is the Spl voting on sanctions to Rangers? what a load of garbage!!

The Rangers fans really are making this out to be doomsday for Scottish football and that clubs will fold is Rangers are not in the Spl.

Anyone who honestly believe's that just needs to read this..

http://celticunderground.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=914:who-needs-rangers&catid=47:season-2011-2012&Itemid=83

Take 10 minutes and just give it read.


Posted by Monty on 05/06/2012

A well-reasoned article, although understandably somewhat slanted towards a positive result in every situation, in regard to Rangers current problems.

I believe if Bill Miller is successful in taking over management of the club, he will regard it simply as an investment vehicle, and will do whatever is necessary to ensure he ends up with a saleable product, liquidation or not.

It may be possible to cut out or buy off CW, but I really can't see HMRC being bought off -- particularly as this would set a precedent for all other football clubs.

The same logic would apply to any Rangers punishment from the SFA or SPL. If any other Scottish club finds itself in a somewhat similar situation anytime in the future, they can demand to be treated in exactly the same manner as Rangers are. And why not?

Re: precedent. Hasn't that been set by Gretna, for just ONE example?

So either the rules are applied equally to everyone, or we ignore established rules & make them up as we go along.

Posted by jim stewart on 05/06/2012

Okay all you financial business wizards,who are slagging Gers off at every turn,here is a quick run-down of Gers success,1.every game and cup success(and there are hundreds)they won them with eleven players on the park,just earning their wages,do you all know definately your bosses have got their money Honestly and above board,and have you asked them that question,NO of course you haven't, well it will surprise you to know, neither does your team ask their Directors,because lets face it most businesses have got some tax fiddles,in fact the MPs right up to the PM are the masters of the game with their expenses dodge and of shore banking, so think on and stop slagging off Rangers staff for the misdemeanors of their Bosses.

Posted by james gilliland on 05/06/2012

The Rangers accounts prior to the Whyte takeover debacle were precise , audited and legal. Why has more attention not been given to the pursuit of justice and apprehension of this high profile criminal? I understand that Administration effectively neutralises normal,legal procedures but the MPs expenses scandal and the Newscorp, Murdoch debacle have resulted in custodial sentences for some in the public eye. I for one, would gladly contribute to a Legal Fighting Fund to bring this person Whyte to face criminal charges. A ten year levy plan for decent, law abiding Rangers fans to contribute to the rest of Scottish Football could be agreed. Ordinary fans should not be verbally abusing each other but hold to account the supposed big men who discount and dismiss the truly dedicated fans of all clubs. An apology from the real Rangers fans is not a sign of weakness but should be seen as a rededication of intent to pursue any individual who has harmed our football club.

Posted by garry hawthorn on 05/06/2012

i'm a rangers fan we should be put to the 3rd division if it was motherwell or hamilton or any other club they would be in the 3rd division and no one would see it any other way the other spl clubs need to stop wanting rangers to pay there players wages over paid nobodys the SPL should be sacked as they can't do there job there putting money before rules and it shows there not fit to rule because they know rangers will be back no matter what

Posted by Larry on 05/06/2012

If I was a rangers fan I would be very suspicious of a man from the USA who has never been to Scotland, who has no interest in football, who has probably never heard of rangers, has not even attempted to come over and see for himself the stadium etc. and especially when there must be thousands of companies in his country which would be a better proposition. I don't believe him

Posted by Martin on 05/06/2012

If Rangers Newco starts in the SPL I will cancel my subscription to ESPN and Sky Sports if they continue to show SPL games.

Posted by Bill Hicks on 05/07/2012

There are links between Whyte and Duff and Phelps,Whyte and Betts,Betts and Close Brothers,Close Brothers and Ticketus,and Ticketus reneged on the £500k exclusivity fee for the Blue Knights as they were hedging their bets with Bill Ng ,but after Bill Ng was ruled out they didn`t go back to the Blue Knights.Are these all meant to be coincidences,not for me especially when my team is getting done over and as for Bill Miller,it puzzles me no end why any Rangers fan would prefer him to the Paul Murray

Posted by john doe on 05/07/2012

im rangers till july rangers till july liquidation liquidation na na na na

Posted by Moshe on 05/07/2012

So sad that we have people like Bert suggesting that his small minded rant was being concise, perhaps Bert you need to read the article which was very concise, accurate and reasonably detailed.

Rangers have been in some respects mismanaged, Mr Bain or legal advisors take your pick messed up contracts, if it had been a major attempt to defraud they would be in jail not be in court so please lets all be very clear about this, we are talking about a matter of interpretation not an attempt to cheat or defraud.

Sporting integrety is a joke, apply the rules and walk away, no the SPL says lets invent some more rules lets misinform with little or no facts and then suggest we hammer Rangers more, Rangers should take a leaf from Celtics book and sent armies of lawyers to threaten and intimidate all and sundry.

Bill Miller versus the Blue knights again the media and people have for a while now been giving one side only with no real facts. this articles helps please read!

Posted by Organiser on 05/09/2012

Hey guys, I have Mr Miller on the phone. He says bye, bye!

Posted by Donald on 05/09/2012

As much as 30% of each small club's revenue will be lost if Rangers move down to the SFL. Possibly more. As much as they might want to slap Rangers around, pragmatism must rule the day. Remove the 12 month ban and reduce it to 6 months, starting at the beginning of the SPL season, not at the end of this one. Allow free transfers. Dock them 10 points straight away for breach of rules, and disallow access to the UCL for 3 years, after 2014-15, leaving open the Europa League route if they place in the top of places of the league after the coming season, 2012-13. Draconian, yes, but surely not as "nuclear" as some others. What say you?

Posted by Slemsman on 05/12/2012

@KIERAN - took 10 minutes and gave it a read: interesting but nonsense.

Holland has 570k subscribers to ETV so Scotland could do the same (175k x £90) with SPL TV?

Setanta had 200k total subscribers and had EPL and other sports so no way is SPL TV attracting 175k. Holland's GDP per capita is also twice as high as Scotland so can afford ETV alone unlike the TV licence, Sky, ESPN and SPL TV combo here.

Old Firm already vetoed SPL TV plan previously due to costs so Celtic aren't going alone.

7x more people watch Old Firm games than average Scottish games and still less than 1m viewers.

So fewer viewers = less in commercial deals: byebye to £1.5m a year from Tennants or £8m from Clydesdale.

£1m difference between 2nd and 3rd? This includes TV and other deals within prize money so double counting. £18m in total in 07-08 at peak of Setanta.

Reliance on Europe and cup runs to make up difference? For 11 clubs each year all of whom made a loss before transfers? Dream on.

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