ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Rangers FC
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Posted by Douglas Cameron on 07/16/2012

It is probably premature to suggest the dust has settled. As we stand Rangers as a club have survived though starting in SFL3 presents a long process of recovery. The challenge for our support is finding the strength to back up the words of defiance with action. In simple terms each and every Rangers fan needs to make a commitment to continue going to games and parting with their hard earned cash. Doubts remain regarding the new owners so that will not be easy, vigilance is necessary and I suppose individuals must make their own decisions. I for one will view holding a season ticket for SFL3 as a matter of personal pride. For good or ill I follow the club and they will always have my support regardless of corporate structure and ownership.

It is not just Rangers fans who need to act. We are already hearing rumours of SPL clubs facing administration within a matter of weeks. Indeed the SPL itself requires to pay £2m to the SFL shortly a payment normally deducted direct from TV/sponsorship funds prior to distribution to member clubs. After the recent grandstanding on proper behaviour I am sure there will be no question of any failure to make this payment.

It does strike me as somewhat perverse that the ultimate decision on Rangers fate should have rested on the shoulders of the chairmen of the likes of Elgin, Annan and Stirling Albion. Democracy and fan representation is to be welcomed but at points in recent weeks the SPL chairmen and football authorities (with the honourable exclusion of the SFL's Derek Longmuir) have been guilty of a complete dereliction of duty. Basic principles of innocence until proven guilty, proportionality and impartiality have withered with mob rule masquerading as "sporting integrity" being the only consideration. Ultimately we would appear to have achieved an equitable solution whereby Rangers will start over in Scotland's fourth tier. That this has been achieved is more accident than design.

I do not believe in any grand anti-Rangers conspiracy. I do not doubt though that the incompetence and self interest of those with influence in the process has added to Rangers problems. The failure to act with sufficient haste and with anything approaching logic or clarity of thought has created suspicion and allowed disinformation to become fact. This creates a legitimate sense of grievance amongst supporters of all clubs.

It is therefore not just Rangers' former owners we should be looking to see held to account. Whilst I believe we will see Whyte and Murray in court I do question who will hold the football authorities, HMRC and Lloyds bank to account? The only realistic avenue through which these issues will ever be honestly and frankly disclosed is through the forthcoming Parliamentary enquiry. To that end here is my own personal list of issues I'd like to see comprehensively addressed and placed on public record. I intend emailing these on to the MPs who will be part of this process so if anyone has any other comments please feel free to add below and I will send on the full list in due course.

The football authorities
- Why did the SPL suspend their investigation into Rangers use of EBTs/player registration?
- What responses were received regarding the request for all clubs to disclose any payments made not included in player contracts? Did any other clubs beyond Rangers and Celtic, both of whom have EBTS documented in their accounts, disclose any similar payments regarding either EBTs or image rights contracts?
- Was the use of EBTs questioned when Rangers or Celtic provided annual accounts showing their use? Was advice regarding their implications in relation to player registrations ever sought or given?
- Why did the SPL/SFA seek to apply new punishments or compromises rather than simply apply their existing rules and regulations?
- How long did it take the SPL/SFA to rule on punishments when other clubs underwent insolvency events (Motherwell, Livingston, Airdrie, Gretna, Dundee (twice))?
- How did Mr Regan and Mr Doncaster come to hold their current positions? Did they apply for vacancies or were they approached directly by the SPL/SFA or their agents? What if any relations did they have with existing member clubs and/or individuals at those clubs?
- What investigations were conducted into Craig Whyte's fit and proper status? Were these conducted/initiated before or after concerns were raised by the press and former directors of Rangers? What individuals raised concerns directly with the SFA and when?
- How many fit and proper investigations have been conducted since the introduction of the rule? Has anyone apart from Craig Whyte ever been ruled not to be fit and proper?
- How does the fit and proper investigation into Charles Green and his consortium differ to that undertaken previously?
- How did the SPL satisfy themselves that there was no conflict of interest in employing Harper Macleod to investigate player registrations? (The firm featured a testimonial from Peter Lawwell on behalf of Celtic Football Club plc on their website)
- Did Mr Regan state to the SFL member clubs he would refuse Rangers' SFA membership being transferred if they were allowed to play in the SPL? If so why did he then publicly contradict this the following day?

- When will the FTTT verdict be delivered? How long does a typical FTTT case take to be decided?
- How many other companies' use of EBTs have been investigated in the last five years?
- How many other British football clubs' use of EBTs are currently actively under investigation?
- What internal investigations have HMRC undertaken to ascertain why so many confidential documents regarding the Rangers case are now in the public domain?

Lloyds Bank
- In the two years prior to the sale to Craig Whyte Rangers reduced their debt from £30m to £18m. This was an entirely manageable debt for a company with a £50m turnover. The EBT issue unquestionably had the potential to lead the company into administration but at that point the company was in no immediate danger. Rangers though were but a small part of the Murray Group which owed Lloyds over £700m. The decision to sell Rangers Football Club plc to Whyte is widely acknowledged to have been made at the insistence of Lloyds bank. Whyte's takeover is under police investigation and represents a straight forward case of financial assistance i.e. he purchased the company using the company's assets. Whyte then funded the working capital for a year through non-payment of taxes. Given the direct link between Lloyds' recovery of £18m and Craig Whyte's criminality is it not right and proper that the Government, the bank's largest investor in recent years on behalf of the tax payer, insist Lloyds repay this money to HMRC and Ticketus (the company defraud by Whyte via the season ticket deal)?

Most of us cannot wait until the start of the new season and some football. We all fell in love with the game not merely our club. The atmosphere at Ibrox for our first home game will be immense. Rangers as a club, and certainly we as a support, have done ourselves credit in accepting the need to take our place in SFL3. We cannot though allow the events of the last few months to be forgotten. We can never hide from our history and Rangers, and Scottish football generally, will only ultimately benefit from the whole truth coming out. Over the coming season our anger must be focused on questioning the events of the last few months whilst we resolve to devote our energies to being good members of the Scottish Football League and embracing the experience of three years as the world's biggest wee team.

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Posted by Douglas Cameron on 07/17/2012

So Mr Regan's SFA wish to apply a transfer ban that has been ruled to be beyond their applicable punishments in a court of law as a condition of transferring Rangers' membership. Perhaps the parliamentary inquiry is not our only hope for outsiders to look into all that has gone on. See you at the Court of Sporting Arbitrarion Stewart.

Maybe I am missing something but is starting over in the fourth tier, being out of Europe for at least 4 years and losing pretty much your entire first team squad not punishment enough? Surely there must be some sense of proportionality?

Meanwhile Dundee have been admitted to the SPL. That is Dundee of two administrations the last of which was opposed by HMRC and provided creditors with 6p in the pound. The cva only passed thanks to the size of the related party creditor balances notably 30+ years of rental on dens park. There is nothing illegal here but these balances owed to related parties (including the owner who brought them to administration) are the sole reason they are not at best just celebrating promotion from SFL3.

And what of Dunfermline? Well they are threatening to sue. Not just Rangers who believe football authorities are not beyond the rule of law then?

The phrase "sporting integrity" first entered the scottish football lexicon when it was used by Peter Lawwell to justify denying Rangers the weekend off prior to the UEFA cup final (a privilege Celtic had enjoyed) and to ensure that domestic season finished early enough to allow Celtic to take part in a fictitious tour of Japan. It was a sound bite phrase of convenience used to disguise self interest and commercial considerations. The events of today show that remains the case.

Posted by Anthony O'Sullivan on 07/17/2012

I just read the story about Green's vision for Rangers' fans to have part ownership of the club - up to 50 percent was mentioned. I just hope Green is genuine and that any offer to Rangers fans is fair and reasonable, not some money making exercise for a wealthy businessman. If Green's motives are financial gain and not the long term future of Rangers, then I'm afraid the Rangers' merry-go-round will continue... and when it stops, nobody knows.

Posted by Tom Wye on 07/17/2012

1) Why are the SFA being allowed to indulge in blackmail by insisting that the previously stated illegal sanctions are applied to the Newco.
2) Why is a club calling referees liars and cheats, causing a referee's strike and allowing its manager to publicly describe the league as corrupt, not considered to be bringing the game into disrepute? (Any chance of retrospective sanctions?)
The SFA need to be challenged again.
Where is the desire to separate the actions of the club from the actions of the individual who seems to be responsible for this mess. (This point, for which legal precedent exists, seems to be conveniently ignored.)
For an association which exists for the benefit of the sport, what justificatiion can there be for this desire to continuously be kicking our severly wounded club.

Posted by jim stevenson on 07/17/2012

"I do not believe in any grand anti-Rangers conspiracy"

everything you have written is on the ball in my humble opinion but the statement above is well wide of the mark this is all about hatred and jealously from other supporters whose clubs would not be in existance if it wasnt for us.p.s.keep up the good work

Posted by Jake Hansen on 07/17/2012

-Celtic's EBT's were all above board. This has been proven already about a month ago when gers EBT scandal was on the telly.

-Celtic had the weekend of May 16-18 off before the UEFA Cup final because they played the 7th, 10th, and 14th. Every club finished the season on the 25th.

-Rangers UEFA Cup team played the 4th, 7th, and 10th of May '08 with the UEFA Cup Final played on the 14th. Many gers fans forget that the reason behind this was because Ibrox was unplayable vs. Gretna in January and had to be rearranged. Eliminating the free weekend. All teams have to finish on the same day(May 22nd in this case). The SFA would not extend the season or postpone the Scottish Cup Final because Ibrox(UEFA Elite Stadium) was an unplayable tatie patch when every other park in the SPL was good to go. You reap what you sow.

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 07/18/2012

Jake this is a bit off topic but in the UEFA cup season the Rangers support were warning of the potential fixture issues from early March when we made the quarters. The football authorities stuck their heads in the sand only acting when it was much too late for any meaningful change. Rangers fans ended up feeling aggrieved and the rest of the football world looked on at Scotland bemused. Plus ca change.

As for Celtic's EBTs, I cite them as they, along wih Rangers, are the only clubs we know had such arrangements. It doesn't mean everyone else is squeaky clean as regards EBTs, image rights or payments from owners not in contracts. The open invitation for clubs to make declarations acknowledged as much. All of that though has disappeared. Why?

Well done though in asserting something has been proven on the telly as you sum up perfectly the complete and utter lack of process, consistency, impartiality and need for guilt to be properly demonstrated that has characterised the last few months.

Posted by SPLiewell on 07/18/2012

No need to prove anything!!! Just pass confidential documents to the press! Maybe add SFA leaks to the HMRC leaks

Posted by Dave on 07/18/2012

Rangers FC (IA) are no longer an active football club, why on Earth does this article say that they are?

Misinformed nonsense.

Posted by Eric Gray on 07/18/2012

The most sane article I've read about this whole sorry mess. I feel as though I might not be in the Twilight Zone after all.
Especially galling are the actions of the SFA. Did they not have to approve the Whyte takeover in the first place? They appear not to be taking any responsibilty for their ineptitude.
Please continue to keep us informed Mr. Cameron. However, I'm afraid that the many desperate and self interested parties in this fiasco that you list will do their best to avoid scrutiny. Things will be swept under the rug. It will take monumental perserverance to uncover the facts and I'm not sure the proper authorities have the will to see that through. Meanwhile, Scottish football is at risk of disintegrating and not solely because of the recent actions of the owners of a 140 year old storied franchise.

Posted by Dan Hurd on 07/18/2012

Why has the agent`s role in all of this not been mentioned?Surely they must know all the rules regarding player`s contract`s.And if any wrong doing on their part can be proved, then they must be held to account.If they knew it was wrong and said no to the dual contract`s and EBT`s at the start, then we would not have the mess we have now.

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 07/19/2012

Dave if you read the SFA's statement from the other day they make it clear they are considering an application to have Rangers Football Club's membership (which dates from formation of the association in 1873) transferred from oldco to newco. They state categorically they are not considering a new application for membership. How on earth can you therefore argue Rangers Football Club have ceased to exist? I realise truth and logic play little part though in this saga so good luck to you.

Dan you raise an important point. If it is proven Rangers Football Club plc used the EBT scheme illegally then everyone who was knowingly involved in this fraud can be subject to action by HMRC to recover the money lost. That means owners, board members, players, mangers, agents and other professional advisors. (I touched on this before. From memory if you check the achieves it is in 'crime and punishment'). It is therefore in the taxpayers interests that the case is concluded. It is also in the football authorities interests since guilt re EBTs logically makes guilt re registration easier to prove (similar issues but different rules). Why then the attempt to make Green to agree to punishment without proof of guilt? It goes against fundamental notions of justice. It also makes it impossible for the Rangers support to accept and does nothing to heal the wounds of Scottish football. Why the continued reluctance to apply proper process and why the endless efforts to fudge?

Posted by Hector1872 on 07/19/2012

What is Lennon doing in the paper banging on about morality? This is the guy who was party to a court case last month seeking to recover hundreds of thousands of pounds he lost in a dodgy tax avoidance scheme. Shameless

Posted by Graham on 07/19/2012

Why has there been no investigation, into the fact that a founder member of the Celtic Trust, played a key role at Lloyds/BoS,covering Scottish business, at the time LLoyds/BoS were appyling pressure to Rangers over, as you say, manageable levels of debt.
Why has Stewart Regan not been removed for his twitter prefernces, of seeing a Rangers player, Lee McCulloch being hanged, as well as, the picture of a newspaper headline proclaiming the death of Rangers, for being a supposedly bigoted club.
It is ironic in all of this saga, that the true bigots in Scotland, have been shown up, and it could be argued, that many hold positions of power in Scottish football.
Keep up the good work.

Posted by Edwin Valero 27KOS on 07/21/2012

Where was Neil Lennons sporting integrity and morality when he was screaming and swearing in the faces of the referee and match officials? Where was his sporting intergrity and morality when he was trying to physically assault Ally McCoist at full time?
His so called sporting integrity and morality were in the same place he can be found every other night.
Blind drunk in the gutter.
He really is a disgusting and repulsive little NED.
Im looking forward to another of Lennons disastrous european campaigns getting swept under Lawwells carpet.
Keep up the good work Mr DC!

Posted by Ian Smith on 07/21/2012

Why did the sfa and spl pass the audit of Rangers FC books since 2000

Posted by Will Willows on 07/22/2012

Sorry Doug but the famous Scottish greed has reared its ugly head. The SPL, not content with kicking Rangers out now want the SFL football money for Rangers broadcasts. Cake and eat it too. What lack of class. Rangers not good enough for SPL, but their money is? If I was Sevco I would sue them all for blocking what has already been agreed upon. Drop to the West of Scotland League and tell them all to kiss some blue a&$#.! There will be no money.

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 07/23/2012

Why do the SPL have any involvement in discussions regarding our SFA membership?

Why are the SPL threatening to withhold £2m contractually due to the SFL? Is it fair to say that requiring the SFL
to allow the SPL to include SFL matches in its existing TV deal amounts to blackmail? (it strikes me the SFL would generate far greater income selling direct to TV companies rather than the SPL) How will the SPL pay the £2m in the absence of the August TV payments? Is there any question of one member club providing funds to save the league? How would such a scenario impact the league's all important 'sporting integrity'?

Why is the stripping of league titles a negotiation point? Is there any doubt that the existing regulations allow for such action or that the necessary degree of proof/impartiality exists for such action to stand up to outside scrutiny from say the Court of Arbitration for Sport or a Scottish court? (in case you missed it this is a rhetorical question)

Posted by Dave on 07/23/2012

Why would a football club need to transfer a membership to, err, itself?

The fact is, the membership is being vacated because Rangers FC (IA) have ceased to be a football club, and a new club, called Sevco Scotland Ltd. have applied for the membership previously held by the now defunct Rangers FC (IA).

Were Rangers FC (IA) to have moved to play football in the English Premier League, it would have necessitated giving up membership of the SFA.

Would you be trying to argue that the history was attached to the SFA membership in that case?

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 07/23/2012

Dave, apologies but I’m just going to copy and paste from a comment from way back on a previous blog – “As I always stated the business and assets will be sold. This is Ibrox, the training ground, so far as they wish the players, the name Rangers Football Club, all the intellectual property and if permitted the footballing membership. To describe that as "the club" is a pretty fair short hand. It is everything that constitutes Rangers. It is simply the old company which is liquidated.

Businesses survive every day this way. The only complication here as you point out is football registration.

You and others will have one view on 'the death' and frankly Rangers fans (and anyone outside Scotland) won't care. I certainly don't distinguish between say 'old' and 'new' Fiorentina.”

Frankly Dave the consistency with which this is still commented upon here sums up quite well one of the saddest aspects of this whole saga. The entrenchment of views and the desperation of so many to see my club cease to exist continues to stagger me. Banter amongst friends, a means to fill the awkward pause at a family get together, the casual currency of football conversation with people you associate with through work etc has all been lost to football fans in the West of Scotland. Instead we have a new level of bitterness and recriminations. It pains me to say I will find it easier going forward to simply not talk football with people who support opposing teams.

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 07/23/2012

And for what it is worth I have always viewed Rangers as a Scottish club and never wanted to go south. The ideal for me in terms of league is some sort of multi country domestic set up similar to the rabo direct with the Celtic nations and Italy in rugby union. That for me would need to include a chance for clubs beyond Rangers and Celtic to be involved though.

I won't lie my feeling we should remain loyal to Scottish football has been hugely diminished in recent months. I'm hoping our time in the SFL will help

Posted by Anthony O'Sullivan on 07/23/2012

Time for all to put politics and recriminations aside and think about the future of Scottish football, which definitely needs to include a strong Rangers presence. It will be tough for Rangers in coming years, but what opposing clubs need to be recognise is, it WILL make Rangers a stronger institution going forward - it hasn't built its record and reputation on handouts. I look forward to future Old Firm clashes and will be watching Rangers progress with a keen interest. I sincerely wish Rangers good luck.

Posted by MeanOnSunday on 07/29/2012

When deciding punishments you have to give the club some hope for the future, but instead the SPL/SFL are just a mob beating Rangers to death. Give the haters what they want; join the English League. In the end Rangers will be in a better financial position, and Celtic will follow along eventually once the SPL is reduced to the level of the Welsh and Irish leagues.

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