Rangers & The UEFA License. Cock-Up or Conspiracy

RFC Tax Cheats Under Murray Reign
RFC Tax Cheats Under Murray Reign

 

 

 

I wrote last week about Dave King, but regular readers here and listeners to the podcast will know that is an unusual event, certainly not because there is nothing to write about, but simply because after the old Rangers folded, the new version have not been on our radar – they are not currently relevant. It is important to stress however that ignoring the dealings of the new Rangers does not mean moving on from the past. Despite King making it clear new Rangers are not traditional Rangers, the fans and people at that club want to pretend they are one and the same as the cheats – then lets never finish the pursuit of cheating.

 

It is important to remember exactly what they did. Maxing out on a business model where spending was a sign of success, they found it impossible to compete when Fergus turned Celtic around. Despite Celtic’s business model being based around spending within limits, profligate Rangers couldn’t compete so Murray had to manufacture new ways of getting funding. First he found mugs like King & Levy, and when he had milked them dry he spread the business practices prevalent within the Murray Group into Rangers – use whatever means possible to secure an unlimited credit line from the bank. This resulted in an approximate £1bn of money he didn’t have being milked from HBoS into his crumbling empire. When this failed Murray had only one more cow to milk – you and I. A combination of dubious tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes were used to cling to the Celtic coat tails and when that failed…well they just cheated. That they cheated is beyond dispute, the importance of not letting the cheating go unnoticed is what the infamous Res 12 is about.

 

I have read many who understandably are bored rigid with the oldco Rangers stuff. As I have said many times on twitter, I have no interest in the new team; much more interested in Celtic and what Celtic do, but it is imperative that cheating on an industrial scale isn’t allowed to be airbrushed from history because people who at best through incompetence, allowed Rangers to cheat, are still in positions of authority in our game. I have also heard Celtic fans say that they have been led up the hill too many times – let it go and whilst I have some sympathy with this cheats cannot win.

 

I am not a proposer nor involved with Res 12 and therefore my understanding is in broad terms, but it is important for identifying how Rangers cheated in their final throw of the dice to stay alive using qualification for Europe to keep the doors open.

 

In order to play in Europe, clubs have to present a clean financial bill of health, via their football association, as at 31st March in the year of competing (e.g. 31st March 2015 for European competition in season 2015/16). One major factor in that clean bill of health is to have no outstanding tax issues. The problem for old Rangers was that as of 31st March 2011 they did. Submitting their accounts as required by the SFA (and their AIM listing) would have resulted in no European football so what to do? Whether through guidance or internal expertise on the rules, Rangers didn’t produce their accounts by the midnight 31st March cut.

 

The consequence of this was that the SFA could only state the financial position of Rangers as they knew it by close of business on 31st March. They got a clean bill of health. The VERY NEXT DAY Rangers produced their figures with the various tax bombshells. This next day announcement was the day Rangers confirmed the wee tax case (which they admitted guilt and never paid) and the “1000lb Gorilla in the room” which might see Rangers “go bust” – the EBT’s (still ongoing and to date they have been found guilty on 5 of tax evasion). Rangers were in large dispute and did not fulfill UEFA rules to obtain a license HOWEVER these figures were released one day after the deadline. Whether guided by someone in the SFA or not, rules are rules. As of 31st March Rangers were in no known dispute and the license was to be granted.   And that would have been that except…

 

2011 was different to previous years, because 2011 saw ANOTHER check. In addition to the usual 31st March deadline, this year saw the introduction of a new check date, a sort of safety net for authorities, just in case there were any wee cheats out there. It is Article 66 which sets this out;

 

Article 66.

1 The licensee MUST PROVE that as at 30 June of the year in which the UEFA club competitions commence it has no overdue payables (as specified in Annex VIII) towards its employees and/or social/tax authorities (as defined in paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 50) that arose prior to 30 June.

 

Well, as Alistair Johnston had said when Rangers announced their accounts ONE DAY LATE – Overdue Payables were the 1000lb Gorilla in the room.

 

I could go on with a considerable weight of evidence, but even from this brief description it is pretty clear that Rangers cheated. They deliberately withheld the publication of their accounts by one day. They were so blatant about this that they didn’t pretend that outside agencies had unduly delayed matters. They released their figures and then held a press conference to confirm just hours after the cut off point. Even allowing for this cheating however we can see that UEFA had a safety net, so how did they slip through that? Was it cock-up or conspiracy?

 

Well UEFA Article 55 sets out exactly who is responsible for ensuring that a club has no outstanding payables – the local governing body; The SFA.

 

Article 55 – Responsibilities of the licensor

1 The licensor must:

  1. a) communicate the deadlines of the monitoring process to the licensee;
  2. b) cooperate with the Club Financial Control Panel in respect of its requests and enquiries;
  3. c) as a minimum and in accordance with Annex IX G, ensure and confirm to the Club Financial Control Panel that in respect of the break-even information, all information submitted by the licensee is complete and corresponds to the information previously submitted for club licensing purposes;
  4. d) assess and confirm to the Club Financial Control Panel that the selected

reporting entity/entities is/are the same as those that fulfilled the club licensing criteria and is/are appropriate for club monitoring purposes;

  1. e) inform the Club Financial Control Panel of any relevant information submitted by the licensee in respect of club monitoring requirements and any event occurring after the licensing decision that constitutes a significant change to the information previously submitted by the licensee.

 

With the history of the SFA, it is hard to come to a conclusion on cock-up or conspiracy, they are quite capable of both and I understand that the Res 12 guys are still working on this however were it conspiracy then the organization is/was such a shambles it is not fit for purpose. Were it conspiracy then people at the SFA colluded with officials at Rangers to cheat clubs here and abroad out of £tens of millions. Cock-up or conspiracy? Neither is a good outcome.

 

As I say, I have little interest in Rangers (old or new version) but I have a strong moral compass and passionately believe in the principle of right and wrong and wrongs not being allowed to thrive. The cheating of the Murray version of Rangers was on a scale we like to think only Johnny Foreigner gets up to but it happened here, under the noses of our football authorities. This is not sub judice as it pre-dates any of the characters involved in other court proceedings. Will we see an appropriate outcome? I hope so. Was it cock-up or conspiracy – perhaps we’ll never know, but both look a distinct possibility.

 

Fortunately the Res 12 guys are still working on that answer.

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1 Comment

  • I can’t believe that this is still dragging on. Even I am beginning to believe that Celtic are complicit in this. This cost us millions and it can only be a conspiracy or a cock up but either way they should not have had a licence. What is now holding up resolution twelve?

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