We knew this of course. They had previously been found guilty of misapplying the rules on 5 EBT’s and had lost the wee tax case. They also organized payment of the EBT’s via side letters to contracts which were deliberately withheld from the football authorities, however we have lacked the killer blow which prevented the creation of excuses, myths and smoke screens until today.
Today there was legal confirmation that Rangers cheated and that this cheating DID give them a competitive advantage. To quote the ruling “If bonuses had not been paid they might well have taken their services elsewhere”. This then leads to the very obvious question – what happens to their tainted titles?
Despite what media lap-dogs may say, keeping them attributed to Rangers on the record books is not an option. Record books are there to illustrate sporting excellence. Failure to strip would mean condoning corporate theft and one of the biggest football corruption stories the European game has every know, but is there any precedent? Let’s look at 4 high-profile corruptions scandals around major trophy winners in sport and football.
Cycling and Lance Armstrong
Armstrong won the Tour De France in each of 1999 – 2005. The allegations at the time were dismissed but of course cheating never pays and eventually he was found out. Rather than re-award, cycling stripped.
Athletics and Ben Johnson
On September 24, 1988, Carl Johnson became the first sprinter from Canada to win the 100m final at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, lowering his own world record to 9.79 seconds. However the Olympic Doping Control Center found that Johnson’s blood and urine samples contained stanozolol, and he was disqualified three days later. He later admitted having used steroids when he ran his 1987 world record, which caused the IAAF to rescind that record as well. Silver medalist Carl Lewis was subsequently awarded the gold medal.
French Football and Marseille
In 1993 It was found that Bernard Tapie bribed Valenciennes to lose so that Marseille would win the French League earlier, giving them more time to prepare for the Champions League Final. Valenciennes players Christophe Robert, Jorge Burruchaga and Jacques Glassmann claimed that the Marseille midfielder Jean-Jacques Eydelie offered them ₣250,000 to “take the foot off of the gas” in a May 20 match. Marseille were stripped of their league title and relegated to Division 2 by the French Football Federation, whilst Tapie was forced to step down as its President. No winner was declared for the 1992–1993 season. The LFP allotted the title to Paris Saint-Germain but owners Canal + refused it. The TV chain feared the reactions of their subscribers in Provence and threatened to withdraw football completely if the title was allotted to PSG. Ultimately the LFP decided that the 1993 title would have no winners.
Italian Football and Juventus
The 2006 Italian football scandal (Called in Italian Calciopoli) was uncovered in May 2006 by Italian police, implicating league champions Juventus, and other major teams including AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Reggina when a number of telephone interceptions showed a thick network of relations between team managers and referee organizations. Juventus were the champions of Serie A at the time. The teams have been accused of rigging games by selecting favourable referees. Many clubs were implicated but it was Juve who had the most damning punishment, being stripped of the 2005 & 2006 titles. No side was awarded the 2005 championship but Inter made champions of the 2005/06 season.
As we can see from above, different sports take different actions but in these 4 high-profile examples the uniform outcome was that the cheat’s titles did not stand.
In football both the French and the Italians wanted to award titles to second place. The French tried but PSG refused for commercial reasons and Italians did redistribute in the second of the 2 cheating seasons. The Rangers cheating was grander and more bare-faced than any of these as it spanned such a period. It is essential however that generations to come are shown just how severe the Rangers cheating was and the consequences.
The financial ruin that David Murray wrought on our game will have a legacy for many years to come. The possible administration of the New Rangers may be an important time for Scottish Football to decided if they want any further connection with that rancid and toxic brand, but I doubt anyone would have the balls to banish it from our game. Whilst we deserve these titles, I am not fussed about being awarded but adamant that they must be removed.
Rangers died, the new one is on its last legs and titles and now the cheated trophies must be excluded from the records to restore some sporting integrity and a moral compass to our game.