An Open Letter to Murdo Fraser MSP – Re Rangers FC (In Administration)

Murdo Fraser, MSP, has written to the administrators of Rangers with some advice and suggestions for them. He wants them to rule out any bidder proposing liquidation. He believes that liquidation would not be a good result for HMRC, Rangers or the well being of Scottish football. You will find his full letter here – http://www.rangerssupporterstrust.co.uk/RangersFC_030412.pdf.

 

I thought his letter deserved some comment, so my open letter to him is below.

 

 

 

Dear Mr Fraser,

 

I have noted that you have written to the administrators of Rangers Football Club PLC with your comments and suggestions regarding their handling of the administration process.

 

I note that you are writing, you say, in a personal capacity although you tell them that you are an MSP, using Scottish Parliament notepaper for your “personal” letter and you also advised the administrators of your position on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee. Does your use of official notepaper comply with Rule 7.2.14 of your Code of Conduct?

I also note that you write in the capacity of a Rangers debenture holder and therefore as a creditor, unless of course you have chosen to write off the debt owed to you. One assumes therefore that you are a Rangers supporter, although you do not actually say so.

 

As a creditor, and in no other capacity, you have a right to be heard and to vote on the administrators’ proposals, in line with the proportion of the total debt owed to you.

 

I note that you are urging the administrators to rule out any outcome involving liquidation of Rangers Football Club PLC. You do so for two reasons – firstly because you consider that this would deprive HMRC of funds properly due to the tax payer and secondly because liquidation would “jeopardise the future existence of an institution which means so much to so many people all around the world.”

 

Taking those in turn, you state that it is in the interests of HMRC that Rangers exits administration through a CVA.

 

You will be aware that it is not the actions of Messrs Clark and Whitehouse which will deprive HMRC of money due to the taxpayer. Instead it has been the actions of the Board of Rangers dating back over 10 years, by using tax avoidance schemes which have turned out, or are likely to be declared to be, illegal. In addition, a further sum of almost £10 million has accrued in unpaid PAYE and VAT since Mr Whyte took over Rangers.

 

One of the bidders for Rangers is led by Paul Murray, who was a Director from 2007 for almost 4 years whilst the EBT payments continued to be made, despite the first tax determination regarding them being issued to Rangers in February 2008.

 

Do you accept that the unpaid tax issues afflicting Rangers are a result, not of the actions of HMRC or the administrators, but of the past and present Directors of the company?

 

On that basis, do you not see the “moral hazard” should Rangers be allowed to exit administration by way of a CVA paying them, along with all the other unsecured creditors, a few pennies in the pound?

 

Surely HMRC approving such an arrangement would do nothing other than to encourage other taxpayers to withhold tax on the basis that, when HMRC finally catches up with them, they can negotiate a pennies in the pound payment too?

 

At a time when the public purse is sorely stretched as a result of economic circumstances, and the Prime Minister, your Conservative colleague, declares that “we are all in this together” how can you justify Rangers being allowed to escape liability for its unpaid taxes going back many years? I assume that you realise that if HMRC accepted a pennies in the pound deal in such a high profile case many other taxpayers would seek to emulate it?

 

Dealing with your second point, securing the happiness of Rangers fans round the world is not, as far as I can see, one of the purposes of administration under the Insolvency Act.

 

You go on to say that, if Rangers is liquidated and a new club established, some of the fans may disappear, which will damage the Club’s revival.

 

Are you aware, and as a clever man I am sure you are, that a new company will not be “Rangers”? If Rangers goes into liquidation, then that club is at an end. Airdrieonians went into liquidation (and indeed was put there partly as a result of action taken by a company owned by Sir David Murray). A new company took over Clydebank and moved it to Airdrie’s stadium. That team is Airdrie United. It is not Airdrieonians.

 

In the same way, a newco Rangers will not be the team I believe you to be supporter of.

 

You state that Scottish football needs to change and adapt. Has your Committee, of which you are Convener, looked into this issue? If so, how did you propose to make the necessary changes?

 

Or is it simply that, with Rangers being at death’s door through self inflicted injuries, you feel that a suggestion that football is to blame absolves your team of some of the blame?

 

You state that it is in the interests of a strong SPL for there to be a strong Rangers in the top flight to bring in revenue. Ignoring the fact that the financial impact of Rangers leaving the SPL to be replaced by another Club is greatly exaggerated, you appear to be suggesting that Rangers ought not to be punished for the transgressions of the Club over so many years, one of the effects of which has been to allow it to sign players it otherwise would not have been able to afford, and thus gain unfair advantage over other teams.

 

Is it your position that Rangers FC should be punished for its gross financial mismanagement, which has led to the position where not just HMRC, but over 250 other creditors, who dealt with the Club in good faith, stand to receive, at best, a pennies in the pound deal?

 

You state that the long term economic interests of Scottish football and Rangers are best served if it is not liquidated. If a buyer wishes to put £134 million into the pot to pay off all creditors in full, then I would entirely agree. However, have you considered the economic advantage to the whole of Scottish football if a newco Rangers has to start at Division 3 and work its way up the divisions?

 

In any event one would expect such a club to get back to the SPL in 3 or 4 years. Do you believe that such a hiatus would be fatal for Scottish football?

 

Surely one of the Conservative Party’s principles is the encouragement to businesses to stand on their own two feet, and to succeed or fail by their own efforts. “Bail outs” are not seen by your party as a “good thing” unless there is no alternative. It goes against the free market ethos you espouse.

 

However, you seem to want Rangers to receive State Aid in a reduction of its tax bill, and for it to be given a ladder back up from where its ow actions have left it.

 

You then mention that the administrators have a unique chance to see a new form of ownership for Rangers FC. I assume you mean fan ownership, rather than ownership by one or a few large shareholders.

 

Does this philosophy of sharing the wealth also apply to other private companies? Would you encourage, for example, the break up of the banks so that they can be owned by the people, rather than by big organisations?

 

It is admirable that you are doing what you can to save your football club, as I assume it is. However, the letter you have written and the steps you propose seem to raise many wider issues about your political judgement and principles (for the avoidance of doubt I am NOT suggesting you are unprincipled).

 

I would appreciate your response, if you wish to furnish me with one. I should say that this letter will be published on my blog, together with a link to your letter to the administrators.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Paul McConville

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71 Comments

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71 responses to “An Open Letter to Murdo Fraser MSP – Re Rangers FC (In Administration)

  1. buckfastswallier

    good on you Paul!

  2. Tyke Bhoy

    Well said Paul, but for the avoidance of doubt I suspect he does lack the principles required. After all he is a politician!

  3. jim62

    Have you passed a copy of your letter to the Parliamnetary body in charge of standards??

    Can’t wait to see the reply from the man who stood to be elected as leader of a party that he wanted to destroy!!!

  4. GWG

    Excellent diagnoses and autopsy of how the mind works from a politician that clearly believes he’s one of the peeeeople and a straightforward case of “Dont Do As I Do~~~ Do As I Say”

    Well done fella~~~~

  5. Von Schiehallion

    Paul,

    As ever, you are the man!

    That is a magnificent response.

  6. jamie

    This is the guy who tried to blame the police for the trouble rfc fans caused in manchester,hope he has messed up by using parliamentary note paper to make him seem important

  7. Martin Carroll

    I have decided to write to Mr. Fraser requesting him to re-write his letter on personal or plain paper, clearly letting Duff & Phelps know he is speaking as a Rangers supporter and not as an elected representative of the Scottish People or the British tax payers.

  8. hitch22

    Paul well done mate, for an MSP to decalre his colours and then say that the Tax Man should help out is a sad detriment to the farce…

  9. George Murray

    Can we not get the newly elected M.P. for Bradford to raise questions as to the propriety of a football club refusing to pay tax because it suited their nefarious purposes over many years,

    Well done Paul.

  10. Superb letter, Paul.
    There are numerous individuals, institutions and organisations which will stop at almost nothing in their efforts to enable Rangers* to dodge the long overdue and richly deserved bullet. It is essential that every one of these sneaky attempts to clear a path for Rangers* to play the ‘get out of jail free card’ is challenged with the utmost vigour.

    Might I suggest that, as well as publishing the open letter, you also send a copy of it to your own MSP and ask him to pass it on to Mr Fraser with an formal invitation to reply to the points you’ve raised?

  11. Very well said, Paul. I’m really looking firward ti reading Mr Fraser’s defence of his position!

  12. Albert

    “Official stationery and mail

    7.2.14 Members are reminded that official stationery and mail is for use only as part of official Parliamentary business. It must not be used for any other purpose, including party political purposes.”

    Ach, it will be a secretarial error, or something. Our politicians are unimpeachable. Didn’t you know that?

  13. campsiejoe

    Paul

    Very well put
    His letter shows the kind of pressure that will be applied in the next few weeks and months on the rest of Scottish football
    His reply (if it ever arrives) will be interesting

  14. Jerrid

    Great response, Paul. You could maybe also ask him also if he still has his ‘Hang Nelson Mandela’ t-shirt. Slimy get that he is…. (Fraser, obv!)

  15. Paul Boyle

    I wonder if he forgot to mark it “Top Secret” just like what I believe another Party in Scottish Government sent to HMRC about Rangers Taxes.
    Again all them politicians and Scottish Government, UK Government could be the ruination of ALL Scottish football at all levels,

    As FIFA does not take kindly in any meddling/interfering with it’s Association members by political governments. As I believe one country’s association was thrown out of FIFA, and I believe France “sailed close to the wind” also.

    So in the “backwaters” of Europe a small association based north of England could become extinct as well, this could be further fallout caused by the legacy of the Rangers FIasco!

  16. gunnerb

    A withering response and critique of the abuse of elected position.Not holding my breath waiting a reply mind…remember, ‘we are not the people’ , apparently.

  17. Auldheid

    “the first tax determination regarding them being issued to Rangers in February 2008.”

    So just when they were spending Millions on transfer fees and wages they received the first indication of further debt?

    Seems like the last thing they intended to do was pay their tax.

  18. Auldheid

    Paul

    Good effort that brings out the major and wider political points.

    The problem here is that letters on blogs do not have the same impact as questions in the Scottish Parliament. Is there any mecahnism for a member of the public tabling a question or does it have to be done by an MSP?

    • Midlothian_Celt

      Hi Auldheid,

      Only MSPs may table a Parliamentary Question (PQ) but anyone is free to lobby their own MSP (constituency or regional) to do so – effectively on their behalf.

      Sad to say, however, that in such febrile times I doubt that any MSP – no doubt concerned about votes and wondering which 24-hour glazier to call – would take up the cause.

      Much easier – and safer – would for someone to contact the Scottish Parliament direct to ask how to submit a complaint about the conduct of an MSP. Contact details below:

      http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/visitandlearn/25072.aspx

      All the best.

      M_C

      • I’m looking at this approach, particularly in regard to Mr Fraser using the Scottish Parliament letterhead when he is advancing his personal and private concerns . . . http://www.spsc.co.uk/how.htm

        Notice that “Complaints should be made in writing to the Standards Commissioner and signed by the complainer, giving his or her address. (While email can be used for communication it can’t be used for the original complaint.) ”

        Albert, above, has quoted what appears to be the relevant section of the code (7.2.14) which can be found here – http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps/42780.aspx

        “Official stationery and mail
        7.2.14 Members are reminded that official stationery and mail is for use only as part of official Parliamentary business. It must not be used for any other purpose, including party political purposes.”

    • mick

      100,000 requests,if we can organize it(Paul?),is enough to have questions raised in parliament.

  19. Brian

    Well said Paul, I tweeted similar comments ref his personal capacity and listing his positions and the use of Parliamentary note paper on Thursday night, that’s one pathetic letter. Not only that, I’d bet his public office Secretary typed it for him. If that was a personal letter I’d hate to read one sent in his governmental capacity.

  20. flintcams

    You should send this to UEFA

  21. john clarke

    Beautifully and skilfully crafted letter, leaving Fraser no wriggle room!
    Would you consider writing to the Presiding Officer ( or Standards Committee) asking that Fraser be ordered to apologise to the Scottish Parliament and the Committee of which he is the Convenor, and to Duff and Phelps to withdraw his letter?
    PS. Is it at all possible that Fraser could have used the services of the Civil servant who services his committee to help him draft his letter?

  22. Scottc

    Auldheid
    April 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Auldheid, closest you can get just now is to raise a petition to the petitions committee. The online submission process is not yet functional but at the moment this route exists:-

    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/29869.aspx

    I guess the wording of a petition would be key

  23. I refer the member to a sugestion I made to Willie Collum earlier.

  24. taxlawplebeian

    Superb, information like this would have remained in the “back rooms ” were it not for the likes of RTC, AT and yourself. The general public at large are not privy to this info, nor are able to obtain such. Comforting to know that the “officers” of justice and sporting integrity are remaining vigilant. Slainte

  25. Brilliant, it looks like it will be up to every single fan of all the non OF clubs to let everyone know that we do not want Rangers in the SPL. They must be punished for the blatant cheating that has gone on unpunished for yearts

  26. Midlothian_Celt

    Excellent letter, Paul.

    Using what would undoubtably be regarded as un-parliamentary language you forensically (and most entertainingly) “ripped Mr Fraser a new one”.

    As a Tory we can, perhaps, make certain assumptions regarding his morals and motivations but having had some professional dealings with the man I can also confirm he’s not the smartest debenture holder in the Club Deck.

    Looks like you caught him out over his use of official stationary. Shameful that a free-marketeer such as Fraser should “sponge” off the taxpayer to advance his own personal agendas. Plus ça change!

    All the best and more power to your keyboard and mouse!

    M_C

  27. JohnC

    I emailed Ruth Davidson (his boss and leader of the Scottish Conservatives) for her views on the letter and asking what the punishment was for breaching the code of conduct as he clearly has. See what I get back.

  28. NumbNuts

    I think you are all being unfair on Murdo. I’m quite sure he has written to SDM and all ‘directors’ of RFC over this period to chastise them for their gross mis-management and incompetence. And I’m sure there will be letters on headed notepaper winging their way to the c.250 creditors explaining why they should take p/£ deal for the good of football. the country and all mankind. If Murdo doesnt think liquidation should be allowed because its just not fair (sounds like a bit of a tantrum; perhaps he read too many Just William books as a child) then I would advise him to petition Nelson Mandela who has a quite terrific record of winning apparently lost causes. Good Luck!

  29. David Richardson

    If he wrote in a personal capacity as he claimed and as a debenture holder, then, as you pointed out, he should not have used his MSP headed paper.

    I would suggest that use of such paper (paid for by the tax payer) was intended for parliamentary purposes and not personal use as claimed.

    I wonder if a Freedom Of Information request would show up any other uses of parliamentary stationery or items had been used by him for personal use.

  30. NumbNuts

    I know there has been acres of posts around this but I can’t see the wood for the trees. Can someone point me at a neat summary around the following pls?

    I want to understand if newCo only happens if CVA agreed? Is newCo really just a financial restructuring process so still part of that overarching group of companies? If CVA agreed then newCo gets or buys the assets (stadium, players, etc)? If newCo formed this way then is there any SPL re-reg required or is it still RFC? If CVA not agreed then Liquidation only option? If Liquidation then its completely new company starting from scratch and this is the only route that is completely ‘start again’ for Rangers (history et al).

    Help!

    • A CVA would entail creditors(majority) agreeing to accept a ‘pennies in the pound’ deal meaning that RFC would service/pay such a debt and continue trading as RFC as it is known today.History and all.Nothing would change – like when Motherwell FC went into administration a few years ago.

      A newco is a new company. For example Rangers 2012 Ltd. This would happen if the club was liquidated and would result in a ‘clean slate’ regarding finance and history. This is where Rangers(2012) would need to reapply for entry into a footballing league.

      CVA = Rangers FC (as known)
      Liquidation = Newco (brand new company with no history)

  31. David Richardson

    Numbnuts…..my understanding………
    If a CVA is agreed then newco is not necessary….rangers pay a pence in the pound to their creditors, debt is cleared and they start again.

    If no CVA is agreed, and rangers cannot pay creditors, then they are liquidated and the assets sold with the proceeds paying the creditors. The creditors may or may not receive their full amount, and there’s no guarantee it’ll be more than they would have got if a CVA had been agreed.

    If liquidated, assets are sold – so that’s players, property, and everything that rangers own. It would be likely that someone like The Blue Knights would buy the stadium and training ground, and that would allow them to take control. At that point it’s a newco with no history and no titles. They’d need to apply to join SFA and join at 3rd division level.

    Happy to be corrected on the above 🙂

    • AndrewJD

      Everything above is spot on, until the part about newco having to apply to SFL 3rd division.
      If Rangers (ia) are liquidated in the close season then they can transfer their spl share (all member clubs of spl have one) to newco (pending successful vote, which I think would be agreed due to tv deal) this would see newco rangers in spl with a points deduction in the interest of fair play,

      However, is Rangers (ia) are liquidated in an active season then what you say above is completely correct as there is a rule from the sfa articles that takes effect and Rangers would be removed from the sfl completely and would have to re-apply to the SFL at the lowest level,

  32. As someone that has commented on many Rangers issues and often critically I feel that therefore gives me the right to comment on a few things here that are being made ‘Rangers specific’. I’m not picking here either; just some general observations. I certainly have no loyalty to Murdo Frazer – indeed, for all intents and purposes: I have hardly heard of him.

    “On that basis, do you not see the “moral hazard” should Rangers be allowed to exit administration by way of a CVA paying them, along with all the other unsecured creditors, a few pennies in the pound?”

    Of course there is a ‘moral hazard’ but this is becoming a new catchphrase that you know as well as I do to have absolutely no worth as such. The moral side of the debate can and will rage on for many moons to come – the fact is that a CVA is a perfectly reasonable way in the eyes of the law to approach this type of situation. It is a ‘tactic’ used day in and day out up and down the country. If creditors agree then it is their business to do so; morals become irrelevant.

    *Interestingly enough, I don’t see where a CVA will be agreed to be honest. That is another matter however*

    “Surely HMRC approving such an arrangement would do nothing other than to encourage other taxpayers to withhold tax on the basis that, when HMRC finally catches up with them, they can negotiate a pennies in the pound payment too?”

    This would be the same HMRC that agree many deals regarding tax on a daily basis. The same HMRC that agreed a tax deal with a multinational mobile phone company for a figure that would make Rangers look like an insignificance?

    I know that I don’t need to clarify myself to you on my position : I don’t agree with the situation – but HMRC cut deals fast and often. Why would Rangers FC agreeing a deal suddenly have an impact on people failing in their tax liabilities when it is not uncommon as is?

    I fully understand your letter is aimed towards Mr Frazer and is therefore Rangers specific – but the subject is far more generic. Too many people fall into this category of belief (and I am obviously not suggesting that you or many of your readers do) that Rangers are a unique situation in the business world. They are unique in a Scottish Football sense; but not a business one.

    “I assume that you realise that if HMRC accepted a pennies in the pound deal in such a high profile case many other taxpayers would seek to emulate it?”

    I agree that Rangers, and the public profile of the case may indeed promote ‘copycat’ situations but that is highly hypothetical, no? No more so than saying that ‘The SPL would be weaker without Rangers’. That’s….impossible to prove without a crystal ball. It’s possible, of course it is – butttt……it’s a big suggestion; I would leave it at that.

    “ If Rangers goes into liquidation, then that club is at an end. Airdrieonians went into liquidation (and indeed was put there partly as a result of action taken by a company owned by Sir David Murray). A new company took over Clydebank and moved it to Airdrie’s stadium. That team is Airdrie United. It is not Airdrieonians.”

    This is true. I know many Airdrie supporters that followed the old club and the new club. Many companies close and re-open seemingly operating an exact replica and whilst there is no doubt that they are not the same company it does not necessarily involve a breech of the brand loyalty so to speak. Would this happen with Rangers? Who knows….people could only speculate on the matter unless/until it actually happens. Personally: I think a lot may walk away.(see what I did there 🙂 )

    “Ignoring the fact that the financial impact of Rangers leaving the SPL to be replaced by another Club is greatly exaggerated”

    I’m not really sure what you mean by that? I am not going to go down the TV revenue route but surely in match day revenue from away ticket sales alone the financial impact would be significant in comparison to a club like Ross County for example taking Rangers place?? Rangers (and obviously Celtic) carry large away supports that generate vital income for other SPL clubs, no?

    I am actually asking here btw as I don’t have the figures so therefore I can’t exactly concoct an argument against your point that it is exaggerated.

    “ However, have you considered the economic advantage to the whole of Scottish football if a newco Rangers has to start at Division 3 and work its way up the divisions?”

    I have made a similar point to this before. Again, it is hypothetical. It would relay on those supporters following a newco as related to earlier. Also, it is relative. A full house at Albion Rovers would generate rather small income but a relatively large amount for Albion Rovers. But then, having visited many smaller football grounds in Scotland I would need to ask exactly how many people you could safely fit into most of the stadiums that are lying in a heap half of the time.

    Another one of those: maybe aye maybe naw type answers. No one really knows how the land lays.

    Obviously I have only taken small snippets from your piece. From that you can gather that I’m not here to grumble at the point of the letter or the sentiment behind the majority of it – just some small parts that I’m unsure of the direction of.

    For what it is worth I have absolutely no idea quite what this man was doing writing such letter, on Parliamentary paper as you pointed out. I really worry about the logic behind some people and their train of thought.

    Now, before someone jumps on me with a million points on how I am trying to defend Rangers here: I am not. My points are generic, as such – and I (almost) never defend Rangers. Indeed I think you may struggle to find a harsher critic than myself (on this side of the fence).

    Anyway, good piece as always. Would be interesting to see if you ever get an answer, a real one – not one of those answers that answer a question with a random and superficial ’political’ answer.

    • Incidentally in relation to the many many people demanding death to Rangers as the only answer to solve and make an example.

      I ask these questions:

      1) Do you work?

      if yes,

      2) If the company that you work for were guilty of a similar route of tax avoidance etc. that Rangers seemingly are would you be taking the same moral high ground in relation to their punishment and liquidation? Especially if it would put your own job in jeopardy?

      It is just something to think about. The only reason that i raise it is that most people are churning the morality and the ‘what is right’ issue on a regular basis. I have no problem with that as long as people are consistent. Self -preservation does not excuse a lack of consistency.

      The problem we have here is that this issue has become entirely subjective on the basis of whom it entails: Glasgow Rangers. ( it would be the same if it were Celtic). The problem is that all objectivity is lost and that anything that anyone says or does in defence or help of Rangers is seen as a henious crime by those that fall on the other side of the divide so to speak.

      Let’s not forget that we are talking about a large business here – a large employer also.

      So once again, if it were YOUR company and liquidation would result in YOU losing your job. Would the morality of saving such a business derive you to such fury?

      If your answer is yes then either you need commended on your strong moral stance: or you are a liar.

      • TheBlackKnight TBK

        1. Yes
        2. Yes!!!

      • Some fair points in both of your posts, Garry. I’ll just address a couple.

        With regard to the “moral hazard” issue, it relates specifically to HMRC and not to the other creditors who are free to accept a pennies in the pound offer if they wish to. Few – if any – of those creditors will ever have to deal with a CVA again in their lives. It’s an entirely different situation for HMRC; the tax authorities pursue countless tax defaulters every single day and they are utterly ruthless in demanding every last penny, even from beyond the grave.
        I don’t think you’re right when you say, “HMRC cut deals fast and often.” Perhaps you’re thinking of the Vodaphone scandal which prompted a parliamentary investigation and led to the HMRC boss, Dave Hartnett, suddenly announcing his resignation less than a month after he had stated that he had no plans to retire? The point of that scandal is that it was treated as scandalous, exceptional and not in line with correct procedure. It effectively cost the Revenue Chief his job, (albeit in a frightfully posh, understated British way rather than by sticking his head on a pike). Hartnett exceeded his discretionary powers, showed poor judgement and was duly sacrificed in order to reinforce the message that nobody gets to rip Hector off.

        In your second post you touch upon the sad fact that a number of blameless Rangers employees are likely to suffer the consequences of their bosses’ wrongdoing by losing their jobs. This is unquestionably a sad and unpleasant state of affairs.
        But it won’t do to look at that in isolation, least of all at the expense of the huge list of creditors who have not been paid by Rangers for their work. There are more than 250 names on that list and most of them are businesses which – I think we can safely assume – employ more than one person. We could be looking at thousands of individuals here who will never receive what they earned. Who knows how many small businesses will themselves go to the wall or lay off staff because Rangers didn’t pay them?
        I don’t know whether or not ADI UK Ltd of Preston is doing well or badly at the moment but I’m sure they’ll be in better shape if they ever receive the £7,620 which they’re owed by Rangers. Can Beyard Services Limited pay the drivers of their winter gritting vehicles without the £5,559 which Rangers have failed to pay them or will they have to let someone go? Scotprint are waiting on over seven and a half grand, Childcare Vouchers Ltd haven’t seen their four-figure sum, the good people at FES FM Ltd are currently having to get by without their £80,874.93, there are thousands of pounds in unpaid taxi fares and so it goes on and on.
        G4S Secure Solutions (UK) employ more than 20,000 people but that number may drop if they don’t get the £295,036.24 which Rangers owe them. Likewise, the Perform Group in Middlesex might be handing out a P45 or two if Rangers don’t settle their bill for £346,097.46.
        That is no less tragic than job losses at Ibrox itself.

        And we should not lose sight of the fact that every other football club in Scotland has, over many years, been deprived of prize money, ended up in a lower league position or division, missed out on the opportunity to earn a chance to play in UEFA competitions, been forced to sell players, fired “unsuccessful” employees – and now it turns out that they were playing against a stacked deck.
        Cash-strapped clubs who did not dishonestly avail themselves of other people’s money have been forced to reduce their staff to survive. Some have gone into administration. Others have been liquidated. Unpaid Hearts players, in the run-up to Christmas, were taking on second jobs to make ends meet. Meanwhile, millions of pounds of tax-payers money accrues interest in the bank accounts of Rangers stars, past and present. And, speaking of banks, Sir David Murray may not have been the sole reason that the Bank of Scotland collapsed but he certainly played his part by running up a £1.1 billion overdraft which he had no hope of ever repaying. Several thousands of BoS employees have been made redundant since then.

        RFC’s business conduct has been nothing short of disgraceful for many, many years and we will never know how many people they have cheated, conned or ripped off in one way or another. There are many victims in all of this and there will be many more still to come. It would be absolutely unacceptable if the company which is to blame for it all came out at the other end of the process relatively unscathed. Whoever else has to suffer should at least have the consolation of knowing that the biggest villain of the piece has paid the ultimate price.

      • Daniel Toye

        I would say it is really irrelevant what my opinion would be in such a situation. It if were my company at risk, yes, my point of view may well be different. The reason being that I would be emotionally compromised.

        My points of view on many things may be different if I were personally involved. I would just be wrong.

        In fact, a society based on the rule of law works on the basis that it is the emotionally disinterested who set the rules and apply them.

      • grr.
        Irritatingly, I somehow replied to the wrong post by Daniel Toye there.
        That “Thank you” was meant to refer to this post.

  33. TheBlackKnight TBK

    Paul, Chapeau!

  34. Many companies employ workers while evading and avoiding paying their proper share of tax in the first place; its just called good business. But try and get a few extra pounds if you are a single parent or on the dole and there will be hell to pay!!! companies / businesses that do not pay their proper share of the tax burden should not be allowed to exist. This problem did not exist when the Government was the employer!
    Still a lot to be said for Nationalisation.

  35. The Whisperer

    Soooooperb Paul ! ….. And may I wish you all a Delightful Easter …. Or as we say here …. Kalo Paska !

  36. Slimshady

    Is Murdo not the guy who when standing for leadership of his party advocated liquidising it & setting up a new “Definitely Not The Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party but something completely different 2012” ?

    Sauce for the goose & all that…

  37. T. Hamilton

    Live or Die? Not really that important to me, punished properly for cheating that is, everyone has their point of view but we have a real issue here, a major club in this country was allowed to be ran improperly and took to the brink of extinction without anyone asking questions, Rangers fans surely realise this now, also the governing body has some questions to answer there is is culture of ‘nothing to see here move along’ and this is the result, so ask questions we have done it with the politicians and the banks take our heads out the sand.
    If RFC by that the Directors are guilty then the punishment should fit the crime and Rangers fans should be holding them to account.

    • @ Henry Clarson
      As always, from yourself – a very reasoned and qualified answer to the questions that I pose.

      With reference to the HMRC cutting deals. I did refer to the mobile phone deal but it was not my sole reason for stating that I feel HMRC cut many deals. A deal was made with many companies over the use of EBT’s – Arsenal being the most noted although many non-football companies were also given deals to settle with HMRC. The biggest deal cut with HMRC was possible the one involving Goldman Sachs that lead to much controversy.

      More recently HMRC have been asking tradesmen to contact them (through radio ad’s) and cut a deal over money they may have earned through the traditional ‘homer’ so to speak.

      If this isn’t examples that HMRC get ripped off on a regular basis then i will retract my claim but personally, i feel that HMRC are quicker to cut a deal than they may like to let on to the general public.

      Your second paragraph re: the many people set to lose out through any CVA deal Rangers may (wishfully) make.

      I agree, but my tendency is to suggest that surely SOME money is better than NO money as would likely be the cash through liquidation. I totally take on board your comments regarding liquidation as a punishment and there is absolutely no fair way (sadly) for these companies to receive the money they are duly owed.

      I can have no beef with your point, indeed i should perhaps have elaborated my own to include the many people that may lose their jobs through the debt trail of Rangers. I just don’t see liquidation fixing any of those problems. It is rather catch 22: one may feel slightly better in knowing the bad guy died in the end – but it doesn’t right any of their ill’s. My general point here is that the death of Rangers could effectively be LESS beneficial to those companies than even a CVA. It’s not fair, it’s not right but it is…the way that it is; we can’t fix that (sadly).

      3rd paragraph re football clubs: I fully take on board what you say and i cannot logically argue that point on the basis of: well…we never really know what would have happened had Rangers done things above board. It is impossible to determine the outcome and therefore revenue spread should it not have happened. Therefore….it is another one of they ‘mibbys aye…mibbys naw’ points as I have previously alluded to; for all anyone knows maybe Rangers would have won WITHOUTcheating..it is only speculation for any of us to suggest any different.

      Completely agree with your points regarding David Murray; although i feel that the banking system (and in this case HMRC also) have been very complacent on many aspects of their duties over the years. That does not absolve wrong doing by Rangers in any way – I simply suggest that certain organisations have failed in their duties including the tax many over many years and more recently the banking system that almost paid the ultimate price for such a lax attitude to money lending.

      Anyway, thanks again for the usual excellent response. Always good to have a wee debate about things with someone that doesn’t jump down your throat with pathetic name calling. We might not always agree 100% (although at times I play devils advocate for the sake of discussion) but you don’t always need to agree with someone to respect them and their points, as i do with yours.

      Also: @ Black Knight. Commendable – not many in this day any age would be willing to stand by their morals for sake of self-preservation.

      • TheBlackKnight TBK

        There is no “self preservation” without a moral code!

      • Sadly most people would forfit all morals for their own job safety. Most people don’t give a shit for the sake of a steady pay packet to pay the bills.

        That, as it stands…. is society.

        Morals… As important as they are to many; often pale into insignificance for survival.

      • Garry –
        Cheers, mate.

        There are some points in your reply which I’d like to pick up on;
        (disclaimer – I’m an amateur as far as this stuff is concerned and what little I know has come from reading this blog and RTC If anyone who does this for a living corrects any of my errors, I’ll be grateful.)

        1. The Goldman Sachs deal was for a sum in the region of ten million pounds, (much less than the sum involved in the Vodaphone case) and applied only to interest payments relating to a tax assessment. Both cases were investigated by the same Parliamentary Committee. The verdict on the GS blunder was essentially that the correct HMRC procedures had not been properly followed , which is a very different thing from the Revenue having a policy of cutting deals.

        The ultimate responsibility for this failure to adhere to strictly defined HMRC procedures (as well as the unsatisfactory handling of the Vodaphone case) was pinned on Dave Hartnett, the Permanent Secretary for Tax, who had been called up by the Committee to give his testimony. During his testimony he was asked somewhat pointedly if he had made any plans to retire in the near future to which he replied that he had absolutely no intention of retiring. Four weeks later, when the Committee was due to publish its findings, Mr. Hartnett discovered that he did indeed plan to retire after all.

        There may be some people who will believe that a very senior civil servant was sacrificed to atone for the fact that Vodaphone and GS seemed to have been let off the hook. Be that as it may,the failure to collect revenue was a major cock-up rather than normal HMRC policy.

        (For the avoidance of doubt – as a Great Man often says! – I am not suggesting for one moment that Dave Hartnett did anything dodgy, corrupt or illegal. I am sure that he is fully deserving of his £160,000 lump sum and annual pension of £75,000+ so I wish him a long, happy and enjoyable retirement in which to spend it.)

        2. I think you may have misunderstood the ‘deal’ with the tradesman which HMRC were offering. In essence, all that is being offered is a chance to pay every single penny of late, miscalculated or previously undeclared tax liabilities. The incentive for doing so is that the additional penalty charges incurred for defaulting will be set at the minimum rate of 10% – or possibly 20%, depending on circumstances – of the unpaid tax. The potential penalty could otherwise be as high as 100% and arrests could also be made.

        It’s comparable to accepting a fixed penalty of £60 for a speeding ticket or taking your chances in a court hearing where you’re likely to end up being fined much more heavily and you might even lose your driving license. But in either case, if you are found guilty as charged, you’re going to be given a minimum fine of £60 as well as three penalty points and that baseline is non-negotiable.

        Thus, if the FTT concludes that RFC owe HMRC £50m (plus interest of another £25 million) there is no procedure through which Rangers could negotiate the total sum down to £74,999,999.99. On top of that £75m, HMRC can also impose penalty charges which can be as much as 100% of the core figure (i.e., another £50m) if they feel that the customer [sic!] has been well out of order. That aspect will be open to a certain amount of discussion – possibly in much the same way that Rommel was able to discuss whether he would face a firing squad or be left alone in his study with a loaded pistol for a few moments.

        In Arsenal’s EBT case, they had the good sense to set aside £11m in their accounts while they fully co-operated with the HMRC investigation. Hector ultimately presented Arsenal with a bill for just over £12m from which I conclude that a penalty of around 10% (essentially a token penalty by HMRC standards) was added to the original assessment of £11m. That suggests to me that HMRC were sympathetic to Arsenal’s representations and accepted that the club were entitled to leniency.
        But leniency only applies to the penalties, not to the core tax assessment.

      • One more quick point, Garry:
        You wrote;
        surely SOME money is better than NO money as would likely be the cash through liquidation ?

        It’s very unlikely that no money would be raised through liquidation. Indeed, it’s quite likely that more money would be available for the creditors if RFC was liquidated tomorrow rather than be left to haemorrhage more money every week. The club is not making money nor is it anywhere near the point where it could be described as a going concern. On that basis, liquidation is inevitable. But the longer it’s delayed, the worse it will probably be for the creditors in the end.
        The money which has so far been sooked out of the business for the Administrators’ fees and expenses alone could have paid off every outstanding Rangers debt to all of their Scottish football creditors, including the £800,000 still due to Hearts for the transfer of Lee Wallace. Put it another way – Duff & Phelps have already trousered the £1,011,763.44 which is still owed to Rapid Vienna for the Jelavic deal.
        The Administration team is hoovering up the cash at a rate which averages roughly £400.00 per hour for each of them; yet nearly half of Rangers’ creditors are owed no more than three figure sums.
        Shanks Waste Management Ltd in Southampton are still waiting for their £122.58 but that money gets used instead for the time it might take David Whitehouse or Paul Clark to browse through a batch of six month-old final demands before parking them in the “Aye, right” file.
        I imagine that half a dozen of the Administration team, sitting for a couple of hours in the directors’ box on official club duty during a match, would conceivably cost Rangers another five grand. That money might instead have totally cleared, say, the four-thousand-plus pounds which are still due to Kalamazoo Secure Solutions Ltd and there would even have been enough change left to finally settle the outstanding bill for the fine Glencairn crystal bowl which was presented to David Weir when he left the club.
        And so on.
        The only people who are definitely going to be better off because of Administration are the Administrators.   Any enterprising entrepreneurs who happened to have had a couple of truck loads of red A4 paper for sale may also have enjoyed a profitable weekend.  But certainly not the creditors.
        Roughly two hundred thousand pounds  slides out of Ibrox every week into the coffers of Duff & Phelps for as long as their people clock in during this process and, unsurprisingly, their fees sit at the very top of the list of payment priorities. When there is no longer enough money left to pay them, I’d bet a pound to a penny that liquidation will swiftly follow and the remaining assets will be sold off. But by that time, millions of pounds will be nestling in the bank accounts of the administration team, permanently beyond the reach of  creditors whose prospects would probably be improved by liquidation at the earliest possible moment.

      • Sadly i don’t have time to reply in full to your comments and that is a shame because i enjoy doing so.

        I take on board much that you say, however one small point about liquidation and cash. If indeed as Mr Whyte claimed in his Jim Delahunt interview he has secured approx £30million of Rangers fees then upon liquidation it would be HIM that trousers the cash first and foremost and it is on that basis that I do not see any cash being freed up in liquidation to settle any debts. As it stands he clubs assets (including players) will not amount to a value in major excess of that sum. Of course that is only my assessment I am happy to accept a different viewpoint.

        As for administrators : oh how true. In my opinion, insolvency practitioners are vultures that drain all that is good from any decaying body.

        Look forward to more discussions in future. cheers

  38. TheBlackKnight TBK

    alex thomson
    @alextomo
    I’ve emailed Murdo Fraser asking him to explain his conduct….
    2:26pm – 8 Apr 12 via Twitter for BlackBerry®

    Seems a ‘heavyweight’ Journo has picked up on this Paul. 😉

  39. georgemcginley@hotmail.com
  40. Bhoywonder

    Good stuff Paul. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a reply. Checkmate springs to mind. And as a taxpayer, I personally aim to raise the issue with Mr Cameron, of inappropriate use of the tax payers purse for personal communications. I also want to know if this practice is rife within this Government at a time when the public are subjected to such extreme austerity measures.

  41. Daniel Toye

    ” Dealing with your second point, securing the happiness of Rangers fans round the world is not, as far as I can see, one of the purposes of administration under the Insolvency Act.”

    You’ve hit the nail on head with this one; this is the crux of the matter. It is very much to Mr Fraser embarrassment that he seems not to know that the administrators, if they are doing their job properly, will be paying no heed to people’s opinions about the happiness or otherwise of Rangers fans.

    Perhaps he does know this and what we are seeing is grandstanding pure and simple. Political advantage no doubt figures as well – why the open letter otherwise?

  42. Steve

    Murdo’s letter is strange if only because of the bare faced cheek. This is someone who gave companies advice on liquidation during his time working with Gordon and Maria Thompson whose legal practice was closed down. The Thompsons were then personally declared bankrupt and disciplined by the Law Society. Murdo jumped ship just in time. And of course as a free market thinker I would have expected him to be delighted when the weak go to the wall. Handouts to keep the weak and some people might say corrupt businesses going is not good use of public money.

    Unless he is just writing as a supporter. In that case do it on your own paper and in your own time.

    Murdo was a useless idiot as a solicitor, nothing has changed.

  43. Pingback: Murdo Fraser MSP and Rangers Administrators – Part 2 | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

  44. Chazz

    A fantastic letter. Succinct points and they expose the hypocrisy of politics.

  45. Timabhouy

    lets get a petition going ,then pass it around
    short sharp and to the point.

  46. Brian McW

    Bravura – my friend!

  47. Rod Mac

    It seems like so many from the east end you wish to eliminate Rangers completely.
    I can understand this ,as it is likely the only way CFC can guarantee supremacy.
    Though with recent defeats to “lower clubs” in Cup competitions that too is in some doubt.
    Not satisfied with haranguing referees, you now want no meanigful opposition.
    CFC never defeated only cheated huh?
    The myth is always that the bigots wear blue , it has been my experience that the opposite is true.
    The ones with the chips on the shoulders ,the ones that commit disgusting actions like the Poppy protest.
    W
    every defeat is met with howls of Sellick were cheated”
    (Deleted)
    Enjoy your tainted title this year ,normal service will be resumed next season You will only have this as a distant memory as you crash out of Europe before the kids go back to school.
    Unlike RFC you will not have the excuse of the burden the manager and players carried this season.

    • Rod,

      Thank you for your comment. I assume it is directed at me, as the blog author. As far as what you say is concerned, I am not from the east end. Nor am I someone who wishes Rangers to be wiped from the earth in a “Carthago delenda est” sense.

      And I would be delighted, yet surprised, if my team played in Europe – gaining promotion to Division 2 was the best achievement by the Rovers for many years.

      Some of the Celtic fans I know want Rangers “eliminated” as you describe it. Most do not. They simply wish the rules to be applied fairly.

      Unfortunately your post, if directed at me, is indicative of what seems to be a majority view on the Internet amongst Rangers fans – namely that anyone who raises questions about Rangers must, by definition, be a Celtic fan. In addition the “whataboutery” which seems to be a statutory piece of any criticism, including that directed at award winning journalist Alex Thomson and Orwell Prize nominated blogger RTC, together with the personal abuse directed at anyone who questions the business credentials of Craig Whyte (although we were right), David Murray (although we were right), Martin Bain and the rest of the people who ran Rangers AND WHO ARE ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR TEAM’S PLIGHT! (sorry for the caps)

      I have also deleted a reference in your post, which has no place here.

      • Daniel Toye

        A very measured response Paul, typical of your blog posts and other comments here.

        Just another comment while I’m here. For Messrs Clarson and Macinnes, if you are reading. I enjoyed reading your earlier dialogue and it’s great to see variance of opinion expressed with respect and good humour. Keep it up guys.

      • Thank you, Daniel.
        I feel I must also give credit to Garry. It’s refreshing to find a Rangers supporter who is prepared to engage in these discussions in a good spirit. I suspect that if his readiness to test his point of view against other opinions was more widespread amongst the Rangers support, his club would be in a far healthier condition today. Messrs. Murray and Whyte were both well aware that they could get away with almost anything precisely because so many Rangers supporters uncritically bought into their pipe dreams and refused to be objective about any criticisms.

  48. Bhoywonder

    Well said Henry, and Garry should be commended for his balanced, open and reasoned dialogue. I believe the current status regarding RFC will quickly begin to determine, as I suspect there is not much more to be revealed…although CW does hold several trump cards…but maybe poker isn’t on his, or his suitors’ agenda…especially with so many jokers in the pack.

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