What If Celtic Accept Wrong-doing re Juninho’s EBT? Aberdeen SPL Winners 2005?

A quick thought.

The BBC reported this tonight

Have any other Scottish football clubs been involved with EBT schemes?

BBC Scotland Investigates wrote to all of the Scottish Premier League’s member clubs and asked whether they had ever operated an EBT scheme.

Celtic confirmed that it established one EBT scheme in April 2005, which BBC Scotland understands was for the benefit of the Brazilian midfielder Juninho Paulista. The scheme was worth £765,000 but the club did not declare the trust payment to the Scottish Football Association or the Scottish Premier League.

The payments made to the trust were declared in Celtic’s annual report for 2004/2005, but in 2008 the club became aware of an event giving rise to a potential tax liability which was subsequently paid after agreement with HMRC.

The remaining 10 SPL clubs replied and confirmed they had never set up an EBT scheme for any of their employees.


If it is the position that use of an EBT involved payments to a player, undeclared in the contract and therefore against football rules, even if legitimate for tax purposes, then the standard view is that each affected game should result in a 3-0 defeat for the team involved.

As the BBC suggested tonight, 40% of Rangers players from 2001 to 2010 benefited from an EBT. That probably means that every single game played b y Rangers since EBT’s started is affected.

Should Celtic take the moral high ground and, even though Brian Quinn called a halt to the EBT for Juninho at an early stage and accounted to HMRC for relevant tax, put its hands up and admit guilt? (On the hypothesis that the EBT payments for Juninho were not declared to the football authorities.)

In doing so, should Celtic admit that all the matches where Juninho played should be treated as 3-0 wins to the opposition (apart from the game against Rangers, where both teams would have lost 3-0!)?

In that case, if Celtic accepted the blame, my calculations are that the SPL  in 2004-2005 would have looked like this.

Aberdeen  64 points

Hibs 63 points

Celtic 54 points

Hearts 53 points

and the bottom

Rangers 0 points.

Celtic should give up the Scottish Cup that year, to Dundee United. Aberdeen would of course be champions, rather than Rangers!

If Celtic took that stance, would that leave Rangers with any argument at all?

It would also leave the SPL and SFA with a problem. If, as some belive, they might seek to make some moral equivalence between Rangers EBT and Celtic’s use of it, a plea of “guilty” by Celtic would head that off. If Celtic accept that they are liable to lose all games 3-0, then Rangers would have to face the same penalties. Except that would result in them losing all trophies over the ten-year period covered.

It would, in my submission, be a moment which might help to clear the fog of mis-trust around Scottish football if a team came out and said that, whilst having no thought at the time that it was wrong, it now accepted that the rules were broken, albeit inadvertently. There was no mens rea, but we are not talking of a criminal offence, rather a football offence.

A football team voluntarily accepting a penalty, rather than dragging out every dispute with lawyers arguing about every dot and comma would be a good thing (In this specific case only, and not to be taken as a general principle!)

And, if it was simply viewed as a tactical step, it would say far more about the attitude of Celtic to a Rangers revival or resurrection than any leaked statement or rumour from the Parkhead boardroom would.

Will it happen? Probably not – it is what Sir Humphrey from “Yes, Minister” would class as a “brave” decision. It might lead to some calls for financial compensation from other clubs, although any claim would be long since time-barred. It would involve a principled stand being taken, which to some jaundiced eyes seems rare in football now.

Came on Mr Bankier and Mr Lawwell, let’s see you on the front steps at Celtic Park saying together “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!”



Filed under Celtic, Football

86 responses to “What If Celtic Accept Wrong-doing re Juninho’s EBT? Aberdeen SPL Winners 2005?

  1. Gary Brown

    I assume this article/comment is not supposed to be impartial or serious for that matter.

    If Celtic admit to wrongdoing for something that hasn’t been proven as wrongdoing yet then Rangers must be guilty of wrongdoing because Celtic have already admitted it. Hmm…

    Your agenda here is not exactly thinly veiled.

    A quick thought:
    What if Rangers had been bought by some multi millionaire and the EBT scheme was settled (which will probably be Celtics defence in the Juninho ‘case’) would Rangers still have been cheating? Were Arsenal cheating before they settled theirs? Is it the non payment of the tax debt that amounts to cheating or the operation of the scheme itself? Have a quick thought on those, I’d be interested to read your views.

    I was interested when I found this blog and I still am. Can you tell me where the “standard view” that each game in which a team had broken football rules should result in a 3-0 defeat came from?

    The only reference I can find to this on the internet are various quotes from your article above regurgitated on the forums of various Scottish football clubs. Oh, and this:

    “3-2-1 as in the Greek League 1959-73;[1] or 4-2-1. Giving 1 point extra in each case for losing may be simply cosmetic, but does allow for awarding 0 points for forfeiting a match. (The FIFA standard is to count a forfeit as a 3-0 defeat.)”

    From wikipedia.

    Also, how can you justify this as an impartial comment?

    “A football team voluntarily accepting a penalty, rather than dragging out every dispute with lawyers arguing about every dot and comma would be a good thing (In this specific case only, and not to be taken as a general principle!)

    Are you even going to try?

    A football team who have an awful lot to gain by admitting to a misdemeanor (that has not yet been established) should admit to that misdemeanor thereby proving another football team is guilty of the same. The original team benefiting by not being quite as guilty. That, quite frankly is ridiculous. So if Celtic admit to operating an EBT for one player and agree to take ‘your’ sanctions this establishes that EBTs break the SPLs rules and Rangers then also have to take ‘your’ sanctions.

    “(In this specific case only, and not to be taken as a general principle!)”

    And in this case only! Impartial? Did you say you used to be a lawyer?

    Then you talk of “principles” and “jaundiced eyes”.

    If your aim is not impartiality then good luck to you and your readers but have the decency to put your cards on the table. There is no discussion here, no impartiality, no dissection of the evidence, merely a biased, opinionated mind perpetuating the dishonesty and self interested agendas that have been born of this whole fiasco.

    You have great taste in literature though…

    He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
    Douglas Adams

  2. Andy B

    Scott McAuley

    May 24, 2012 at 12:42 am

    “Juninho didn’t play in any cup games so we would keep the cup. I would be happy to concede this title as we’d stand to take plenty more from them!”


  3. Gary Brown

    I agree.

    And… commentators on our game who tart up their blatantly biased opinions as the intellectual musings of an impartial but interested observer.

    There are leagues in Europe where the title winner has been decided around board room tables, Cheating/fixing has gone on for years on a massive scale and yet supporters and commentators of Scottish football are happy to see the reputation of our game dragged through the mire over an unpaid tax bill.

    I make no excuse for the behaviour of those responsible for the problems at Rangers but I do suggest a little perspective and a bit more honesty in the commentary.

  4. Ding

    Read Gary Brown’s 1st comment this guy is an obvious Celtic supporter no matter what he says and as Gary says this is a very thinly veiled attempt at sounding reasonable…..zero credibility!!!!!

  5. Pingback: Random Thoughts – My Annual Blog Report for 2012 | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

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