Billy Dodds and the Death of Little Nell – Thoughts on Stripping Rangers of Titles

Oscar Wilde once said of the demise of one of the main characters in Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop, “One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing.” A friend of mine has cruelly suggested that the same Wildean aphorism can be applied to the piece by Billy Dodds today in the Sunday Herald.

Sadly he makes no comment on what he might have done if involved in a TUPE transfer as players are to Sevco Rangers just now.


Billy Dodds has chipped in again today in the Sunday Herald on the Rangers story, with particular regard to the possibility of removing titles. He previously contributed to the ongoing Rangers story by confirming that he was paid contractual sums due under an EBT, and that he was told by Rangers that the tax had been paid. He has not however produced anything, such as his P60 or tax return to confirm this. He is of course under no obligation to do so, except to HMRC if required, but as a paid writer on these matters, he is in position to furnish his newspaper with a scoop of its own.

I have commented on his piece today, and my thoughts are in bold.


I DON’T know for sure whether the 1999/2000 SPL title is one of those under investigation as part of the EBT inquiry, but I would be gutted if people were even thinking about taking that title away.

I have no doubt that Mr Dodds does not want to lose his status as a winner of the SPL. He mentions though that he does not know if it is a possibility. One thinks that he, or the Sunday Herald, could either have asked the SFA/SPL, or even referred to the public pronouncements regarding the EBT investigation. As it has been declared that the EBT tax case starts at the tax year 2000/2001, it is possible that this could have an effect on the 1999/2000 title. As I say, perhaps the Sunday Herald could have asked.


I don’t want this to sound like a sob story but I had never heard about EBTs then. That title was won with sweat, blood and guts.

Little Nell after hearing the news that Rangers might be stripped of some of its SPL titles

Sorry Mr Dodds, it does sound like a sob story. Oscar Wilde would be on the attack! We have no reason to doubt you saying that you had never heard of EBT’s then. As mentioned above, possibly no-one at Ibrox had heard of EBT’s then. However, very shortly afterwards the people at the top, and the agents of the players, were fully aware of them.


My league winner’s medal is up at the house, along with the rest. I have a B&Q Cup medal, a First Division winners medal, two League Cup winners medals, a Scottish Cup winners medal and an SPL medal, which is my most treasured one, because it was my first and only SPL title. I had just gone to Ibrox from Dundee United halfway through the season and I gave everything. I remember we were seven points ahead going into an Old Firm match just before the winter break, and Mark Viduka scored at Parkhead. I equalised to keep it at seven, and we went on to win the title by 21 points. I don’t care what the SPL tell me, they can’t just decide all that is null and void.

Congratulations Mr Dodds. You are rightly proud of a haul of medals which exceeds that achieved by the vast majority of professional footballers. Even though your role in the SPL title that year was for part of a season, well done for winning a medal. However, the SPL can decide that the title was obtained through rule breaking and act accordingly. Those are the rules.

It looks as if that year’s title might miss any potential cull of honours, but as regards the wider point, think of the athletes who have had to return relay medals because a team mate, unknown to them, used performance enhancing drugs. Think about Spartans football club, kicked out of the Scottish Cup because a contract was incorrectly signed, and not because of anything done directly on the field of play.


At the end of the day if they want to take it away, they’ll take it away, but I will be devastated. There is no guarantee that any titles which are stripped will be awarded to somebody else and the matter may now be referred to an independent commission, after lawyers Harper Macleod decided there was a case to answer over the club’s use of EBTs from 1999 onwards. But there has to be a conflict of interest if other SPL clubs are playing a part in the decision.

Correct. There would be a conflict of interest if other SPL teams decided on guilt then penalties. But that is why the SPL would pass the matter to an independent commission. It also was the SPL that decided there was a case to answer, based upon the report presented to them by Harper MacLeod.

For all that Mr Dodds is devastated, can he empathise with players who were deprived during their careers of medals and honours because of alleged rule breaking and irregular registrations? What about players from some of the “wee” teams that made the Cup final only to lose to Rangers teams stuffed to the gunwales with EBT receiving players?

Think of athletes who failed to win medals because of doping, or who failed to reach finals because they were beating by cheating athletes. At least Mr Dodds had the chance to bask in the glory of a medal presentation. If any league titles are stripped from Rangers, can an award of a medal ten years later be the equivalent for the recipient? I do not know, but I suspect it would not be.

In any event Mr Dodds’ happiness is not a factor the SPL Independent Commission will consider.


With Rangers on 54 championships and Celtic on 43, a 10 or 14-title swing would change things dramatically in terms of who has historically been the most successful club in Scotland. Of course the clubs will be looking at overall totals and things like that, but the players won’t be.

It is fair to say, I think, that Rangers makes a big thing of its history and of its record breaking number of titles. Therefore any change in those numbers will affect the football organisation, if still extant, and the fans. As far as deciding who the most successful club is goes, that can only be decided by looking at the numbers, can’t it?


I don’t think players such as Viduka and Lubo Moravcik will be wanting a league winners medal for a season where they were beaten by 21 points. Individually I don’t think the players would want it. I am not just saying this but I wouldn’t want a winners medal 12 years later by default. I would be saying “forget about it”.

As I mentioned above, and agreeing with Mr Dodds, I suspect players won’t be bothered about such an after the fact presentation. However, it might be a gala occasion for the fans, and if, for example, Celtic were to receive “posthumous” honours years later, I suggest the atmosphere in Celtic Park would be exciting.


Of course, if it is proved that titles were won fraudulently, and the club gained an unfair advantage, then the authorities have to act, but they have to find the right punishment. This is new territory. If the EBT court case is lost, then it should be the club who are punished. It was nothing to do with the individual players. They went there in good faith to do a job of work.

No one is suggesting fraud. However the whole issue is one of unfair advantage. The tax scheme’s operation allowed Rangers to sign players they might not have been able to afford otherwise. The operation of the EBT scheme was not intended to create large sums of money for the Rangers executives to take out. Instead they allowed Rangers to make greater use of the same resources than an equivalent team. I do not think that the SPL would chase round the globe after ex-Rangers players, demanding return of their medals, although this has happened to athletes in the past.

It is gratifying to see a prominent person with connections to Rangers agree that, in principle, it should be the club that is punished. Many Rangers fans believe that punishment should only be visited on Sir David Murray and Craig Whyte. Mr Dodds sees that, subject to the findings, it was the club which benefited.


I said in last week’s column that this is the time to restructure the Scottish game and I stand by that. The proposed solution whereby the SPL and SFL merge, and Rangers end up in the second tier of the Scottish game, is a mechanism to try to keep everybody happy, because it could be the death knell of Scottish football if a newco Rangers are sent down to the Third Division.

The “death knell” (or in keeping with the theme of this post, death Nell) for Scottish football was going to be Rangers not in the SPL. Now the “death knell” would be Rangers in Division 3. I suggest that Mr Dodds is guilty of dreaming here. There will undoubtedly be effects if Rangers are in SFL 1, SFL 3 or not playing at all. However that should not be the primary reason for a decision on their next destination. In any event, in any normal business situation, the figures would be presented for assessment and review, rather than the simple bald assertion that so many tams will go bust in the event that Rangers are not in the SPL, or SFL 1 or wherever.


Many fans might not like it but at least this way people are trying to protect the integrity of the game by ensuring there is some kind of reasonable punishment while safeguarding Scottish football financially. The only problem is it seems to have taken a club going into crisis mode for people to do what is best for Scottish football.

Well said Mr Dodds. It has taken this crisis for people to look at what is best for Scottish football.

However, the majority opinion seems to be that Scottish football can take the risks, and at the end of the day, Rangers are the authors of their own misfortune.

As far as integrity goes, would granting privileged access to a club with an horrendous record satisfy that description? It is fair to say that views differ widely in that regard.

Oscar Wilde, or as he will surely now be known in light of the wit and wisdom of the former Rangers player who inspired this post, “the Billy Dodds of late Victorian Britain”


After this piece by Mr Dodds, one awaits with some trepidation the next pearls of wisdom he can offer on the ongoing situation at Ibrox. Roll on next Sunday!


Posted by Paul McConville



Filed under Football, Rangers, SPL

39 responses to “Billy Dodds and the Death of Little Nell – Thoughts on Stripping Rangers of Titles

  1. mick

    dodds is in denial hes got his head in the sand so much he sxxxing sand castles this is just more msm nonsence ,oscar wilde done time to maybe dodds will be doing same for tax ovation ,good article agian paul ,dodds seems really worried about it all what else is he hiding ?????if any 1 wants to no about the tainted titles theres a article and break down of were the trophys go ch.4 were would rangers trophys go

  2. mick

    we all no the ebts is a reality and that a cover up was taken place until the lads on here found out about it ,ch4s mark thommo came up to ask about it and was threated with violence he said he had been to more war zones than he can remember but has nevr experianced intimidation like he did in glasgow also he highlighted it was local media doing the threats how sad there was no police action either

  3. mick

    am first to post today must be all england and italy fans on here lol

  4. Garry Noakes

    At the 2003 Scottish Cup Final I watched my beloved Dundee lose to a team of 11 players who were contracted under EBT’s to Rangers under dual contracts. In the second minute I watched from the far end of the ground as the current Dundee manager Barry Smith strike a sweetly stuck shot only to see it belt off the post. An inch or so to the left and we were a goal to the good.
    Six months later Dundee were in administration. Inspite of the fertile imaginings of the Glasgow media nothing has ever been proved that Dundee indulged in anything that was underhand or illegal. They lived beyond they’re means and beyond they’re dreams and are still today paying the price today.
    During Dundee’s second period of administration and in the time since, Barry Smith has conducted himself with a dignity unbeknown to those down Govan way. He has stuck to commenting on ‘on the field’ matters and left the business of finance to the business people and not made unwarranted and ill-advised comments on ‘ultra vires’ matters.
    If someone at the SFA should call at Dens Park with a winner’s medal for the 2003 Scottish Cup for Barry Smith, I for one would celebrate.

  5. mick

    the sfa have handled the ebts wrongly the dodos should have been expelled pending investigation of case uefa and fifa know about the ebts so the cat is out the bag the huns are dead so taxman can chace the players and suits for the money as greene is selling to tesco now the players are away to pastures greener if billy is reading this hectors wanting to see you and yes we all want our trophys back were 5 star and thats what made yous cheat if a tax scams going on every1 knows about it not just the suits scotland is not swallowing your lies

  6. mick

    21 cups and titles they conned and also destroyed scottish football competion via financial doping that also produced a decline in the national team think back to the 80s the new firm the huns killed our game for 20 years and the msm are not looking at the real satistics

  7. mick

    tthey cheated queen of the south how low can you go

  8. mick

    dodds keep your head in the sand no 1 cares what you think your a cheat and hectors going to deal with you why you in such a panic ??what else you hiding ???what else do you know ????your the reason scotlands national side is in ruins due to you and your cheating m8s that were rangers we call them the dodos were a am ,safe a tree keep back from msm newspapers

  9. mick

    right am ofskis to watch the match com on the romans get it right in to the saxons

  10. riw1

    The excellent post earlier quoting Twain ” It is better to keep your mouth closed & let people think you are a fool than to open it & remove all doubt” could be added to your exquisitely Wilde summary. Perhaps articulation from the well known oracle & seer, Jagger, could also be added is praise of Mr Dodds. “You cant always get what you want” …

  11. Glazert Tim

    If all the regular contributors to this blog haven’t quite reached boiling point/hysteria (delete as appropriate) after all the inane p!sh, lies smoke and mirrors being drip fed through the msm about the ‘I can’t believe it’s not Rangers RIPFC’, well how about this stoic motivational piece. “Bill Struth is our Winston Churchill and we will not die”.

    In the words of the Glaswegian Churchill Dog “ohhh fur f@ck sake. No!”

    Although, Rangers are a bit like a bulldog I know that sh!ts everywhere, it’s owners refuse to clean up its mess, regularly steals things and constantly expects to be let off the lead, is over noisy in public settings demands to know who everyone is and has a penchant for sniffing the balls of anything in a Rangers tie.

    No no, pay attention. I’m talking about a bulldog, not Sally.

    With reference to the wordsmith that is Billy Dodds. His believability rating at the minute is slightly lower than a snakes scrotum.

  12. dodds………ehhmmm speechless, words escape me and to be truthful he’s not worth the effort of thought, but thanks for the input again Paul

    • Mick

      Michael dodds keeps breaking ranks and chatting about it do you think he’s hiding something else????weres his p 60for that year he a bet got it tax free and is saying now he didn’t know he’s a liar and a cheat and should be banished by the media

  13. Robert

    I would be very surprised if there are any SPL football players, earning more than £100,000 a year, who are not utilising tax management (or tax avoidance) to minimise the amount of tax they pay and this will have been the case for a number of years. If this had not been arranged by player’s club, as was the case with EBTs, then it will have been arranged by the player’s agent via tax advisors.

    If it is organised by the club or by organised by the player’s agent, I do not believe it makes a significant difference to the amount of money get or HMRC do not get. Hence I do not believe one approach provides a significant advantage over the other, such as the ability to sign players that they might not have been able to afford otherwise.

    The disadvantage of the club organising the tax avoidance, is that if HMRC tighten up on the rules and retrospectively requires payment of tax, plus penalties and interest then the club rather than the player becomes liable for payment.

    Jimmy Carr has recently been highlighted as one who has been involved in tax avoidance. However, as we know he is only the tip of the iceberg. The same is true in the SPL, the players of more than one team have been involved in tax avoidance. I am surprised that the media have not investigated this.

    If the decision were to be made to strip titles in Scotland then by the same logic titles should be stripped in England from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. However, that will never happen.

    • mick

      robert forgive me for being rude would you like some toilet paper for your mouth as a think your talking shxx if the suits at ibrokes stuck to the rules of the ebt book the porn king gave them it would have been ok but they did not declear it to tax man and sfa it was abuse of the tax system and also it was an abuse of the fans hard earned cash rangers was a cash cow for the suits up stiars and some players

    • alexander

      Robert, its not because of the tax avoiding that Rangers Must be stripped of their trophy,s, it,s because their side contracts and payments were not Registered with the S.F.A .that makes the players involved illegal,So there can only be one outcome! Cheating must be punished!

    • John Burns

      Robert, I will not go into great detail here, however you are completely missing the point, probably intentionally.

      The two words that mean titles and other honours must be stripped are “Double Contracts” – nothing to do with how much tax was paid, or not paid.

      Side-letters rendered corresponding contracts illegal, therefore players were not properly registered with the SFA/SPL, therefore they were, ipso facto, ineligible to play for Rangers.

      The rules state that if it is proved that a club has fielded an ineligible player in a competitive match, they shall forfeit the said match by a score of 0-3.

      I hope this clears the matter up for you.

    • Marching on Together

      All Man United’s titles should be stripped from them anyway, as they were all won by cheating.

    • JimBhoy

      Dude… titles, silverware will come a tumbling when the precedent is set… Unfortunately that is with the biggest offender apparently. More to come when the Rangers capitulate… Have you not been reading this story fella?

  14. Dhougal

    ”’I have nothing to declare but my ,…………… .. .oh !,my tax avoidance,EBTs,cheating,lying ,conning ,shamelessness,arrogance,stealing,nastiness,bullying,bigôtry,sectarianism and dry sense of WHIT !!! Thanks Paul for the education of the ”DARK SIDE ………………Thought i was just paranoid

  15. mick

    rangers thought they were above the law watp went to there head they created a monster and are paying the price now dont do the crime if you cant do the time as they say

  16. mick

    well in dhougal paranoid were not parinoid weve been hood winked for years

  17. mick

    the 12 man the handshake the pope emails were not triping out our tree

  18. joeburt

    Paul a quote for the generations who did not live to see this day”Our revenge will be the laughter of our children”Friends and family passed who had to endure at the hands of bigots not just in the work place but in sport as well for over a hundred years.I think today it is very apt.

  19. John Burns

    If (when) the full results of the Big Tax Case and the SFA investigation into double-contracts are known, and if the club formerly known as Rangers are found guilty of using ineligible players over the last twelve years – then of course all corresponding titles and other honours must be amended in the record books.

    I have heard some commentators say, well it was in the past, why revisit it all again – I will tell them why.

    If these honours were not stripped from Rangers, then the message would be, if you cheat to win prizes, as long as you have covered your tracks for a period of time thereafter, you can keep the spoils.

    David Hay said the other day that he was in favour of honours being stripped but would not support the redistribution to the next in line – why not David? Celtic were not only deprived of seven titles due to Rangers cheating, they also lost out on the opportunity to compete in the Champions League on seven occasions – that’s potentially seven times @ £15 million – a total of £105 million – surely being entered as winners in the record books is not too much to ask, in the circumstances.

    • Yogithebear67

      Absolutely spot on, John Burns. It grieves me somewhat to read such comments from Davy Hay and Billy Mc Neill showing, what can only be described as sympathy, towards the Govan cheats. Tommy Burns, God bless him, must be turning in his grave.

      • Jim Harkins

        When Dodds referred to Voduka and Moravcik and redistribution of medals, he was despicable; any sportsman with a sound sporting ethic, and any decent person, would refuse the offer of the “tainted” medals. Dodds was seeking to take advantage of decent men and sportsmen. If Hay and McNeill have commented as you suggest they are being decent and true sportsmen and should be admired rather than villified. Indeed, as an OLHS boy I would have expected nothing less of Mc Neill.
        Their are issues higher than Celtic v Rangers!.

  20. Pensionerbhoy

    “The only problem is it seems to have taken a club going into crisis mode for people to do what is best for Scottish football.”

    Mr. Dodd’s

    May I, a simple pensioner of nearly 70 years, respectfully point out that for 55+ of those years I heard football supporters clearly demanding “what is best for Scottish football.” However, when they pointed out that the problem lay with the power of one particular club and its seemingly cosy arrangements with the Footballing authorities they were said, by your paper and every other unprofessional media source in Scotland, to be paranoid. It is this questionable relationship at the very heart of the sport that is the leprosy that has been eating away at the body collective. I can not agree more that it has taken “a club going into crisis mode” for action to finally have taken place. There have been clear indications that it is only the weakened state of this one club that allowed “people” or supporter-power to be effective. Even yet there are those who would attempt to stifle their efforts to, as you so aptly put it, “do what is best for Scottish football.” However, I disagree that it was in the hands of others “for people to do what is best for Scottish football.” In fact, one has to ask the question of some people, whose astounding current efforts to sidestep responsibility, to pervert the proper course and to retain the status quo, if it is their determined intention to block the efforts of all the other people from doing “what is best for Scottish football”? As for your trophies and medals, I would simply say this. Being party to the incident makes you complicit just as the fans can be said to be as well. If it is proven that your ex club did have unfair advantage or worse, was involved in cheating, then as a recipient of the accrued benefits you and the fans are accomplices, receivers of stolen goods as it were, even though, as you claim, you and they were unaware of the alleged crimes at the time. Unfortunately, though the quality of mercy may not be strained, the law will not accept ignorance as a defence and will, if necessary, place all of you in the sin bin. The extent of your punishments will no doubt vary but the stripping of honours, club and personal, could well be seen by the majority as true justice. Perhaps a good night’s sleep, a couple of pills and a wee rethink might help you to start writing some properly thought out articles that have basic logic at their roots. A wee squint at the work of this and few other internet ‘journalists’ would be an extremely useful start to a new learning process. Perhaps you personally going into your own crisis mode will allow you to accept your fate and “do what is best for Scottish football.” It may also prove best for your present career.

  21. Gobsmacked

    It appears likely that the Newco are not being invited to join the Premier League. They apparently wil now have to canvas the teams that both Rangers and Celtic (and others) have not given a toss about when it came to sharing out the booty in the past – and undoubtedly will continue to do so in the future ! They need 75% of 30 which is (22.5) 23 clubs to vote them in. Let’s assume they don’t have the supporters dictating the decision and bring Newco into 1st Division. When (assumption) Newco win league next year are they automatically entitled to rejoin the Premier League or is it subject to veto ? Will the PL fans consider the punishment enough. As for Mr Dodds he might want to consider the lost dreams of players who would have those medals and those nights playing in European ties.

  22. Niall Walker

    There were more financial incentives for clubs to vote yes in the SPL than the SFL. No club in their right mind is going to remove the chance of SPL promotion by inviting the newco into Div 1.

    Rangers will sart again from Div 3 and will go bust staying at Ibrox, their turnover will be too small, they will be playing in front of crowds of 10,000 in division 3 with half price tickets. To put this into a financial perspective, gate receipts will fall from 25 million to 5 million. Deduct SKY, SPL and major sponsors and you lose another 10 million. This puts the turn over at around 15 million as against 45 million. Rangers overheads without players wages is 15 million and they cannot afford to stay at Ibrox.

    Rangers are imploding and I cannot see how they can survive in any recognisable form.

  23. michty

    Paul, there are many rumours and whispers doing the rounds about Newco going into administration followed by an MVL, with suggestions that failure to secure SPL status etc is all part of a grand plan to move assets on for property development. In this instance would BDO still be able to step in as Liquidators of Rangers PLC and stop/rescind the sale to Sevco?

    I have to say even amongst all the shenanigans, Murray, Whyte, D&P onwards, the bizarre behaviour of Green re TUPE and SFA application does stand out as being either especially inept or a rather overt method of crippling the footballing side of the ‘club’ he ‘bought’.

  24. Pingback: The Wit and Wisdom of Billy Dodds – An Occasional Series | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

  25. JimBhoy

    Billy Dodds used to play wi my nephew at Aberdeen, he and another guy had a deal that if they got someone in they had to have a contract that matched (if better), good player but like most playesr lacking in experiences in real life/business… i have no doubt what he says he means but unlike his ability at the height of his career he is way off the mark

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