How Will the SFA/SPL React To the Green Challenge? – Me at TSFM

Over at the Scottish Football Monitor you will find a piece by me regarding Mr Green’s outburst today and its implications for him having to return to Hampden to face more charges of bringing the game into disrepute etc.

Click on the link below to be taken there.

Charles Green – “We Stand United in Saying: No More” – What Will Football’s Authorities Do?

 

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223 Comments

Filed under Rangers, The Scottish Football Monitor

223 responses to “How Will the SFA/SPL React To the Green Challenge? – Me at TSFM

  1. Andy

    From reading the commentary thus far, away from this blog obviously.

    Spl have made it clear they treat Oldco and Newco as seperate things and have admitted they cannot apply any sanctions to Newco, so plan on administering sanctions to a company that used to hold Rangers football club. Fair enough, it matters not to a jot to me. They nor anyone else cannot take memories.

    HRMC have already wished Rangers well under our new corporate body and have stated their views that they clearly aim to pursue previous Rangers owners for any unpaid tax resulting from illegal activities, if that is, there were any illegal goings on.

    So BDO come in and then what, attempt to undo the deal? Is that what the likes of ecojon or Mick want to happen?

    Newsflash boys, that ain’t gona happen, and Rangers will continue to play football, win leagues, cups and will eventually compete again in europe, and there is no amount of blogging or ranting that people like you can do to stop that!

    Green will walk away with a big cheque and investors will be left owning the club and assets, hopefully someone in the mould of Mike Ashley…..And when it’s all said and done all be sitting in my same seat at Ibrox watching my team play Football.

    For now, I’m spending too much time pointlessly debating with you two bitter chaps….and will gladly just get back to the football.

  2. mick

    THE REBEL KIDZ HAVE WIN ANDY LOL

  3. mick

    MIND TELL ALL YOUR TROOPS MICKS ONLINE TILL TESCO

  4. mick

    PRAY TO JESUS FOR TESCO AND WORLD PEACE

  5. AB

    The news that Celtic were also involved in an EBT but this one was “legal” has, if anything, served to help Rangers case.

    We now have a interesting fact that we’d didn’t have before.

    EBTs are fine and dandy, as long as you follow the small print and arrange the tax avoidance scheme properly. As Celtic did with theirs.

    So Rangers having EBTs is not the problem, its the failure to correctly run the tax avoidance scheme in line with regulations that is the issue.

    The notion that the red pen is going to be taken to 10 years worth of football matches and competitions, purely on the basis of an administrative/accounting cock up, seems a little more ludicrous than it did before, in light of these new revelations.

    • carl31

      AB,
      I find myself agreeing (in part) with your post. One of the annoying aspects of following this EBT / tax avoidance story is the moral high ground taken by many of my fellow Celtic fans. Morally, IMO, Celtic fans cannot claim superiority (and to be fair Celtic don’t do this at a corporate or club level) since their club, too, embarked on paying a player via an EBT. I also note the widely held view that many other clubs and companies also used EBTs.

      However, there IS considerable contrast to be found between the two jewels in Scotland’s football crown, as was, when considering related issues such as the following:
      a. In the extent of the use of EBTs
      b. in behaviour and action once a decision was made on tax liability
      c. in the dual contract question

      a. One player only in Celtic’s case. How many Rangers players wre paid in this way? One occasion in 2005 in Celtic’s case. How many seasons did Rangers use EBTs to remunerate players?
      b. Brian Quinn, a former Deputy Governor of the BoE, took charge of the Juninho contract in 2005 and identified the tax liability that faced Celtic since it had remunerated the player via an EBT – so the club took action to change their behaviour and pay any tax at issue, with agreement of HMRC. Consider this against Rangers behaviour re the use of EBTs apparently between some time before 2005 and 2010 – widespread and repeated use of EBTs despite the potential tax liability.
      c. The rules re dual contracts are for when a player is registered. I understand that Juninho received remuneration as a ‘golden goodbye’. His EBT was set up in April 2005 with no payments made until after the player left – Juninho left 5th April 2005. The player did not play between 1st April 2005 and the time he left. No remuneration was made via an EBT to Juninho whilst registered as a player with Celtic. The footballing authorities are aware of the situation – Celtic has been open with them – they are satisfied that there is no question of a breach of the ‘dual contract’ rules. I await the findings of the commission set up to investigate the dual contract issue re Rangers, but we are aware of the allegations.

      Consider the contrast of the above three criteria, which is not exhaustive. With Celtic it is a known known. Clearly not true of Rangers.

      Also, this Juninho EBT is public knowledge, AFAIK, and not ‘an interesting fact that we didn’t have before’ – indeed I believe it has appeared on these pages more than once.

      • AB

        I think the “Football clubs using EBTs are fine if set up properly” position, appearing to be taken by the SPL in this regard, has hardly been an underlying principle to this debate.

        This whole matter has been clouded by inaccuracies.

        What matters to me is that Rangers players or management didn’t cheat, they won those trophies fair and square on the pitch.

        As AJ stated today, even the “they fielded players that wouldnt have been there if not for this scheme, that makes it cheating” stuff is misconceived and speculative.

        This investigation is about regulations regarding contractual matters and whether the actions of Rangers’ accountants/finance directors was in breach of rules in this regard.

        Whatever punishment is deemed appropriate, if any, messing around with the results of football matches and football competitions, where the footballers that competed did so fairly, is totally inappropriate.

        As stated before.
        This isn’t Lance Armstrong doping and be stripped of titles.
        This is Brad Wiggins being stripped of his title because Team Sky might or might not have structured his contract in contravention of the rules.

        A world of difference that neutral judges would undoubtedly recognise.

        • carl31

          Again, if a ‘dual contract’ was in place, then the player was ineligible, and the rules are clear.

          EBT or otherwise, the arrangement between player and club re the undeclared aspect of the contract, be it a small amount or a large amount, is irrelevant.
          Merits of the efforts of players is irrelevant.
          Whether they might have signed or not is irrelevant.
          Whether it was Ronaldo who bagged 70 goals by xmas or Ronaldo McDonaldo who did nothing but trip over his own feet, is irrelevant.

          Guilt will be established on the existence or not, of dual contracts. That is all.

  6. carl31

    “There’s no such thing as bad publicity…” – Brendan Behan.

    On hearing the Charles Groan interview on the radio I’m sorry to say it occurred to me, as I listened to the interview, that he is leading this once great institution towards being the unprofessional, reactionary and extremist basketcases of Scottish Football.
    Maybe he’s continuing with a strategy … a strategy that has been documented on these and other pages. In fact I would be pretty sure of it since I find it difficult to believe that he genuinely holds the opinions as expressed and isn’t simply playing a game with the media and authorities.
    I know that shows disrespect to him, but it would disrespect his intelligence to accept that he actually believes adopting this position is in the best long term interests of The Rangers.

    The Groan Position.
    My shorthand – ‘The SPL has no jurisdiction, is rushing to judgement now, is influenced by ‘other’ interests’.
    IMO this ‘translates’ as ‘The SPL is poking its nose in where it doesn’t belong to ‘get’ us, it wants to tarnish us as we are launching a share flotation, and Celtic are motivating this.’
    Firstly, the SPL titles are the IP of the SPL – it clearly has the right, interest, justification and jurisdiction over whether its titles were won fairly. Its just plain daft to argue they have no jurisdiction here. The SPL nose quite definitely does belong poked in.
    The timetable, roughly, of the commission has been known for some time. Since the transfer window is closed, the season is well underway and there seems to be no on-field activity of note (international break), the timing issue appears a complaint about coincidence with the share flotation. The SPL will have seen the international break as the ideal gap in various diaries and if not actually in diaries, will have had this juncture in mind for a while. For me, theres no question of rushing this through to damage The Rangers.
    The third aspect of his position, as characterised above, is akin to a ‘dog whistle’ call that presses the bigotry buttons of elements of the support without using the word bigotry. What he learned from the ‘bigotry’ bother he has had so far is that its difficult to plausibly deny a stark word such as that used – much easier in this case to deny what he really meant at some time in future. This raises the question of an expectation of disciplinary action of the autorities.

    This statement jeopardises the mission to return Rangers to the top branches of the Scottish Football Tree, because it deliberately antagonises the authorities. It obviously antagonises the SPL by calling into question directy its authority and integrity, and indirectly antagonises the SFL, which has allowed the club to play in its 3rd division, and the SFA as the umbrella authority, who’s articles require that member clubs conduct themselves with the utmost integrity and not bring the game into disrepute.

    But then again …

    “There’s no such thing as bad publicity…”.

    The share flotation is on the AIM, and will tend to have investors more likely to take risks. This kind of publicity will not necessarily scare them away, and indeed may attract a certain type. They will not be deterred by Groan willing to beat his chest, and when they look a bit deeper and uncover that the findings of the commission will not affect The Rangers, but instead will impact a previous regime, they wont be put off. However, this type of investor will be in for the short term. They will see that the club are about to get some form of windfall from the ordinary fan buying a bit of a dream/remaining loyal/paying up for survival. They will hope to put some money in and escape at a profit relatively soon after. They will care not a jot that Groan’s outburst has, in some way, jeopardised The Rangers’ future. And, the statement reinvigorates the relationship with the elements of the support that have a siege mentality – so it can only assist in mobilising the wallets of those share purchasers.

    SDM and the shovers and makers pre-CW seem to have c0cked things up, but they were not the enemy of Rangers. The current levers-holder, Groan, and the previous finger-on-the-button guy, CW, is/was the enemy within – they do not care about the long term survival of The Rangers so long as they make some money.

    The full quotation, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity, except your own obituary.”

  7. Don

    Charles Green stringently and unequivocally asserts: “There remains, however, an outstanding issue with the SPL regarding EBTs. As we have proved in the last couple of months we will stand up to any challenges that face Rangers and will continue to fight for the Club’s best interests. How can SPL have power over Gers when we’re not in league?” Furthermore, he states we will refuse to engage in the process of the Commission, even to the point that should the Commission judge against oldco and or newco, this will be ignored. He then insists, should action be taken against them they propose to seek recourse through the courts in order to avert the imposition of whatever penalties might be forthcoming. There you have it Mr (cake and eat it) Green is going to both ignore and respond to the Commission.

    By way of seeking to address Mr Green’s views on these matters, in particular those relative to the EBTs, we should first remind ourselves of what the general views he, and various other Rangers newco and oldco staff, players and fans hold: –

    1 Rangers oldco have not yet been found guilty of any crime and or breach of SFA/SPL rules in relation to that clubs use of EBTs.

    2 Rangers newco is an absolutely new entity which, following Administration of Rangers oldco, acquired all the assets of that club/company to include Ibrox, Murray Park, players, their contracts, goodwill, history and honours. Therefore if Rangers oldco is subsequently found to have been guilty of a crime i.e., Tax Evasion and or breach of SFA/SPL employment contract regulations, why should sanctions for these be visited upon Rangers newco?

    3 That they, oldco, are not the only club to have used EBTs and those others that have should also fall under the same level of scrutiny and investigation presently surrounding Rangers oldco.

    For convenience I shall respond in turn to each of the 3 above paragraphs in their numerical order.

    1 Now it is absolutely the case that the statement in 1 above is correct. Nevertheless, following preliminary examinations by HMRC and Harper McLeod, a prima facie (on the face of things) case has been established. This prima facie case is, clearly, one which could meet all the essentials of the Common Law crime of Fraud. However, in all probability, in the case of HMRC and SFA/SPL these offences will be covered by statute and disciplinary regulations respectively. Nevertheless, in order to prove guilt of an accused in respect of a criminal offence, evidence is required that proves guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. Statutes and organizational regulations can and sometimes do require a lesser degree of evidence in order to prove guilt. However, for the purposes of this exercise, let me adopt the Criminal Law level of proof in my approach to establishing the guilt/culpability or otherwise of both Rangers newco and Rangers oldco. Incidentally, you will see that from time to time I will transpose the word crime with offence. From experience I am aware that some people have a notion that a “Crime” is much more serious than an “Offence.” However in a Criminal Law context they can mean exactly the same.

    The reason behind my considering the appropriateness of applying the Common Law Crime of Fraud to the Rangers oldco EBTs is that in this context the term fraud being a generic one subsumes numerous offences of fraudulent deception and cheating. However, the following essentials must be present:

    (i) Falsehood, i.e., false representations either by word of mouth, writing or conduct;

    (ii) Fraud, i.e., intention to deceive and defraud; and

    (iii) Wilful imposition, i.e., that the cheat designed had been successful to the extent of gaining benefit or advantage, or of prejudicing, or tending to prejudice, the interests of another.

    (i) The Rangers oldco EBTs are, at this stage, viewed by HMRC as being vehicles used merely to aggressively avoid/evade tax. Simply because their view is that the monies administered by the EBT scheme and paid to the various company members, directors, players and staff was done so purely as a reward for their work and services rendered to the club and not, as some would have us believe, a beneficent interest and principal free loan set up for certain employees. Consequently these monies should fall liable to PAYE. The final arbiters here are, I understand, soon to give a decision. They, undoubtedly, will have looked at those aspects of (i) above to ascertain whether false representation was made and, if it has, in this case probably all three forms of false representations have been met.

    (ii) The maxim of “ignorance being no excuse for breaking the law” is a truism, in terms of Common Law, as guilty intention is presumed from the facts in the absence of some special defence being established by the accused. To suggest a tax mitigation expert was engaged to devise a scheme is, in this case, I would respectfully suggest not a Special Defence more likely something to be used in mitigating the severity of any sentence handed down if found guilty. In similar fashion the assertion that “many others have and some continue to use EBTs does not of itself legitimise their use. It should be noted that with regard to breaches of the statutory law the necessity to prove guilty intention varies with the nature of the prohibition imposed. If the prohibition is in absolute terms then proof of the contravention is sufficient and no evidence need be adduced to show guilty intention on the part of the accused. But where the prohibition is qualified usually by “knowingly,” or such similar expression, then evidence must be led from which guilty knowledge or other qualification can be inferred.
    The fact is, in respect of this case, the law states: A person commits an offence if he is knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of tax or duty, by him or another person. There are various tax fraud offences, but all involve intent. You cannot commit tax fraud accidentally. Tax fraud includes, deliberately: concealing or withholding relevant facts, or failing to disclose a liability to tax or duty, or misrepresenting your tax affairs.

    The argument for the defence here will be, that referred to earlier, namely: “We engaged and paid handsomely for a tax mitigation expert who told us this was okay, ergo we did not knowingly commit tax fraud. This has certainly been Sir David Murray’s stock-in-phrase on those rare occasions when venturing to pop his head above the parapet.

    Again, as I suggested earlier, this attempted defence should be dismissed with the response, perhaps couched in slightly more legalese terms but nonetheless, to the effect that no matter what level of expertise your scheme’s architect might possess he/she is not the designated arbiter in assessing the appropriateness/legality of any scheme designed to mitigate or avoid tax. Initially this falls to HMRC and the Tax Commissioners who should have tested the scheme’s validity prior to its implementation or at an early opportunity thereafter. Clearly, whenever HMRC got wind of this particular scheme they raised objections to its legality/appropriateness causing the protracted process of proof stretching back over several years and which, hopefully, soon shall reach a conclusion.

    (iii) Finally and perhaps the simplest of the three essentials to prove is that of: Wilful imposition, i.e., that the cheat designed had been successful to the extent of gaining benefit or advantage, or of prejudicing, or tending to prejudice, the interests of another.

    Various and well documented comments from a wide range of commentators, including those from the legal profession, have been forthcoming over the last 7 or 8 months graphically demonstrating how clear advantages were obtained :-

    a) By adopting and implementing the EBT scheme Rangers oldco accrued huge monetary savings in their company’s PAYE tax bill whereby:

    b) They, Rangers oldco were able to acquire certainly more costly and arguably talented players thereby strengthening the club to the point where it was reasonable to assume they would, throughout the football seasons the EBTs obtained, achieve a greater number of victories/points and thereby win more trophies than those of their rivals. This, in fact, is what occurred. And, in turn, led to:

    c) A situation where other teams in the SPL had their potential harmed (prejudiced) and were unfairly denied the opportunity to realise greater financial rewards from their standing within that league.

    2 Rangers newco is an absolutely new entity which, following Administration of Rangers oldco, acquired all the assets of that club/company to include Ibrox, Murray Park, players, their contracts, goodwill, history and honours. Therefore if Rangers oldco is subsequently found to have been guilty of a crime i.e., Tax Evasion and or breach of SFA/SPL employment contract regulations, why should sanctions for these be visited upon Rangers newco?

    I was going to use the expression “view” here however, I think the perception held by many Rangers newco fans, and, most certainly, by Charles Green and Ally McCoist, is that it is absolutely the case that ownership of Rangers oldco’s history and honours is a given. Not that anyone should need reminding but testimony to this is: “Rangers then, Rangers now and Rangers forever.” That said, it must surely be both logical and reasonable if and when Rangers oldco are found guilty of tax fraud, those titles awarded during the EBT period have come about through wilful imposition and gaining unfair advantage. Rangers newco despite the possibility (if not probability) of Rangers oldco being found guilty of Tax fraud hold to the view that, as previously mentioned , they are not prepared to part with any cups or league titles obtained during the relevant period. It would in my opinion and that of many others be totally perverse not to rescind these awards following a guilty verdict. The claims of “you can’t do it! And we will not countenance it happening!” following the said guilty verdict would be seen for what they are – inane and without an iota of legal credibility. In the case of Common Law Fraud any benefits, in this case the awards could and should be simply stricken from the record. Any tangible remnants of same, I’m guessing here, flags, replica cups or written certification awarded for titles and cups must be handed back. If you will indulge me further by continuing to use the Common Law Fraud analogy, failure to do so would leave Rangers newco open to being charged with another Common Law crime, namely, that of Reset.

    3 Finally, the claims that have been levelled by Rangers oldco and, to some extent, by Rangers newco that: “other clubs have also used EBTs to pay players.” so why are the authorities only picking on us? This is surely unfair! And, if it is widespread, it’s surely okay, isn’t it? These assertions are both spurious and at the same time feeble attempts at putting up a smokescreen from which to hide behind. I have previously rehearsed as to why Rangers oldco are being pursued nevertheless, for the sake of clarity: HMRC by virtue of their protracted and costly legal pursuit obviously consider there is a Prima Facie Tax fraud case for Rangers oldco to answer. The SPL’s agents, Harper McLeod have, following their preliminary investigation into the use of the EBTs by Rangers oldco, similarly established that there is a Prima Facie case in that the way the EBTs have been used constitutes a serious breach of SPL/SFA guidelines as they relate to club player payment contracts.

    “Others have used EBTs.” I am only aware of this criticism being specified against Glasgow Celtic Football Club and relates to an EBT in respect of singular payment to the footballer known as Junhino. As you might expect HMRC have a procedure to deal with suspected tax fraud and is referred to as the Code of Practice.

    Rather than paraphrase, and inadvertently mislead and also as it is a matter of the public record, I have reproduced the appropriate abstract here which is both simple and clear. It is headed:-

    The HMRC Investigation of Fraud Statement

    (i)The Commissioners of HMRC reserve complete discretion to pursue a
    Criminal investigation with a view to prosecution where they consider it necessary and appropriate.

    (ii)In cases where a criminal investigation is not commenced, the Commissioners may decide to investigate using the Code of Practice 9 investigation of fraud procedure.

    (iii)Under the investigation of fraud procedure, the recipient of Code of Practice 9 is given the opportunity to make a complete and accurate disclosure of all irregularities in their tax affairs.

    (iv)Where the recipient fails to make a full disclosure of the tax frauds they have committed, the Commissioners reserve the right to commence a criminal investigation with a view to prosecution.

    (v)In the course of the Code of Practice 9 investigation, if the recipient makes materially false or misleading statements, or provides materially false documents the Commissioners reserve the right to commence a criminal investigation into that conduct as a separate criminal offence. COP9

    In this case Celtic consulted with HMRC whether voluntarily or through being compelled to in terms of the above and on establishing that HMRC considered the scheme illegal immediately withdrew same and thereafter paid back all tax and NI that was due.

    In Rangers oldco we can only but assume that the circumstances applying to them were markedly different from those of Glasgow Celtic FC. I don’t propose guessing which one of the above clauses, or which permutation of these gave rise to Rangers oldco’s predicament. The fact is they clearly did not put their hands up and make full restitution of the amounts considered due.

    Hopefully my personal ramblings on this subject have provided some constructive and helpful points, if not my consolation is that I’ve managed to skive off for a couple of hours from helping her in doors with various laborious domestic chores.

  8. Pingback: SFA v Charles Green – Round 2 – and Why Mr Green Should Be Cleared | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

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