“No Unfair Competitive Advantage” for Rangers – How Did the Commission Conclude That?

So far I have tried to explain, insofar as I understand the reasoning, the basis for the Nimmo Smith Independent SPL Commission finding that Rangers oldco broke the rules – it was “deliberate non-disclosure” rather than a clerical error or administrative oversight.

I have also explained how the Commission came to the conclusion that, even though the rules about documents needed for registration were broken, this did not change the status of registered players and thus there were no ineligible players. This was despite the fact that, before this case, it was understood that a defect in registration did invalidate the registration.

The third area for me to look at is that of “unfair competitive advantage”.

How, observers ask, was there not a “competitive advantage” as a result of these manoeuvres. As was heard in evidence in the FTT, the use of the EBT schemes allowed Rangers to afford to pay players money that could not have been afforded if all had been paid by a traditional route, such as by way of salary. How, the question is asked, does that not amount to a competitive advantage, or at least an attempt to gain one?

It reminds me of the statement attributed to Bill Shankly about the offside rule:-

“If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be.”

On the same basis, why enter these convoluted schemes IF NOT to gain an advantage!

Again, as with the decision on ineligible players, I think a close reading of the Commission decision is essential.

The neutral observer might follow the thought process shown below.

  • Rangers broke the rules about payments and reporting financial information to the football authorities.
  • They did this in connection with their operation of a scheme to save tax, and thus allow them to pay higher wages to players, or to pay high wages to more players.
  • It was acknowledged at the FTT that this was a motivation for the scheme.
  • Therefore players were signed by Rangers who, if not for the EBT scheme, either could not have been afforded, or would not have signed.
  • As these players were intended to be better than less expensive players, and as they would not have signed without the EBT scheme, this surely is at least an attempt to gain an advantage.

The first point about “competitive advantage” is that this however was NOT in connection with playing ineligible players. Once the Commission made it clear to Mr McKenzie, presenting the SPL’s case, that the practice and procedure operated by the SFA in relation to registrations did not match the Commission’s interpretation of the rules, and coupled with the SFA official responsible also indicating that what the rule meant was  not how it had hitherto been applied, then there was no “guilt” on playing players who ought not to have been playing.

That makes the competitive advantage issue far clearer, I suggest.

The “man on the Garngad omnibus” would find his thought process de-railed.

What did the Commission say about the competitive advantage issue?

At paragraph 25 it said:-

In our view the burden lay on the SPL to prove (on the balance of probabilities) material factors which might affect sanction, such as whether a particular breach had given Rangers FC a significant competitive advantage.

It was therefore for the SPL to establish by way of evidence or agreement that an advantage had been given. It was not the Commission’s position that it would accept automatically that wrongdoing = competitive advantage.

At paragraph 105 the Commission addressed the issue as follows:-

It seems appropriate in the first place to consider whether such breach by non-disclosure conferred any competitive advantage on Rangers FC.

Given that we have held that Rangers FC did not breach Rule D1.11 by playing ineligible players, it did not secure any direct competitive advantage in that respect.

If the breach of the rules by non-disclosure of the side-letters conferred any competitive advantage, that could only have been an indirect one. Although it is clear to us from Mr Odam’s evidence that Oldco’s failure to disclose the side-letters to the SPL and the SFA was at least partly motivated by a wish not to risk prejudicing the tax advantages of the EBT scheme, we are unable to reach the conclusion that this led to any competitive advantage.

There was no evidence before us as to whether any other members of the SPL used similar EBT schemes, or the effect of their doing so.

Moreover, we have received no evidence from which we could possibly say that Oldco could not or would not have entered into the EBT arrangements with players if it had been required to comply with the requirement to disclose the arrangements as part of the players’ full financial entitlement or as giving rise to payment to players.

It is entirely possible that the EBT arrangements could have been disclosed to the SPL and SFA without prejudicing the argument – accepted by the majority of the Tax Tribunal at paragraph 232 of their decision – that such arrangements, resulting in loans made to the players, did not give rise to payments absolutely or unreservedly held for or to the order of the individual players. On that basis, the EBT arrangements could have been disclosed as contractual arrangements giving rise to a facility for the player to receive loans, and there would have been no breach of the disclosure rules.

And at paragraph 106:-

We therefore proceed on the basis that the breach of the rules relating to disclosure did not give rise to any sporting advantage, direct or indirect. We do not therefore propose to consider those sanctions which are of a sporting nature.

The Commission’s thought process was, unlike the “man on the Garngad omnibus” as follows.

(What follows is my breakdown of that process, not a quote from the decision.)

  • We will ignore any issue of ineligible players, as there were no ineligible players.
  • Did the non-disclosure, on its own, give a competitive advantage?
  • We have heard no evidence of what other football teams in the SPL do regarding similar schemes, or indeed whether or not they exist, so we cannot determine if the non-disclosure gave an advantage.
  • If we do not have evidence of the effect of disclosure, how can we decide that non-disclosure gave an advantage?
  • We had no evidence telling us that it was the non-disclosure which enticed players to enter the EBT schemes with Rangers.
  • It is perfectly possible, hypothetically, that the EBT schemes would have operated in the tax efficient ways intended even if disclosed.
  • Therefore we cannot find that non-disclosure made any difference.
  • We therefore proceed on the basis that the breach of the rules relating to disclosure did not give rise to any sporting advantage, direct or indirect.

I suspect that some readers might view that as an unrealistic and unduly legalistic approach. But bearing in mind that the Commission consisted of a High Court Judge and 2 QCs, then what else would one expect?

One could take from the decision veiled criticism of the SPL case. After all, it was for the SPL to convince the Commission on the balance of probabilities, and to do so, as the Commission has spelt out, evidence was required.

I think though (from my reading of the decision, and I accept that I could be entirely wrong) that the need for evidence about the matters the Commission refer to in paragraph 105 would never have occurred to those presenting the case.

I think their thought process was rather more akin to the man on the Garngad omnibus. After all, does one need to present evidence that a tax saving scheme, admitted to be for the purpose of signing players one otherwise might not be able to sign, was seeking an advantage?

It would appear not to have struck the SPL “prosecution” that there would need to be evidence about the advantage gained solely from non-disclosure, as opposed to disclosure.

For the legally minded amongst the readers, it seems similar to the issues which have to be dealt with in defective pavement tripping claims against local authorities, following on the precedent of Gibson v Strathclyde Regional Council.

That case, very simply, indicated that if a claimant wanted to show that a local authority had failed in its duties of reasonable care regarding maintenance of pavements, this could only be determined by leading evidence of what other similar authorities did. It was not permissible only to lead evidence that, for example, a slab had been broken for three months and, on the basis of that alone, then to invite the court to accept this as proof of negligence. If, in fact, it turned out that no other authority would fix a slab for six months then, no matter how unreasonable that might seem to the lawyers, the claimant or the court, then the case would fail.

In the aftermath of the Gibson case there were a number of claims which fell by the wayside for want of evidence which, frankly, it did not occur to most as  being necessary.

So what have the Commission decided about “competitive advantage”? I will try to help with some quick questions and answers.

Q         Did the Commission decide that the EBT scheme gave Rangers an advantage?

A          No. The commission did not look at that question. This case was not about the operation of the EBT scheme.

Q         Did the Commission decide that Rangers were trying to gain an advantage by using the EBT scheme?

A          No. For the same reason stated above.

Q         Did the Commission decide that Rangers were trying to gain an advantage by non-disclosure?

A          No. The Commission did not consider that question at all.

Q         Did the Commission decide that Rangers gained an advantage by non-disclosure?

A          No. Because there was no evidence that allowed the Commission to decide if there was any advantage.

And so we have the decision which is already being reported as the EBT scheme not giving Rangers any competitive advantage, when in fact the Commission never even considered that.

I hope that analysis makes this issue a bit clearer, although I can imagine some readers thinking that, as lawyers sometimes do, the big questions are ignored whilst we nibble round the edges on technicalities.

Am I criticising the Commission for reaching this decision on this point? No. I am not. I can see the logic of the approach it took although I suspect that such a fine analysis of sporting advantage has never troubled those deciding on football rule-breaking before.

Posted by Paul McConville





Filed under Football Governance, Rangers, SPL

157 responses to ““No Unfair Competitive Advantage” for Rangers – How Did the Commission Conclude That?

  1. Robert Smith

    Paul you are letting yourself down,accept the learned lords judgement with dignity,admit your years of opinions were wrong,even though you have wasted these years and move even though it will be very hard, or you could contact LNS and show him where he is wrong and tell him that he is a Masonic ,orange Ranger supporting ,Hun B—–d

    • Maggie

      I have never at any time presumed to post any comment as to
      outcome of the FTTT or the LNS commission because I have no
      knowledge or expertise in this area and am keenly aware that I do not.
      I also made no predictions re the IPO as again,unlike you Vi, I have
      no knowledge in this area either.I am 100% certain of this Violet,
      so I’ll leave it up to you to source and find where you think I did.
      I of course have said what I would LIKE to see happen which is
      an entirely different thing,but I predicted absolutely nothing,as I
      felt,and still feel that no one was willing to take on the task of
      issuing a punishment commensurate with the many misdeeds
      committed by Rangers and ALWAYS felt that a get out clause
      would be found and was therefore not counting my chickens.

      Quite frankly I am not one bit bothered by Rangers keeping their
      titles and never have been.See my earlier posts today.

      I just wanted Rangers to be found guilty in both the FTTT and the
      LNS tribunal and they were.Not as much as I felt they deserved to be
      in the FTTT,but that could change.
      I do resent the “bile spouting posters” comment Vi if it was meant
      to include me,as I go out of my way not to post anything offensive.
      Do I relentlessly mock everything and anyone associated with Rangers,
      Yes I most definitely do,as again they have that coming to them too,
      big style,plus they make it SO easy.I have never used an offensive
      epithet or a bigoted comment.Do I agree with Eco,JohnBhoy,
      JimBhoy and others who support my team,yes I do,but I have also
      defended you to both Eco and JohnBhoy in the past when I felt
      you were right and they were wrong.Perhaps you don’t recall this

      A few weeks ago when you threw down the gauntlet asking for
      opinions on Archbishop Tartaglia’s Ill advised comparing of the
      discrimination suffered by Catholics to that of African Americans
      pre civil rights,I believe I was the only one who answered you.
      I believe I said the comments were monstrous and I was ashamed
      and embarrassed by the church hierarchy.
      As for your friends cam and Carson and their compatriots,I
      stopped responding to them on account of the inappropriate,
      double entendre remarks,their general lack of civility and their
      reflexive nastiness.Do I mock them to others,again,you bet I do.
      Do I have to attend every argument I’m invited to by them?
      No I don’t and I won’t again and I’d appreciate it if you’d stop referring
      to me in your posts also.If you wish to take something up with me please make your post TO me.

      won’t be Vi.

      • Maggie

        Please ignore “won’t be Vi” was an edit that didn’t edit.

      • MJJT

        Maggie allow I’ve not replied to anyone messages on this site I have read some of these messages over the last year without responding. I like many others do not agree with everything our church says or do but I guess thats why we can have civil discussion regarding many issues one being LNS findings £250k fine for with holding details on side payments for over 11yrs period £47m (what percentage of tax has not been paid on this amount!) the old board at the old rfc should be ashamed but I don’t think they will I feel they would have said we got away with that one well.

        More shame added to the oldgo and now past onto the newco whom the newco bought the history of the oldco.

    • Jamie

      Aye just as you were prepaired to accept the decision if it went against you…hypocritical to the end.

    • “Accept the Learned Lords judgement with “Dignity”
      The Judgement was guilty. There is no problem accepting that.
      That was simply a smug post as opposed to the usual Sevco snide & nasty stuff.
      How about a full unreserved apology on behalf of your discredited, rolling shambles of football institution to rest of Scottish society.
      Not holding my breath. You don,t do walking away & you evidently will not do the decent thing!!!!

  2. cam

    It is all answered here.

    Nimmo: [angrily] Wrong, sir! Wrong! Under section 37B of the contract signed by him, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if – and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy – “I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained,” et cetera, et cetera… “Fax mentis, incendium gloria cultum,” et cetera, et cetera… Memo bis punitor delicatum! It’s all there! Black and white, clear as crystal! You STOLE Fizzy-Lifting Drinks! You BUMPED into the ceiling, which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get… NOTHING!!! You lose! GOOD DAY, SIR! [returns to work]

    Simples this legal stuff.

  3. duggie73

    I’d have expected a High Court judge and 2 QC’s to be able to remember when they are adjudicating according to a balance of probabilities principle or beyond reasonable doubt (whatever that is, your honour).
    More fool me.

  4. We have the intellectual elite questioning a law lord and two queens council , so we respect their findings , as in the ftt two law lords finding in the mighty Rangers favour , so that makes a grand total of ……. hauld own tae a yaes ma fingers ……. five law EXPERTS finding in the mighty Rangers favour ! But i suppose Mick , blessed Maggie , and every other twisted Muppet thinking they know better ! These law EXPERTS had better watch their windows ! Or will they be followed by a private detective ? Just because the lynch mob did not get the sanctions they wanted ! HANG YOUR HEADS IN SHAME .

    • parmahamster

      Well at least it’s buried the pish argument from Dingwall, Graham, et al about Celtic being the ‘establishment club’. Wouldn’t you agree, given that it’s been fine, upstanding pillars of the Scottish establishment who have twice now let this festering sore on the bahookie of Scotland – and Scottish football – off the hook?

    • Brian J

      You must have read a different judgement from me! How can ounsy he commission found in Rangers’ favour? The were found guilty on all counts!
      You cannot even say that your club were found not to have cheated because the omission have contrived by dint of a new interpretation of the rules to avoid that question so asto make the whole thing go away.

    • Carson, imagine the scene. A guy breaks into your house, and the police catch him running down the street with your X box. He is then CHARGED and CONVICTED of the burglary, but allowed to keep your Xbox. Is that what you would say is fair?

  5. zoyler

    Paul, a quick summary – they found a way to get them off!

    • If you ask a lawyer a question and pay him, there is a good chance he will provide an answer. a good lawyer will answer the question you asked.

      He or she will not provide an answer to the question you should have asked, there is no buy one get one free (bogof) in legal circles.

      There is no why didn’t you frame the question better you dunderheid don’t worry I know what you meant (wdyftqbyddwikwym) either.

      You get what you pay for. LNS answered the questions he was asked, what else could be expected.

    • duggie73

      Given the level of harassment Gary Allan QC went through the last time lawyers deciding penalties for RFC’s misdeeds decided to go easy on them, it’s tough to blame them.

  6. Paranoid Obsessive

    “We have heard no evidence of what other football teams in the SPL do regarding similar schemes, or indeed whether or not they exist, so we cannot determine if the non-disclosure gave an advantage.”

    When the SPL asked the other 11 clubs if they had used any kind of similar shemes last year, should the commission not take their word for it, at least as a working assumption, when they all said no?

    It seems a fractured logic to say that there is no evidence of an advantage when irregularities are established because there might be other irregularities for which there’s no evidence – a bit like saying we can’t proceed with a trial in case the judge or jurors are criminals, no?

    Guess that’s why I’m not a lawyer. Thank’s for making some sense of this.

    • eastside

      Well we now know why that desperate attempt of whataboutary to defend Rangers has disappeared. When they didn’t get the answer they were looking for and realised that the answer could actually damage Rangers case it was soon forgotten about and probably sent straight to Campbell Ogilvies shredder. Nobody else was at it, this consolidated Rangers guilt so it was conveniently unimportant.

  7. gerry31

    Given the different thought processes between Garngad bus man & legalise man, was it remiss of Mr McKenzie not to nail down the link between infringement of regulations and consequent sporting advantage, especially if that rational is established in case law?

  8. Adam

    “the use of the EBT schemes allowed Rangers to afford to pay players money that could not have been afforded if all had been paid by a traditional route, such as by way of salary. ”

    It should be said that this is only an opinion and can never be proven as fact. Just because someone accepts £35k per week and £5k loan doesnt mean they wouldnt have accepted a straight forward £36k per week plus on costs.

    It also then follows that the “neutral observer” also deals in hypothetical s.

    “As these players were intended to be better than less expensive players, and as they would not have signed without the EBT scheme, this surely is at least an attempt to gain an advantage.”

    Nobody knows if that is true or not. Its pure guesswork.

    Im awfully glad that the people of the courts deal in hard facts in these matters.

    • Wow just wow!. They were running at a loss (insolvent) even using EBTs.

      • david

        Running a company at a loss does not necessarily mean that a company is insolvent. Ever heard of cash reserves?

        Z- grade

        ( not in Rangers case though )

        • Whyte recycled tax & NI deductions so he could carry on paying wages, until the money ran out. When that happened he had to put them in Administration.

          No cash reserves, ergo insolvent. How hard is that to understand?

          • david

            FFS read the comment.
            I wasnt talking about Rangers specially, apart from the aside that this did not apply in their case.

            Too difficult for you to understand?

            • “apart from the aside that this did not apply in their case.”

              So you ARE saying that Rangers were NOT insolvent, even though they quite clearly were, which was exactly my point.


    • and if you don’t produce the evidence to support your legal argument …… it remains guesswork …….. and guess what AB and Mr McK ….. judges and QC’s don’t do guesswork …… they deal in facts

      Sorry Paul i disagree with you ………….. they should be criticised …..
      Seems like they will have time to reflect at their next meeting as they review the findings …… maybe they will also find the time to also consider their positions ……. newtz

    • iain

      I made the point countless times when they were trying to present their argument as a truism.
      It was one then and it isn’t now. Even if they are STILL trying to say it is.

    • Budweiser

      Righty ho, they came from distant lands ,just to play for the jersey -thats leggoland!

    • They deal. in the facts “presented to them” Adam. I think that it has not gone unnoticed by the good people of Scotland, that Sandy Bryson could have entered his Cadette(is that a legal term?) at a far earlier date and saved a lot of time and money. This late call was very fortunate for Rangers, and if the euro position was looked at, would involve EUFA having a wee look at the SFA and future Scottish participation.
      I like a wee conspiracy theory, and so do the good people of Scotland!
      At the least, I don’t think the SPL will be happy about such a public embarressment. I wonder if they(SPL) now have any paths of recourse to apply SPL rules. After all. Rangers were unanimously found guilty of all charges.

    • eastside

      Actually everybody knows it true.

  9. Felpen

    They have been found guilty yes, Were they dealt with? They do not exist any more so Yes they were dealt with. I have never heard a Celtic or any other SPL Club supporters ask for the titles to be stripped! As someone said today that would be like grave robbing. Let Sevco now try and match the club that once played at Ibrox and maybe one day too they will be able to say they are the Champions of Scotland. It will be a long road Sevco but never give up on the dream and some day just like the Mighty Celtic who became the Champions of Europe one day in 1967, Some day you’re Club might just call themselves Champions of Scotland!

    • cam

      If Celtic draw the 2nd div. team in a cup next season at Parkhead then 30,000 Green Seats will suddenly vanish.
      Peculiar that.
      And when they call this “new” team,its fans and officials,Huns,then that will be even more peculiar.
      Oh what a tangled web we weave,,,,,

    • FairBairn

      The whole point of the chase is that it’s lost already. Celtic were the first British team to win the European Cup…The ‘First’. Therefore like Roger Bannister, their name goes down in history as the Trailblazer. No one can overtake a day in History, and the way in which it was done, with a team of local lads, will hardly be repeated by any club ever.

  10. cam

    Now the big question is this.
    Can enough legal minds advise the SFA/SPL of a possible goat path by which to defeat the 300?
    I’m sure they will try,even in the light of Doncasters pronouncement today.
    Could they afford an appeal?
    Who pays for it?
    And after two skelpings is it not more dignified to admit defeat?

    • Adam

      Can they appeal their own independent commission ???

      • cam

        I heard some sore losers discuss it on Clyde SSB, but we were playing stick the tail on the Donkeyaster at the time and i’m on margaritas now!

      • Loadofmalarkey

        Adam it is a good question, even if only said in jest. Surely, both parties can appeal!

        Paul, IMHO, you have set up the blog to show that there is indeed grounds for appeal by the SPL, and that if the SPL address the “sporting” competitive advantage question they could be successful. The question is, do they want to be successful?

        I have read the comments tonight by Mr David Murray. I haven’t agreed with much that Mr Murray has said during his tenure at Rangers, but I can’t help but agree with his comment where he asks why the SPL had not questioned the use of EBT earlier. I can only conclude that it was either ignored by the SPL for reasons unknown or was questioned and a satisfactory answer provided. If the second scenario is indeed the case, I would like to know what answer was provided. If it is the first scenario, everyone should be asking why the SPL not asking question about the EBTs, after all, if they are not the guardian of their own rules, as disfunctional as they seem, then who is?

        • willy wonka

          And if your auntie had baws. Hahahaha.
          Get a life !

        • Adam

          Im not sure they can appeal. It was their commission.

          “Can you do this for us please and when you dont give us the answer we want, can we do it again?”

          • Loadofmalarkey

            It was not their commission (I believe the SPL and SFA have been actively trying to get away from such a scenario through appointing independant bodies). From what I understand, it was an independent commission setup at the request of the SPL. I would see no reason why it could not be appealed if so desired by the SPL. I would also hesitate to say the result was not what the SPL wanted, as the governing body, I presume they want the right decision and if they see a flaw in the argument of LNS, or in their own presentation of the facts, then surely they should have the right to address this?

        • Den

          Who is going to appeal. Oldco is in liquidation so the fine has no impact. Newco is unaffected.

          It was an inquiry and not a trial so SPL and SFA were only concerned with establishing if rules were broken, it was established that they were.

          All that can happen is that the governing bodies review their rules so they are not so malleable.

        • It was mentioned in the FTT that the payments were camouflaged.

      • eastside

        Not sure how it works legally, but millions of Scottish football supporters have decided Rangers are a disgraceful institution who have shamed the game they love. No ammount of legal connivance can change that, in fact it only hardens their opinion that Rangers have cheated them and stolen from them, millions now view them with contempt and disgust.

  11. Shame on you, for even trying to justify these shambolic assessments by (edited) judges, just like the FTT. Your profession is a ‘SHAM’ and a disgrace to modern society.

    • Michael

      nonsense comment! Are you actually reading (and more importantly, comprehending) Paul’s post before you commented?

      The thought process of the commission is fascinating and provides a lesson for everyone that language is a precision instrument, not a baseball bat to beat someone over the head with.

      • “Am i criticizing the Commission for reaching this decision at this point? No”

        Why not? Again, Why not?

        So there isn’t no right or wrong, everything is grey matter. It is about working between the lines of truth.

        In a week that proves our clergy are fallible to the weakness of human frailties, but no, not our judges. They are above that, aye right. Wake Up.

        Say your prayers and go back to sleep, nothing to see here.

        • david

          Judges deal in facts and matters of law.
          Human frailty does not come into it; any aberrations are left at the door.

    • Wow ……. how on earth do you come to THAT conclusion
      I don’t agree with the decision, but i fully understand why they came to tthe finding ….. and once it’s pointed out where the issue was ….. i have to agree …………… but corrupt ????? ……..

    • david

      Please state clearly who is corrupt and why, so that they can take the appropriate action against you.

    • david

      Get the Valium out

  12. Colin McEwan

    It was the result the establishment wanted. They got it.

    The punters who were looking for justice got zip.

    • david


      • willy wonka

        At least he didn’t blame the Masons.
        That comes tomorrow.
        Hee hee hee.

        • Budweiser

          lol, lol. What about your last post? lol,lol. So it was ‘rangers’ who stole the money? lol,lol,lol. I’d accuse you of being infantile, but you probably would say it was child abuse. Are you not even going to apologise? lol,lol.

    • david

      Could it have been the Illuminati / P2 / the lizard Aliens from V / The Knights Templars- maybe even the Methodists?

      • Budweiser


        Personally, I blame the methodists. No wait, perhaps there’s methodists in their madnessists. Unlike this decision, lol

  13. iain

    “As was heard in evidence in the FTT, the use of the EBT schemes allowed Rangers to afford to pay players money that could not have been afforded if all had been paid by a traditional route, such as by way of salary.”

    We heard no such thing in the decision of the FTT.
    We did hear it claimed for months on this blog and others right enough…I don’t think that’s actually the same thing.

    • ‘in evidence’ or ‘in the decision’?
      which is it?

      • willy wonka

        Seeing as how it was ra selliks lawyers who gathered the evidence, I’d say it was both.

        • Steven brennan

          Just finished work and found out LNS decisions, your team got off lightly again.
          The fact that the lawyers are Celtics representatives is a little ironic, you and others on here have been calling them down prior to the judgement. But now they are ok, what it tells me is Celtic have very good lawyers who will not be swayed by stupid threats or criticisms in doing their job.
          I dont care about titles etc as you would always have claimed them if stripped and we dont want them, the law stated today your team are cheats and issued a punishment,
          So I know and you know
          Someone on here tonight sugested if Celtic draw sevco next year in a cup tie they would make 30000 seats available to sevco in order to benefit from the orange pound.
          I believe a third tier team would be allocated the minimum tickets allowed under league rules and we would require money up front.
          Charles Green if still there will call a boycott as cant afford any money up front.
          Enjoy your trip to stirling next week
          I am off to Turin

          • cam

            No Steven, i commented that an extra 30,000 members of the Green Seat brigade would mysteriously appear to watch the Tic hammer this new 2nd division team with no history.
            The small fact that they may call them Huns, would also be mysterious..
            I do like a good mystery.
            The Gers were proven by an independent commission made up of lawlords,experts in sports law,not to have cheated to gain a sporting advantage.
            Nowt mysterious about that.

            • Arb urns

              When did being found guilty of four breaches of rules and a 250k fine slip out of the cheating category in a sporting sense.

  14. I guess Paul is putting the point i am trying to make, that AB and Mr McK completely underestimated what they were dealing with …… simply conceding important points the Commission were putting to them.

    As Paul states …..
    ‘It would appear not to have struck the SPL “prosecution” that there would need to be evidence about the advantage gained solely from non-disclosure, as opposed to disclosure’

    And amazingly, cams response above actually sums it up succinctly
    …. you got it spot on cam ……. lol

    Paul wraps up with …….
    ‘Am I criticising the Commission for reaching this decision on this point? No. I am not. I can see the logic of the approach it took although I suspect that such a fine analysis of sporting advantage has never troubled those deciding on football rule-breaking before’

    Why not ? ……as your blog points out ……… they were completely out of their depth

    And finally a question …..
    Does this decision put the SPL/SFA in jeopardy with UEFA/FIFA rules ?

  15. Schoosh 71 , just to get this clear , are you saying lord nimmo smith is corrupt along with the Qcs and the law lords on the ftt ? PLEASE if you do , can you REPEAT this ?

  16. Thomas

    Sandy Bryson supplied get out of jail free card, this is and always has been a legal trial on how to create a high level excuse for the SFA to save their club, whats their signing policy? Any employees sacked for anti rangers/protestant doings? nope?

    • iain

      ” Any employees sacked for anti rangers/protestant doings? nope?”

      No…I don’t think anyone was sacked for their subjudicy over the Duncan Ferguson affair. Or for using TV evidence when they shouldn’t have to ban Souness from the dugout for a year.

      I can’t think why.

      • Thomas

        Aye yer right enuff, except it was the Police that charged big doo lover, and Souness got done for breaking the rules, fkn sorry the tv was invented to show him. Well, ye’ll get yer fern, cheats, proven, never forgotten by every fan of the game.
        Good luck getting a bank loan next year! Peepil, yer delusional, reep it, mon The Rovers!

        • iain

          Souness was done using TV evidence….I’m sure even you realise that wasn’t admissible at the time.

          The police made the SFA break their own rules (re-judging something the referee already ruled on) and made them also pre-judge him before an actual court case?

  17. cam

    You see its all down to the personnel.
    How the team was picked.
    Remember when you picked the teams at school and nobody wanted the wee dumpy fella, and when you got him you stuck him in goal?
    Rod got stuck in goal and did a Clemence,,,,,nutmeg!

  18. What this whole debate needs is Ecojon, Mick, Maggie and others to tell us all where we have gone wrong. I, for one am not surprised that RFC have been found guilty on all counts – they should have been. But what these bile spouting posters could not get their heads around was that any punishment other than death might be possible. As with the BTC and the IPO they are all putting their faith i.e. proving they were right all along, in that LNS got it wrong just as they did with the minority verdict in the BTC and the fact that all the investors in the IPO must be insane. It’s not our fault, we were right, it’s all those QC’s, tax experts and Institutional Investors who got it wrong. Some people on here make me nauseous. As I have said before, bile and hatred do not make for objective analysis. But, Cam and Carson, I still don’t like Rangers, but I have a respect for both of you. I am already Cam aka the Bigot’s Moll, Can I be yours too Carson.

    I feel a certain euphoria after all the abuse I have taken. I now realise, that being objective is a good way to be. Though I suspect there will be howling at that last sentence, mind you, those doing the howling are always wrong it seems.

    • cam

      There are a few things about the Gers i don’t like,new and old.
      Hopefully the bigoted fans can be ostracised,the good fans expectations lowered to within our means, and the humbling spectacle of the last few years will make us appreciate, that due to many loyal folks hard work and dedication, that we still have a team to follow.
      The air of supremacy of old must go,other than to wind up the Tic fans.
      Maggie,mick and Eco are in hiding but they will return with their opinions and bayonets fixed.
      Let them come after us,we welcome the chase.

    • Violet , a very balanced and thought through post , as a Rangers supporter I don’t expect anyone to like , love , admire or kiss my ar#e , but I do expect my club to be innocent until proven guilty , to be given any punishment that is fitting to any crime , and not be given draconian sanctions before a trial or tribunal has even started ! But the bigoted haters masquerading behind intellect should have known better , after all they are intellectually superior , we only wanted a fair trial , well we have got two ! But the intellectual lynch mob will not be satisfied , but , they are now a laughing stock . And I would not wish what Rangers and it’s supporters have went through in the last year on anyone and I sincerely hope the jambos get it together soon , and you can be my Moll anytime ! ( but ditch that cam threes a crowd )

      • Michael


        remember that Rangers were found guilty this afternoon, but the punishment fitted the crimes the commission found.

        It looks like the SPL / SFA rules were never written tightly enough in the first place. Rejoice that RFC plc haven’t had anything worse than a fine, but note that a tribunal and a commission have found deliberate obfuscation by Rangers – that both of them seem to think was unnecessary in the first place!

        It seems Rangers thought what they were doing was dodgy, but the rules actually read that is was ok!

        Gotta love the irony!

      • cam

        You sleekit fox carson!
        I have defended fair Violet against all comers, and whilst i’m getting my armour polished you sneak in and whisk her away!
        I hope her fella catches you and nails your feet to the Famous Five stand,and dresses you up as Gary Locke.

    • Michael

      maybe it’s got something to do with being a biased Celtic supporter Violet!

      I might not agree with the thinking of the commission, but I can totally agree with their logic.

      Rangers are guilty as charged, but the charges are weaker than thought!

      Violet as, hopefully, unbiased onlookers to an Old Firm lovers tiff, we non old-firmites should keep trying to see through the bull excrement both sides exude.

    • Loadofmalarkey

      Objective, really? It is clear to see (read) from the language that you use (eg. nauseous, bile, death), justified or not, that you can no longer be objective, even if you started out with that intention. You feel victimised, as evidenced by your euphoria statement, people who feel victimised can not be objective. You do state a lack of surprise that Rangers were found to be guilty. Does the crime fit the punishment? Now that is objective !

    • Bill

      I too was branded a bile spouting troll for posting an argumentative view despite not giving a toss about either team .

    • Maggie

      I posted a reply to you,but some how it ended up at the top of
      the page.
      Please inform you BFF that I’m am far from in hiding,if he cares to
      check he will see I have posted on every thread today.
      As I said above “I do not have to attend every fight I’m invited too”
      despite this being his intention.

      • Cregganduff

        If she’s eloped with Carson to his personal dunghill (according to cam), she’s probably too busy scratching herself to pay attention.

        Just to say that I am surprised that no one mentioned Reginald Hill last week and Ian Rankin is certainly worth a read or two.

        Giving this up and going back to my books, Jo Nesbo and Dan Simmons at the moment.

        Can’t be bothered with judges who say, “You’re guilty of bare faced robbery, but you can keep your ill-gotten gains if you donate £20 to a charity of your choice.

        • cam

          Finding solace in a good book,,,a fine idea.
          “when defeat comes,accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound
          rebuild those plans,and set sail once more towards your coveted goal”

        • Budweiser


          Off on a technicality, OK. moving on. Reg hill is fantastic! Haven’t read joe nesbo but have heard good things. Brit. writers – Stephen Booth,Peter Robinson, the ‘Frost’ series rip.Scots – Stuart mac Bride, Alex Gray, Val mc D. US, have you tried George Pelecanos? – Happy mayhem!

          • cam

            I’m gonna do a rework of the famous Hitlers bunker sketch,where Adolf is the Coyote,berating Paul,Phil,Stu, RTC,Thommo,etc for not delivering victories in the FTTT and LNS.
            If you need a long term read about obsession,victory,defeat,madness and ego then try,,,no, not Downfall,,,,The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich by William L Shirer,,,awesome read.
            night night

            • Budweiser


              Read Shirer’s book too many years ago to mention. As you probably know it was the first book written about hitlers downfall [ no pun intended].
              By modern historians it is largely regarded as a propaganda history ,especially the ‘bunker ‘ period when he described hitler as a ‘teppich frescher’ [quite literally] meaning ‘carpet chewer’. Nonetheless, as you say, it is a ‘good read’ and should be recommended for insomniacs.
              A more objective read imho [ sorry vi] is The Third Reich by Richard Burleigh. The Unknown Hitler by Ernst Hanfstaegl is good for hitlers origins, and if you want good easy reads about ww2 ,anything by Stephen E Ambrose is just the ticket. night night.

        • Maggie

          I know how you feel,but you will be a loss to the site.
          I too have considered retreating from the fray,but I
          couldn’t bear to let the trolls think they had “won” anything.
          They don’t seem to like me CD,so I must be doing something
          right. 🙂
          I have two Richard North Patterson,and two new Andrea Camilleri
          Inspector Montalbano books to read,and I’ve looked out the classics.
          Silas Marner by George Eliot and A room with a View by EM Forster
          to re read.
          Best wishes to you and yours Cregganduff,happy reading.

  19. Ladies and gentlemen of the court. After much deliberation, many sleepless nights, and listening to what seemed like years of debate and legal point proving. I have finally reached a decision, It is as follows. It has been established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the accused did follow the victim down the dark alleyway. Furthermore, forensic examination has proved that the accused did in fact, attack the victim, stabbing him 57 times in the chest and abdomen, smashing the victims head to such an extent that his brains were expelled from his ears. The accused then willfully decapitated the victim and dismembered the torso, disposing of the remains various locations around the outskirts of the city. Of this there is no doubt. The accused is undeniably guilty of the allegations brought before me.
    A reporter pipes up from the public gallery, ” Is that it then big man, guilty of culpable homicide?”. “Homicide, …murder?” Replied the judge, Now hold on a wee minute! Nobody told me he was deid!”

  20. Sassenach

    Paul, just a thought but isn’t this point about the SFA etc representatives not asking/providing the real information required even though the Commission didn’t ask for it, they should have known it was needed exactly the same argument that came out in the FTT conclusion that the 2/1 majority result was for the same reason. The protagonists didn’t present the exact required information? What we have to decide in this tangled web was, where such omissions ignorance, neglect or deliberate…from my humble reading of the cases.

  21. ROBBO

    The findings of Lord Nimmo Smith against the thoughts of a shamed lawyer, a bit of a no brainer is it not!

  22. Michael , I totally understand the tribunals findings and their verdict and punishment , but as a football fan we have been told that the players were legally and legitimately registered and no sporting advantage was given , as I’ve said we only wanted a fair hearing , not a lynch mob , and btw I certainly do no include you in that , your views have been balanced and respectful and you failed to get caught up in a bloodlust , as sdm put it ” bayoneting the wounded “

    • Michael

      cheers carson,

      my personal opinion was that `Rangers had fielded ineligibl players due to the dual contracts, but I was waiting on the decision of the commission.

      Now we have the decision I am hugely amused that the very rules of the SPL let a guilty verdict for Rangers mean they did not field ineligible players.

      I just want people to read the text and not the headlines, before making ill-informed comments. My own ill-informed comments are from reading half of the decision and half of Paul’s post, so I’m way ahead of most of us!

      Before the decision I thought the triumphal baying of Celtic fans was wrong and post the decision, I think the triumphal baying of Rangers fans is wrong – but much more understandable!

      All I really want is people to remember they are humans and be respectful to one another, even when their is a huge divide in opinion. What I hate is taking a fact and distorting it to the point where it is un-recognisable.

      Rangers should celebrate they have lost no titles, but remember they were found guilty of the charges, but the charges themselves were weakly founded on the SPL’s own rules.

      The SPL / whichever it will be next season, should make sure their rules are solid.

      The idea that Lord Nimmo Smith has to point out to them their rules don’t pass inspection is surely embarrassing!

      Well done Rangers, this is a Pyrric victory, but a victory for their fans nonetheless.

      • cam

        Exactly Michael,a small victory amidst a sea of accusations and threats of annihilation.
        Our over exuberant claims of victory and not guilty, are, for the most part to wind up the bhoys,who for two years have dished it out.
        The titles being secured is a victory for the ordinary fan.
        The more learned can immerse themselves in the legalese, and exchange banter of a higher quality over a gin in the golf clubs.
        I’m taking my 54 and counting tea cup into work instead.

        • Cam, Michael never called it a victory. He has taken a balanced view and pointed out that you were found guilty. Very very guilty! But you foundawee loophole in the shape of Sandy Bryson. A man well known for his honesty and impartiality. I seem to recall that, before the verdict, you predicted the fat lady of title stripping, was on the see-saw wth the light weight Carson.

          • cam

            Yes Barca,i do understand Pyrrhic and agree with his summation.
            The only thing i’m interested in is that the titles are secured by an independent panel commissioned by the Spl and with evidence presented by CFC’s lawyers led by a fervent Tic supporter.
            Now thats my kind of justice.
            Nobody can say it was a Masonic whitewash.
            I went along with all the very erudite posters and it looked grim,but at the back of my blue napper i hoped for an BTC result and hey Tesco!,we got it.
            After two horrible years we will grab this grubby little victory and hold it tight.
            Can you blame us?
            I sense that the war is over now,the Tic are top of the tree for now and we’ll be playing catch up.
            But we will catch up,,,,thats a promise.

            • I agree, its been a horrible 2 years. I think there will probably be another 2. Maybe more sporadic, and spread out to come. I don’t know much about the masons. I worked with one once who was quite high up, a goblin or something. He broke the law,(badly), and that was him out the door! (Probably for getting caught.:-) ). Bring on thechase big yin,,,,,and get Carson aff that feckin seesaw!. He,ll freeze up there.

      • Den


        I like your reasoning.

        The report is nothing like the press and fan reaction would have you believe. A lot of the report arguments were certainly not apparent to me initially; but iI have mostly come round to their way of thinking and am open to being convinced on other points.

        It was the right decision and I leave the sanctions to the panel, it was a tricky decision and in the end they couldn’t please everyone.

        Looking to the future the rules governing football have once again been shown up. Time to tighten them up,

  23. beemacel

    Paul McBride. – Oh how you are missed.

  24. majorcoverup

    Rule D1.13 is really quite clear and the registration issue is clearly being used as a diversion.

    “A Club must as a condition of Registration and for a Player to be eligible to Play in Official Matches, deliver the executed originals of all Contracts of Service and
    Amendments and/or extensions to Contracts of Service and all other agreements providing for payment …..”

    “and” is the key word in that first phrase.

    So, it follows that it would not have been necessary to rescind the player registration as stated in this contrived judgement, as the relevant rule clearly states that registration and eligibility to play are BOTH impacted by any failure to provide the required paperwork.

    Therefore it would be quite possible (as in this case) for a player to be registered but still not be eligible to play.

    Not eligible = Unfair Sporting advantage

  25. Arb urns

    Why were ict given this long winded explanation that Danny Wilson was properly registered and eligible to play in the comms cup semi because he had served his suspension down south when we are now told as soon as sfa accepted his registration it didn’t matter if it was wrong. Surely mr b gave his evidence Pre the cc semi or when did the policy change

    • iain

      The question was whether Wilson should have been suspended. Not whether he was registered.

      It’s really not that hard to follow.

      • Arb urns

        Accepted not the best exampl Iain, willie Woodburn at the time probably better illustrates the point, although memory says sfa accepted wilsons reg with no outstanding int suspensions from the fa so by what we have heard today any suspensions would have been irrelevant if sfa register in error.

  26. Bill

    Is Mick feelin No’well .

  27. KennyE

    Why don’t we just get on with the football now, ladies and gentlemen.
    Celtic are on a revenge mission against St Mirren in the quarter final of the Scottish Cup on Saturday then on to Turin. Two very exciting games to look forward to. Rangers have got East Stirlingshire in another meaningless crapfest. Wait a minute: Ray Stubbs and the ESPN team will be watching – quick, hand out the approved songsheets!

  28. thirdparty

    I would suggest that the analysis of commercial advantage has to start from the correct point in order to assess the decision of the Commission and the approach taken by the SPL at the hearing.

    In this context the question for the Commission was whether RFC derived such an advantage by operating its EBT scheme for players on the basis that it did not disclose its details to the SFA/SPL rather than reporting the details as the Commission held it ought to have done.

    It is clear from the FTT decision that disclosure or non disclosure of the EBT arrangments was not material as to whether there were taxable emoluments in the form of the loans to the players by the sub trusts. It appears clear that the reason why no evidence was presented to establish that non disclosure led to commercial advantage was because there was and is no evidence that such was the case.

    The FTT decision is critical in this respect.

    Of course RFC gained a commercial advantage by using EBTs for players but the FTT found the scheme was legitimate from a tax perspective. If other clubs did not derive the same advantage it is because they did not use what the FTT has held to be a legitimate tax avoidance scheme. Even if the FTT decision is reversed on appeal it may make no difference on this issue if the reason for reversal of the decision is not related to non disclosure to the SFA/SPL.

  29. Paul, have the SPL simply played a blinder here, by not asking LNS for a ruling on sporting advantage? Now that guilt on all 4 counts has been established, could it be that as the custodians of the integrity of the league, it is now for the SPL to decide on sporting advantage. The LNS verdict merely being to decide if there had been a breach of rules? There are still the terms of the 5way agreement to consider. Any mileage in this?

  30. Steven brennan

    Well well
    Decision by Lord Nimmo Smith went straight down the middle.
    Kept Rangers fans happy by not taking titles
    Kept everyone else happy by finding them guilty as charged.
    Barca buster may have a point in suggesting the league could still issue sanctions for cheating, but I doubt they have he balls.
    Rangers went bust last year and are in the bottom tier of Scottish football as a result, title stripping and financial penalties to the old club have nothing to do with the current tenants of ibrox.
    Move on everyone

  31. Marching on Together

    I suspect Rod McKenzie might be facing some awkward questions form his instructing party at the SPL. I also wonder who was engaged to draft the SPL’s rules for them. If it was Harper McLeod, I wonder if they have had a conversation with their indemnity insurers about what has transpired.

  32. bluemusiccat

    I think what you’re really saying in this piece is that when dealing with the law a party has to present a case (in this case the SPL) having left no stone unturned. Unfortunately they left the door open to Nimmo Smith having to state there was no advantage because they didn’t think to produce the right evidence to supportort the claim. It doesn’t mean there was no evidence. It is clear from the comments to your blog that no matter what decisions are taken by law lords – even findings of guilt – Rangers and their fans will always find a way of interpreting them as a victory. The fact that David Murray was still using words like ‘witch hunt’ in his statement yesterday says it all. And, no – I’m not a Celtic fan, I’m just concerned about fairness for everyone in football.

  33. Night Terror

    A helpful & valuable summary of the commission’s findings Paul – thanks.

  34. dan

    Paul, you really are a disappointment. You say you are a lawyer, yet you do not seem to be acquainted with ‘Sandy’s Law.’ That’s the one that says that even if a player is illegally registered with the SFA, it’s not illegal till it’s been discovered to be illegal—or innocent until actually caught. Simple. Now let’s all move on, and accept the LNS decision. Given that he had to apply Sandy’s Law, LNS —and you and me for that matter—-could not have arrived at any other conclusion.

  35. The questions asked of the hearing was – Should Rangers of declared the payments to the SPL.

    LNS clearly stated that the answer was Yes, however no sporting advantage was gained by not declaring the payments.

    A different question is did operating an EBT scheme give Rangers a sporting advantage. The answer to whihc IMO is possibly.

    However as other clubs could of done the same and (appeal permitting) these were perfectly legal, then surely any advantage gained was as a result of other clubs not following suit.

    When playing snooker, a player can use chalk on his cue, and if the othe rplayer does not use the chalk then the first player has gained an advantage. How can that be the fault of the first player, as the second player choose not to do so.

    • lordmac

      if some can only buy from the penny tray within the rules, and the other buys from the tanner tray is there an advantage with the guy having 5 times the spending power. and should he have been shown the tanner tray at all, within the rules these rules belong to the SFA and the SPL and it should be down to them now to administer there
      punishments now that 3 law lords have stated the case time for the SFA to put 4 wrongs right

      • Couldn’t agree more Lordmac. My initial disillusionment has been swept away by a rising groundswell to see justice done. The SFA will have no interest to pursue this, basically because title stripping will overspill into euro games, thus involving Eufa and tricky questions. But the SPL have been outflanked, and deliberately made to look silly. The SPL is merely a collective custodian term, and is equally owned by member clubs. Unhappy member clubs..

      • Not as stupid as they looked after the Lennon touchline ban farce

  36. petescully

    Paul what did you think of Lord Nimmo Smiths jugdement
    the magic circle 1993

  37. “And so we have the decision which is already being reported as the EBT scheme not giving Rangers any competitive advantage, when in fact the Commission never even considered that”

    Do you not think that they were correct in doing that as it was not possible to make a proper judgement on Rangers when the books of all the other SPL clubs had not been as closely scrutinized and their findings presented to the Independent SPL Commission?

    First year Law?

  38. eastside

    The fact they went down the bog as soon as they couldn’t continue to pay the players tax free proves that not only did they have an advantage but they were unsustainable as a top Club without that advantage. They could have lives within their means but of course supremacy delusions and the belief of entitlement would never allow such action.

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