08 November 2015

A quick word on "financial doping"


by Dougie Wright | Guest Contributor

It’s a cold winter’s night in the East End of Glasgow. Temperatures have plummeted and a stiff breeze swirls around the Parkhead car park.

However, that has failed to dampen the cheer of the small group of supporters who turned up on 1st February 2010.

“Absolutely magic! That’s just won us the league so it has.”

Grinning furiously, it was clear to this punter that something rather significant had happened. Something that would see his Celtic team overcome a ten point deficit to beat Rangers to the title. No doubt about it.

On the final day of the 2010 January transfer market, Celtic signed Irish striker Robbie Keane on loan until the end of the season from Tottenham Hotspur. Keane had come with some pedigree. Already Ireland’s all time international goalscorer, the Dublin native had forged an illustrious career for himself with Inter Milan, Leeds, Tottenham and Liverpool, amassing over £90m in transfer fees. This was quite the coup for Celtic.

While unable to take Celtic to any silverware, it was not through Keane’s lack of trying. Sixteen goals in nineteen games is a superb return by any estimation, and throughout Scotland, Keane proved himself as a cut above the rest.

Over the past few days, the Big Tax Case ‘result’ has seen a familiar line of argument from a familiar list of writers. One such phrase that has populated such articles is “financial doping”.

Usually followed with a reference to Lance Armstrong, the inference is that the EBTs allowed Rangers to pay players more than it could otherwise afford, and thus gain a sporting advantage. Similar to Armstrong, any success was said to have been gained artificially; “cheating” some call it.

Back to the East End. Celtic in February 2010 were a club in trouble. They had failed to qualify for the Champions League, and with new manager Tony Mowbray at the helm, they were not only ten points behind Rangers, but just two clear of third place Hibs at a pretty advanced stage of the season. There was a real risk of the team finishing third in the league. How could Celtic afford a guy like Robbie Keane?

They couldn’t.

Keane’s £65,000 a week wages were funded not by the club, but by its major shareholder Dermot Desmond. With Desmond footing the bill, Celtic were thus able to secure the services of a player they could not otherwise afford. Similarly, five years earlier, Celtic had been able to sign the Manchester United captain Roy Keane from under the noses of Real Madrid - again thanks to their Irish benefactor.

To talk about “financial doping” is to speak of gaining an unfair, artificial injection of funds. The bold moral crusade has had Rangers guilty of this well before any tribunal could decide for themselves. While more talented writers than myself have dealt with the actual “advantages” gained by Rangers during the EBT years, I feel the following questions are pertinent:

Did Robbie Keane’s goals lend Celtic a “sporting advantage”? Could Celtic afford to pay his £65,000 a week wages? Is it moral that Celtic’s owner can fund such luxury signings regardless of the club’s balance sheet?

Dealing with morals in football is a dodgy business. Throwing around terms like “financial doping” is dodgier still. 

And when you focus the lens on certain clubs and zoom in, not all of them are as moral as they would have you believe.

25 comments:

  1. Oh dear, straw clutching indeed, our owner bank rolls 2 short term players and Rangers cheat for 9 years lol of course it's the same lol

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  2. Marius Niculae at Inverness was another. Chairman paid his.

    How can a player registered at a club but his wage being paid outside the club's accounts even be within league rules? Even the EBT payments were on our accounts, ffs.

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  3. We didn't break any laws on obtaining the two players you mention or hide any documents so get off your knees

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    1. We never get down on our knee's so no need to get off them

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  4. Investment from the majority shareholder being compared to tax evasion. I've heard some dumb arguments made for Rangers, but this is by far the worst of them.

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    1. Tax avoidance not tax evasion. Big difference

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  5. Jeezo man!!! Get a grip!! You cheated end of story!

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  6. hahaha what kind of logic is that. dermot desmond can inject cash for wages into the club if he wants to. If thats what he did then that definitely means we could afford them, he's on the celtic board for goodness sake he isn't just some randomer treating the club like a charity!

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  7. There is a presumption that the EBT system used by Rangers was the only opyion available and thus the bonuses were not affordable.
    I fact there were other options , for example , I believe one such method was to use the EBT but make the bonus payment after the player had left the club.
    Same result, same bonus
    Tried and tested I believe

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  8. Interesting that the latest legal opinion suggest that every other legal opinion given previously was wrong..
    Can we expect an appeal to the supreme court or is it a case of 2 nil down , next goal the winner.

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  9. Funniest article I've heard in a long time!! No one said it was financial doping when Dave King put money into Rangers (Oldco that is cause he hasn't put a penny into Newco). And it ain't financial doping if Desmond bankrolled wages. And that's a big if. Don't believe everything u read in the papers. Roy Keane's second book specifically said he was on buttons at Celtic and there's not a hope in hell Robbie was on €65k a week

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    1. Do you think Robbie is going to say in public yes I got 65,000 a week the tax man would be rubbing his hands and we don't believe like the clown's over in potatoe land everything that is in print

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  10. There are basically two types of opinion
    One supports the notion that victory is achieved on the park
    The other relies on off field tactics and you need only look at recent progress in Europe to see where that has been encouraged.
    Unfortunately there are too many playing extra time on events which kicked off more than 300 years ago

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  11. No one complains about a director putting money in to a club, £20m to old co from King and loans recently to newco. How the club spends that money is the club's concern. Fans across the country have no issue with that but not paying tax and using money that is due to the tax paying public is completely different. If you cannot see that you are another that does your club a disservice

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  12. The difference is it was legitimate money from the owner of the club, not taxpayers money that could have been spent on hospitals, education and roads. That is why it is and always will be cheating and the trophies tainted in the eyes of most Scots. If it had been Murray's own money then fair play but he made the club no different than the dopers in other sports.

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    1. So what about the tax avoidance schemes used by former celtic players and manager, including old Liewell himself. Inside Track Productions LLP & Ingenious Film partners to name a couple of them. HMRC have said they broke tax laws. Is this any different from EBT's? Don't think so.

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    2. Another who is certain of what happened,even though various law lords and tax experts have opposing views on the rights and wrongs of the tax scheme. Also interesting that you have surveyed and become the mouthpiece for most Scots. With the taxpayers money line you sound like a third rate politician trying to gain sympathy for your views in a very crude way.

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    3. Another who is certain of what happened,even though various law lords and tax experts have opposing views on the rights and wrongs of the tax scheme. Also interesting that you have surveyed and become the mouthpiece for most Scots. With the taxpayers money line you sound like a third rate politician trying to gain sympathy for your views in a very crude way.

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  13. Where are you getting your facts about players wages being paid by chairmen?
    I've just finished Roy's book and he mentions that he signed for Celtic for £15k per week (knocking back £50k f r om Madrid).
    Like a scarecrow having a w@nk, me thinks your clutching at straws

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  14. Where are you getting your facts about players wages being paid by chairmen?
    I've just finished Roy's book and he mentions that he signed for Celtic for £15k per week (knocking back £50k f r om Madrid).
    Like a scarecrow having a w@nk, me thinks your clutching at straws

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  15. unless it can be proved 100% that Rangers wouldnt have won those titles without the big name players, taking those titles away is impossible.

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Keep it civil, lads.