28 February 2013

Rangers: The Real Scandal?

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

Rangers Football Club began the day with a domestic honours list unparalleled in world football. There was however considerable doubt as to whether or not this would still be intact after the SPL’s Independent Commission had delivered its verdict on alleged rule breaches revolving around the Club’s use of Employee Benefit Trusts and whether or not such payments had to be disclosed to the authorities.

The subject has received considerable coverage, often misinformed and without substance. It has been hyped up and exaggerated to the point where many were frothing at the mouth at such a disgraceful sporting scandal. The newspapers and certain journalists of course used the opportunity to portray the sensationalist picture of Rangers cheating their way to success and of a great injustice being done to our game over the last decade or so. This was naturally absorbed by the many non-Rangers fans out there and our club was subsequently labelled as cheats who gained a sporting advantage through illegal measures of tax evasion.

The facts though cannot escape people forever and thankfully today provided further vindication of the stance taken by Rangers and its fans as Lord Nimmo Smith & Co confirmed that no ineligible players represented the Club at any point and that no unfair sporting advantage was gained in any way through the utilisation of the EBT scheme. As you can imagine, this came as quite a kick in the nuts to the many detractors who were desperate to believe otherwise.

There has of course been a real scandal in our game but it had nothing to do with tax matters or any alleged non-disclosure of payments. The real injustice here is just what has happened to our Club at the hands of those who were bloodthirsty and relentless in their pursuit to destroy Rangers. Scottish Football has shown itself to be completely and utterly corrupt and it's about time that people started looking at the real issues in our game.

The Scottish Premier League should have been aware of Rangers’ EBT scheme from the very beginning as it was clearly disclosed in the financial statements submitted to them each and every year. Then of course there was the emergence of the Big Tax Case although again nothing was done. The SPL instead waited until Rangers lay wounded and defenceless before unleashing their attack, a cowardly act in anyone’s eyes. And let’s not pretend that they were impartial in all of this. The SPL was acting as the prosecution with Harper MacLeod and Rod McKenzie going on the offensive. I just hope their member clubs are happy with just how their money is being spent.

This is only the most recent instance where the football authorities in this country have neglected their duties and went out of their way to harm our club. In other parts of the world it is common for the governing bodies to assist their members in such times of distress. You only have to look at the Portsmouth situation south of the border to see a significant contrast. It would appear however that the memo never quite made it to Hampden Stadium.

Let’s not forget that Rangers were already given a sanction deemed unlawful by the Court of Session in Edinburgh. We were also fined because of the actions of Craig Whyte and his decision to withhold sums due to the tax authorities. If anyone believes that all the governing bodies sought was justice then perhaps they should take a few minutes to think again. 
If that wasn’t bad enough we had the farcical summer that saw sporting integrity rise to the fore, a pathetic sham designed to mask the hate and intentions of certain individuals. The SPL launched the rulebook through the shredder and proceeded to bluff their way from meeting to meeting in the hope that somebody would make the decision for them. Instead the buck was passed all the way down the ladder to the supporters and, when that happened, there was only ever going to be one outcome. Rangers were banished.
Part of the problem I think was the perception of the club at the time. Rangers had the Big Tax Case hanging over their heads as well as the SPL investigation and it’s probably fair to acknowledge that this clouded the judgement of far too many people who were all too willing to buy into the propaganda being published about the big, bad cheats at Ibrox. The authorities though sat back and watched and were in fact culpable in creating such an inaccurate image. They also shirked their responsibilities when it really mattered. It was therefore down to the SFL. 
The application to join the Football League should really have been a relatively straightforward process. It perhaps would have been if it wasn’t for the involvement of the SPL and their buddies at the SFA who decided to bully and threaten the SFL chairmen into unprecedentedly parachuting Rangers into the First Division for their own benefit. I’m sure you remember the talk of financial Armageddon and such likes. So much for integrity, eh?

Thankfully the Scottish Football League members stood firm and announced that Rangers would be welcomed into Division Three. But the problems were far from over as we all know. Charles Green still had to secure a SFA licence to enable the club to play football this season. That’s when the real fun and games began.

The SFA and SPL decided that being thrown into the fourth-tier of our national game was not quite severe enough for their liking. It wasn’t good enough that we were starting from the bottom. It wasn’t good enough that we had lost all of our players. Instead Rangers were presented with a document crammed full of sanctions which had to be accepted if we wanted to play football this season. Make no mistake, this was blackmail.

The illegal registration embargo had returned, football debts and fines were thrown in and just for good measure Charles Green had to surrender a decade’s worth of titles and trophies. It was quite remarkable that the supposed governors of our game saw fit to behave in such a manner but thankfully our CEO managed to negotiate a path through this mess and protect those league championships which were won fairly on the field of play. As today has demonstrated, he was completely right to do so.
If the rest of the country really wants to move our national game forward then perhaps the immediate removal of Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster would be a good place to start. They have blundered their way from one disaster to the next. These men have done nothing but bring harm and shame to Scottish Football and the sooner we are rid of them, the better.  
Unfortunately a simple article doesn’t even come close to supplying enough space to discuss the full details of the treatment of our Club. A book would probably be a much more fitting place to collate the various acts of negligence, incompetence and corruption that we have witnessed in recent months. That, after all, is the real scandal.

It has been a pretty torrid time to be a Rangers supporter and we have had more than a few obstacles to overcome. Thankfully though the clouds seem to be lifting and we can finally turn our attention to regaining our place at the top of Scottish Football.

54 and counting...