09 November 2015

An idiot's guide to Lord Nimmo Smith's 2013 ruling


by Scott Ferguson | Guest Contributor

We heard a cannon the other day at Ibrox – a rather large BOOM it made too.

TOMOblog Alex Thomson tried to recreate it today – alas I couldn’t help picture a cartoon cannon with a little flag with ‘BOOM’ come flapping out the end.

His attention seeking blast at Rangers is another attempt to put himself at the forefront of this story – a place he hasn’t been since it began back in the day of yore. Day late Alex has continuously been at the back of the line chasing his own tail trying to get the exclusive that one of the rags had the day before.

This attempt at calling for Rangers titles to be null and void screams of desperation...and well, it’s just has no factual reality. Alex has a very large misunderstanding of the Lord Nimmo report – this much is certain.

Where to begin. Alex says triumphantly: 
"If you field an ineligible player to gain sporting advantage, you are punished. So it is that the game is now up for Rangers FC and only a successful Supreme Court appeal can now save them from what must now ensue."
Now Alex, the Lord Nimmo Report goes into quite a lot of detail about this. This one was on page 1:
"Rangers FC did not gain any unfair competitive advantage from the contraventions of the SPL Rules in failing to make proper disclosure of the side-letter arrangements, nor did the non-disclosure have the effect that any of the registered players were ineligible to play, and for this and other reasons no sporting sanction or penalty should be imposed upon Rangers FC."
Or - it states that the SPL lawyer Mr McKenzie...
"...accepted that no provision of the Rules enabled the Board of the SPL retrospectively to terminate the registration of the player."
Or:
"We are satisfied that the registration of the Specified Players with the SPL was valid from the outset, and accordingly that they were eligible to play in official matches. This is an important finding, as it means that there was no instance shown of Rangers FC fielding an ineligible player"
Alex then blethers on at length and finishes each bit highlighting how Rangers gained a "sporting advantage".

Note: He tries to be more and more dramatic – right up to the point where he even produces one word sentences - "Sporting. Advantage." How cute!

Now what did Nimmo and his two pals say about that?
"Rangers FC did not gain any unfair competitive advantage from the contraventions of the SPL Rules in failing to make proper disclosure of the side-letter arrangements, nor did the non-disclosure have the effect that any of the registered players were ineligible to play, and for this and other reasons no sporting sanction or penalty should be imposed upon Rangers FC."
Eventually Alex makes reference to Lord Nimmo Smith and declares in numbered points (he has two) that: "Nimmo Smith’s commission made their findings on the basis that the tax avoidance was legal."

Not quite old boy.

Yes, Nimmo did state that he accepted the ruling of the Tax Tribunal that the EBTs were lawful – however his ruling was NOT based on this fact.

Nimmo is not a stupid man – he was well aware that HMRC would appeal – I’m sure he even realised it was a possibility that they could win. He even alludes to this in the report:
"(even leaving aside a possible reversal of the Tax Tribunal decision on appeal)"
You see what Alex does not understand is that Nimmo wasn’t judging whether Rangers had acted inappropriately with the taxman – he was there to judge whether Rangers had broken SFA/SPL rules and what punishments would be given out.

That is exactly what he did. He said no sporting advantage. No. Sporting. Advantage. And Alex guess what? That my friend is final.

Nimmo’s commission verdict was – as stated in the rules of the fine runners of our game up here: ‘final and binding’.