May 232012
 

As I write this, it is only minutes after the end of BBC journalist Mark Daly’s much discussed documentary regarding the ongoing situation at Rangers Football Club, and the men who led Rangers towards the precipice on which they now find themselves.

The famous gates at Ibrox may have shut for the final time.

Before the documentary, Rangers’ use of Employee Benefit Trusts (E.B.T.’s) was well known, as their legality is now being questioned by H.M.R.C. through a first tier tax tribunal. However, less than an hour before the documentary was aired, the BBC released the following list of all of the known recipients of EBT’s at Ibrox over the years.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-18148818

Now, there are many names on that list that will, undoubtedly, leap out at you. For example, Sir David Murray, the man who claimed that he never received a single penny through such a trust, has been shown to have benefited to the tune of £6.3 million thanks to the scheme.

Notable players have also received vast sums, such as previous Rangers captain Barry Ferguson, and well-known goalkeeper, Stefan Klos, as well as over sixty others, including some laughable names like Alex Rae, Egil Ostenstad, and Billy Dodds.

Some of the other names on the list are, at least in my view, worthy of further discussion. Firstly, Campbell Ogilive, ex-Rangers director and current President of the Scottish Football Association, has been shown to have received almost £100,000 through his EBT. Now, surely his failure to disclose the ongoings with regards to dual contracts inside the club over the years puts him on a bit of a “sticky wicket”. This example of “turning a blind eye” has now made his position truly untenable, and Scottish Footballs fans will likely demand his imminent resignation because of it.

Campbell Ogilvie, current President of the S.F.A.

Secondly, George Adams, previous head of youth development at Ibrox, received a little over £30,000 through his EBT. Many of you may not have heard of this man (after all, he is hardly a household name), however, Mr Adams is the director of football at newly promoted Ross County, one of the teams who would theoretically have a vote in any decision to allow (or not allow) any NewCo Rangers back into the SPL. This is a conflict of interest.

Thirdly, and perhaps most interestingly, the name of ex-Rangers player and manager Graeme Souness appears on the list. Now, Mr Souness left the club a decade before the alleged date when these EBT’s first came into use. In 2001, he was, in fact, the manager of English side Blackburn Rovers, and received a payment of £30,000 from Rangers through an offshore trust. Only a month later, Blackburn bought Turkish player Tugay from Rangers for over £1 million.

That hardly looks good, does it? I wouldn’t be surprised if this is not the last we all hear of this payment, let’s put it that way, but I shall say no more, as I don’t want to speculate.

Now, the documentary itself, while putting some very good and valid points across, did, at least in my opinion, poke a little bit of fun at “poor, old, Rangers”. Much was made of former lawyer Paul Baxendale-Walker’s role in the EBT scheme, and this involved an interview with the pipe smoking gentleman, who also happens to be a porn star, as well as a director of adult films, at his home.

Paul Baxendale-Walker

Later in the documentary, we also heard how Sir David Murray was so confident at one point in his life that he once told a friend he attempted to “befriend” (I think you can imagine what I mean) actress Joanna Lumley. Sadly for him, he was not successful.

And now, we come to one of the most shocking pieces of information the BBC revealed tonight. Andrew Ellis, director and shareholder at Ibrox, told the programme how his “friend” Craig Whyte had told him that he had a private investor involved with his upcoming bid to buy the club. While Ellis was told the identity of the investor must be kept private, Ellis did learn the man’s name at the time, as Craig Whyte told him that none other than Prince Albert of Monaco (yes, you read that correctly) was going to put his money into the Glasgow club.

Now, Whyte claimed “he saw Prince Albert most weekends in Monaco” when speaking to Ellis, a man with a history of being involved with the takeovers of football clubs. I’m fairly sure most people simply laughed when they heard this tonight, but did Ellis? No. Apparently, he “couldn’t have done any more” to ascertain whether or not Whyte was genuine, and simply took his word for it.

Add to this the fact that the “proof of funding” letter, supplied to the club by Whyte and “his backers” simply stated the figure of £33 million, without mentioning where it was going to come from, or who had confirmed the fact it existed. Sir David Murray, a supposedly shrewd, tactful businessman, accepted this as proof, and the deal went ahead. Perhaps he was desperate, but I digress.

Sir David Murray may not be laughing so much soon.

Finally, the BBC showed that David Greir, a partner at Craig Whyte’s chosen administrators for the football club Duff & Phelps, was involved with the potential Ticketus deal to fund the takeover as early as APRIL 2011. Rangers only went into administration in February this year, and as administrators, Duff & Phelps are meant to have no connections to the business they are about to run.

This is a truly incredible conflict of interests, and Duff & Phelps do not look as if they are going to come out of this looking too clever, especially since they have recently filed a lawsuit against Craig Whyte’s lawyers, Collyer Bristow, suing them over the Ticketus deal. Ironic, considering that it is now alleged that one of their partners was involved!

As for Rangers themselves, as a football club, the future looks even more bleak than it has done previously, and that is saying something! Not only does Craig Whyte still own 85% of the shares; not only do Duff & Phelps look like they are in very hot water; not only doe the club have a 12 month transfer embargo; not only does their wage bill return to 100% in a matter of days; and not only does the SPL and SFA simply HAVE to take action now with regards to their behaviour…but there’s still the small issue of the “Big Tax Case” (First Tier Tax Tribunal), and a very angry Hector wanting a figure in the region of £50-75 million from them.

It really does look as if this is going to be a case of “When Will I See You Again?” for Rangers, as the “doomsday clock” ticks ever closer to midnight…

Tick tock goes the clock...

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