Feb 282013
 

Rangers Given A Slap On Their Lifeless Wrist

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen! Scottish Football fans of all ages! Please, look around you. On the day Rangers Football Club were found guilty by Lord Nimmo Smith of the non-disclosure of payments, just take a moment, and consider the enormity of today’s result.

Rangers Football Club (1872-2012) have been found guilty of these rule breaches, over a period of a decade or so. The only punishment for their offences, other than the fact their financial doping coupled with a badly timed recession combined to kill off the Club itself, is a fine of £250,000. This equates as a £50,000 punishment for each Scottish Premier League title they “won” during their years of offending, without referring to other “victories” in the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup.

Now, let’s take a moment to consider the evidence against the now defunct Club. Through the use of the much maligned Employee Benefit Trusts (EBT’s for the sake of brevity), Rangers paid a portion of the wages of a significant number of their players. These payments were, the Club argued, loans only repayable upon the death of the recipient, and therefore not subject to the same rules regarding taxation as a regular wage.

Whether or not these payments broke rules regarding taxation is a battle still being fought by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), but some of the evidence from the First Tier Tax Tribunal (FTT(T)) makes rather interesting reading.

For example, consider paragraph 36, which can be found on page 9 of the Tribunal’s findings. Line 34 reads (an excerpt from the evidence of Mr Black) , “So far as Rangers was concerned it enabled the Club to attract players who would not otherwise have been obtainable.” In the next paragraph the report states that “Mr Black had been involved in “signing and selling” 350-400 players in 20 years of involvement at Rangers”, so I’ll allow you all to make an educated guess in your own minds as to who Mr Black is. Now, consider that admission, putting aside the fact it was made in a Tax Tribunal. The use of these EBT’s, regardless of whether they were taxed correctly or not, was to allow the Football Club of old to gain an advantage over it’s rivals. Simple.

Moving on to page 13, and the end of paragraph 52, the report states (an excerpt from the evidence of Mr Purple, a former Rangers player) “Mr Purple confirmed that he had never been given the option of any alternative to the loan arrangement.”

On page 16, in paragraph 68, we find the evidence of Mr Magenta, and this gem, “”Side letters”, he said, were part of the “package” offered to players but were distinct from the player’s contract.” In the dissenting opinion of Dr Heidi Poon, she goes as far to accuse some of those involved in giving evidence to the Tribunal of being involved in a “cover up”.

Proceeding to today’s verdict, it reads as follows:

“In the result, therefore, and for all the foregoing reasons:

(1) We find the breaches in Issue 1, Issue 2, Issue 3 (except Issue 3(c) and the concluding
passage of Issue 3(b)starting with “such that Rangers FC . . . .”) and Issue 4 proved
against RFC 2012 Plc (in liquidation), formerly The Rangers Football Club Plc.

(2) We fine RFC 2012 Plc (in liquidation) £250,000 in respect of Issues 1 to 3, and
admonish it in respect of Issue 4.

(3) We make no separate finding of breach by Rangers FC and impose no penalty on it.”

 

Today’s findings state that “we are unable to reach the conclusion that this led to any competitive advantage.” Below, you can find a table which is included in today’s report. There, ladies and gentlemen, is your “unfair advantage”, in black and white. Simply because the rules of the Scottish Premier League may have been so badly designed that they did not account for such brass necked cheating is irrelevant. Whilst every other SPL Club paid their player’s wages, and the tax related to it in good faith, the establishment Club of old did not.

 

ebtlist

 

A £250,000 fine imposed on a bankrupt Club which are now in the hands of liquidators – a fine that will never be paid. Scottish Football is a laughing stock, steeped in corruption and guilt. This is what Armageddon really looks like, and those in the wrong have not been punished for their actions. In fact, as I write this, many of them are not remotely remorseful for their sins, but rather feeling somewhat celebratory because, essentially, they’ve got away with it.

I love Celtic Football Club with all of my heart, but this whole scenario has left me torn to a significant degree. I will continue to support Celtic. I will continue to watch Celtic. However, the only reason for this is my love of the Football Club and the fan base I am fortunate enough to be a part of, it is no longer the love of the game itself, because in Scotland, to one degree or another, the game is rigged.

From the start, the governing bodies in this country have taken the view that the love the average supporter has for his or her team, whether they happen to be Celtic, Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hibernian, Hearts, Cowdenbeath, Raith Rovers, Peterhead or any other, will keep them attending matches and keep the game alive, regardless of the fact these same governing bodies have destroyed any seed of the sporting integrity so many strived for.

Fundamentally, why should a parent take their son or daughter, an aunt or uncle take their nephew or niece, a big cousin take their wee cousin, or a friend take their mate, if the game they are paying to watch is rotten? The answer is “love”. It’s the love of the Club that a parent or an aunt or uncle holds that will continue, mostly, to drive them to take the younger generations to support their chosen team, but that does not mean that the events of today (and this saga as a whole) should be ignored.

It is now more clear than ever that it is, on many levels, one rule for Rangers (regardless of whether it is the defunct Rangers or the new Club currently masquerading as said defunct Rangers) and one rule for the rest. Don’t forget, Celtic were hit with a larger fine for “tapping up” Tommy Burns from Kilmarnock in the 1990’s. And please don’t think that I believe Celtic are the only Club who should feel aggrieved. In my mind, every single Club that Rangers took on during the period in question, whether it was in domestic or European competition has the right to feel cheated, and you only need to look at other websites, those of Aberdeen fans, Dundee United fans, Hearts fans etc to see that this is the case.

To put the scale of this injustice in context, below you can see a picture of Rangers’ 2004-05 Championship winning squad. On that miserable day at Fir Park, Celtic lost the league by a point, and how painful it was. The players with a red dot over their face were listed in Lord Nimmo Smith’s report today as recipients of side letters. During that season, the Club paid £17,764,000 in wages, with £7,241,000 in EBT contributions. Sorry, but if you think that’s fair, then, well, I simply don’t know what to say to you.

 

rangersfc

 

I’ll leave you with a list of names, which should forever be associated with one word above all others, whenever they appear in an old football programme, a book, a radio broadcast, or a television show, “cheat”.

1. Tore André Flo
2. Shota Arveladze
3. Michael Ball
4. Stefan Klos
5. Russell Latapy
6. Neil McCann
7. Christian Nerlinger
8. Arthur Numan

1. Alan Hutton
2. Andrei Kanchelskis
3. Barry Ferguson
4. Bert Konterman
5. William Dodds
6. Christopher Burke
7. Claudio Caniggia
8. Craig Moore
9. Fernando Ricksen
10. Lorenzo Amoruso
11. Maurice Ross
12. Ronald de Boer
13. Steven Smith
14. Tero Penttilä

1. Mikel Amatrain Arteta
2. Shota Arveladze
3. Jérôme Bonnissel
4. Thomas Buffel
5. Jesper Christiansen
6. Nuno Fernando Gonçalves da Rocha
7. Dan Eggen
8. Tore André Flo
9. Stefan Klos
10. Russell Latapy
11. Peter Løvenkrands
12. Neil McCann
13. Michael Mols
14. Kevin Muscat
15. Christian Nerlinger
16. Arthur Numan
17. Dado Pršo
18. Alex Rae
19. Gavin Rae
20. Paolo Vanoli
21. Grégory Vignal

1. Alan Hutton
2. Barry Ferguson
3. Robert Malcolm
4. Christopher Burke
5. Egil Østenstad
6. Fernando Ricksen
7. Jean-Alain Boumsong
8. Lorenzo Amoruso
9. Marvin Andrews
10. Maurice Ross
11. Ignacio Javier Gómez Novo
12. Ronald de Boer
13. Ronald Waterreus
14. Sotirious Kyrgiakos
15. Steven Smith
16. Steven Thomson
17. Zurab Khizanishvili

1. Mikel Amatrain Arteta
2. Shota Arveladze
3. Michael Ball
4. Olivier Bernard
5. Kris Boyd
6. Thomas Buffel
7. Jesper Christiansen
8. Steven Davis
9. Brahim Hemdani
10. Peter Løvenkrands
11. Pedro Mendes
12. Kevin Muscat
13. Saša Papac
14. Julien Rodriguez
15. Grégory Vignal

1. Alan Hutton
2. Carlos Cuéllar
3. Christopher Burke
4. Fernando Ricksen
5. Federico Nieto
6. Ian Murray
7. Jean-Alain Boumsong
8. Libor Sionko
9. Lorenzo Amoruso

10. Marvin Andrews
11. Ignacio Javier Gómez Novo
12. Ronald Waterreus
13. Sotirious Kyrgiakos
14. Steven Smith
15. Steven Thomson
16. Zurab Khizanishvili

Oh, and don’t forget, you can add Sir David Murray et al, as well as Campbell Ogilvie to that list.

Feb 272013
 

A Summary Of Events At Our Second Supporters’ Meeting

 

celtic 2

 

Date: 26th February, 2013

In Attendance: David Stothers (Celtic F.C.), Billie O’Neill (The Lindley Group), Alistair Anderson (The Lindley Group), Myself, and a small group of supporters, many of whom you may well know from Twitter.

For the sake of both simplicity and relative brevity, I’ll just cover the points discussed last night in a bullet-point style.

– Meeting begins with welcomes, before representatives from The Lindley Group delivered an update on the changes they have already implemented, which include but are not limited to: a specially priced meal deal for Kano Foundation groups, the trialling of macaroni pies as another vegetarian option, the re-training of staff with regards to customer service, and pre-match meetings with team leaders/stand managers to discuss issues such as customer service and queue management.

– The proverbial baton was then passed to myself for an opening statement and a few points of order, before the meeting was opened to a general question and answer session.

– My opening statement included a welcome to all present, as well as thanks to everybody for taking the time to attend.

 

cfc23

 

– My first point of order related to the ongoing horse DNA scandal, further spurred on by the news yesterday that Aberdeen would not be serving beef products at Pittodrie until they had been subjected to DNA testing. I proceeded to ask whether all of the meat products on offer at Celtic Park had been, or would be, subject to similar testing.

– Representatives from Lindley acknowledged these concerns, and highlighted that they do not use the same food suppliers as Aberdeen. They then said that all of the relevant meat products on sale at Celtic Park had already been, or were currently being, subjected to the aforementioned DNA testing. Mr Stothers, of Celtic, then highlighted that the Club were receiving copies of all of these test results along with Lindley, and therefore in the unlikely event that there was an issue, the Club would inform the support immediately, and take any appropriate action. It is predicted that all of this testing should be complete prior to our next home match, against (ironically) Aberdeen, on the 16th March, 2013.

– The second point of order for myself related to what happens to unsold food on match days at Celtic Park. Several individuals have contacted me regarding this, since we started this dialogue with the Club and their caterers.

– Upon asking the question, Lindley responded by saying that they were bound by health and safety/food regulations which meant that any leftover food had to be disposed of.

– Without going into too much detail, food at Celtic Park is pre-cooked and frozen, before being heated on a match day. Once this products goes beyond 83C, it is ready for sale. Said products are then stored in heated cupboards/drawers, and provided that they do not drop below 63C, they can be sold anywhere up to an hour and a half after they first hit 83C.

– Critically, as Lindley pointed out, as soon as that product falls below 63C, it cannot be sold and must go into their wastage for the day. The potential logistics involving transport of this leftover food to, for example, a local homeless charity were then discussed, but the situation was described as “non-negotiable” by a representative from Lindley, as any liability would lie with them. In this sense, whilst this is disappointing, it is perhaps not surprising as they are subject to fairly stringent rules and regulations.

– Lindley then went on to discuss their attempts to improve their green credentials, highlighting examples such as an increase in biodegradable packaging. There is a member of the group whose sole responsibility is to consider and implement ways to improve this not just at Celtic Park, but throughout the United Kingdom as a whole.

 

cfc3

 

– My third, and final, point of order regarded one of the main concerns held by supporters, that of pricing. Since our initial supporters’ meeting, I have attempted to contacted the other one hundred and forty one Clubs in the upper leagues in Scotland (Third Division upwards) and England (League Two upwards).

– Whilst the current prices at Celtic Park would be largely considered as fairly cheap in the English Premier League, and somewhat mid-table in the Championship, they are rather high when compared to any other Scottish side, or a significant number of teams in England.

– For example, whilst Chelsea will ask £5.30 for a burger, Celtic “only” ask £3.40. However, at Old Trafford, if you take advantage of a meal deal, you can get a pie, a pint, and a piece of confectionery for only £5. Contrast and compare this with Celtic Park, where a similar deal (replacing a significantly more expensive beverage like alcohol with fizzy juice) would cost you at least £5.70.

– Whilst I put forward a view that a decrease in pricing inside Celtic Park would lead to increased sales, representatives from the Lindley Group stated that they were unable to change prices mid-season. With only four home games left, this is understandable to some degree, but whether or not anything will be different at the start of 2013/14 remains to be seen.

– The meeting was then opened to questions and answers from the small group of supporters in attendance. Whilst some of the discussion revolved around the issues I have already mentioned, other topics, such as promotional deals, opening times, closed kiosks, different menus, product specific kiosks, waiting times, and numerous other matters were discussed.

– Running through these quickly, Lindley are keen to potentially introduce new promotional products, such as speciality pies, next season. Whilst this received some positive feedback from some of those in attendance, I felt I had to highlight that, judging by the comments so many people regularly to myself, the answer to our problems may not lie on the inside of a pie case.

– Next, opening times and closed kiosks. Kiosks open over an hour before the match, and at present close not long after half time, when the remainder of the queues formed at half time are all served. Regardless of this, rules and regulations dictate that fifteen minutes before the full time whistle (75 mins), all kiosks must close. This is not a decision taken by Lindley, it is a regulation they must adhere to. If they ever wish to keep kiosks open longer (e.g. at the last game of the 2011/12 season v Hearts, where the SPL trophy would be presented after the match), they must apply for special permission to do so.

– Regarding closed kiosks, Lindley say that they attempt to gauge how many people will be in attendance at any particular match, before deciding how many kiosks are to be opened, citing examples such as the Arbroath match earlier in the season, when little more than 10,000 spectators were in attendance. I proceeded to state that, from a supporters’ point of view, many of us would like to see as many kiosks open on match days as possible.

– Product specific kiosks (such as kiosks that only serve pies and drinks at half time) were then discussed as a potential way in which to reduce waiting times in queues. This is something which may be considered in the future.

 

 

– Returning to differing menu’s and potential new products, Lindley have said that they are considering introducing small calzone style pizzas for next season, some of which could potentially be filled with bolognese or carbonara fillings.

– With regards to drinks, both Celtic and Lindley are aware of the fact that the supporters would like to see an end to carbonated drinks machines. Both entities share this desire, and wish to see a system in the future whereby plastic bottles can be sold. Whilst this is currently prevented by law, the Club have contacted the relevant authorities in writing, seeking clarification as to what is, and what is not, allowed inside the stadium. Lindley highlighted that special plastic bottles could be used, which are designed to empty dramatically quickly upon someone throwing them, reducing the risk of any serious injury should one be thrown as a missile.

– I have requested a meeting with the Football Club and a representative from the relevant authority to discuss this matter further, as well as to seek clarification myself as to what supporters are allowed to bring into Celtic Park, and other Scottish Football stadia.

– Moving on, individual experiences were discussed by the supporters in attendance. Largely, they agreed that, from their point of view at least, they had seen some improvements at Celtic Park since our first meeting. However, as the only supporter there representing a larger set of opinions than my own, I felt I had to highlight the fact that I was still receiving more comments of a negative nature than those of a positive or neutral nature from the Celtic support.

– Upon hearing this, Lindley queried the extent of which changes could be implemented with regards to the sometimes vague complaints brought to them by myself. I then suggested that both themselves and the Football Club could look to implement a system whereby someone can, easily and simply, make a comment (for example) on Celtic’s website, through the use of an online form. These forms would ask for your section number and the date of the match in question, as well asking you to describe your comment/issue. This would mean that, when someone sends any feedback, whether it is positive or negative my way, I or anyone else could direct them to the page, solely devoted to allowing supporters their chance to comment on their experience. Both parties have agreed that this is something they are willing to look at, and I will meet individually with the Football Club in the next few weeks to discuss this possibility.

– As the meeting drew to a close, I reiterated once again that I felt, judging by the feedback presented to myself by all of you, that there is still a long way to go. It has been somewhat encouraging to see some progress from those at the Lindley Group, but this is only the start of a rather lengthy journey. I’m sure everyone involved would agree that, when dealing with an operation on this scale, it would be naive to expect everything to change overnight. However, until further improvements are reported to ourselves from the majority of you, we will not be able to support any continuation of the current contract with The Lindley Group. This remains our clear position, and we will continue to convey it to both Peter Lawwell and Celtic Football Club until a majority of the support say otherwise.

– It was agreed that there would be another supporters’ meeting before the end of the season. Thank you’s were exchanged, and the meeting was closed.

 

125125

 

All in all, I must thank you for your continuing support. It is critical that the word regarding these issues continues to spread throughout the support, and that if people have any comments, whether they are positive, neutral or negative, they contact either myself, the Football Club, the Lindley Group, or one of the supporters’ bodies in this regard. I will, of course, report back the results of any further meetings with the Club when they happen.

I must also thank Celtic Football Club, and the Lindley Group, for taking the time to speak to us. This is, and continues to be, much appreciated.

Feb 252013
 

Welcome To Modern Day Scotland

 

 

As most of you will have no doubt heard, commentators at sports broadcaster ESPN announced during the weekend’s tie between Berwick Rangers and The Rangers, that they would be contacting the police and the relevant authorities regarding the sectarian singing emanating from some of the travelling supporters at Shielfield Park.

The new Ibrox Club soon responded via Twitter, midway through the second half, by saying “The club is disappointed by certain outbursts of inappropriate singing by a section of the support at Berwick. Our fans have been excellent this season both home and away and we do not want to see this tarnished.”

Now, I must say that I had absolutely no idea the new Ibrox Club were even playing at the weekend until this story broke. In the past, when the old Club were the direct competitors of Celtic, I kept an eye on the scoreline, but nowadays, with the new Club playing in the fourth tier, I do not. However, that does not mean that the story itself should be ignored, because the behaviour of some supporters not only tarnishes their Club, but the image of Scottish Football as a whole.

 

 

In the last forty eight hours, manager of The Rangers, Ally McCoist, has said that “They [the songs] are unacceptable and there is no place for them in a modern society.” Whilst I would perhaps criticise his choice of words there, as “no place for them in a modern society” suggests they were acceptable once upon a time, I cannot argue with his overall sentiments. He has since discussed the potential introduction of a list for supporters, highlighting to them what is deemed as acceptable, and what is not. However, Mr McCoist should know, as many people do, that the old Club tried this with their “Wee Blue Book” some years ago, and yet the problem persists.

The Head of Security at the new Club, David Martin, had this to add, “The Rangers supporters have been magnificent at Ibrox and on our travels this season and it was extremely disappointing that a small number of fans chose to engage in inappropriate singing at Berwick on Saturday.”

This, of course, I would also question in some regard, as by all accounts these songs rarely involve “a small number of fans”. One only needs to cast their mind back to a recently televised match at Hampden Park, as The Rangers visited Queen’s Park, to find examples of widespread bigotry within the support. Despite the fact that many will try to purvey an image whereby only a minority of supporters are in the wrong, it is clear that, at least on certain notable occasions, this has simply not been the case. When songs such as “The Billy Boys” are being belted out by thousands upon thousands of individuals, it staggers me as to how anybody, whether they are directly related with the Football Club in question or not, can come to such a rosy conclusion.

However, the true crux of the issue comes the next time the songs are heard, and the time after that, and the time after that, and so on. If Mr McCoist et al are really, genuinely serious about the end of such singing then they must be willing to stand up and condemn it every single time it occurs, not only when a television broadcaster decides it is so bad that they must highlight it, apologising to their viewers in the process.

In saying this, it is not simply those inside the walls of Ibrox Stadium who have a responsibility in addressing this issue, but those within the newspaper offices and media outlets across Scotland. For too long have such events been swept under the proverbial carpet, having been deemed as non-newsworthy, allowing silence to breed acceptance.

 

 

On Twitter today, a link to a short opinion piece from the Evening Times Online began to circulate. In this article were the views of two sports writers, Richard Wilson and Matthew Lindsay.

Beginning with Mr Wilson, he states that fans of the new Club have “generally behaved impeccably this season”, before going onto mention how only a “small minority” hold these “extreme views”.  Proceeding onto the thoughts of his colleague, we see that Mr Lindsay states, “The conduct of a minority of supporters in Northumberland came out of nowhere.” In addition to this, on Twitter today, in a conversation with one user, Mr Lindsay said “I have been at the majority of Rangers away games this season. Can honestly not recall hearing a single sectarian song.”

Now, perhaps neither of these men were at Hampden Park at the aforementioned Queen’s Park match, or perhaps they, as so many of the sports journalists in Scotland seem to, suffer from predictable periods of sustained deafness, whenever the Ibrox Club take to the field of play. Of course, this isn’t simply a criticism of journalists, but of governing bodies and political figures as well. Whilst UEFA punished the old Rangers for sectarian singing, the domestic bodies within Scottish Football have never handed out such punishment, to either the old Club, or the new Club. Also, let’s not forget that Scotland’s own Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill MSP, discussed the “positive example” set by fans at the much maligned CIS Cup Final of 2011 between Celtic and the now defunct Rangers (one of the worst and most widespread displays of sectarian singing and bigotry for several years), before saying it had been “a great advert for Scottish Football”.

To only blame fans of The Rangers for the entire problem of sectarianism in Scottish Football would be naive and incorrect. I know that, personally, I have come across a small number of bigots within the Celtic support in my time at matches. The presence of such morons can only be condemned, regardless of where they choose to spout their hatred. However, it is clear that the majority of the blame does lie with many of the fans of the new Ibrox Club, who continue to persist with a songbook which would have looked out of place in the Dark Ages, let alone now.

 

 

To put this in context, the Daily Record published a list of acceptable and unacceptable songs, sung by Celtic and  Rangers fans, in December 2011. Whilst “The Billy Boys” and “The Famine Song” were notable examples of songs sung by the Ibrox support which were to be banned, the equivalent pieces referring to the singing of Celtic supporters were  “Glasgow Celtic IRA” and “The Ibrox Disaster Song”. Now, whilst each one of the four songs listed about are wholly reprehensible  they are quite different in their prominence amongst their respective supports.

For example, a quick browse on YouTube will see you find several examples of thousands upon thousands singing the first two songs, but you will struggle to find more than one or two videos showing more than a handful of people singing the latter two. In my decade or so of regular attendance at Celtic matches, I have never heard either of the aforementioned songs emanating from our support. Never. I couldn’t even tell you the words of the final song, although I would be the first to say that anyone who does glorify either of the Ibrox Disasters has no place at any Celtic match.

There is also an ongoing debate as to what songs are truly “appropriate” for Celtic matches, albeit they do not have the same elements of sectarianism attached to them. Personally, I have never sung about the IRA at the football, and I have no intention to do so in the future. However, this remains a contentious issue amongst our fan base, and while I hold my own views on the matter, I feel I must respect the opinions of those who disagree with me. In summary, I feel discussion and debate in this regard remain the way forward.

If you browse through the videos of old Celtic matches, particularly those around the height of the troubles in the North of Ireland, you will hear a dramatically different selection of songs from that you do at matches nowadays. However, across the city at Ibrox, you will find that, on the grand scheme of things, little has changed. If we are brutally honest, the singing in Berwick this weekend was far from an isolated incident, even if some may attempt to make it out as such.

With the death of the old Rangers, and the birth of a new Club, came a fantastic opportunity for both the supporters, and the current regime, to take advantage of the clean slate in front of them and condemn, without question, the sins of the old Club. Had Mr Green stood on the steps of Ibrox Park and said “Our new Club is, and forever will be, open to anyone, whether they wish to play for the team, or simply support it. Any fan who indulges in the sectarian singing that blighted the old Club is not welcome here any more”, then I reckon most fans of Scottish Football would have felt a significant amount of respect for that action. However, unsurprisingly, no such statement has been made.

All in all, one can spout as much rhetoric as they like about “things moving forward” and “progress”, but to truly tackle the scourge of sectarianism in Scotland, it can no longer be considered as a regrettable fact of life by those in positions of power, regardless of whether they hold their power within the football authorities, media organisations, or political offices.

The “heads in the sand” mentality, clung to by so many, simply has to change. To abuse someone for the faith you presume they hold, regardless of what that may be, is equally as bad as abusing somebody for the colour of their skin, the country they hail from, their sexuality or any other discriminatory factor. Thankfully though, there are those within the Ibrox support who do agree that things must change, and the sooner they find their voices as an organised body, the better.

Fundamentally, whether someone is a Catholic, a Protestant, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Sikh, an Atheist, or anything else for that matter, they are just as human as you and I. Fundamentally, whether someone is black, white, or any variation in between, they are just as human as you and I. And fundamentally, whilst differences of opinion are perhaps inevitable within any society, we must be willing to acknowledge such problems openly, and work together towards a brighter future for the generations yet to come.

However, sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if very little changes…

Feb 192013
 

Please Find The Final And Full Results Below

 

hooper4

 

Best Official Account of 2012

  • Neil Lennon (@OfficialNeil) (38%, 612 Votes)
  • Scott Brown (@scottbrown8) (22%, 352 Votes)
  • Anthony Hamilton (@polishturnstile) (15%, 240 Votes)
  • Laura Brannan (@_laurabrannan) (7%, 115 Votes)
  • Joe Ledley (@joe16led) (5%, 76 Votes)
  • Anthony Stokes (@stoksey10) (3%, 52 Votes)
  • Kris Commons (@kcommons15) (3%, 52 Votes)
  • Charlie Mulgrew (@charlie_mulgrew) (3%, 51 Votes)
  • Victor Wanyama (@VictorWanyama) (2%, 32 Votes)
  • Gregor Kyle (@gkonthehuddle – now defunct) (1%, 12 Votes)
  • Dylan McGeouch (@DMcGeouch) (1%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,597

 

 

Best Unofficial Media Outlet 2012

  • Celtic Quick News Magazine (@CQN) (46%, 639 Votes)
  • Celtic Underground Podcast (@celticrumours) (12%, 166 Votes)
  • Alternative View Fanzine (@mattmcglone9) (9%, 130 Votes)
  • Beyond The Waves Radio (@btwcelticshow) (9%, 125 Votes)
  • HomeBhoys Radio (@homebhoys) (4%, 61 Votes)
  • The Lost Bhoys Podcast (@lostbhoys) (4%, 58 Votes)
  • Rhebel Podcast (@RhebelPodcast) (3%, 47 Votes)
  • TicTalk Radio (@carlukeshamrock) (3%, 43 Votes)
  • The Thunder Fanzine (@thethunderzine) (2%, 28 Votes)
  • The Temporary Stand (@temporarystand) (2%, 27 Votes)
  • 90 Minute Cynic Podcast (@90MinuteCynic) (2%, 23 Votes)
  • Celtic Dreams Radio (@celticdreams12) (2%, 23 Votes)
  • Free Gelly Radio (@freegellybhoy) (1%, 8 Votes)
  • The Green Room Podcast (@greenroomcsc) (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Paradise Preview Podcast (@paradisepreview) (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Paradise Report Podcast (@HHMParadiseRep) (0%, 3 Votes)
  • MetsBhoys Radio (@MetsBhoys) (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,394

 

 

Best Unofficial Website 2012

  • Celtic Quick News (@CQN) (29%, 451 Votes)
  • Celtic Minded (@celticmindedcom) (13%, 198 Votes)
  • Kerrydale Street (@kerrydalestreet) (10%, 158 Votes)
  • The Huddleboard (@huddleboard) (7%, 110 Votes)
  • The Celtic Network (@CelticNetwork11) (6%, 85 Votes)
  • The Celtic Wiki (@thecelticwiki) (5%, 73 Votes)
  • Cybertims (@cybertims) (5%, 72 Votes)
  • Celtic Underground (@celticrumours) (5%, 69 Votes)
  • Etims (@etims) (4%, 68 Votes)
  • Scotzine (@scotzine) (4%, 66 Votes)
  • Rhebel Rhebel (@rhebelrhebel) (4%, 61 Votes)
  • TicTactTic (@tictactic) (3%, 52 Votes)
  • Videocelts (@videocelts) (3%, 46 Votes)
  • CelticTalk (@celtictalk) (2%, 24 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,531

 

 

Best Blogger 2012

  • Rangers Tax Case (@rangerstaxcase) (31%, 476 Votes)
  • Phil MacGiollaBhain (@pmacgiollabhain) (25%, 382 Votes)
  • Paul McConville (@paulmcc12) (13%, 201 Votes)
  • Brogan Rogan Trevino (@broganrogantrev) (12%, 176 Votes)
  • StevenCeltic81 (@stevenceltic81) (4%, 55 Votes)
  • Angela Haggerty (@angelahaggerty) (3%, 43 Votes)
  • Tiranog09 (@tiranog09) (2%, 37 Votes)
  • Gregory Ioannidis (@lawtop20) (2%, 37 Votes)
  • Henry Clarson (@henryclarson) (2%, 30 Votes)
  • Layton Bhoy – On Fields Of Green (@laytonbhoy) (2%, 25 Votes)
  • Old Pesky (@oldpesky) (1%, 22 Votes)
  • LWordsmith (@lwordsmith) (1%, 22 Votes)
  • Liam Conway (@liamconway) (2%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,514

 

 

Best Hashtag 2012

  • #jellyandicecream (25%, 363 Votes)
  • #broonybanter (18%, 251 Votes)
  • #doingthehuddleinthechampionsleague (11%, 163 Votes)
  • #notonewco (7%, 103 Votes)
  • #thisisfun (6%, 86 Votes)
  • #teamoscar (6%, 83 Votes)
  • #celtic125 (5%, 72 Votes)
  • #rangersthensevconowzombiesforever (4%, 63 Votes)
  • #wanyamafacts (4%, 62 Votes)
  • #wedontdowalkingaway (3%, 38 Votes)
  • #teamsamaras (2%, 31 Votes)
  • #sevconia (2%, 29 Votes)
  • #wealthofftheradar (2%, 26 Votes)
  • #last16 (2%, 24 Votes)
  • #imnoazombie (1%, 16 Votes)
  • #ihadababyinthechampionsleague (1%, 11 Votes)
  • #rangersmovies (1%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,428

 

 

Best Mainstream Media Account 2012

  • Alex Thomson (@alextomo) (61%, 878 Votes)
  • Jim Spence (@bbcjimspence) (9%, 135 Votes)
  • Grant Russell (@stvgrant) (8%, 119 Votes)
  • Brian McNally (@McNallyMirror) (7%, 105 Votes)
  • Alex O’Henley (@ohenleyalex) (6%, 82 Votes)
  • Graham Spiers (@grahamspiers) (4%, 63 Votes)
  • Alison Robbie (@alisonrobbie) (3%, 44 Votes)
  • Michael Grant (@mgrantscotland) (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Peter Adam Smith (@peteradamsmith) (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Jim Delahunt (@jimdelahunt) (0%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,444

 

 

Best Independent Piece Of Media 2012

  • “Downfall” – Phil MacGiollaBhain (@pmacgiollabhain) (50%, 708 Votes)
  • “Let’s All Laugh At Them This Christmas” – Billy No’well (@billynowell) (27%, 387 Votes)
  • “By Any Means Necessary” – Paul Larkin (@paullarkin74) (14%, 201 Votes)
  • “Paradise Road” – Stephen O’Donnell (@stephenodauthor) (9%, 115 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,411

 

N.B. There may be some very minor differences in the final number of votes listed above and those publicised on Twitter when voting officially ended. This is due to the fact we didn’t fully close up the polls in the back of the website until an hour after the voting officially closed, meaning people could theoretically still vote. However, very few (if any) were cast once the polls closed on Friday, and even if one or two were, they certainly haven’t altered any positions. Thank you once again for your continuing support of Maley’s Bhoys. Well done to everyone above for their sterling work throughout 2012, and we wish them all the best for the future.

Feb 172013
 

Thoughts On The Event, And The Ensuing Debates

 

111

 

Yesterday, as the vast majority of you will no doubt know, Celtic hammered Dundee United by six goals to two (a scoreline that will make many of you smile, I’m sure) at Celtic Park. Whilst the performance on the field was very impressive, and the team were cheered on by a fairly full stadium, there was something missing…or should that be “somebody” missing?

Yes, as mentioned in the title of this article, the increasingly famous Section 111 at Celtic Park lay empty for the entirety of yesterday afternoon, without any prior warning from it’s usual occupants, the Green Brigade. As several of you may have noticed, I’ve not became involved in any of the ensuing arguments regarding this event. As the proverbial fire-storm raged on Twitter, and across much of the Celtic supporting online world, I chose to take a step back, and wait for some clarity to emerge before throwing in my “two cents”.

Now, before we dive into the inevitable discussion, let’s stop for a moment to consider the group in question. The Green Brigade are, fundamentally, Celtic supporting ultras. This does not mean that they are hooligans, as a certain stereotype would suggest, and I feel I should stress that they have absolutely no track record of violence.

Across Europe, and the world, there are groups of football ultras with violent pasts. In some places, the line between “ultra” and “hooligan” is a rather blurry one, but in Scotland, and in the case of the Green Brigade, the aforementioned line is distinct, and it is not one which has been crossed.

And yet, whenever there is a case of violence within the Celtic support, many people in this country are very quick to point fingers in the group’s direction. If we consider the recent example of the “riots” at Dens Park on Boxing Day, 2012, several individuals quickly cited the Green Brigade (and/or it’s members) as the reason for any trouble, without any proof whatsoever. Of course, these accusations were proven to be wholly untrue.

However, taking a look at the word, “ultra”, dictionary.com states that it is a word with the following meanings:

 

“1. going beyond what is usual or ordinary; excessive; extreme (adjective).

2. an extremist, as in politics, religion, fashion, etc (noun).”

 

The Green Brigade openly describe themselves as “ultras”, so it’s reasonable to consider them as such. By their very nature, they are hardcore Celtic supporters, who happen to be rather vocal not only in football grounds across the country, but in the views they hold regarding various issues, such as standing at football matches in Scotland, the use of pyrotechnics, and politics.

 

 

As a group who hold publicly hold such views, it is inevitable that, when we consider a fan base as large as the Celtic support, there will be differences of opinion. This is not to say that one side are right, and the other wrong; far from it in fact. However, it is something which we must all learn to accept. It is far better, and significantly more progressive, to discuss any issues we may have as a fan base, openly and calmly. When it comes to issues regarding the Green Brigade, there are sections of the Celtic support who are all too quick to jump on the proverbial bandwagon. I’m sure the group themselves would admit they are not perfect – none of us are – but for people to pretend that they are either impervious to sin, or bastions of wrongdoing, is utterly nonsensical.

We must address each issue as it comes along, and that has, and will always continue to be, my approach when dealing with incidents such as that which occurred yesterday. A level of controversy will always come with “ultras”. In the past, I have criticised some things which the group have done, but more often than not, I have found myself praising them highly. Whilst personally I have disagreed with incidents such as the “bloodstained poppy” banner of November 2010, I remain in awe of the noise, colour, and general craziness they consistently bring to matches at Celtic Park, and other venues across Scotland and Europe.

The effort these people put into supporting Celtic is gargantuan in it’s scale, regardless of whether it is jumping about singing for ninety minutes, or creating one of the countless memorable banners we have all enjoyed and photographed, and that effort should not be roundly ignored by some people. Yes, they can be controversial, and no, they should not be free from criticism, but no one, and I mean no one, can criticise them for any lack of effort or love for the team we all hold so dear. For people to suggest that the group didn’t attend the Dundee United match because they “like the attention” or because they were “throwing the dummy out of the pram” is just ridiculous.

With regards to the events of yesterday, details were sketchy at first. Initially, I heard a rumour of drums not being allowed in, resulting in a boycott. This story then evolved into a banner, and not drums, being the offending item. However, now that time has passed and information has become more easily available (and we’re not hindered by the dreadful 3G reception at Celtic Park), we see that those rumours were far from the full story.

According to Green Brigade posters on several well known forums, it appears that members of the group were being photographed upon entry to the stadium, with many of them being ejected immediately and told they were banned (or to report the ticket office to solve issues with temporary bans which had previously expired). With threats of arrest being banded about, and a Celtic steward informing them the police had a list with names and pictures of “targets”, the group, as a collective, decided that it simply wasn’t worth putting themselves through the grief, and chose to abandon their efforts to see the game.

Whilst I was at the match yesterday, I did not see this with my own two eyes, and therefore I can only go on the reports of those who claim to have been there. For this reason, if anything above is incorrect please feel free to get in touch so I can alter it, or perhaps cover the event in more detail.

 

 

Now, there is an argument which states that “the group bring it on themselves”. This is certainly not something I wholly agree with, but it is perhaps unsurprising that the police naturally target the group of supporters they deem to be the “most extreme”. After all, people who jump about and rarely keep quiet are far more likely to draw attention than a supporter like myself, who sits fairly quietly in comparison. However, and I must make this absolutely clear, this does not mean that it is right for them to be targeted, and it does not mean that they are necessarily guilty of any wrongdoing.

Nobody should be persecuted simply because they are affiliated with the Green Brigade, or the Celtic support as a whole. One thing people must remember is that the group itself is actually far smaller than what many would believe. Not everyone who jumps about at matches, or wears Green Brigade merchandise, are fully fledged members. For example, I’ve stood alongside them, and I could buy (for argument’s sake), a group hoody online, but that doesn’t make me a part of the Green Brigade. To their credit, all but one member whom I have met in person have been lovely people, with a strong passion for Celtic Football Club and their group. Once again, this is not a crime.

Much discussion has involved the fact Strathclyde Police appear to be “upping the ante”, and this looks like it may well be the case. Forgive me if you disagree, but nobody, should be treated differently by the police because they describe themselves as an ultra. As I have highlighted, while the Green Brigade are ultras, they are not hooligans. There is a clear, distinct difference, and the police must recognise this. These individuals are not criminals simply because they happen to stand behind a particular banner.

 

 

Debates regarding which songs should be sung, and whether or not pyrotechnics should be used, should perhaps be encouraged and welcomed by the fan base as a whole. However, the actions of the police and, potentially even the inaction of the Football Club, is driving a wedge through the support.

Fundamentally, with any issue such as this, we must realise that there will be differences of opinion, and we must respect the opinions that other members of the support hold, regardless of whether we agree with them or not. However, with such treatment being reported on a wide, consistent basis by members of the Celtic support, there is certainly a viewpoint which says the Club must officially address these concerns, rather than allowing them to continue unchallenged. Another opinion would say that it is impossible for the Club to address these concerns without being seen as being officially pro or anti-Green Brigade. However, there are always two sides to every story, and perhaps even more in this case, but that doesn’t mean heads should be buried in the sand regarding it.

For supporters of our Club to continuously be arrested, and subjected to all of the stress and notoriety that comes along with a visit to Court, only for the allegations against them to be laughed out of that Court time and time again tells it’s own story. It cannot be allowed to continue.

One thing is certain, above all else, the Green Brigade, whether you love them or loathe them, form a vibrant part of the Celtic support. As the years, decades, and now centuries have passed, Celtic Football Club and it’s supporters have grown and evolved. In recent years, the Green Brigade have been a notable addition to the support as a whole. They may not be perfect, but I for one would be tremendously sad to see them go. And yet, if the treatment of their members continues to worsen as it has been, I couldn’t blame them.

We’re all Celtic supporters. We have our differences, yes, but that simple fact unites us all in a way few with no love of our Football Club can understand. No supporter is truly bigger than the Club, but without each supporter, the Club would not be what it is today, and without the Green Brigade, imperfect as they may be, the fan base wouldn’t be what it is today. Consider it for a moment, life without the Green Brigade. Would most of us continue to go to the football and support Celtic? Yes. However, do you feel we would really be any better off without them? I suppose that’s up to the individual.

I, for one, hope they’ll be here next season, and beyond.

Perhaps it’s time for Celtic Football Club, and potentially Strathclyde Police, to put their cards on the table, and address this growing issue publicly. If not, rumour, suspicion, and concern over allegations on all sides will only continue to fester, and we’ll be no closer to a positive outcome.

If you have any comments, thoughts, or opinions you’d like to add, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us on Twitter.

 

Feb 132013
 

Who Needs The Tour De France?

 

weeoscar

Please find the article below on behalf of the “WeeOscar4Life” campaign.

“WeeOscar4Life was setup to help raise awareness and funds for The Oscar Knox appeal with a view to involving the support of Celtic Football Club. This started off small to begin with when 2 CQN’ers decided to create a new range of CQN badges and sell these to bloggers on CQN to raise funds. This raised around £3k. Growing from that was The WeeOscar4Life Small Change for Wee Oscar which asked people to collect their small change over a period of a couple of months and donate this to The Oscar Knox Appeal, raising another £2K.

 Within a couple of months a small team of Celtic fans came together under WeeOscar4Life to appeal to Celtic fans and organised 3 larger events. Mid September a bucket collection at Celtic Park in September for the home game against Dundee raising £32K in 2 hours (believed to be a record for a support of any club in the world). Joining WeeOscar4Life team and The Green Bucket army of 200 collectors on the bucket collection we had special guests in the shape of Stephen Knox, Oscar’s dad and Lisa Hague, wife of Kris Commons who was joined by Charlie Mulgrews partner Alanna Roe and Tony Stokes partner Debbie Lawlor. This was followed by a quiz night was held in the Phoenix bar in the Gallowgate, Glasgow in late September raising £3K. WeeOscar4Life last event was a race night held in the Kerrydale Suite in November at Celtic Park raising £27K where we were again joined by Stephen Knox, Lisa Hague as well as Joe Ledley’s partner Ruby May Ridgeway, Gary Hoopers partner Lucy & Top Bhoys Tom Boyd, Bobby Petta and Frank McAvennie.

A number of individual Celtic Supporters have also raised funds under the WeeOscar4Life with cycles, bucket collections, sponsored silences etc. and today the overall total raised for The Oscar Knox Appeal via WeeOscar4Life and Celtic supporters is over £70k. An incredible amount!

The WeeOscar4Life teams’ next event is a Cycle to Belfast from different locations around The UK and Ireland on St Patrick’s weekend March 2013. This started off as a planned cycle from Celtic Park Glasgow to Belfast but after some consideration the team decided to hit social network sites and Celtic websites to see if there would be any interest in others Celtic supporters organising cycles to Belfast from other locations in the UK & Ireland. It soon became apparent that there was decent interest in this from supporters in Leeds, Duleek, Roscommon and Dublin. We have to date the following numbers joining our 5 confirmed cycles:

 

32 cyclists and 7 support team leave Celtic Park early on the 15th of March arriving at Donegal Celtic Park around 6:30pm on Sat 16th of March.

26 cyclists will leave Dublin the 15th of March arriving at Donegal Celtic Park around 6:30pm on Sat 16th of March.

7 cyclists will leave Leeds on Friday the 15th of March arriving in Belfast on the 17th of March.

25 cyclists and 6 support team leaving Duleek on Fri 15th Mar and arriving Belfast/Donegal Celtic Park around 5pm on Saturday the 16th of March.

10 cyclists are leaving Roscommon on 15th March and arriving in Belfast on 16th of March.

 

Once we arrive in Belfast an event will be held at Donegal Celtic Park for cyclist to replenish their calories and raise a few more quid by raffling off a few Celtic related items.

Given the number of cyclist WeeOscar4Life team and cyclists hope to raise at least £10,000 for Wee Oscar that we hope will go towards getting Oscar the immunotherapy treatment he so dearly requires to give him the best chance of survival in his ongoing battle with Neuroblastoma Stage 4.

WeeOscar4Life are also offering corporate sponsorship to companies who would like to join AJ Print, Access LLP, Burns Interior Design, Business Continuity Services Ltd, DAMM Environmental, Firewater, Gardiner & Theobald Surveyors, Morrisons Facilities Management, Oracle, ProAir Conditioning, Project Pipework and Piling, Stena Sealink & Sublime Designs to sponsor the cycles at a cost of £500. For your companies sponsorship your company will have their logo displayed on publicity banners for photographs and hopefully TV once we arrive in Belfast, as well as knowing that your company has helped Wee Oscar reach his target to receive his immunotherapy treatment – WHAT GREATER PRIZE IS THERE?

For further information on corporate sponsorship and details on WeeOscar4Life campaign please email weeoscar4life@gmail.com . You can follow us on twitter @weeoscar4life or Facebook Wee-Oscar-4-Life page. All donations can be made via JustGiving at http://www.justgiving.com/WeeOscar4Life-Cycle-to-Belfast-March-2013

You will find more information on Oscar Knox Appeal at www.oscarknox.blogspot.com or on twitter @Wee_Oscar

 

Wee Oscar 4 Life Team”

Feb 082013
 

Welcome to Maley’s Bhoys Annual Twitter Awards.You have one vote for each category. Choose your selection in each category and click Vote before moving on to the next category.

Poll runs until Friday 15/02/2013 at 10.00 pm Celtic Park time

[poll id=”3″]

[poll id=”4″]

[poll id=”5″]

[poll id=”6″]

[poll id=”7″]

[poll id=”8″]

[poll id=”9″]

 Posted by at 9:49 pm
Feb 072013
 

 

 

Above is the Chief Executive of Motherwell Football Club, Leeann Dempster. At Hibernian, another lady, Amanda Jones, holds a place on the Club’s board. However, perhaps the most prominent female board members can be found south of the border in England, where individuals such as Karren Brady (known by many as Alan Sugar’s aide in the television hit “The Apprentice”) and Delia Smith hold places on the boards at West Ham United and Norwich City respectively. In March 1993, at the age of only twenty three, Ms Brady took up a place on the board at Birmingham City Football Club and, in 2002, upon the Club’s promotion, she became the first woman to hold such a position in the top flight of English Football. Another notable example is Carolyn Radford, the current Chief Executive of Mansfield Town Football Club, and I’m sure there are several others I am unaware of at this stage.

To my knowledge, there has never been a female on the board of directors at Celtic Football Club and so, this begs the question, “is it time to change that?” Women and girls are playing a larger role in all things Celtic with every passing season, and undoubtedly there are more females attending matches than there were in the distant past. Of course, I think most supporters would agree that they are pretty happy with the performance of the current board. The Football Club is progressing well both on and off of the field.

However, the question remains.

Should Celtic Football Club have at least one woman on the board? Do female supporters have any strong feelings on this matter one way or the other? Or would we all prefer simply to have, for example, a fans’ representative on the board? Or do you feel is it of no significance whatsoever?

It’s certainly an intriguing issue, and one I’m keen to find what supporters think about, so please feel free to make your opinion known by leaving a comment below, or getting involved with the debate on Twitter.

 

Feb 042013
 

Dr Poon’s Thoughts Examined

 

 

As is common knowledge now, the First Tier Tax Tribunal recently found in favour of Murray International Holdings and it’s subsidiaries via  a two votes to one majority. In this article, we look to the thoughts of Dr Heidi Poon, chartered accountant, experienced member of such tribunals and a judge to boot. Some have said that Dr Poon’s thoughts are meaningless, having been outvoted by the other two individuals on the tribunals panel, Mr Muir and Mr Rae. However, whilst Dr Poon is an accountant and not a lawyer, and whilst her thoughts cannot change anything at this point in time, I personally feel they are worthy of some examination, especially with the prospect of an HMRC appeal looming at some point in the future.

If you don’t feel her views with regards to this case are worthy of any discussion, then I’d suggest you save yourself a few minutes of your lifetime and stop reading now. Go and make a cup of tea or something, watch the television, or check Twitter. Really, it’ll save you a lot of hassle, and perhaps some stress as well.

In the style of our recent article regarding the evidence given by both sets of witnesses (those for Murray International Holdings and those for the taxpayer), the majority of the wording below will be quoted directly from the tribunal verdict’s appendix, written by Dr Poon herself.

Early on in her documentation, Dr Poon highlights the amount of money that is being contested by HMRC, saying “The initial assessments were variously amended and subsequently consolidated for the quantum of £46,265,397 as at 21 April 2010. The split of the total assessed is £34,650,228 for income tax, and £11,615,169 for employer’s national insurance contributions.”

She then specifies the amount being contested with direct regards to Rangers Football Club “Of the £46.2 million assessed, the sum of £36.6 million (PAYE £27.4m, NIC £9.2m) is on Rangers, and the balance of £9.6 million allocated variously among the other four group companies.”

Dr Poon soon goes on to outline what she feels are the main questions regarding the case “The critical issue in front of this Tribunal is whether payments made via the remuneration trust mechanism amount to being emoluments for tax purposes. The questions that arise are as follows: (1) Whether upon the true interpretation of the contractual arrangements, there have been payments made to the employees via the trust? (2) Can these trust payments be characterised as having been made ‘unreservedly at the disposal’ of the employees?”

Quickly, Dr Poon is critical of the some of the witnesses who were present, and the attitudes they displayed, saying “…the overall impression created by the Witness Statements from the Murray Group senior employees and Mrs Crimson of the trustee company, was one of guardedness and careful omission of salient facts.”

Funny that…

 

courage6

 

Soon after, we find references to several witnesses specifically, Mr Red, Mr Yellow, Mr Black, and Mr Blue. Dr Poon’s appendix states: “Mr Yellow spoke of the scheme having tax advantages, and Mr Blue confirmed his understanding of the scheme as for avoiding PAYE and NIC. Mr Blue was one of the two key executives with whom Mr Red discussed the scheme prior to its implementation. As a Chartered Accountant, Mr Blue’s understanding of the scheme as for tax avoidance was not without professional knowledge either.”

“As for Mr Black, he denied that the scheme was for tax avoidance in cross-examination, though he went on to describe the scheme as ‘a method of us acquiring, especially football wise, better players in a more cost effective manner than we would be able to do so’; that the club had been ‘very ambitious at that time’; and ‘it was seen as a correct and proper way for us to proceed’; that Rangers ‘have been very successful, because we’ve been able to attract players of a certain standard that, perhaps, we may not have been able to otherwise’ (Day 5/126).”

The criticism of Mr Red continues, showing an unwillingness to cooperate with HMRC’s enquiries in the past (begging the “if you’re not guilty, what have you go to hide?” question), “24. The enquiry commenced in January 2004 and it was not until April 2008 when sufficient information became available (but not through the Appellants’ disclosure) for prior year assessments to be raised. The protracted and chequered course of the enquiry was largely due to a lack of candour and co-operation from Mr Red, who was the chief officer dealing with the enquiry.”

“Key documents such as the side-letters, calculations of figures of contributions, emails and memorandums related directly to the trust’s operation were not disclosed, despite repeated requests and statutory demands for information. From the enquiry correspondence, the tone in Mr Red’s response suggests a degree of hostility, and his remarks were at times aggressive. With his background as a former Inspector of Taxes, and with his professional.”

Dr Poon does not stop there, continuing “It seemed that when the inconsistency between his oral and written evidence could not be explained away, Mr Red resorted to attributing authorship of the correspondence to a third-party of whom he could not be specific. The overall impression created by Mr Red’s evidence, oral and written, was that he was being vague and evasive. It was clear that he was not on sure ground, because he was trying to tell a version of how the trust scheme should operate, rather than the version as it actually operated.”

Before moving onto the subject of side letters, Dr Poon finally alludes to her concerns regarding Mr Red attempting to influence other witnesses prior to them giving evidence to the tribunal, stating “As a result of this schism, it led to deliberation and inconsistency in Mr Red’s testimony, and to subsequent attempts to influence Mrs Crimson’s (and possibly Mr Scarlet’s) evidence to support a version of how the scheme should have operated.”

When Mr Red was eventually questioned regarding the much maligned side letters, he replied “I still say there is nothing secret about them. We have nothing to hide in these side letters”. He continued, “it’s our view that the side-letter or the letters of undertaking do not need to be registered or lodged with the SFA”.

This, of course (in footballing terms), flies directly in the face of the legality outlined in the tribunal itself, which cites “Rule 4.5 of the SFA’s Registration Procedure Rules”, which state “All payments to be made to a player relating to his playing activities must be clearly recorded upon the relevant contract and/or agreement. No payments for his playing activities may be made to a player via a third party”.

 

 

Dr Poon continues “35. It is not accepted that there had been no deliberate concealment of the side-letters, in view of how the first side-letter only came to light through the seizure of Mr Berwick’s file nearly four years into the enquiry. It is not accepted that the non-disclosure of the side-letters arose from a ‘credible’ view that Mr Red considered the side-letters irrelevant to HMRC’s enquiry.”

She then goes on to say, that, in her opinion, “The side-letters showed a form of contractual arrangement”.

Dr Poon then speculates “A fair conclusion to be drawn from the circumstantial evidence on the one hand, and Mr Red’s oral evidence on the other, is that the side-letters had been actively concealed. The reason for the concealment might have been, in Mr Red’s view, the side-letters could be incriminating evidence against the impression of the trust operation that he had been trying to give.”

As the appendix continues, we are soon left asking ourselves whether Rangers Football Club were actively attempting conceal such side letters, or whether, as they claim, they were open and honest about their existence and relevant detailing from the start. For this reason, Dr Poon discusses the Club’s relationship with their independent auditors (back when they actually had accounts audited), beginning “The Respondents submit that ‘the auditors had not seen the side letters, otherwise they would have been a matter of specific comment”.

She continues “It would appear, from the evidence heard on Mr Purple’s termination payment, which is narrated in more detail under the section on ‘Termination Payments’ in my findings of fact, that the auditors had been told an untruth on both scores, regarding the waiver of the right, and the loan being unrelated to the contractual payment on transfer. The auditors were also told that the paperwork for Mr Purple was ‘mislaid’, (and therefore was not available for the auditors to inspect). Over the use of the remuneration trust, the auditors seemed to have been treated by the Appellants with the same lack of candour as accorded to HMRC. The auditors did not seem to be privy to any (or much) of the documentation, and had not formed a view on the scheme other than relied on what they had been told by the management.”

Dr Poon then progresses to criticise the fact that Mr Red picked up Mrs Crimson from the airport after he had given his evidence to the tribunal, but the night before Mrs Crimson was due to give hers. This meeting also included the passing over of a brown envelope containing documents regarding the case to Mrs Crimson, and is discussed in more length here.

I see no point in repeating the information contained in that article, so I shall continue with Dr Poon’s review, as she moves her attention to the “loans” themselves, stating:

“The terms and conditions related to these loans advanced to the employees as protectors of their sub-trusts characterise the reality of the funds that have been made to the employees as ‘loans’. From the documentary and oral evidence, the following features can be ascribed to the loans:
(i) No security had ever been requested or required for the hundreds of thousands of pounds borrowed;
(ii) No scrutiny was undertaken of the purpose for which the loans were requested;
(iii) No vetting of borrowers or assessment of means was carried out;
(iv) The loans were expected to be renewed indefinitely and to remain as liabilities against the employees’ estates;

(v) It was the understanding of all parties involved – Appellants companies, trustees and employees – that the loans would never be expected to be repaid against the wishes of the employees;
(vi) The interest rate was chosen at a percentage (1.5% or 2% because of Deepwater’s involvement); and according to Mrs Crimson, the rate did not vary with changes in the LIBOR rate, so the trustees were committing themselves to the same rate of interest over the term of 10 years;
(vii) No interest had ever been paid during the term of any of the loans; again it was the understanding of all participants that the interest would never be called upon to be paid during the lifetime of the employees who had borrowed the sums; “
(viii) The interest element was designed to be rolled up indefinitely, to remain as a ‘paper’ debt and to augment the overall indebtedness of the employees’ estates, thereby conferring a bigger reduction against inheritance tax.”

She continues:

“61. The certainty that the loan would be renewed and never be required to be repaid was expressed by various witnesses as follows:
(a) Mr Black: ‘When my first loan is up in mid-2011, I will decide either to pay back the loan or re-negotiate. Whatever I feel is appropriate at that moment.’ (Day 5/141.16)
(b) Mr Grey: ‘I could not conceive of any situation where the loans would require to be repaid.’ (Day 5/107.18)
(c) Mr Violet: ‘I expected that the trustees would renew the loan with the result that the loan would carry on until I died, which would produce an inheritance tax benefit. Therefore, while I knew these were loans, I never thought I would pay anything back during my lifetime.”

 

 

Now, all of the above was written in November 2012, but never published. It was an unfinished article, as you can see. There is nothing there which isn’t already in the public domain. However, it is never a bad thing to highlight such matters, especially the views of Dr Poon, which many may have heard about, but not directly read in the lengthy document published post tribunal. Today, it has been confirmed that HMRC will appeal. As ever, I will leave you to draw your own conclusions, but one has to wonder “why did virtually none of the above ever make it into the Scottish press?”

Of course, it’d be nothing other than pure speculation to suggest that some people within the media know more than they are letting on.

 

Feb 022013
 

Your Chance To Nominate Your Favourites

 

 

This evening, we can officially announce that awards for the following categories will be given by ourselves out to individuals/groups within the Celtic community for their endeavours in 2012. At this moment, there are no nominees. For this reason, we would like you to suggest potential candidates for the following categories over the next few days. Once this process is complete, we will open up a public vote on Friday for all of you to have your say as to who the winners of each award should be (please note that nominations do not count as votes). The voting period will end a week later, on the Friday after the first Juventus match.

To nominate a candidate for any category, simply contact us on Twitter or leave a comment below. The only rule is that all nominees must have a Twitter account to be recognised. The list of categories is as follows:

 

1. Best Unofficial Account, a.k.a. “Top Tim” (this is the top award, and anyone can be nominated providing they are not officially linked to Celtic)

2. Best Official Account (any employees of the Club with Twitter, whether they are playing staff or involved in other areas of the Club’s work can be nominated)

3. Best Unofficial Media Outlet (radio shows, fanzines etc – this refers to the overall works of groups, not individual issues of magazines, songs etc)

4. Best Website (any unofficial websites are eligible)

5. Best Blogger (again, anyone is eligible providing they are not linked to the Club)

6. Best Hashtag 

7. Best Mainstream Media Account

8. Best Piece of Unofficial Media (individual books, songs etc are eligible for this award)

 

During the voting process, we will hand out a few special awards of recognition chosen by ourselves. None of these will relate to anything nominated above, so will not impact on the voting process.

Fundamentally, the process discussed above is about recognising, in our own small way, the hard work that a lot of people put in, in order to run Twitter accounts, as well as the entities which often lay behind them. I am aware that it may be somewhat ironic for a small site like ourselves to hand out awards to people with a much bigger influence than us. However, as I have mentioned, they are purely designed as a way of saying “thank you” to the people we all read or see mentioned on a daily basis, and who add to the ever growing world regarding Celtic online.

 

Please note, we cannot be nominated for any of the above awards, and therefore cannot win any of said awards.

Marquee Powered By Know How Media.