It should be clear now that the ludicrous requirement for a prospective President to have already wasted four years of his life “serving” on SFA committees is the main reason that Campbell Ogilvie was re-elected unopposed.
At the time I presumed that he was re-elected simply because nobody else wanted the gig but now it’s apparent that a suitable candidate wouldn’t even have been eligible to apply.
I think this also reveals another crucial point.
In order for Ogilvie to get the Presidency gig himself in time to oversee the SFA’s manipulation of the impending Hunpocalyse, he obviously had to notch up his own four years well in advance. After decades on the BoD at Ibrox, he spent just long enough at Tynecastle to present himself to the football public as a Hearts director, rather than the full-fat Hun that he has always been, before he jumped ship to clamber aboard the SFA’s tramp steamer. Superficially distancing himself from Rangers for a few months didn’t really fool many people but it did give the laptop loyal a flimsy pretext for championing his appointment as a good thing on the basis that he was a servant of Scottish football in general rather than a one-club man.
This is further confirmation of what I have always held to be true.
Long-term plans for Rangers to jettison its debts and emerge unscathed were carefully hatched at least a decade ago and put into action with immediate effect. Hugh Adam effectively told us so when he sold up his shareholding in Rangers and announced that Rangers were heading towards financial catastrophe under David Murray’s reckless leadership.
Minty, despite his bluster and bravado, also knew that the possibility of liquidation was a very real threat and that administration was a near certainty.
Accordingly, plans were developed.
Conveniently for Murray, Mr. Dave King, an international expert with vast experience of tax evasion, money-laundering and fraud had recently joined the board of directors. It’s hard to imagine that a world-class businessman such as Sir David would not have been glad to avail himself of the advice of such an experienced operator as the glib and shameless liar from Castlemilk, notwithstanding Mr. King’s unfortunate habit of constantly having to defend himself against a torrent of criminal charges in his adopted South African home.
At that time, however, Dave King had yet to be convicted of dozens of criminal offences so he would have appeared to be the sort of chap who could get away with daylight robbery. And that’s exactly what David Murray and Rangers needed to do themselves.
Minty’s Minions were presently despatched to wherever they would be most needed when the worst came to pass. Meanwhile he continued to groom his harem of chosen media harlots, knowing full well that he would be availing himself of their services and favours in due course.
It can not be emphasised enough that the plan would almost certainly have worked but for the unforeseen effect of the RTC blog, which opened the eyes of fans of every other club in Scotland. As a direct result of that awareness, the real and serious threat of season ticket holders across the country withholding their renewals forced club chairmen to vote against the motion to install Sevco (disguised as Rangers) in the SPL. That vote had been planned to pass unnoticed and with the minimum of public commentary while everyone was watching the Olympics.
It was only after that pivotal reversal that the long-term plan came crashing down.
Ever since the strategy failed, what we have seen is a continuous series of ad-hoc tactical defensive measures from the various parties.
The Spivs, assorted Zombie factions, the Press-titutes, the Brotherhood at the Hampden Lodge and a host of others are now trying either to loot the collapsing edifice under cover of darkness or to engineer their escape from the crime scene. The Ibrox institution is a busted flush but there is still an enormous amount of work to be done in order to expose the scale of the corruption in the very foundation of Scottish football’s structure.
It is essential for that work to be completed.
Only when the guilty have all been exposed, disgraced and discredited will it be possible to present Scottish football as what it was always supposed to be – an enjoyable entertainment, played honestly and fairly in a true sporting atmosphere.
I read an interesting paper recently by a group of psychology researchers who were investigating the influence of electromagnetic stimulation of parts of the brain in terms of how it affected the moral choices which people will make.
Two groups of people faced the same set of questions. One group was wired up to a machine which ran a small electromagnetic charge across the temperoparietal junction (TPJ) of the brain. The other group wasn’t.
An example of the types of moral judgements which the subjects were asked to make is as follows:
George is having a coffee at John’s house. George asks for sugar in his coffee. John has two similar jars in his cupboard. One contains sugar but it says POISON on the label; the other contains poison but the label says SUGAR.
John, knowing that the jars have the wrong labels, gives George a spoonful of poison from the SUGAR jar. George dies.
Did John deliberately poison George?
The group which was NOT being subjected to the electromagnetic stimulation (EMS) almost unanimously said yes.
Remarkably, there was a significantly high percentage of subjects in the other group which did not consider John to be guilty. Their reasoning was that John had taken the poison from the jar marked SUGAR and that was enough for them to believe he was off the hook.
In another example, John does NOT know that the labels have been switched. He believes he is putting sugar, not poison, into George’s coffee. George dies.
Group One (nonEMS) found him not guilty of premeditated murder. Most of Group Two found him guilty because George died.
In a third example, John thinks the labels have been switched, wants to poison George but inadvertently gives him a spoonful of sugar (believing it to be poison) and George finally gets a break, enjoys his coffee and goes off to watch the football.
By now, you’ll know what the groups’ verdicts are going to be. Group One condemned John for intending to poison George while a significant proportion of Group Two saw nothing wrong in what John did, simply because George survived.
There are numerous other variations of these experiments which all indicated the same confusion in moral judgement in subjects whose brains had been fogged by external stimuli such as electromagnetic charges. In all of them, the confusion arises from their inability to separate the facts of the matter from the intention of the agent. In moral judgements we regard somebody’s intentions as being the prime factor, regardless of whether they succeed in carrying out those intentions. In moral terms, attempted murder is just as serious as murder whereas being unwittingly involved in someone’s accidental death is not a criminal act at all. In assessing the guilt or innocence of an accused person, we need to establish if the accused had any motivation for causing or attempting to cause a death.
As an aside, the implications of this research are far-reaching and give rise to serious concerns about much of our Western lifestyle. We are surrounded by mobile phones, iPads and mp3 players (especially with headphones), digital televisions, wireless telephones, wi-fi computer connections, modems, so-called energy-saving light bulbs, microwave cookers, laptops and netbooks, transmission masts and numerous other appliances and devices, all of which emit electromagnetic radiation comparable to the EMS which was applied in the experiment. In the light of the experiment mentioned above, I find it to be inconceivable that our immersion in a veritable ocean of electromagnetic radiation is having no comparable effect. I also have information which indicates that a lot of research into these issues has been suppressed and marginalised. It’s not easy to adversely affect the corporate interest with hard, medical, scientific truth.
More generally, I’m struck by the fact that people can be so easily influenced to change their opinion of right and wrong by subtle environmental factors. You don’t necessarily need to have electrodes attached to your cranium in order to have your moral compass deflected off course. Fear of social unrest or other supposedly disruptive consequences may also affect someone’s idea of right and wrong. It’s very important to recognise that the members of Group Two who were making perverse judgements about John’s guilt or innocence genuinely believed in the value of their verdicts at the time. In their minds, it was clear that if George had survived, even though John had intended to poison him, then no condemnation of John’s character was warranted.
This experiment came to my mind when I read Lord Nimmo-Smith’s report of his inquiry into allegations that Rangers deliberately withheld and concealed parts of their arrangements to pay their playing staff. LNS at least managed to note that this was indeed what they had done. The registration conditions had not been met and Rangers had deliberately intended to keep part of their payment arrangements concealed. Those facts were recognised, hence the guilty verdict.
LNS then demonstrated his Group Two credentials by stating that Rangers had not gained or sought to gain a competitive, sporting advantage by deliberately and continuously breaking the registration rules. He ignored the obvious fact that Rangers intended to acquire a stronger playing squad by avoiding the taxes due on £47 million of salary. He ignored the significance of the fact that Rangers intended to dupe the tax authorities by disguising players’ remuneration as loans through an EBT scheme. Registering these payments with the SPL (and SFA) as they should have done would have blown Rangers chances of pretending to HMRC that monies paid to their employees via EBTs were entirely discretionary. And despite media misdirection and propaganda stating that Rangers had “won” their appeal to the FTT over HMRC assessments, LNS had the facts in front of him which stated clearly that the FTT had ruled – and Rangers had accepted – that the EBTs were indeed contractual salary arrangements in the case of at least five players.
Let’s recap that. LNS could see that Rangers paid players part of their salaries via EBTs. Those arrangements should have been part of the documentation submitted to the SPL as part of the player registration process. Rangers deliberately concealed that documentation. David Murray told the FTT , under oath, that Rangers used the EBTs to offer wage packages to better players whom they would not otherwise have been able to sign for the club. LNS concluded that Rangers, knowing full well that they were poisoning Scottish football regardless of what the label read, had not gained any sporting advantage from deliberately breaking the rules.
Rangers broke the rules. They knew they were breaking the rules. They were breaking the rules in order to sign better players than they could afford by keeping to the rules. They signed those better players and fielded them in hundreds of matches.
And LNS, relabelling the jar to suit, says that no competitive sporting advantage was gained.
That is his Group Two moment; George survived, no harm done, let’s move on.
Everything else proceeds from that viewpoint. Now that we’ve decided that John didn’t succeed in his attempt to poison George, we can indeed move on. We can move on to minimising John’s punishment. We might even avoid punishing John at all by dumping a fine onto hundreds of John’s long-suffering creditors. We can move on to finding somebody – anybody – whose interpretation of the penalty that should be imposed on a club which does not correctly register its players flies in the face of all reason, sense of fair play, precedent and practice.
Step forward Sandy Bryson, the man who decides which labels belong on which jars, regardless of their contents. Bryson, lest we forget, was the man who was in charge of registrations at the time of the scandal which led to Jim Farry’s disgrace and downfall over the SFA’s failure to allow Jorge Cadete’s registration with Celtic. Farry pulled the trigger but Bryson provided the gun, supplied the ammunition and pointed it towards the target. (By the by, let us also recall that James Traynor has never varied from his outspoken opinion that Farry was a magnificent administrator.) But the panel decided that Bryson was wearing the SUGAR label.
LNS and his fellow panel members decided that Bryson’s testimony was the be all and end all of interpretation of the SFA’s implementation of fair play. This was in spite of the fact that on the only occasion when his guidelines had been challenged in an independent judicial tribunal, the SFA’s case collapsed ignominiously before lunchtime on the first day of the hearing and the SFA immediately parted company with its long-serving Secretary. It was also in spite of the fact that Bryson’s advice to Celtic about FC Sion’s registration irregularities was that all was in order and nothing could be done; a perverse interpretation which was shot down in flames by UEFA who not only threw FC Sion out of Europe but also ordered the Swiss FA, on pain of being suspended from international competition, to retrospectively award victories to every one of Sion’s opponents in domestic league and cup fixtures in which improperly registered players had turned out for FC Sion. No matter; it says SUGAR on this jar of Bryson.
A credible witness? A man on whose testimony the learned panel should base their verdict? Only if your capacity for making moral judgement has been disrupted could you conclude an inquiry by ruling that no cheating had taken place and no unfair competitive or sporting advantage had been gained. Furthermore, why did the LNS panel take evidence from the SFA’s registration officer in the first place, given that the SFA was already standing by to hear any appeal? What sort of appeals body turns up at the initial hearing in order to give evidence in support of one of the parties and what kind of panel is so morally confused that it thinks such an intervention is okay? It is little surprise that this panel had such a complete unawareness of the principle of fair play.
Make no mistake about this. Scottish football has been run by Group Two members for a long time and continues to suffer for it. The poison in Scottish football’s coffee was put there deliberately, knowingly and with malign intent, regardless of what labels are on the jars. There is no excuse for asserting that the opinions of Group One and Group Two members have equal validity just because they may be sincerely held. They most certainly do not have equal validity.
It may well be the case from now on that football supporters in Group One decide that their only remaining option is to do without sugar or give up coffee altogether because they can recognise the futility of paying money into a sport which is being run along its present lines. It may well be the legacy of the LNS inquiry that George went home and decided not to bother watching the football after all.
Here’s a link to a fine comment which was published on the Scottish Football Monitor* discussion forum this week.
Humble Pie’s post is a first class piece that highlights the cognitive dissonance in every department of our society.
The key recognition is that the bodies who take charge of almost every field – medicine, law, education, government, nutrition, banking, sport and many others – do the most damage to the supposed ends of these institutions. They are an enemy within, exactly the opposite of what it says on the tin. That is the context in which we must look at the running of the SFA and the major bodies which are affiliated to it.
It is not through accident or incompetence. Even when the general public is angry enough to mobilise itself into activism to demand change, the people in charge do not respond to the core demands for integrity and honour, Instead, they concentrate their efforts on finding a way to carry on running their shop as before but with a slightly different window display. I blogged earlier this week about how the American people brought about the fall of Richard Nixon only to see his appointed successor, Gerald Ford, abuse his executive authority to thwart the ends of justice by unilaterally pardoning Nixon. There are countless similar examples such as bankers who should be jailed for fraud being given obscene bonuses for bankrupting entire nations.
I have no doubt that there are many people at the SFA who will not hesitate to do something similar with Rangers if they get half a chance. They have numerous allies in the SPL and SFL who will do their bit as well if they can. That is why HP’s superb post should be circulated far and wide. The people running the game have done absolutely nothing to suggest for a moment that they can be trusted to do the right thing in this scandal. It is vital that they are not only kept under the closest scrutiny but also that the scrutiny is illuminated by the clear understanding of the dynamics at play. In that regard, Humble Pie’s post is as good a source of illumination as any. Please read it and share it as widely as possible.
The first thing we learn about playing football is that you have to keep your eye on the ball.
We have since learned that that applies equally to football administration and governance.
* The moderators of the Scottish Football Monitor have a tendency to delete posts which are not in tune with their site’s goals. This has an unfortunate consequence of rendering links to subsequent posts invalid. In case such a fate befalls Humble Pie’s post, I shall reproduce the full text of his comment here as a back up.
How Deep is the Rabbit Hole?
by Humble Pie
As we await the outcome of the Lord Nimmo Smith enquiry into breaches of SFA regulations on players registration by Rangers FC PLC (since renamed and placed into liquidation), I thought it worth taking time to consider the context in which this failure of governance has played out, or the ‘bigger picture’ if you will.
I don’t know about you but any childhood illusions that I may have had that ‘the authorities’ were there to ‘look after us’ has been well and truly shattered over the last two decades or more. In recent years almost all of our ‘most trusted’ institutions have been shown to wear no more than a wafer thin veneer of honesty and integrity. Break through that slim membrane of deceit and we are faced with the startling reality that self-serving corporate corruption is now absolutely endemic in our society.
The corporatisation of our civic life in particular has been imperceptibly slow and deliberate. While our little heads were filled with dreams of ‘change for the better’ with each new dawn and each new government, behind the scenes, men who care only for personal profit have been allowed to usurp our most coveted ideas of peace, justice, education, health, wealth and ultimately happiness. Almost all of the once venerated institutions that we entrusted with guardianship over our ‘public services’ have now been found to be morally bankrupt.
Successive governments have lied the people into wars of conquest, taking hundreds of thousands of innocent souls while our citizens slept on the streets and elected ministers claimed for second homes and £60 light bulbs.
The big banks gambled with our hard-earned money and lost the lot, then the government borrowed the same amount from the same banks (created out of thin air) and gave it back to them to gamble with some more.
The mainstream media continually distorts our view of the world and its people, distracts us with flashy advertising, sensationalist flannel, celebrity gossip and naked breasts, while fermenting discord and division among the citizenry and intruding on the lives of the innocent victims of crime.
The TV broadcasters have covered up the most heinous abuses against children perpetrated by their own staff, while we were busy being ‘programmed’ to become disengaged, disinterested and opinionated voyeurs of so called ‘reality shows’.
Hospitals now care more about bed space and cost benefit analyses than looking after the sick and the elderly, our nurses are overworked and undervalued while many doctors have become hopelessly corrupted by financial kickbacks from the pharmaceutical industry.
Education has again become more of a privilege than a right with the increased cost of hidden fees, accommodation, transport and the lack of any real, meaningful edification and purpose for our young people. Most of the good teachers have left what used to be a ‘vocation’, many of the rest are bored, disempowered and underpaid for the role with which we entrust them (developing the skills of our children).
The Police which used to provide the public with a ‘service’ has now become a ‘force’. No longer do we have policemen and policewomen, now we have ‘officers’. Each individual police force is now an separate corporate entity (look it up on Companies House) their officers obliged to generate income by issuing ever more fines and charges to balance their dwindling budgets.
So the question is, why should I expect football be any different?
Football is governed by a set of rules or customs, which serve to ensure fair competition, and allow consistent adjudication of the winner. These rules are encompassed by the principles of respect, fair play and sportsmanship and are agreed to by all participants….or so Sepp Blatter would have us believe.
During the last couple of years, particularly throughout the Rangers saga, I have become more and more disillusioned by the lack of morality and integrity that has been displayed by the Scottish football authorities. They have ignored their own rules when it suited them and applied them with full ferocity when it suited them. At times their obfuscation and outright hypocrisy has been breathtaking. Compare and contrast the SFA’s treatment of Spartans for accidently failing to put a date on a form twice, and the former Rangers, who deliberately withheld information from the SFA, failed to pay millions of pounds to their civic taxes nor their many creditors (football related and otherwise) and have brought the entire game into disrepute in this country on more than one occasion.
How can they possibly get away with it? I hear you ask.
That the SFA, the president of which is ‘heavily conflicted’ in the entire shenanigans, has fobbed this enquiry off to the SPL (who have no real jurisdiction over the breaking of SFA rules) who in turn fobbed it off the retired Lord Nimmo Smith’s ‘independent panel’ tell us what exactly? That they want justice to be done and to be seen to be done? Perhaps.
However, that the same SFA still fails to state categorically the status of the club called The Rangers currently plying their wares in SFL3, even though the answer to this simple question remains fundamental to the integrity of the sport and any hope of reconciliation among the now deeply divided supporters, doesn’t fill me with confidence in their governance of the game.
What do I expect to happen? Well my experience has taught me to expect the worst and to hope for the best. No doubt, whatever the outcome of this enquiry, that will not be the end of it. In my humble opinion, ‘interested parties’ will seek to make this a long drawn out affair (ain’t it always been so) with judgements and appeals, claim and counterclaim, appeals to the SPL, SFA, CoS, CAS, UEFA perhaps even finally ending up on Sepp Blatter’s Louis XIV style oak desk in Zurich. Where we can expect………………………..?
Michael Ellner noted, “Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.”
Will we have to add ‘and the SFA destroyed Scottish football’?
I hope not but I am beginning to expect so.
There are occasional gremlins on the rangerstaxcase site which strike without warning and prevent posts from being uploaded. Earlier tonight, I posted some thoughts on RTC’s latest blog but my follow up, in reply to a query from another poster, refuses to upload. Rather than throw my computer out of the window, I’ve decided to post the exchange here.
Regarding the debate on what do about the championship titles which must be taken from Rangers, this is really not difficult.
Every game in which Rangers fielded ineligible players is recorded as a 3-0 victory for their opponents. The points are totalled up for the season. The team which has the most points is awarded the title.
I’ve paid tens of thousands of pounds over the years to see my team competing for the championship title and I’ll be damned if I’m going to settle for seeing an asterisk taking the place of a title which my team won fair and square.
The only reason that those titles weren’t awarded to the correct team at the end of each season is because the game was so riddled with corruption that nobody enforced rules that would have deprived Rangers of their unfair advantage.
Successive SFA and SPL officials came from Ibrox and allowed this cheating to go unchecked. Successive directors at Rangers FC, at best neglected their responsibilities to ensure that their business was on the straight and narrow. At worst, they actively perpetuated the cheating. The bank which happily turned a blind eye to Murray’s financial recklessness and – as is now becoming clearer and clearer – sheer criminality happily wiped other clubs off the face of the earth and threatened others, including mine, with winding up procedures.
And all this time, I was forking out over a thousand pounds per season to see my team competing in tournaments which were supposed to be fair. It was bad enough to be seething with frustration at what I knew at the time were biased refereeing performances; now that it is apparent that the beneficiaries of this bias were not even eligible to compete, never mind take the honours, the frustration has hardened into a righteous and completely justified anger.
This institutionalised fraud will not be rectified with an asterisk.
The very first principle of atonement is to make restitution as far as that is possible. The very minimum requirement is to return what has been stolen to its rightful owners. In the case of at least five titles, that means presenting those titles to the team which won the most points in accordance with the Laws of the Game of Association Football and in line with the rules and regulations of the SFA and SPL. Absolutely nothing less than that will do. And that should only be a starting point.
Taking away from Rangers anything which was never rightfully theirs in the first place is not a punishment. It’s merely the first step in undoing some of the damage. The next step is to restore to the rightful owners that which was stolen from them. The third step is to punish the guilty parties for their crimes. We’re not even close to that third stage yet so any hint of backsliding on the first two steps must not be tolerated.
There is no room for compromises here.
There is a constant creep in the mainstream media towards an assumption that Rangers have suffered enough and that those who want to see them pay in full for their colossal wrongdoing are being vindictive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The issue is purely about fairness. It is fundamentally unfair that hardened, habitual cheats should receive any leniency when those who did nothing wrong whatsoever were seriously disadvantaged, suffered considerable loss of prestige, were wrongly deprived of sporting honours and were financially damaged. In some cases, the financial damage was a mortal blow.
An asterisk won’t cut it.
Gully says: 19/07/2012 at 12:15 am
Henry, does your unwillingness to compromise mean that the Champions League competitions in the affected years will also have to be replayed?
An asterisk is the best compromise, for compromise is necessary.
Henry Clarson says:
This is utter foolishness.
Absolutely no compromise is either necessary or desirable in this case.
Anyone who cannot understand the fundamentals of fair play in sport is never going to be able to understand why the prizes should be awarded to the highest placed competitor who hasn’t cheated instead of to the cheat who wasn’t found out for a while.
For the purposes of this blog, we proceed on the assumption that Rangers did cheat. We have seen more than enough evidence to back up that assumption.
One single competitor stands accused of cheating and is almost certainly guilty.
That competitor must pay the penalty. Yes, even when it’s Rangers.
There is no case for allowing those guilty of breaking the rules to negotiate further breaches of the rules in order to spare themselves the punishment which they deserve. We are not yet so far through the looking glass that we are going to permit cheats to guide us about what is fair and what is unfair.
If you want to grab hold of an uninsulated electrical cable which is plugged into a live mains supply, by all means go ahead and try to negotiate a compromise about just how electrocuted you get. When Rangers decided to ignore the rules, they took the risk that they would get burned. Now they’re getting totally fried and it serves them right. They knew the danger, they took the risk, they lost out, they’re toast. All the blame is theirs and theirs alone.
The penalty for breaking the registration rules is perfectly clear. We have seen the precedents and we know that the punishment for fielding improperly registered players is a 3-0 defeat. Ask Spartans FC, who paid a severe penalty for a careless administrative error on a team-line. They did not complain, they did not whine. They took full responsibility for their own transgression, accepted the defeat and paid the whopping fine. Because those are the rules.
Even FC Sion had to accept the rules eventually.
Replaying competitions is clearly not an option, least of all for players who were already veterans ten years ago. That is an unfortunate physical fact which can not be changed although it weakens still further any case for leniency towards Rangers FC.
In cup competitions, any honours which went to Rangers – including runners-up medals – must be struck off. Since it is now impossible to determine what the ultimate outcome of the cup tournaments would have been if clubs, unfairly eliminated by Rangers, had instead advanced to the next round of the competition, it’s reasonable to consider various solutions on their merits. All of them must start from the point that Rangers have no right to retain honours which they were not eligible to compete for.
The ultimate solution is a matter of practicality, not a compromise of principles.
What can be done and must be done is that the record is at least set straight wherever possible. The records must show in perpetuity that all matches in which Rangers FC fielded ineligible players were 3-0 victories for their opponents. In league competitions, where the outcomes can be accurately recalculated, the medals and titles must be awarded to the correct winners.
This is as simple in the case of Rangers as it was in the case of Spartans or Sion.
The rules must be applied to the transgressions of Rangers just as strictly as they were to any other club.
Rangers have no right to be treated differently.
If anything, they should be hammered even harder because they have relentlessly puffed themselves up as the country’s greatest club, with a monopoly on dignity, the standard to which everyone else should aspire (“we welcome the chase”) and a giant of the global game. If any club should have taken extra care to ensure that it was playing the game by the rules, it was this one with its ludicrous sense of self-importance and its arrogant evaluation of its own stature.
But I’ll quite happily settle for seeing them treated like ordinary cheats rather than elite cheats.
This does not please blinkered supporters of the cheating club or their sympathisers; it does not please those who are too dull of wit to follow simple logic; it does not please people whose concept of sport doesn’t hold honesty, fairness or justice in high regard; it does not please those who are too cowardly to stand up to the myth of the mighty Rangers; it does not please those who are so corrupt that they are still trying to promote any argument for a perverse compromise.
But, by God, it will please anyone (including disillusioned former supporters of Rangers) who thinks sport should be built upon a foundation of fairness. It will satisfy those who believe that the sport is well rid of cheats who would bring football to its knees rather than miss out on prizes which they haven’t earned. And it will delight those who see unrepentant supporters of a rotten, disgraced club hoping and praying that half a dozen SPL clubs will go to the wall as a direct result of Rangers finally being held to account for corrupting Scottish football.
Asterisks be damned.
“If Santa knows that you’re being bad, you’ll not get any presents on Christmas Day.”
Were any of us not subjected to that threat at some point in our childhood?
What a brilliant way to keep someone in line! Invent a myth, keep repeating it until you convince your weans that it’s true and then use it to manipulate them according to your wishes. As a child, I sometimes wondered about the logistics of this remarkable operation. We all did.
The whole world? In one night? Presents for every single well-behaved child? All carried on one sleigh? Seriously?
It seemed that something didn’t quite add up here but wherever I looked, everyone confirmed the reality of Santa. Parents, relatives, neighbours, teachers, random strangers all had their stories straight. Television programmes and adverts, grottos in department stores, pictures on billboards, songs on the radio, each provided further evidence that nobody except me had even noticed any of the inherent inconsistencies about this extraordinary person and his work.
Why don’t all the starving children in Africa ask for enough food to keep them alive?
If his elves are making all these toys themselves, how come they look exactly the same as the ones in the shops?
What’s the point of the shops trying to sell Airfix Lancaster bomber model kits or Subbuteo sets if everyone can get one for nothing?
It didn’t make sense.
On the other hand, I had a suspicion that it might be unwise to express too much scepticism. It might even cost me a train set.
By all accounts, only people who actually believed in Santa got presents from him.
It finally came to the point when I not only knew beyond reasonable doubt that Santa must be a myth; I also realised that I had been surrounded by liars for years. But no sooner had I become cognisant of the Great Deception than the liars invited me to join their conspiracy. There were younger siblings and cousins who had to remain deceived and it wouldn’t do for me to blow the whistle. I calculated that by publicly maintaining the pretence that I believed in Santa, I might be able to raise the stakes for next Christmas. It was to be a red bicycle or else.
(At this point I must apologise to any readers who hadn’t yet heard the bad news that there is no Santa. If it’s any consolation, Graham Speirs knew this three weeks ago before anyone else although he didn’t bother to write about it. In any case, in a few months time the Daily Record will claim that it was the first to break the story.)
As with the Santa myth, so with the Rangers myths. One of the recurring myths is that Rangers are a financial powerhouse, an economic engine which supplies Scottish football with huge revenues upon which almost every club is almost totally reliant. According to myth, even Celtic need Rangers.
Celtic have long since grown up and don’t believe in Rangers so they have dismissed that myth. Many other clubs, however, are holding out for a red bicycle. Some will settle for a train set. So long as they are compliant and believe in Rangers, they’ll get something for nothing in defiance of all logic.
Over the course of the last decade, the mighty Rangers economic powerhouse ran itself into the ground. If the tax authorities know anything about taxes – and it seems to me to be a reasonable starting assumption that they know quite a lot – we can go on to assume that when Rangers crashed into oblivion, the hole they were in was about £140 million deep. In truth it is even deeper.
On top of the money owed to hundreds of creditors there are previous matters to consider. In 2004, the mythical billionaire Minty Moonbeams reportedly squirted a £51.4 million pound “injection” into Rangers simmering accounts after a rights issue was formulated to reduce the club’s then £73.9 million debt. In truth, the attempt to raise capital was a catastrophic failure and Murray MHL Limited, which had underwritten the share issue, was obliged to take the hit. In effect, all that happened was that some paperwork was signed so that a £50 million debt to HBOS was shifted sideways from one basket case Murray business in Ibrox to another, even worse one in Edinburgh.
The debt was never paid back before HBOS croaked. It was subsequently picked up by the tax-payer as part of Gordon Brown’s £37 billion rescue package to maintain the lifestyles of corrupt, fraudulent banksters and their cronies. We’re now getting close to £200 million of Rangers damage to other parties. But say nothing. There might be a red bicycle in it for you.
Meanwhile, despite running up the longest series of consecutive 0-3 defeats in the history of football, Rangers were awarded the championship titles on five occasions during this period, thus enabling the SPL to divert millions of pounds of prize money away from the rightful league winners and into the colossal overdraft of the mythical economic powerhouse. The SFA, hoping for a red bicycle, duly notified UEFA that Rangers would represent Scotland in the Champions league in the following season. Tens of millions of pounds worth of prize money would never reach the club which had really earned that place by playing the game according to the rules.
Five seasons of SPL and Champions League prize money take the damage up to the quarter of a billion pound mark. Yet the economic powerhouse still went bust.
There have been other substantial cash investments from dubious sources. Dave King still faces hundreds of charges of fraud, tax evasion and money-laundering in South Africa on an industrial scale. At the last count, I made it 322 charges in all. The money laundering activities relate to drugs-running operations, illegal arms deals, child pornography and a host of other unwholesome activities. Fortunately for Rangers, £25 million of the proceeds of those disgusting enterprises found its way into Dick Advocat’s warchest. Red bicycles for everyone who sees no connection.
In 1992, Joe Lewis made his fortune by launching an all out attack on the UK’s currency reserves which cost the nation a minimum of £3.4 billion pounds on Black Wednesday. To balance up the damage done to the economy, Lewis dribbled £40 million into Ibrox economic powerhouse. Red bicycles for everyone who believes forty million pounds minus three point four billion pounds equals a positive balance. No need to show your working; just believe.
And on and on and on.
Just over a year ago, Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police Stephen House was so convinced by the magnitude of Rangers’ contribution to society that he dominated the news headlines for days with his calls for ‘Old Firm’ games to be played behind closed doors or even banned altogether. Police Federation Spokesman, Les Gray, repeatedly rammed home a similar message that the country could no longer afford to bear the financial cost to the police, A&E, ambulance services and so on.
Ignore all that and collect your red bicycle on Christmas Day.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A slight digression:
There are different methods which can be employed to control a system. Those who want to direct the behaviour of others have a number of options which range from reasoned, enlightened consensus to brutal, violent oppression. In practice, most systems are operated along the lines of one of the other options in between these extremes. The best and most efficient way for human beings to prosper together is within a co-operative, consensual group which is founded on mutual trust and respect. This has been demonstrated and proved in countless studies yet the notion is regularly undermined and dismissed.
It’s important to recognise that this co-operative model struggles to gain acceptance purely because we live in a society that is dominated by a Psychopathic Control Grid (PCG). The PCG embraces government, banking and financial systems, the military, corporate industry, the media, the advertising industry and the education system. It is utterly dependent upon its ability to control, manipulate and exploit the rest of us. To this end, it creates myths which require us to suspend out critical faculties in order to accept them.
It is clearly not in the self-interest of the type of parasites who hold positions of power within the Psychopathic Control Grid to encourage us to believe that we don’t need them. They prefer to promulgate myths such as the Survival Of The Fittest, create unnecessary confrontations and frighten us with imaginary threats from which they will “protect” us by restricting our options. The fact still remains that we are all better off when we are co-operating with each other instead of allowing ourselves to be exploited by abusers. But a smokescreen of misinformation and distortion of the true picture creates uncertainty and confusion. The Roman occupation can continue indefinitely for as long as the People’s Front of Judea argue with the Judean People’s Front, the Judean Popular People’s Front, the Campaign for a Free Galilee, and the Popular Front of Judea.
A fundamental, practical weakness of a tyrannical approach, backed by brute force, is that it is hopelessly inefficient. The overwhelming majority of those involved in such a system understand that they are being mercilessly exploited but even those who expect to emerge as winners ultimately find that their own position is insecure and constantly under threat. They are constantly running up the down escalator just to maintain position and know that will be swept back to the bottom if they ever ease up. Nevertheless, this inhuman Babylonian model is still the one which comes most naturally to a psychopath. It’s in widespread use, whether in the context of an abusive family unit, a Mafia-style organisation or an entire Police State.
In the most successful and more sophisticated variations of the model, people’s sense of their own worth is chronically undermined by a relentless tide of psychological assaults designed to rob them of confidence, security and perception. This approach reduces the need for the controllers to resort to outright physical oppression. Words themselves lose their meaning; a peace-keeping force consists almost entirely of trained warriors who are armed to the teeth; austerity measures require tens of millions of pounds to be paid to the people who collapsed the economy; rebels and insurgents are people who are trying to kick occupying forces from distant continents out of their homelands; and sporting integrity is a system whereby the biggest cheats in the history of British football are effectively given a guarantee that they will win their next league campaign, even if the rule book has to be scrapped to make it happen. There is such an overwhelming, never-ending bombardment of lies, deceits and affronts to decency that it becomes harder and harder for anyone to stand up confidently, point to the truth and say, “There it is!”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Regardless of all that, here is the truth.
The SFL and SFA, amongst others, have dedicated themselves to the perpetuation of the Rangers Myth.
They worship at the shrine of a fake god which they have created themselves. They warn of dire consequences if puny mortals fail to venerate this mighty deity. They sacrifice honour, justice and honesty at the altar of their idol. They glorify their god through acts of bare-faced hypocrisy, blatant match-fixing and stinking corruption.
For red bicycles and Santa, read SPL money and television.
For Rudolf defying the laws of aerodynamics, read Rangers defying the fundamentals of economics.
Just as Santa could only complete his night’s work by travelling faster than the speed of light, contrary to every principle of physics, so Zombie Huns can only compete in Scottish football if every inconvenient rule is deliberately broken and every sporting principle is ignored.
To those who staunchly, defiantly believe in Rangers, despite all the evidence, this is as straightforward as believing in Santa Claus.
They just have to ignore the overwhelming proofs that what they want to believe cannot possibly be true. They’ll see one club recklessly spending everyone else’s money and they’ll call it generating revenue. They’ll see tax evasion, fraud and cheating but they’ll call it financial might, vision and dignity. They must wilfully ignore that even when the now-defunct club was at its most successful it still sucked far more money out of society than it put in.
They are determined to perpetuate the myth of Rangers for the sake of a red bicycle.
But the facts are laid bare for all to see. Zombie Huns, and Rangers before them, are no more a linchpin of a successful, solvent, sustainable Scottish football set-up than a letter to Santa is a solution to the banking crisis.
I still haven’t seen a single reason to justify the proposition that a re-branded, papered-over-the-cracks version of the liquidated Rangers Football Club should be allowed to enter the senior leagues at any level at all. There is no basis for making an assumption that Sevco Scotland FC should be granted the privilege of entering SFL Division 3.
While the attitude of most supporters around Scotland is that SFL3 is the very highest level at which Sevco FC should be permitted to make its debut in senior football, those Rangers supporters who are prepared to “take their medicine” and start from the bottom are mostly conceding the point for all the wrong reasons.
Despite massive evidence to the contrary, there is a large, vocal constituency of Rangers supporters who still maintain that their thieving, corrupt, fraudulent club put something worthwhile into Scottish football and society. Their motive for plying their trade outwith the SPL is merely to “punish” the clubs who did not back down in the face of their threats. Anyone who doubts this only had to spend five minutes watching the cringeworthy spectacle of John Brown addressing the growling rabble outside the main doors at Ibrox last week. It was like watching Harry Enfield’s William Ulsterman character being impersonated by Rab C Nesbitt on the set of Dawn Of The Dead. When there’s no room left in the SPL, the dead will walk the streets, up to their knees in Fenian blood and bellowing, “No surrender!”
No progress will have been made if these peepul are admitted to the Scottish senior league with a chip on their shoulder and the delusion that they have been hard done by. There is no future for professional football in Scotland unless the people running the game stop obstructing the process of fully investigating every facet of the Ibrox scandal and exposing the culpability of the guilty parties. Clearly, that requires the replacement of the present leaders who are themselves hopelessly conflicted. Until they go, or are forced to go, the attempted whitewash will continue. No lessons will be learned if the myth persists that Scottish football can only prosper if it drinks from the poisoned well of the “We Are The People” mentality with its attendant sense of entitlement, its cavalier disregard for justice and its vengeful overtones of malice towards any who call it to account. Letting the Bully Boys off the hook at this stage will accomplish nothing other than resetting the counter on a time-bomb.
“But what about the decent Rangers supporters?” This question is regurgitated regularly.
“They are the ones who will suffer the most.”
Let’s start by trying to identify those decent Rangers supporters, on the assumption that there have been some. I must presume that, over the years and decades, they have had the decency not to add their voices to the choruses of hatred against the Catholic religion and the Irish people at every single game Rangers have played.
They will have had the decency to miss no opportunity to remind their fellow supporters on forums, in public and in private that the offences committed by Rangers during the Moonbeams era are indefensible and that expulsion from Scottish football would be fully deserved. They will have recognised these crimes for what they are, expressed their personal disappointment for having unwittingly supported such rank corruption and dissociated themselves from anything that is remotely similar to the organisation which has brought disgrace upon itself and all of its followers. They will have realised that years of gloating about Rangers’ dominance and arrogantly boasting about their unchallengeable superiority were founded upon a worthless con trick.
In particular, they will have recognised that the Ibrox culture, which they once happily bought into, depended upon the exploitation of the character weakness whereby too many people are all too ready to claim a vicarious share of glory which belongs to others. Although this trait – known as BIRGing – is a universal human trait, it becomes unhealthy when it is taken to such an extreme that self-awareness is seriously impaired. So by now the decent fans will have looked into their hearts and discovered that it made no difference to them at that time whether the rewards were claimed by fair means or foul. But now that they are wiser, they will have accepted that their loyalties were misplaced, their judgement was poor and that it is better to live without associating themselves with any potential reincarnation of a brand name which has now become a byword for corruption and shame.
I know a few people who qualify as “decent Rangers fans”. They have proved that they are decent by removing the incompatible “Rangers fan” appendix from their identity and have thus reclaimed their honour. Fair play to them. For years, many quietly and patiently hoped that the unacceptable, embarrassing elements of their club would eventually wither away of their own accord and leave the destiny of the club in the trust of people who can behave like honest citizens, enjoy genuine sporting competition and take the rough with the smooth. Most have already realised that this was always a forlorn hope. They are currently being joined by the remnant who are now hopelessly outnumbered by the defiant mobs of dinosaurs. Neither the former Rangers FC nor the embryonic Sevco Scotland FC can make any claim on the loyalty or support of the “decent Rangers fan” now.
Meanwhile, although widespread disgust has been expressed for the oleaginous Neil Doncaster‘s corrupt proposals to sacrifice Scottish football for the sake of pretending that Rangers still exist, the tactic has succeeded in at least one respect. It has, for the moment, shifted the grounds of the debate so that a true perspective of the fundamental issue has temporarily moved out of focus. Doncaster’s ludicrous position is so extreme that he could give away almost all of the ground he is claiming for ZombieHuns and still present himself as a moderate, reasonable negotiator by accepting the compromise which admits the Rangers Tribute Band FC into the ranks of senior professional football, albeit at the bottom of the pile.
There is a danger of replacing an outrageous outcome with an intolerable one in the mistaken belief that it is the best that can be achieved. It is nowhere near to the best that can be achieved. The very least that Scottish football supporters should be prepared to accept now is that the formal expulsion of Rangers FC is placed on the record; that Neil Doncaster, Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie should each face a vote of No Confidence (which should be carried unanimously); and that no new club purporting to be a re-manifestation of Rangers FC should be allowed to participate in organised Scottish football until investigations by the police, tax authorities and any other law enforcement agencies are brought to a conclusion, their reports are published and their files are closed.
We now stand at a crossroads. This is an unprecedented opportunity not only to decide upon the future direction of Scottish football but also to make clear what kind of society we wish to live in. Do we want to stand against bullying and intimidation or shall we just sell out to the first bid for our souls? Does this country need corporate fraud, corruption, cheating and dishonesty or do we have enough backbone to do strike against it when we get the chance? If we are inclined towards the latter option in each case then we have no choice but to resist every attempt to allow Sevco FC to crowbar its way into the Scottish League through its identification with the decaying corpse of Rangers FC. The rules clearly state that Sevco FC, being unable to produce audited accounts for the last three years, is not even eligible for admission to the SFL. That concludes that matter; its application can be rejected forthwith.
At this moment, when we have an unprecedented opportunity to build a fair, sustainable structure for our game, the very last thing that we need is to give our blessing to the creation of a new focus for the unrepentant followers of a discredited ideology to continue their anti-sporting behaviour. There are other clubs who are far more worthy of the senior league slot which has become vacant through the total self-destruction of a poisonous entity that had, in any case, already long outlived its usefulness. Let’s get on with the business of selecting one of them without further delay.
Sir David Murray
Mr. Craig Whyte
Mr. Paul Murray
Mr. Bill Ng
Mr. Bill Miller
Mr Charles Green,
c/o The Rangers*,
150 Edmiston Drive,
Glasgow G51 2XD
142 Copland Road,
Glasgow G51 2UB:
Dear Mr. Bhutta,
Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Charles Green. Some people call me ‘Emerald’.
I am a colourful businessman who has been a director of no fewer than fifteen companies which have gone into liquidation. My latest project is a football club called Rangers FC (in Administration) which I am hoping to gut and fillet in the coming weeks.
You may be aware that the Administrators of that football club, a firm called Duff and Phelps, are anxious to drag out the administration process for as long as possible because they are raking in a couple of hundred thousand pounds every week for as long as the money lasts. Who could blame them, eh? I’d do the same myself, given half a chance.
Speaking of me, it turns out that I am the latest one to have been offered the opportunity to buy Rangers FC (in Administration). My predecessor, an American chap called Mr. Bill ‘Liam’ Miller, had a quick look at the bookwork and, by all accounts, took suddenly ill. I, however, am made of sterner stuff, (not least because I’m English). Moreover, having been involved in fifteen liquidations myself, I can safely say that I’m quite an old hand at ignoring toxic debt. After the game against St. Johnstone on Sunday I had a quick butcher’s at the Orcs’ accounts and I have to say that of all the liquidations which I’ve been involved in, this one takes the biscuit! (As one businessman to another, let me just give you a quick tip – don’t give these people any credit or you’ll regret it. Make sure you get cash up front or no deal.)
Which brings me neatly, I feel, to the matter at hand. Looking at their accounts, I couldn’t help but notice a list of 277 creditors who are owed a total which is not far off £134,000,000. One of these creditors is your good self. You are still owed the sum of £567.45, although it’s so long overdue that you may well have forgotten all about it.
Incidentally, it did strike me that at the very least I might write a letter of apology to you expressing the club’s deep sorrow and acute embarrassment at this state of affairs. However, I was dissuaded from following this course of action by a geezer called Sandy Something-or-other. He seems to be well thought of in some quarters and he assures me that this is not the Rangers Way. Apparently it does not do for Rangers to show any signs of remorse or regret. I might say that this strikes me as odd but I must also concede that, as an Englishman, I am fairly unfamiliar with the customs and traditions of your fine country which I had rarely visited until this week. Indeed, I had never even heard of Rangers until they made the UK news headlines during their visit to Manchester in 2008. (Something to do with a broken television, was it? I think Chelsea were involved too? I can’t really remember the details.)
Anyway, Sandy says there’s to be no apology, that Rangers don’t show weakness, that you should consider yourself honoured to be a Rangers creditor and that you’ll be remembered as one of the bastards who stuck the boot in once the ‘Gers are back on top.
Would I dare to fly in the face of such sound advice on cultural manners from a local man? No chance. So. Up yours, it is, Mr. Bhutta.
That brings me to my next point. You’ve probably heard some talk about a CVA proposal. No doubt you will be too busy selling newspapers to have given the matter much thought. Let me give you a quick guide to what’s going to happen. If you saw the unfortunate headlines in some of today’s newspapers you may have gained the impression that I am spearheading a consortium of about twenty extremely wealthy partners who intend to pour vast sums of money into the club’s Warchest™ in the near future. This may have had the unintended side-effect of raising your hopes that you may finally see your £567.45 one day. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Those millions upon millions of pounds which my partners are going to invest are not for the likes of you, I’m afraid. That money is for Ally to spend on buying over-priced, over-paid, under-achieving no-marks for the Rangers first team of the future.
I may be new to this country but I’ve already done a bit of homework. Apparently, there is a newspaper called ‘The Scotsman’, which nobody ever reads these days. However, it was pointed out to me that its leader column just a few days ago stated that Scotland needs Rangers. I see no reason to doubt a newspaper which has been losing thousands of readers every month for many, many years now. It must know a thing or two about what Scotland needs. And it says that Scotland needs Rangers. Does it say that Scotland needs customers to pay their debts and settle their bills in full? No, it says that Scotland needs Rangers. So that settles that.
This means that instead of £567.45, the best you can hope for is £17.02, which is 3p in the pound. Frankly, I think you should be very grateful that you’re being offered that much.
Personally, I am tremendously excited about the future possibilities of this approach to business, if it succeeds. As a businessman yourself, I am sure you can appreciate the enormous cost-saving benefits of a scheme which reduces expenditure by 97%! Holy smoke, if I could have got away with only paying 3% of my bills in the past, I might never have had any liquidations at all, let alone fifteen of the buggers!
Now. In case you’re tempted not to accept this generous offer, let me just invite you to contemplate another very important consideration.
A man called Ally is thought to be very keen to have full transparency on the matter of the names and addresses of the creditors who endanger the future well-being of The Rangers (in Administration) by rejecting the CVA proposal.
Let’s look at it this way. That’s a nice business you’ve got there, Mr Bhutta. Sure would be a shame if anything were to happen to it, if you get my meaning. Of course, if you accept the CVA proposal of a measly three pence in the pound, you’ll probably not have to worry about that. You seem like a smart kind of guy. I really wouldn’t want to see you get on the wrong side of one of the notorious ‘small minorities’ who attach themselves in their thousands to Ally’s team. (No, not Chelsea; his other team.) You want to take my advice and do the sensible thing just in case things in the future get a little ‘transparent’. If you catch my drift.
If you bear in mind that the £550.43 which you’ll never see will play its part in encouraging almost two dozen multi-millionaires to pour millions of pounds into wages for Rangers bench-warmers next season then you will have some considerable consolation for having been ripped off. Alternatively, you should look at your £567.45 in a different perspective. Paul Clark makes more than that just by twiddling his thumbs for an hour. You’re in the wrong game, sunshine. Administration is where it’s at.
I have taken the liberty of enclosing a Rangers (in Administration) season ticket application form with this letter so that you can enjoy the Rangers experience next season. You may also want to be the first among your friends to buy the classic Sheffield United home kit from the 2006-2007 season so I’m sending you a catalogue for the Blades mail order service as well.
Sheffield United Rangers,
Charlie “Emerald” Green.
15 and counting.
P.S. These are very troubled times for The Rangers so I am sure you will understand why I found it necessary to send this letter to you without putting a stamp on the envelope.
THE Blue Knights have once again walked away from the bidding process, pausing only to call a surreal press conference in which they presented some sketchy details of their limping dog of a rescue proposal before issuing some veiled threats and indications of future reprisals. To put their risible proposal to rescue Rangers (in administration) in some context, let us remember that they must satisfy creditors who are owed up to £135,000,000 before they can even begin to finance a competitive team. The sum of money that they were prepared to put on the table was less than what Martin O’Neil paid to acquire Neil Lennon from Leicester City in 2000. Fergus McCann spent more in 1994 to save Celtic from a far less parlous condition.
As I see it, the Blue Knights knew themselves that they hadn’t a hope of succeeding. What they were doing instead was keeping themselves visible and attempting to appeal to the core Rangers support, knowing full well that these fans are incapable of understanding the administration procedures at even the most basic level. Using threatening language about Duff and Phelps having “blood on their hands” is designed to evoke a response at the most visceral level from Rangers supporters who are addicted to denial and impelled to blame everyone else for their problems.
The Blue Knights have merely added Duff & Phelps to a list of scapegoats which already includes Craig Whyte, David Murray, HMRC, the SFA, the SPL, Neil Lennon, the Bank of Scotland, Mark Daly, three formerly anonymous SPL judicial tribunal panel members, the Vatican, Alex Thomson, the Republic of Ireland, FC Maribor, Professor Tom Devine, the BBC, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, the White and Kelly families, UEFA, Jock Stein, the city of Manchester, Dick Advocaat, Chelsea supporters in disguise, Martin O’Neil, the Scottish newspaper industry, Hugh Adam, the Romanian Police Force, Fergus McCann, the RTC blog, faulty giant-screen televisions, Celtic supporters websites, Peter Lawwell, Lloyds Banking Group and Catholic schools.
The cynical nature of this tactic should surprise nobody. It’s the only thing they have to offer. Paul Murray’s record speaks for itself. He joined the Rangers board of directors in 2007. For five years he sat by and allowed the club to run up a level of debt which frightened Lloyds Banking Group into demanding seats on the board to protect itself from further damage. Like Martin Bain and other fellow directors, he was able to make money for himself out of the club while presiding over its terminal decline. That’s too good a gig to abandon without a fight, especially if there isn’t an alternative source of easy money.
Having steered their luxury liner at full speed into an iceberg and having recognised that it’s definitely going to go down, Paul Murray and his cohorts decided to stand on the bridge and curse the elements for a few minutes before leaping heroically into their reserved lifeboat and advising everyone else to follow their example.
Their bid was merely a pantomime which they knew had no chance of being accepted. But it’s given them a public platform to growl the kind of confrontational rhetoric which plays so well with the Rangers die-hards. They plan to be seen as the fans’ choice when the battle begins to claim ownership of Traditional Rangers FC (est. 2015) after all the post-liquidation litigation finally comes to an end. And they are sticking to what has always worked for them in the past – eliciting knee-jerk responses from the mob with defiant rhetoric and posturing rather than attending to the fundamentals of running a sustainable business.
One super-rich individual who has been high on the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS’) hit-list for years is multi-millionaire David Cunningham King (usually known as Dave King), a policeman’s son from Glasgow who moved to South Africa in the mid-1970s after becoming an accountant. He retains his Scottish connections, not least through a non-executive directorship of Rangers Football Club plc and the £20m he invested in the Club in 2000.
According to the Club’s 2009 annual report, he also held more than three million shares in the related company Murray Sports Limited, ‘as an authorised representative of Metlika Trading Ltd’, a company in the British Virgin Islands.
In one of the many twists in King’s battle with SARS, it would appear that his mother Agnes now owns the shares in Murray Sports Ltd, thought to be worth some £1.5m. UK newspapers Dave King, Rangers football club, and the South African Revenue Service reported late last year that the shares had been transferred in what SARS saw as a bid to avoid tax.
King and SARS have made no secret of their mutual contempt. At a media briefing in 2008, King said SARS had made serious mistakes and wasted huge sums while investigating his affairs, and had failed to honour agreements that had been reached.
SARS immediately hit back, revealing it had been pursuing him through the South African courts for eight years and that he faced charges which, if convicted, could see him jailed for 15 years.
‘This is the reason for his constant filibustering,’ it stated in a press release.
‘The 322 charges include fraud, money laundering, racketeering and tax evasion for the period 1990 to 2001 (and for non-rendition of tax returns for 2002-2005),’ SARS alleged.
Attached to the press release was a document which SARS alleged was a fraud signed by King, purporting to be a Rand300m (£26.7m) settlement agreement he had reached with them.
The SARS case against King is ongoing.
He continues to maintain his innocence.
Dave King and Ally McCoist meet Rangers’ administrators: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17132094
Rangers have confirmed that South Africa-based businessman Dave King has had a meeting with the Scottish champions’ administrators.
Team manager Ally McCoist also held talks with Duff and Phelps.
But Rangers stress that King’s meeting was in connection with his duties as a director of the Glasgow club.
King has previously been involved in takeover talks with the club, who were forced into administration following action from HMRC over a £9m tax bill.
The news of King’s talks with the administrator emerged after he and McCoist were filmed leaving Ibrox in the same car.
King, who invested £20m in the club in 2000 and is the second-largest shareholder at the club, said he was put off by the demands of Lloyds Banking Group when considering his own takeover before Sir David Murray sold his shares to Whyte for £1.
King, who himself has been hit with a £250m bill after he lost a 10-year battle with the taxman in South Africa, was reported to be on the verge of being removed from his position by Whyte just before the club appointed the administrators.
However, he remains on the board as a non-executive director.
Rangers director Dave King has been hit with a £250million bill after he lost a 10-year battle with the taxman.
A company run by the Scot have dropped their appeal against a South African court which branded King, a “shameless liar” and ruled the firm were liable for the huge unpaid sum.
Now proceedings are under way to collect the vast debt – and the 55-year-old tycoon is still at risk of being jailed for fraud.
In 2006, South African prosecutors won court orders freezing assets including three million shares in Murray Sports – who owned a third of Rangers – and a house where King’s mother lives.
An appeal against the bulk of the tax debt was dismissed last October. In a devastating judgment, the court said King “has no respect for the truth and does not hesitate to lie … if he thinks it will be to his advantage.
“He is a mendacious witness whose evidence should not be accepted on any issue unless it is supported by objective evidence.
“In our assessment he is a glib and shameless liar.”
On Friday, a hearing in Pretoria was told a further legal challenge by Ben Nevis had now been dropped. A SARS spokesman said: “This development means that certain facts are now uncontested and it entitles us to move on to the next stage, which is to claim the amount which is outstanding.”
King also faces more than 300 criminal charges including fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.
Rangers: Taxing times for ‘saviour’
Saturday 31 October 2009
A YEAR ago, almost to the day, Dave King called a press conference at a posh Johannesburg country club and promised to lift the lid on those investigating him for tax avoidance. This session, he said, would be gloves-off and no-holds-barred. He was going to blast his accusers at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) right out of the water with proof of hypocrisy and cataclysmic errors.
He said he was being bullied and likened them to a terrorist organisation. He was a wronged man and he was going to prove it.
King delivered on his promise and dynamited SARS. And then the government responded. SARS issued a statement of eye-watering intensity, levelling a bewildering series of counter-allegations. They accused him of fabricating and distorting facts. They said he was desperate because the authorities were closing in on him. They said he was not the victim he portrayed himself to be, rather a man who lied and lied about his tax affairs.
And that was just for starters.
“He attempts to erode the culture of growing tax compliance in South Africa,” said the statement.
Also: “He has acted fraudulently, evaded tax and lied about his income and profits generated since 1990.”
Next: “He faces a variety of very serious criminal charges. If convicted he could be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of no less than 15 years.”
And then: “This is the reason for his constant filibustering. The 322 charges include fraud, money laundering, racketeering and tax evasion for period 1990 to 2001 (and for non-rendition of tax returns for 2002 to 2005].”
And if that wasn’t enough: “Additional charges of fraud, forgery and/or corruption have been registered and are being investigated against King.”
He faces a bill of over 900m rand in personal tax and 1.4bn rand in business tax. Lumped together, it equates to more than 180m. SARS have a dossier on him numbering 200,000 pages and say they have up to100 witnesses for the prosecution. It is a story that has been rumbling for eight years. It has become an epic battle, the most bitter and, financially, the largest tax stand-off in the history of South Africa. It is not just about the money, it’s personal. SARS and King have made it so.
Last week, a source close to SARS told us that there is an icy determination to see this through. They also described as laughable the notion that King might stump up the millions required to take Rangers off Sir David Murray’s hands. They say that it is not true that the government has seized King’s passport, but it is true that they have frozen some of his assets. “If Mr King comes out now and suddenly produces tens of millions of pounds to buy a football club then SARS are going to be wondering where that money came from,” said a source. “I can’t see him doing it. It’s just not going to happen.”
Little of this has been reported in Scotland. Sure, there have been things written about the 322 charges against him but the scale of the case against King has been played down and instead he has been depicted as a potential Rangers Messiah.
The boy’s own story has been trotted out. He’s the son of a policeman who left for South Africa 30 years ago with just a few quid in his pocket. He’s the Rangers supporter made good. Made very good, in fact. His business prowess brought him a fortune and a lifestyle that befitted one of South Africa’s wealthiest people. He lives in the elite Sandhurst suburb of Johannesburg. He bought three houses there, razed them to the ground and then put a 7m mansion on the site. Outside the door is his Ferrari and other expensive vehicles. His wealth is estimated at 300m.
A chunk of that wealth can be traced back to a windfall he made on a company called Specialised Outsourcing. In 1997, he sold his shareholding for 1.2bn rand, more than 110m. In 2000, an elderly SARS investigator called Charles Chipps was reading an article on King when he noticed a picture of the Glaswegian, taken at his plush Sandhurst home. Chipps spotted a painting by Irma Stern, the internationally recognised South African painter. The Stern painting, Chipps discovered, had been bought by King at auction for a record 1.76m rand or about 130,000. Chipps wondered how King could afford it given that he’d been claiming that his annual income was a fraction of what he’d given for the piece of art. In fact, King had applied to be deregistered for tax, such was the trifling amount he claimed he was earning.
King was arrested in 2002 and soon he had 322 charges against his name. The Scot has stated that, yes, he does owe some tax and he’s put a figure on it of just over 3m. He says he has offered to settle but that his approaches have been rebuked. SARS, he has said, are conducting a witch hunt against him.
It has to be said that SARS are not exactly water-tight in their prosecution of such cases. There is a list of high fliers in the business world in South Africa who have come in for similar treatment – but arguably not as aggressive – as King has and some of the cases against some of these people just could not be proven. In May last year, SARS took a case to trial and lost it and in the summing-up the judge was heavily critical of their shoddy investigation.
King claims that their work in investigating his affairs is every bit as slapdash.
The hostility between SARS and King cranked up a level a year ago when the revenue service brought a new charge against him for allegedly attempting to bribe one of its committee members, a man called Leonard Radebe. “Our claim,” said SARS spokesman, Adrian Lackay, ” is that King submitted a fraudulent document to court, and tried to corrupt one of our general managers.”
The allegation is that King was willing to pay Radebe more than 1m to bring an end to the dispute. King’s version is altogether different. He claims that Radebe approached him on behalf of SARS and that an offer was made of a full and final settlement in the region of 25m. If King handed over the money, all charges would be dropped. When Radebe’s actions were discovered, he was suspended.
King says that he thought Radebe was a credible representative of SARS, that he checked him out and believed him to be in a position of power to offer such a deal. The Scot was convinced that Radebe had a mandate to act. SARS counter that all the documentation was faked and there was corruption afoot. “It defies logic that I’d fight this for eight years and then resort to petty bribery,” said King, later.
SARS have had to go to the supreme court of appeal seven times since 2002 to fight King. “We have to follow the legal process to the letter,” says Lackay. “This is the unique case of a very wealthy taxpayer who is able to frustrate this. But we have to apply the law equally to everyone.”
Judgment is pending on one of the cases against King, but trying to predict when all of this will finally be settled is an impossible business. King is convinced that he is being picked on and refuses to bow down in front of the authorities. SARS say that he amassed a fortune without adhering to the same tax rules as everybody else in South Africa. Neither of them look like they are going to back down, so a battle that has raged for many years already looks set to continue.
And Rangers? Those at Ibrox would be better off looking elsewhere for a great redeemer. It would appear that King has his hands full elsewhere.
Dave King And I — Tax rebel’s astonishing financial come-back
4th November 2013
There cannot be many people in South Africa who are not aware of Dave King’s extraordinary 13 year-long fight with the South African Revenue Services (Sars) over a tax assessment in excess of R3.2 billion.
Tax disputes do not normally make the front pages of Sunday newspapers, but when the numbers are so high and the fast-moving events so incredible that it could come straight out of the pages of a John Grisham or Dan Brown novel, it becomes a national talking point.
And even after this thirteen-year battle, costing hundreds of millions of rands in legal fees, the attempted confiscation of King’s assets and court dramas all around the globe, one is still left with a sense of dissatisfaction, a kind of anti-climax as to whether King was guilty or not. The legal issue of revenue versus capital will not be dissected and delivered on by the highest court in the land.
There was a lot of legal foreplay, an enormous amount of huffing and puffing on both sides but in the end the settlement reached between King and Sars in August this year – in terms of which King has paid Sars about R700m in outstanding taxes to settle all claims against him and his various family trusts – meant he could carry on with his life and his business career.
So who actually came out on top in this extraordinary battle?
Sars initially wanted R3.2 billion; it got R700 million. King remained steadfast that what he did was perfectly legal as the R1 billion or so profits he and his various family trusts made out of the sale of shares in Specialised Outsourcing during the 1997/98 stock market boom was well within his rights. He also maintains that the profits were not of a revenue nature but one of a capital nature.
Many others, including some of the finest tax brains in this country, agree with this.
If King was eventually found wanting by a court on this issue, it could possibly have been like a proverbial nuclear bomb for hundreds, if not thousands of wealthy estates who hold most if not all of their wealth in trusts, both locally and offshore.
All these tax shelters, meticulously crafted and protected over many years and generations could have been blown wide open to scrutiny by Sars. There must have been a collective sigh of relief amongst SA’s truly wealthy that the issue of revenue versus capital did not end up for deliberation in the highest court in the land.
So for the time being, the legal status quo remains.
Arriving in South Africa
I witnessed first-hand how Dave King, who arrived in SA with very little money from his native Scotland in 1976, first came up with the idea of starting Specialised Outsourcing (SO) in 1993/94.
This was during one of several rounds of golf we enjoyed together with his lovely wife Ladina on the lush fairways of the Dainfern Country Club where we both were members in those days. I don’t play golf much any more and Dave now does his golfing at esteemed courses such as River Club in Sandton and Augusta in the USA. See what a billion or two does to your social acceptability levels?
But I digress. Dave mentioned several times his idea and even at one stage invited me to join this new company of his. In a nutshell, SO was set up to handle the treasury functions on behalf of government and parastatals. These bodies, King always would say, were so bad at handling the billions that were sloshing around in their accounts, that he offered to manage these funds in exchange for a percentage of the profits. And it turned out to be a great success story and SO soon became the darling amongst mainly small-cap fund managers in the country.
So it was with a great deal of interest that I watched from afar how he went ahead, set up the company and eventually listed Specialised Outsourcing in 1995 at a price of, if my memory serves me, R1.20 a share. The share price of SO eventually peaked at R80 a share before it came crashing down in 1998/99 when the market got wind of the fact that King had sold most of his shares.
Irma Stern painting
King’s problems really started, I was told first hand, when he bought an Irma Stern painting at an auction for R1.7 million in 2000.
This was the first time that a Stern painting achieved a price of more than R1 million and this fact obviously caught the attention of the media, and ultimately also that of nuggety Mr Charles Chipps, a special investigator at Sars who, quite simply, read about the Stern-sale in a newspaper and decided to check up on the tax status of the buyer. To his astonishment he found that King declared a taxable income of a mere R60 000.
And thus was born what is today known as the King-versus-Sars battle which has raged for more than 13 years, on several continents costing, as I indicated earlier, hundreds of millions of rands in legal fees on both sides.
I understand that the legal fraternity in the Sandton area declared a national week of mourning when the final agreements were signed and accepted by the various parties to this extraordinary battle.
I say first hand, as I heard it from Charles Chipps himself who, at about the same time, was sniffing around my own tax affairs. Nought came of this investigation but it was done on the basis of rumours of untold wealth hidden away in some secret location.
This taught me two things about the tax man. Don’t flaunt your wealth in a conspicuous manner and second, don’t be surprised if your best pal/ex-wife/ex-girlfriend makes Sars their first port of call. “Jealous people,” Chipps told me, “are often the best source of information for the tax man”.
Chipps passed away a year or so ago and was therefore not around to collect his commission cheque from Sars for his hard work and diligence.
One of the reasons for settling with Sars and paying the R700 million fine was, as King said at the time, in order to move on with his life and to get stuck into more productive things, like building up the JSE-listed company MICROmega (MMG), of which he still is chairman and major shareholder.
So it is again with more than a passing interest that I have been following the performance of MICROmega on the JSE this year, especially since the settlement in August.
In July this year the share was still trading at R2 a share with very few trades. The news of the settlement set this share price free and since then it has rocketed by almost 500%, at one stage reaching almost R20 per share but trading at around R12.30 this week.
Profit of R860 million
Now here comes the most astonishing fact. King, via his family trusts owns about 83 million shares in MMG, which means King has made a gain of R830 million in three months, all due to the almost vertical increase in the share price of MMG.
On paper therefore King has made back all of the money he handed over to Sars earlier this year –and more.
“There is a difference between R700m in cash and a paper profit,” King noted wryly this week, “ but it does feel good,” he said when I made contact to check these facts – he at least still taking my calls. As I put the phone down to end the call, I realised there was still one question that remains unanswered.
Who today owns the Stern painting in question? Dave King or Sars?
Whoever owns it has the most expensive painting ever by a South African artist hanging somewhere on a wall.
*Magnus Heystek is investment director at Brenthurst Wealth. Contact him for ideas and suggestions at magnus @heystek.co.za
DAVE KING has been ruthlessly axed as a Rangers director for daring to question Craig Whyte’s regime.
South-African based King was told by e-mail late on Friday afternoon he had been kicked off the beleaguered club’s board.
Record Sport believes the latest boardroom change will be announced on the Plus Market today with Ibrox sources insisting King’s dismissal is punishment for objecting to Whyte’s dealings.
Rangers fans will be shocked by this latest departure as many of them saw King as the man who would save their club.
King was alarmed when we revealed the new owner had mortgaged four years of season tickets to raise £24.4million.
The deal with Ticketus was done without the previous board’s knowledge and although Whyte later said he’d been left with a £7m bill from Ticketus, he was quickly slapped down by the man who sold him the club last May.
Sir David Murray firmly denied Whyte had been left to pick up a Ticketus tab.
King was the last link between Whyte’s board and the old guard but he has been dumped just as chairman Alastair Johnston, chief executive Martin Bain, financial director Donald McIntyre and Paul Murray were after the takeover.
RANGERS director Dave King’s seized South African vineyard sold at auction yesterday for a bargain £4.75million.
Tycoon Wendy Appelbaum snapped up 194-hectare Qu foroin Rock after it was valued at £10milllion.
The stunning estate in Stellenbosch, whose wine is endorsed by golf legend Gary Player, was taken by the South African authorities in July to help pay 56-year-old King’s £250million tax bill.
A source said: “Wendy has got herself an absolute bargain and was clearly delighted.”
“I imagine King feels sick. This only makes a small dent in what he owes the taxman.”
Appelbaum, 50, is the daughter of billionaire philanthropist Sir Donald Gordon, 81, whose vast empire includes Braehead shopping centre, near Glasgow.
Policeman’s son King, from Castlemilk, Glasgow, was beaten by Craig Whyte in his bid to buy Rangers.
King is the last survivor of the old Ibrox board since Sir David Murray sold the club to Whyte, 40, for £1 in May. He still owns five per cent of Rangers.
Two years ago, we revealed he had put his three million shares in the name of his elderly mum in Alexandria, Dunbartonshire.
Sir Isaac Newton told us why
An apple falls down from the sky
And from this fact it’s very plain
That other objects do the same…
If it was up to the courts to rule on the Laws of Gravity, we’d probably spend years hearing legal arguments that an apple falls from the ground up to the tree.
Up until recently I thought that I was more or less keeping in touch with the general shape of the developments as Rangers FC heads into perdition as a well-deserved consequence of the scandalous running of the club for at least the last twenty years. The charge sheet includes three separate instances of tax fraud which could total nearly one hundred million pounds in unpaid monies to the Treasury. It also includes routinely running up a preposterous level of debt with no serious prospects of repaying it other than by adding it to the already over-extended overdraft of Murray International Holdings, a liability which eventually exceeded one billion pounds and played its part in the collapse of the Bank of Scotland and its subsequent bail-out, funded by the UK tax-payers. We’re looking at one of the biggest corporate scandals in Scottish business history. One would be forgiven for expecting jail sentences to have been handed down to the guilty parties long before now.
And yet I’m beginning to feel that this whole case is becoming too Pythonesque to make any sense. The latest bizarre twist is the surreal sight of the Administrators of Rangers FC applying to the Court of Session to be appointed … the Administrators of Rangers!
It’s particularly frustrating to me that there seems to be very little overlap between easily understood, natural justice and the immensely complicated procedures of the Law.
Tens, if not hundreds, of millions of pounds have been ripped off by various parties involved with Rangers FC and MIH and it looks increasingly likely that those responsible for these scams are still in with a shout of getting something out of it, even if Rangers itself goes down the pan.
Every time that it looks as if anyone is going to get their comeuppance, another bizarre legal wheeze appears out of thin air, in defiance of all common sense, which muddies the waters and makes it appear that there is always a possible escape route for the shameless and the dishonourable. Amidst the carnage of the revelations about how Rangers FC has been conducting its business, one of the club’s former directors is still proposing that he will play a leading role in taking the wreckage for which he is partly responsible and turning it into a successful business after it has been liquidated. There has not been one word from Mr Paul Murray about his moral duty to repay the colossal debts which the club ran up under his stewardship; not a single syllable to suggest that he feels the slightest shame about his part in the reckless business practice of the directors’ board of which he was a member. No repentance, no remorse, no sign of a guilty conscience.
I have got more money than the likes of David Murray, who was knighted for services to business. Unlike Sir David, I am not in debt to the tune of six hundred million pounds. Yet he is the one who is still living like a king. An entire bank went to the wall to enable that man to enjoy the luxurious lifestyle to which he has accustomed himself. And he’s not even in the picture yet, as far as the Law is concerned!
The Law is taking an eternity to get its act together. Somehow, when tasked with a case in which somebody pursues his own objectives by spending hundreds of millions of pounds of other people’s money, m’learned friends spend months and years dragging out a tortuously slow series of procedures. They forensically examine every conceivable interpretation of every obscure contention. It is as if their primary objective is to find the route by which the most blatant wrongdoing can turn out to be perfectly legal. And to charge by the hour as they proceed at a glacial pace.
Now, for the first time, I’m genuinely beginning to fear that a fix is in whereby there will once again be no punishment for the villains of the piece while the decent, honest little guys will be the only victims (cf bonuses for bankers).
Something stinks very badly here. The media, on an industrial scale, have relentlessly covered up as much of the criminality as they possibly could, even after much of it was already public knowledge. They have weakly claimed in their defence that libel laws prevented them from publishing known facts about the affairs of Rangers and its various directors, even when these facts were already matters of public record.
To take but one example: it would clearly be in the public interest for journalists to regularly scrutinise the ongoing, chaotic tax affairs of Mr. Dave King, Rangers’ second largest shareholder and until very recently a member of the board of directors. The South African Revenue Service is pursuing literally hundreds of charges of tax irregularities against Mr. King and yet I can think of no example of a single journalist asking the obvious question: why has such a man been a senior director of what we are often told is Scotland’s second biggest institution?
This is not an unreasonable question for a decent investigative journalist to ask, nor would it require much research to pad out. Merely to copy half of what has already been published in South African newspapers would raise the question. What is it that prevents the editors of our national newspapers from pursuing this story? Could it be that their experience in their profession tells them that, no matter how grievous the fraud, the Law will usually find a way to give psychopathic predators a free pass so long as they wear suits and ties? And therefore, in their judgement, it is always safer to back rogues who have a place in the Establishment rather than trust in the Law’s ability to ensure that justice is done in major scandals?