Rangers: never mind the club, what about the tax?

So, Rangers.  Sorted then huh?

A take over by Charles Green, the former Chief Executive of Sheffield United, who left that club in less than rude health in the 90s, leading a global consortium of 20 wealthy and so far, nameless individuals.  What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, those nice chairmen at the SPL have postponed their meeting to decide if the club gets to stay in the wee-est, biggest, most important league in the world.  So that, they can, even though they shouldn’t, but what are rules if not to be broken.

And the SFA has somehow managed to achieve the impossible:  an early date for the appeal hearing against the punishment of a transfer ban and six figure sum fine.  Conspiracy theorists:  prepare to have a field day.

The only ones crying are the entirety of the Scottish media who now have to find something else to report.  And that’s only the front page journos.  The boys from the back pages will witter away throughout the summer about the club and its prospects whatever happens.  But then they’d do that anyway.

And maybe now, me and Ian Smart won’t get bumped from the Sunday Politics Show.  Unless of course, news breaks next Sunday that it was all a hoax.

So, we can all get back to normal, now our footballing world is guaranteed to continue revolving on its axis of self-interest.

Actually, no.

For there’s the small matter of monies owed to the bank of you and I.  Or the taxman as he/she is more commonly known.

Ever since the possible demise of Rangers began dominating our news schedules, we’ve been treated to speculation as to how HMRC might proceed.  Precedents for breathtakingly outrageous knock-downs of tax owed have been cited.  Portsmouth for one, Leeds United for another.  Heck, even wee Airdrie United has been mentioned in dispatches.

Apparently, the optimists have been misreading the signals, for the HMRC has been getting tough on clubs which fail to pay their tax bills.  It’s how Rangers got itself into this mess in the first place with the taxman calling time and I should think so too.

For in these straitened times, the lolly that the likes of Rangers owes the common people could pay for a lot of libraries.  Or school teachers.  Or road repairs.

The issue which does appear to have faded from view, however, is that of the tax avoided by Rangers players through the Employee Benefit Trusts or EBTs.  It is suggested that Rangers had been offering this wheeze to players for up to ten years before HMRC caught up with the club.  And while legal, HMRC decided it wasn’t on: the £49m sought by the taxman represents tax underpaid and penalties applied.   Of course, Rangers wasn’t the only club at it – up to eight current or former Premiership clubs were/are also being investigated by HMRC for its use of EBTs.

I can’t pretend to have a scooby about any of this.  Particularly not whether the Green deal involves a NewCo and Rangers rising like a phoenix from the ashes, leaving behind a trail of debt and destruction.

But I do know this.

Those players should pay the tax they avoided.  And this, all along, should have been the focus of everyone’s attention, instead of being the matter that has been ignored while a lather was being worked up over the future of the club.

Whoever they are – and isn’t it time they were named and roundly shamed – one supposes that they lived for at least some of the time, in our ain wee best country in the world.  They’ll have had houses.  With street lighting, pavements and tarmac’d roads.  Some of them might have had bairns that went to nursery and school.  They’ll have had bins emptied.  A few might even have had a cooncil uplift and not recoiled from recycling the empty Cristal bottles.

Some will have availed themselves of art galleries, museums and Christmas festivals.  Others – perhaps all too frequently – will have visited licensed premises.  A fair few might have been among those Rangers’ players who have benefited (sic) from the attentions of our police forces and court systems.  Some will even have got their breakfast in the morning.

Water was on tap.  Gritters will have visited their cul de sacs.  Hospitals might have attended to their families’ needs.  Dear god, some of them might even have been entitled to vote, and done so.

All of which is paid for by tax in some form or another.  Tax which we pay and which they did not.  Money that we, in the universal sense, need more than they do.

Bad enough that we have had to put up with them on our pitches, golf clubs and telly screens all these years.  Worse, that most other players were taking pay cuts or having to move down the leagues, as squads were reduced when our ain clubs started having to live within their means, while this lot were still demanding and getting big money and allowing Rangers to effectively cheat its way to trophies and titles by helping everyone to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

Worse still that we were effectively keeping these players in the style to which they became accustomed.

It’s time they paid up.  And it will be a disgrace if they get away with it.


4 thoughts on “Rangers: never mind the club, what about the tax?

  1. Nice post burd (if that is your real name). Utterly agree,.

    Dear HMRC,

    As a PAYE customer of yours how do I negotiate my tax bill down? May I offer you 20p in the pound?


  2. What I hate are the comments that say “better that HMRC get something than nothing at all”, which is an implied threat. OK, let us call their bluff. See how you get on Mr Green with Rangers in the Third Division. Chances are that UEFA will screw them anyway.

    Even if Rangers do stay in the SPL, then the other clubs are going to feel the pinch anyway. On one of the main Rangers Fans blogs (not an official one I must add, but certainly a popular one), there is open talk – and support – for a boycott of all away games to “get revenge on the other clubs”.

    I enjoy watching football on tv, but have no real preference for any club. I think it is wrong that so many clubs simply run at a huge loss, with mega-rich backers who disappear the minute they get bored with their new toy.

    • Ah but the reason for that, here and in England, is that nothing else matters than having the ability to “compete” in Europe. Which is why clubs like Rangers and many in the Premiership in England are in the sorry state they are in financially now.

  3. On the tax issue only, as someone who spent more than 20 years working for the Inland Revenue (when it really was the Taxman) I do not recognise the workings of the organisation now known as HMRC. The eye-watering amounts of money companies, not just Rangers, are being allowed to negotiate on would not have been tolerated. The HM Collector of Taxes, as the payments section of the Inland Revenue was known, would have shut them down, put them into liquidation, seized their assets and that would have been that. And,er, the defaulter didn’t get the chance to appoint their own Administrator because the Revenue would have gone to court for the right to appoint an administrator that wasn’t working for the defaulter! The other thing I found astonishing was the amount of information clearly being leaked from HMRC about the Rangers case and their situation. This is illegal yet it was happening on a daily basis.

    As you rightly say Burdy, other clubs, and plenty of them, have been at the same game and the name of the game is tax evasion which is also illegal. Football as an industry is possibly the only one on the globe which isn’t feeling the pinch. No pay cuts for the prima donnas on tens of thousands a week. Hell, they don’t even have to perform well in order to pick up those tens of thousands! Truly in this game HMRC itself is guilty of gross negligence in having, pardon the pun, taken its eye off the ball for so long. That we have not seen formal statements from the Chancellor of the Exchequer about this gross negligence when he is currently using companies like Atos to kick sick people back on to Job Seekers Allowance and force them into work again while allowing football to stick two fingers up at “austerity”, fraud and tax evasion is an absolute disgrace. And remember also that we have had politicians, including our First Minister, coming out to plead with HMRC to “go easy” on Rangers.

    The average businessman struggling in the current climate would not get such support from HMRC. Of that we can be assured. He’d be down the road. They’d take his house, his car, the assets of his company/business man and leave him with nothing. There would be no negotiations.

    I would say this tho, these new deals, the EBTs were brought in, both here and in England, to persuade foreign players to come and play here without being subject to normal UK Tax Regulations. Thus the offshore funds. And you’re right to say they are rife in England too. But then for all the wealth of teams like Man U one wee stutter in the finances of the Glasers, who own Man U, and it could topple too. The Glasers have taken huge loans with Man U as colateral. The cash Man U earns is what services those loans so in reality Man U can no longer be called a rich club, which is was once. In fact they are in debt to the tune of tens of millions thanks to those loans the Glasers currently have. Liverpool lost £50 million last season. Many English clubs are battling to get into the top four and a place in Europe for that extra gate money. An early exit and “They think its all over? It is now.” financially. It is the same for Celtic and Rangers if they can’t get a decent run in Europe. The game is a mess due to nothing but the absolute greed of players and the stupidity of clubs who pander to them. It is all a far cry from the days when football players may have been one of the greats but were still shit-scared from the Gaffer. These days the tail wags the dog and the game itself is the loser. Maybe the people who buy the season tickets need to start barking loudly and remind clubs, and players, who the dog is.

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