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.
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.