- 24 November 2012
The result of the Big Tax Case should have been an irrelevance to Rangers. The so called 'debt' was left behind when the new company took control of the club and a negative result would have had no impact whatsoever on our finances. Actually, the only scenario that could have had widespread implications is the one we now face. A favourable verdict has laid bare the fact that two years of vitriol, lies and abuse of the club and fans is just what we always thought it was – a dishonest campaign based on hatred and jealousy.
I'm not going to go into the detail of the decision too much because it speaks for itself. Even the attempts to cling to the dissenting opinion, detailed in the written decision, are transparent in their desperation. In a small number of cases tax may be due but this is still unclear and the amount will be a tiny fraction of that alleged to have been outstanding. Suffice to say that Rangers' EBT payments have been clearly defined as loans. The dissenting opinion, whilst the right of Heidi Poon to put forward, is that of an accountant on a point of law and whilst it may provide comfort to those who desperately wanted to believe their own hype, it is not a verdict. The verdict is, in layman's terms, "Not Guilty". Two lawyers have overruled Ms Poon and it would take an act of extraordinary arrogance by HMRC to appeal the decision given they can only do so on a point of law. That is not to say they won't appeal, simply that they should quit whilst behind.
To say that the club and fans have been vindicated would be an understatement but it would be remiss of us to either forgive or forget the campaign that has been waged against us. The protagonists are still out there and if they are left to lick their wounds they will simply regroup and come back at us.
Let us first take HMRC. I do not for one moment dispute their right to address this matter. It was obviously extremely complex and they felt they had a case. However, some of their conduct in this matter has been highly suspect. First of all, as stated in the MIH statement yesterday, there have been consistent leaks, the content of which it is hard to attribute to anyone other than HMRC. This is now the subject of a call for a police investigation and that is something we should all encourage. A government enquiry has also been called for and a petition for this is currently sitting at over 15,000 signatures in just over two days. I would urge anyone who has not signed it to do so here http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/42143 .
Put simply, the people who leaked information to the Rangers Tax Case blog and others should, in my opinion, be going to jail. They gambled on the result of the case but they have ended up on the losing side and are now scurrying for cover along with every single journalist, blogger and broadcaster who has got carried away over the past few months.
Beyond the leaks, there are questions to answer for HMRC as to how they allowed Craig Whyte to fail to pay NI and PAYE for 9 months - not something they would have allowed any business to do under normal circumstances. The more cynical amongst us might think they did so in order to deflect attention from their own conduct.
Finally, on HMRC, it would be nice to hear an answer as to why they delayed the tribunal process by taking up the full time – 5 days – allocated to one of the tribunal hearings. They were only allocated two days originally and this action meant further time needed to be scheduled and months were added to the decision making process.
The conduct of the SPL and SFA will also need to be examined in the months to come. For the moment I will contain myself to saying that the decision by the SPL to continue with its sham tribunal into title stripping is now more transparent in its agenda than it has ever been. Perhaps they feel that, having come this far, the tribunal process must continue but any thought that title stripping remains on the agenda should be quickly dispelled. The idea that they would overrule the tax tribunal, which is what they would have to do despite the spin, is remarkable in its arrogance. Are we really supposed to believe that the evidence collated by Celtic's lawyers, Harper MacLeod, will have more weight, accuracy or integrity than that presented already?
This result has been a disaster for those in the media who believed not only their own hype but that of an online blogging community utterly desperate to see us become extinct. This was the football equivalent of an attempt at ethnic cleansing. The dishonesty shown by Rangers Tax Case, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, Matt McGlone, Brian McNally, Paul McConville and other Celtic Minded commentators should not surprise us. Their hatred shone through but they misled not just the general public but also those in their own support who so desperately wanted to believe their misinformation. They conned their own.
If the vitriol from rival fans was not surprising, what was shocking was facing the same standards of reporting from sections of the media. BBC Scotland led the way with their dishonest and misleading reporting. Jim Spence, Stuart Cosgrove, Richard Gordon and others are not acting independently. Right across the BBC Scotland platform the message has been, and continues to be, as negative for the club as possible. BBC Scotland has taken an editorial decision to damage the club's reputation as much as possible. Nothing makes this clearer than their "New Rangers" narrative which pervades their online, TV and Radio content. We should never again deal with BBC Scotland until the people who made those decisions are removed from their positions.
If the people on the committees that gave a Scottish BAFTA to Mark Daly and the Orwell Blogging Prize to Rangers Tax Case have an ounce of integrity then they will withdraw those awards forthwith. They have embarrassed themselves and the organisations they represent by jumping the gun and believing the hype.
Alex Thomson, Graham Spiers, Ewing Grahame, Glen Gibbons and others in the press also stand accused. Their dishonesty has shone through. Spiers lied on live TV about his comments on EBTs – he still refuses to apologise for this "cheating" slur despite indicating he would if evidence was presented.
It would be interesting to know if Stuart Cosgrove, who as well as being part of the BBC Scotland propaganda machine is the Channel 4 "Head of Diversity", was involved in getting Alex Thomson to cover the Rangers story. Presumably the "diversity" that Channel 4 wish to encourage does not extend to the "orange wankers" and "huns" that Cosgrove has referred to in the past.
Let me give you an example of Thomson's writing on Rangers - just for posterity in case it suddenly goes the way of other online articles, which seem to be disappearing. I think the words speak for themselves in terms of motive and method.
"A global brand is now toxic. "Rangers" now means a revolting broth of tax-evasion; threatening corporate aggression ; a profoundly arrogant refusal to apologise ever to anyone for anything; a "case to answer" on years of organised cheating ; the brand name liquidated; the British taxpayer cheated; hundreds of small Scottish businesses, charities, colleges, councils out of pocket...I could go on."
My son is 3 years old. There was a real danger that he would have grown up with the narrative that, as Thomson put it, the Rangers brand was toxic. Well, that won't happen now. Rangers will be known across the footballing world as a club and a set of fans that were the subject of a vicious onslaught in their own country but stood up to be counted. The fans will be lauded for showing faith and loyalty through adversity and backing their club even when it was on its knees. The bond between the club and the fans is stronger now than it has ever been in my memory.
Already, journalists from England, Germany, Holland, Spain, France, USA and many other countries have marvelled at this story and when the truth emerges about the campaign which has been run against the club the story will just become all the more remarkable. The shame of it all will not be attached to Rangers. Shame will be the legacy of those who have attacked our club based on nothing more than innuendo, lies, jealousy and years of pent up frustration that we are, and will remain, the most successful club in the land.
Those who perpetrated this mugging are already running for cover. Rangers Tax Case has deleted all its content – too late. Articles are disappearing online – the rats are deserting the sinking ship. Apologies will be made and legal action may follow. We should remember those journalists and broadcasters who stood up for genuine honesty and integrity through this saga. People like Jim Traynor, Richard Wilson, Archie MacPherson and STV in general have all covered this story not for the benefit of Rangers but with adherence to standards that have been sorely missing from others in their profession.
The only stain that remains on the club is the tenure of Craig Whyte and it now seems reasonable to state that it could have been avoided with a more efficient and sympathetic approach to the tax case. Hopefully the full force of the law will be brought to bear on any wrongdoing in that instance and we can also put that episode behind us in the months to come.
Bill Struth said "we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome". He was correct. We have overcome our trials and we are stronger. It is now up to the club and the fans to ensure that we never again allow those who seek to damage us the opportunity to do so, and that we build the club back up to where we belong whilst making sure that the world is aware of what really took place here.