'Failure in transparency' - Celtic demand another inquiry into Rangers
By James Black
Celtic have released a statement demanding the Scottish FA commission an independent review into Rangers’ use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) between 2001-2010 which led to the liquidation of Rangers’ original parent company.
The statement, posted on Celtic’s official website on Saturday, claims that if the Scottish FA fails to carry out a review of the events, which forced the Ibrox side into Administration in 2012, would represent a “failure in transparency, accountability and leadership.”
The statement added: “Celtic was, therefore, disappointed to note that the Scottish Football Association board has confirmed that it does not intend to commission such a review.
“Throughout these processes, Celtic’s consistent objective has been to establish the full facts, which is surely the least that all stakeholders in Scottish football – including the supporters of all clubs – are entitled to, and to learn the appropriate lessons.”
Rangers’ use of EBTs led to HMRC to investigate whether the club had avoided tax on key employee’s salaries by issuing tax-free loans in lieu of regular wages via a Trust.
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After a near decade-long investigation, the Supreme Court found in July 2017 that the payments were in fact part of the employee’s contract and therefore taxable.
Rangers entered Administration in February 2012 and later that month, the then-SPL, at the behest of Peter Lawwell, commissioned an independent review into the circumstances that led Rangers to financial meltdown led by Lord Nimmo Smith.
As part of the findings of the Nimmo Smith inquiry, it was found Rangers had gained no sporting advantage over their rivals however they had breached certain rules and were subject to a £250,00 fine and transfer embargo as a result.
Rangers were subsequently demoted to the fourth tier of Scottish football after having been part of the top-flight since it’s formation in 1898.
In addition to the statement released, Celtic also published a series of letters between chief executive Lawwell and Scottish FA boss Stewart Regan where Lawwell pleaded the case for another independent review, saying: “We believe that Scottish football needs closure on these issues and the governing bodies and clubs need to work together to restore trust in the game as well as re-establishing faith in the governance of Scottish football.
“This will require transparency, accountability and leadership from the SFA and will only be achieved by an independent review of the relevant events.”
Despite Lawwell’s stance, Scottish FA chief executive Regan fired back with a reminder of Lawwell’s role in early stages of the SFA investigation into Rangers’ meltdown in his former role as an SFA board member; stating: Following the Court of Session decision, which has subsequently been endorsed by the Supreme Court, the Board of the Scottish FA sought Senior Counsel’s opinion.
“It was recognised that a robust and independent consideration of all implications of the judgement was required.
“You were, of course, a board member at that time and so you were involved in the early stages of that process.”
Lawwell retains a place on the Scottish FA’s Professional Game board so holds plenty of sway within Hampden however his latest stance puts him at odds with the Scottish game’s governing body.
Neither the Scottish FA nor Rangers have commented on Celtic’s statement however it’s unlikely the SFA will change their position and commission an independent inquiry
In other Celtic news, PSG boss Unai Emery has issued a warning to the Hoops ahead of Tuesday.