Darren O’Dea: Rangers should lose EBT titles

O'Dea played at Celtic for six years. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
O'Dea played at Celtic for six years. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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FORMER Celtic centre back Darren O’Dea has called for Rangers to be stripped of league titles won during the years when the Ibrox club used EBTs.

Last week a Court of Session ruled in favour of HMRC that oldco Rangers had illegally avoided paying tax to players and managers through the use of employee benefit trusts.

The final verdict on the case could still yet be heard as Rangers liquidators BDO have 28 days to challenge the ruling.

Should BDO decline the option of an appeal, or Rangers eventually lose what has become known as the ‘Big Tax Case’, then O’Dea feels this is conclusive proof the club cheated and action should be taken.

O’Dea believes it’s in the best interests of sporting integrity that the SPFL takes back titles won by Rangers as they gained an advantage over the competition through illegal use of EBTs.

O’Dea spoke to the Daily Record, while also discussing the topic on BBC Scotland.

He said: “I don’t understand this question about trying to prove if it would have made a difference. That’s like saying if I take drugs and go out and play a football match, maybe I would win if I didn’t cheat.

“It doesn’t matter what the results would have been or could have been.

“The fact is they cheated so there’s no grey areas for me. If they are caught and found guilty, and the case has not been close yet, but if they are there are no grey areas.

“If you are found guilty you have to pay the consequences and, for me, that would be taking the titles from Rangers.”

If you are found guilty you have to pay the consequences and, for me, that would be taking the titles from Rangers.

Darren O’Dea

The EBT scheme was used at Ibrox between 2001 and 2010, during which time the club finished the season as champions on four separate occasions as well as winning four Scottish Cups and five League Cups.

The Irish international, who currently plays for Mumbai City, insists his opinion is not motivated by any desire to gain additional league winners’ medals to add to the two he won with Celtic between 2006 and 2012.

O’Dea continued: “I don’t want medals as they would not mean anything to me. You win them on the pitch.

“I do feel very strongly for the players who played for Rangers during that time, I have the utmost respect for them.

“As a footballer I didn’t know where my money was coming from. It just hit your bank account on a certain day. I never questioned how the club paid the wages and I’ve never doubted their integrity.

“That would be the saddest part for the players if they lost their titles. In fairness to them they did their job and won the league.

“I respect the fact that on the pitch they beat us fair and square. The club is another story in my eyes.”