Rangers: We won’t stand for stripping of EBT titles

Rangers have called for the SPFL to draw a line under the whole affair and move on for the good of Scottish football. Picture: John Devlin
Rangers have called for the SPFL to draw a line under the whole affair and move on for the good of Scottish football. Picture: John Devlin
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RANGERS have said they will not accept any attempt to strip them of titles due to their use of Employee Benefit Trusts to pay players.

The issue arose after Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs won an appeal to the Court of Session to have income from EBTs declared taxable – the so-called “big tax case” which hung over oldco Rangers as it fell into liquidation.

Now the Ibrox has club has responded to SPFL discussions on the matter last week by calling for a line to be drawn under the past.

The club are awaiting the outcome of their appeal against attempts to enforce payment of a £250,000 fine imposed on oldco Rangers over the liquidated club’s failure to disclose dozens of payments to players during the first decade of the century.

After the decision in favour of HMRC by three Court of Session judges, some rival fans have called for the Scottish Professional Football League to strip titles. The judges argued that players might not have signed for Rangers were it not for the tax-free payments.

SPFL board members discussed the latest court judgement on Friday but nothing was decided, and the prospect of a further appeal remains.

But Rangers have moved to outline their stance with the SPFL facing pressure to reopen the case.

A club statement read: “The SPFL board has stated they held a conference call to be given a factual update on the Court of Session EBT ruling and so it would be remiss of the Rangers board not to state the club’s view.

“The first thing to be said is that Rangers has made it clear it wishes to reach out and work with all clubs to help revitalise Scottish football, which has also suffered in recent years. There is much to be done and Rangers wants to be part of the way forward.

“Our game has to become more attractive to potential sponsors and partners if the finance levels required are to be generated but this can only be done if we present a coherent and united strategy. Therefore, a line must be drawn now if we are all to prosper.

“It is our irrevocable belief that this club’s history, including its many successes, is beyond debate. Rangers cannot countenance or accept any talk, attempts or actions designed to undermine what this club has achieved throughout its long history.

“So, as far as this club is concerned there is no need for further SPFL consideration of court judgments or appeals.

“They should be saying it is time for everyone to move on and work together for the greater good of the game. Scottish football has suffered enough.”

The punishment issued to oldco Rangers – and possibly the newco club – came following an independent commission set up by the Scottish Premier League chaired by another judge, Lord Nimmo Smith, who ruled that the club had not gained any sporting advantage through the contentious scheme.

But the new merged league body will remain under pressure from some quarters to re-examine the case should the decision on the tax scheme stay in HMRC’s favour.

Rangers used EBTs from 2001 to 2010 and won the league five times during that period, including 2010-11.