SPFL’s Ralph Topping stands firm amid title stripping calls

Ralph Topping says the SPFL has taken the best possible legal advice. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Ralph Topping says the SPFL has taken the best possible legal advice. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
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Outgoing SPFL chairman Ralph Topping is confident the organisation can withstand attempts from clubs and fans to question the validity of titles won by Rangers following last week’s Supreme Court verdict in the Big Tax Case.

Topping will officially stand down as chairman on 1 August but knows the row over Rangers’ use of Employment Benefit Trusts (EBTs) won’t go away.

Celtic now want a review of the Lord Nimmo Smith commission from 2013, which only imposed a fine on the Ibrox club for the non-declaration of payments to players.

The SFA issued a statement saying no further disciplinary action will be taken shortly after liquidators BDO’s appeal over the use of EBTs was unanimously dismissed in the Supreme Court in favour of HMRC.

But the SPFL is taking longer to make an official response. Similar to the SFA, Topping has confirmed the SPFL is confident it can issue a robust defence to any potential legal challenges, with fans’ groups also mobilising.

“In these circumstances you have to rely on legal minds,” he told The Scotsman. “We have not gone to a solicitor in Arbroath. We have gone to the finest solicitor in the land and taken his view, which we were duty bound to do. He has given us what we think is very sound legal advice.”

This advice was sought independently of the SFA, and not shared between boards of the two Hampden governing bodies.

“We [the SPFL board] sat with him on what must have been four occasions – and he was challenged from everyone,” said Topping.

“We wanted to make sure we were ready for any challenges subsequently. And I think we are. I think we are.

“That won’t stop people having views,” he added. “It won’t stop people talking about it for years to come. It’s useless to say keep quiet. The fact is they won’t.

“There are a lot of wealthy people who support football clubs who will fund certain activities around challenges. The authorities just have to accept it and be measured in their response.”

The SPFL is expected to issue a statement with reference to the Supreme Court verdict next week.

Topping will be succeeded as chairman by media executive Murdoch MacLennan, whose appointment was announced earlier this week.