SFA president Campbell Ogilvie answers questions from Andrew Smith on his time as secretary and director of Rangers and the Ibrox club’s use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs). Ogilvie himself received £95,000 from Rangers through EBTs.
Q: Did you see the BBC documentary on Rangers, The Men Who Sold The Jerseys?
A: I was away at the FIFA Congress, but I did see it when I came back.
Q: A striking issue to come out of that was an alleged payment to Graeme Souness. Were you surprised by that?
A: No, I wasn’t aware of that. I wasn’t aware of who individually was involved.
Q: Can you see there being an issue with you being SFA president at a time when there is an ongoing SPL investigation into non-disclosure of payments at Rangers that you are directly linked to? You were a director and the secretary who signed off the accounts in November 2001. At that time the EBT scheme was in operation and players were receiving payments that weren’t in their contracts.
A: I was secretary up until 2002. That’s correct. I was a director, that’s correct.
Q: Did you never see there could be a potential conflict using EBTs to pay footballers?
A: No, not at that time, not at all. I didn’t do the contracts. I might have signed some documents from time to time. I certainly didn’t do the player negotiations, I didn’t do the contracts.
Q: But you signed off the accounts...
A: I signed off the accounts in good faith, quite simply.
Q: Without the knowledge of what was in these accounts? Was that remiss of you?
A: The EBTs as a total were in the accounts. There wasn’t a breakdown of individual players to the best of my knowledge.
Q: They were mentioned as a total. But then nothing is given individually, with total salary costs and so on. Wouldn’t there be an expectation secretaries would normally involve themselves in contracts?
A: This is the point I’m making, I wasn’t involved in the negotiations of contracts. If I signed off the accounts it has been in good faith. I was company secretary by name, no hiding from that point. We had accountants and lawyers. I’m not an accountant, I’m not a lawyer. I’m a football administrator. At that time I wasn’t dealing with contracts.
Q: As a director and secretary you had no knowledge of the way players were paid?
A: Correct. I knew there were player contracts, naturally. There were some EBTs that came in 2001. Now the depth or the detail of these EBTs, I don’t know who got the individual EBTs at that time.
Q: Was there anything you saw in the [BBC] programme that would change your mind about how EBTs operated?
A: I did say when we met in March there were no side contracts. That is the case to the best of my knowledge. The question is probably how the EBTs operated and this is the matter the SPL are looking at.
Q: As secretary you would have registered the contracts with the appropriate football bodies presumably?
A: No. That’s what I’m saying. I didn’t deal with player contracts at that time.
Q: Who was responsible?
A: Whoever was dealing with the financial side. You’ve got to go back in time here. Football contracts used to be a straightforward one sheet of paper. Over time contracts, like any sponsorship, contracts became quite complicated.
Q: At what time did you become aware EBTs were going to become a problem?
A: I took one on myself. I didn’t have any of my salaries paid through them. It was three bonuses, as I said back in March, that I got through EBTs. And when I left the club part of my settlement agreement was through EBTs. There is no way I would have taken an EBT on when I was leaving the club if I thought there was an issue with them.
Q: No suggestion of any wrongdoing on your part, but do you not feel your stewardship there is embarrassing or tainted? Do you not look back and think “I was there through all this”?
A: Listen, I’m going to put my hands up. I was there. I’m not disputing that. I was secretary, no matter what the duties were. For a year of that period from 2001 to 2002 I was a director. Probably a lot of you know the way the club operated. There wasn’t that frequent board meetings. You certainly wouldn’t necessarily know – I’m sure the other directors didn’t even know – who was receiving EBTs. That’s just the way the club was. I’m not going to hide from anything. I’m just telling you a fact that I didn’t know individually who was getting the EBTs.
Q: Do you feel negligence on your part, there is a perception of negligence...
A: There’s a difference between perception and reality. It wasn’t my duty to carry it out. I don’t feel negligent, no not at all.
Q: Did you ever think about stepping down until the investigation is over?
A: If I felt it was causing the organisation bigger issues and they felt, the board felt, the members felt – then sure, if that was the case, absolutely. If it was put to me to stand down while this was carried out, and if that was the feeling of the board and the members or whoever, absolutely. I haven’t seen a need to do that. You keep coming back to a perception. I’ve heard that I set up the whole scheme. You’d think with the amounts mentioned I was there for the whole time. And that I’ve been responsible for the whole of that. There’s a perception out there. You wouldn’t be questioning me today if it wasn’t for the role I’ve currently got, I appreciate that. I would have disappeared over the sunset probably. I’ve put everything on the table back in March – that hasn’t changed.
Q: Has it changed the way you view your time at Rangers?
A: Hindsight is a great thing, and if I had known some of the issues that are coming up I might have done things differently, I don’t know. Would I have taken an EBT when I left the club? Probably not, if I had known all this but everything was above board, there was no reason to question it. Somebody asked me the question, when did it become apparent there was a question mark about the EBTs. You tell me, when was it [around 2008]. I was away in 2005. I am not hiding from anything here, I am just stating the fact, but the last three years my role at Ibrox had changed quite dramatically. I moved on to director of football strategy. I was doing less and less and I am not hiding from anything, I am just stating the fact. That is one of the reasons I left the club – because I was less and less involved.
Q: How damaged do you feel by your association with that period at Rangers?
A: Damaged? I don’t feel damaged as such. I certainly appreciate I was there at that time and people will associate me with some of the issues at that time. I can’t hide from that – I was there – and people will have to draw their own conclusions from the facts as they come out.
Q: What kind of reaction have you had from the rank and file of the clubs?
A: To me, they have been very supportive and the board have been very supportive. From day one, I said I cannot be part of any discussion on Rangers. I have stood down from any involvement on the Rangers side of the debate. That was clear from day one from my side and from the SFA side that had to be the case. Now if I am causing the SFA a problem, and the board felt that and the clubs felt that, I would stand down – but there are all these other issues still have to be dealt with. If in any way I am causing them an issue and the SPL investigation is coming up whenever, it is started now, we will see the outcome of that. And if the members of the SFA or the board want me to stand down that is the way it will be. If that is not the case, then we will discuss it.
Q: If Rangers become a newco, the decision has to be taken whether they will be allowed in the SPL or start again in the SFL. Some Rangers supporters think they should take their medicine and start at the Third Division. Do you think it should be a footballing decision or financial decision?
A: I’m sure it’ll be done for football integrity.
Q: Do you really think that?
A: Yes. It has to be.