FOR some time now, Campbell Ogilvie has been on the fringes of the Rangers crisis, not a central player in the downfall of the club like Craig Whyte and Sir David Murray, but still a member of the wider cast of characters in this great, and continuing, drama.
As a Rangers employee from 1978 to 2005 and company secretary when the contentious EBT scheme was introduced, the current president of the SFA has been the subject of rumour and innuendo, some of it explicable, other parts inexcusable. What is indisputable is that Ogilvie has questions to answer about his Ibrox years and some of the things that went on while he was in office.
In the two years since the EBT bomb started ticking, Ogilvie has said nothing, bar a statement issued the other day. He has said little on the double contracts issue either, a story that is potentially ruinous if true. Here is the problem. Regardless of what he knew or didn’t know and irrespective of whether he was in on the (possibly disastrous and illegal) decision-making or just a relative bystander in Sir David Murray’s regime, how can Ogilvie stay in the highest office at Hampden while so many serious allegations hang over his old club dating back to his time there?
Ogilvie’s former colleague at Ibrox, Hugh Adam, has said not once but twice that double contracts were used at Rangers in Ogilvie’s time. This is the dynamite that could, if proven, blow Rangers sky high. Double contracts break every rule in the book. If the story has substance, that is. Ogilvie says they didn’t exist, Adam has said they did, but he has also said that Ogilvie probably didn’t know about them. This is complex stuff. “David [Murray] was secretive and kept these things to himself,” said Adam.
On Friday morning, Ogilvie spoke at last. For the zealots out there who see conspiracy around every corner there were no questions ruled out and no areas deemed off limits. Clearly he has been stung by what has been said about him and the aspersions that have been cast on his character. “Before I got the presidency there was a lot of suggestions that I shouldn’t even get it,” he said. “I accept that, having worked at Ibrox for many years, there will be some people who are not happy with someone from that background coming in.”
So this was his reply. Belated, but important none the less.
“The SPL are looking into this,” he says of the allegations levelled by Adam. “I have not been approached by the SPL, but if I am I would be happy to speak to them. I don’t know how they are setting up their inquiry. I’m delighted the SFA one [into Craig Whyte] was independent and I was more than happy to speak to them. I welcome the SPL inquiry because there is so much stuff flying about. I would be more than happy to answer any questions. I’ve got a clear conscience.”
Ogilvie, as he has stated, had an EBT. On Friday, he revealed its details. He was paid £15,000 in three lumps of £5,000 between 2001 and 2003. He didn’t believe that there was anything iffy about them. “In my own case, it was an offer of a discretionary bonus or a contribution into the trust. I chose to pay into the trust and I can then apply for a loan from the trust. I got three payments between 2001 and 2003. It was a £5,000 each payment and then on the termination of my employment [at Rangers in 2005], as part of my settlement, I got a figure of £80,000. The whole thing is centred around loans. It’s a very technical issue but you have to repay the loans, yes. It’s over a period of time.”
So everybody’s still repaying these loans? What is it, 50p a week? A pound? Or were they all indemnified against ever having to repay them? Were the loans actually salaries by another name? This is what the HMRC has been fighting over. It doesn’t believe what Rangers did was legal.
“I remember at the time they came in, the Murray Group took a lot of legal and accountancy and tax advice. As far as I was concerned they were legally set up with the backing of the accountants of the lawyers and they were operated legally. I can’t remember who put me into the scheme but I didn’t question it because it was set up perfectly legally.”
But we don’t know that. HMRC has begged to differ and it might yet cost Rangers a lot of money. Ogilvie’s defence is that he assumed all was well, an assumption he, perhaps, regrets now. “Well, I was a director. I might not have been involved in the bigger decisions but I’m not going to go and hide from the fact that I was a director. At no time would I walk away and say I didn’t have a responsibility. Looking at the situation the club finds itself in now I regret very much that this has happened. I don’t know what I could have done. Maybe I should have questioned things more.”
In this regard, and in others, he is passing the responsibility back to Murray, probably with reasonable cause. “You know the way the club was run. I was a director and we had a controlling shareholder who ran the club. David came in as the controlling shareholder and having invested the money, he decided to run the club the way he did.
“I never did contract negotiations as such. Up until Graeme Souness came in we had a standard wage across the board. I think it was about £280 a week. Every player was on the same wage, believe it or not. There weren’t really negotiations, it was more about filling in forms. When it came to contracts and players coming up from England, we had financial people in the club who would deal with that.
“I’m not an accountant so these would fall into the hands of the people who are qualified to deal with that. It started to change in the mid-to-late 1980s and then by the mid-1990s I wasn’t dealing with them at all. I relinquished my football administrative post in 2002 and went on to a role which was something like director of strategy. To be blunt my role had changed dramatically by then. From 2002, when John McLelland put in a new structure, I got this new role as director of football strategy. In effect I was Rangers’ committee man on the SFA and SPL. I was doing less and less and it came to a point in 2005 that having been involved for so many areas, I felt I wasn’t as involved. I then decided to move on, simple as that. I didn’t want to leave but equally I didn’t want the role I now had.”
His position now has been uncomfortable this past while. For £20,000 a year (his actual salary as opposed to the six figures that have been quoted online), he’s drawing a lot of heat. Friday was his attempt to deal with certain insinuations. He repeats that he welcomes an inquiry (independent or otherwise) and will give evidence if asked, he stresses that he thought the EBTs were checked-out and deemed legal and that no double contracts existed at Rangers or Hearts while he was in office. All of this should be examined in the inquiry.
You would hope that the SPL’s investigation is properly independent and thorough and transparent. This is serious stuff. Reputations are on the line. Integrity is the watchword. To dispel the rumours and establish the truth, they must get this right, for the good of the game and the people within.