SPFL will not pursue probe into Rangers EBT scheme

The new Scottish Professional Football League board are poised to confirm they will not pursue any further investigations into the validity of titles won by Rangers during the years the Ibrox club paid players through Employee Benefit Trusts.

The SPFL board is set to confirm it will not carry out further inquiries into Rangers' use of EBTs. Picture: John Devlin
The SPFL board is set to confirm it will not carry out further inquiries into Rangers' use of EBTs. Picture: John Devlin

As first revealed by outgoing SPFL chairman Ralph Topping in an interview with The Scotsman ten days ago, the league body will rely on recent legal advice to resist any calls for the stripping of titles which have gathered momentum since the UK Supreme Court’s binding ruling in favour of HMRC against Rangers oldco liquidators BDO earlier this month.

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The SPFL board will issue a statement tomorrow which they intend to be their own final position on the issue. The Scottish FA have already ruled out any further disciplinary action.

An independent commission by the Scottish Premier League in 2013, chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith, found Rangers guilty of failing to disclose side-letters related to the EBT scheme to the football authorities but also ruled the club did not gain any unfair competitive advantage.

Following the Supreme Court judgement three weeks ago, Celtic issued a statement calling for a review of previous findings. Dave King, the current Rangers chairman who also sat on the board at Ibrox when its then owner Sir David Murray operated the EBT scheme, responded by insisting their titles had been won “fair and square”.

Fans’ groups from several clubs have expressed their desire for a review, including Dons Supporters Together. But Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne has distanced himself from that position, calling on all clubs to “fall in line” with the legal advice taken by both the SFA and SPFL.

The issue was on the agenda yesterday as the 42 SPFL clubs held their annual general meeting and appointed a new board of directors for the 2017-18 campaign.

Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson and Hamilton Accies chairman Les Gray were elected as new Premiership representatives, replacing Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell and Partick Thistle managing director Ian Maxwell who last week announced they would not be seeking re-election.

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Hearts’ owner Ann Budge was successfully re-elected as the third Premiership club representative as Dundee managing director John Nelms failed to gather enough support.

Falkirk chairman Martin Ritchie and Morton chief executive Warren Hawke are the new Championship representatives, replacing Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster and Raith Rovers chief executive Eric Drysdale, while Stranraer chairman Iain Dougan takes over from Brechin City’s Ken Ferguson as the sole representative for League One and League Two clubs.

New SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan will replace his predecessor Topping on the board when he formally takes up his new role on 1 August. The nine-strong board is completed by SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and non-executive director Karyn McCluskey, the chief executive of Community Justice Scotland.