Rangers chairman Dave King has insisted the honours collected by the Ibrox club during the years they operated the now discredited EBT tax scheme were won “fair and square” and has accused Celtic of “agitating” in a bid to see them stripped of their titles.
In a characteristically bullish statement, King provided his response to this week’s final Supreme Court judgment which ruled that tax and national insurance contributions should have been paid on the trust payments made to Rangers’ employees from 2001 to 2009.
King, a director at the time, has laid the blame firmly at the door of Sir David Murray, the club’s former owner and chairman, who he claims provided misleading information on the issue during the recent trial which saw Craig Whyte cleared of fraudulently purchasing Rangers in 2012.
“This statement is made in my capacity as a former director and shareholder of Oldco to provide supporters with the true position following the final tax ruling and to correct any false impression created by David Murray’s conflicting evidence in the Craig Whyte trial,” said King.
“As an investor and board member during the period of the so-called benefit I can categorically assure all supporters that the club received no benefit whatsoever. The opposite is true as the effect on the club was wholly negative. It was charged huge sums for advice from other Murray Group entities and it bore the consequences when that advice proved inadequate. Every single player that was signed during that period would have been signed whether the Murray Group tax scheme was in place or not. The real beneficiary was the Murray Group.
“All board members were aware during that period that we were often deliberately spending more than we earned and this was reported in the annual financial statements. The cash needed to fund any shortfall came from share placements, shareholder loans, and third-party bank finance. As David Murray was personally dealing with transfer expenditure, I sought assurances in a board meeting each year that he would stand behind any deficit that could not be immediately funded if he over extended in the transfer market.
“He gave these assurances and he honoured them until the Murray Group got into financial difficulty. Put simply, the Murray Group tax scheme helped David Murray reduce his overall investment into Oldco while simultaneously reducing any reliance on increased third-party bank finance. The benefit went exclusively to David Murray and the Murray Group. Whether the scheme was in place or not, or whether it survived tax scrutiny or not, made no difference whatsoever to the playing squad of the club during that period and hence had no impact on the performance on the pitch. We won all of our titles fair and square.”
Following Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling, Celtic issued a statement which expressed certainty the Scottish football authorities would re-examine the issue. The SPFL have said they will consider its implications but the SFA say no further action will be taken after taking their own legal counsel on the matter.
“The Celtic board issued a statement agitating for a re-opening and reversal of the decisions previously made when, in fact, nothing has changed,” said King.
“It is disappointing that they have attempted to influence the footballing authorities to alter its historic football honours by calling on administrators and lawyers to achieve off the pitch what its teams failed to do on the pitch.
“It is reassuring to note that the SFA promptly and correctly put out a statement confirming, against Celtic’s attempt to influence, that the final tax ruling has no impact whatsoever on the practical and legal findings already made. This is now another matter that we can finally put behind us.”
King also admitted his own current stewardship of the club sees Rangers operating beyond their financial means but insists their future is secure. “While I am chairman, Rangers’ overspending will always be on a sustainable and robust basis and one that safeguards the future of our club,” he said.