Chairman will fight title stripping attempts
King blasts critics trying to ‘re-write’ Rangers history
Rangers chairman Dave King has issued a robust defence of the club’s integrity in the face of demands that it be stripped of the trophies it won during the years when it made controversial payments to top players.
HMRC last week won an appeal in the Court of Session on the “Big Tax Case”, which ruled that tax should have been paid on employee benefit trusts.
Th court said that a number of players would have taken their services elsewhere had it not been for the £48 million of tax-free payments.
It has led to calls for Rangers to forfeit cups won between 2001 and 2010. Former Celtic player Darren O’Dea very publicly branded Rangers “cheats”.
Mr King accused critics of trying to re-write history and has stated that the Ibrox board will defend the club’s history in the “strongest manner possible”.
In a statement, Mr King said:
“It is disappointing that a debate has re-emerged around the subject of Rangers’ history in Scottish football. It must be especially frustrating for the Club’s supporters who again find individuals within the structures of Scottish football unfairly targeting the Club.
“As the one individual who was a major shareholder and director throughout the period that gave rise to the HMRC dispute, and again find myself in a similar capacity, I believe that I am uniquely positioned to make three important observations.
“First, irrespective of the final outcome of the tax appeal (which might take several more years) the football team had no advantage from any tax savings from the scheme put in place by the Murray Group. Throughout the period in question the shareholders were committed to providing funding to the Club.
“The tax scheme may have reduced the need for shareholders to provide higher levels of funding so, as I have tried to make clear in the past, any advantage gained would have been to the company and its shareholders, not the team.
“Certain players may not have signed for the Club without the perceived benefit of personal tax savings but there was no general advantage for the player squad, or the performance on the pitch.
“We would still have signed players of equal abilities if one or two had decided they didn’t want to sign under different financial circumstances.
“Secondly, Lord Nimmo Smith has fully and finally dealt with the legitimacy of the continuity of the Club’s history. There is no more to be debated on that issue.
“Finally, it is extraordinary that representatives of other Scottish clubs – who admit the damage done to Scottish football by Rangers’ removal from the Premier League – should even wish to re-engage with this issue.
“It is time those individuals, who represent other clubs, recognise their legal and fiduciary responsibilities to their own clubs and shareholders rather than submit to the uninformed ramblings of a few outspoken fans to whom attacking Rangers is more important than the wellbeing of their own clubs.
“This is a misguided attempt (that will ultimately fail) to rewrite history and defeat Rangers off the park when their teams could not do so on the park at the time. The history of many other clubs would have to be rewritten if this illogical argument was to be consistently applied.
“Having reviewed documentation that has become available to me I believe that Rangers was harshly and, in some instances, unfairly treated in the period leading up to demotion from the Premier League.
“However, that is now history and I have publicly stated, with the full support of the recently installed board, that we wish to put the past behind us and move on in partnership with all clubs throughout Scotland to improve and restore the image and quality of Scottish football as a whole. This will be to the benefit of all clubs.
“For the avoidance of doubt, however, I wish to make one point clear. If the history of our Club comes under attack we will deal with it in the strongest manner possible and will hold to account those persons who have acted against their fiduciary responsibilities to their own clubs and to Scottish football.”
Celtic have reiterated the club’s view that Rangers may have gained a sporting or competitive advantage from the use of the tax scheme.
In a statement it said: “We are aware of last week’s Court of Session ruling, which we note is subject to potential appeal.
“In 2013, we expressed surprise – shared by many observers and supporters of the game – over the findings of the SPL Commission that no competitive or sporting advantage had resulted. That remains our view.”