Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rangers: Taxing our patience

Will the monetary shenanigans at Ibrox never end?

On and on rumble the ramifications of Rangers' apparent fiscal folly in seasons gone by.

Will the emboldened taxman or the jilted Martin Bain get in the killer blow?

Craig Whyte has brought bad PR, repetitive answers to pressing questions and Gordon Smith to Govan. But does he bring the financial fortitude necessary to steer a steady course through turbulent waters?

We don't know.

The Martin Bain saga offers a mild diversion. Always struck me as a bit of an arse did the well groomed Martin. Now he's got a well groomed axe to grind. Maybe still an arse, he now feels hard done by and wants his dosh.

To which The Proclaimers might reply: "Get in line son, there's five million waiting."

Still, Fred Goodwin got a pay off and I'm sure Fred wasn't entirely to blame for the gargantuan collapse of one of Scotland's proudest institutions either.

Sideshow Bain aside, the tax question - a series of questions now - looms ever larger.

If I have to pay tax on my ever modest renumeration then a company with Rangers' klout should effing well pay their share as well. Simples.

I would also hope that action would be taken against those in power at Ibrox who sanctioned this accounting chicanery and anyone who knowingly benefited from the practices that were in place.

Of the enigma that is Craig Whyte I know not what to say. Except that it seems to me if he was in the running for 'business brain of the year' he'd not have bought Rangers at this moment in their history. You'd be wary of buying a used car off David Murray right now.

Truthfully though my own finances - rendered less than complex due to a distinct lack of funds - bore me stiff. Trying to engage with the accounts of a football club I don't support is not really my cup of tea. I lack the basic maths to go in for forensic accountancy.

It does confirm, coupled with yet more dire warnings this week about the SPL finances in general, my view that Scottish sport would benefit from a journalist like The Guardian's David Conn.

BBC Scotland's business editor Douglas Fraser had a go this week but, as Iain Hepburn has blogged, the Scottish football media isn't fit for purpose on these issues.

Then, of course, there are the supporters left bemused and befuddled by a crisis that is not of their making. covered this yesterday. The fans have my sympathy. They won't have the sympathy of everyone. I've got some experience of being a fan staring down this particular corridor of uncertainty. It's very unpleasant.

Realistically, I think, Rangers are going nowhere. There might well be a journey into administration, a temporary diminishing of those once great powers.

But if you're hoping that Rangers are about to disappear forever then you're likely to be as disappointed as Martin Bain is when he spills his moisturiser.

Rangers and the ten point deduction

Just for fun. If Rangers were to go into administration they'd automatically lose ten points under the SPL rules on such matters.

So I thought I'd take a hypothetical delve into seasons past and see where a similar deduction would have left the club over the last ten years.

2010/11 - Rangers were champions
Minus ten points Rangers would have finished second, 9 behind Celtic and 20 ahead of Hearts
2009/10 - Champions
2nd, 4 behind Celtic and 14 ahead of Dundee United
2008/09 - Champions
2nd, 6 behind Celtic and 15 ahead of Hearts
2007/08 - Runners-up
2nd, 13 behind Celtic and 16 ahead of Hearts
2006/07 - Runners-up
3rd, 22 points behind Celtic, 3 behind Aberdeen and 1 point ahead of Hearts
2005/06 - Third
3rd, 28 points behind Celtic, 11 behind Hearts and 7 points ahead of Hibs
2004/05 - Champions
2nd, 9 behind Celtic and 22 ahead of Hibs
2003/04 - Runners-up
2nd, 27 points behind Celtic and 3 ahead of Hearts
2002/03 - Champions
2nd, 10 points behind Celtic and 24 ahead of Hearts
2001/02 - Runners-up
2nd, 32 points behind Celtic and 17 ahead of Livingston

If we go back to 1999/00 a ten point deduction would still have seen Rangers win the SPL by 11 points.

This is overly simplistic. Depending on what was involved in any administration it could cause far deeper problems than simply the loss of ten points and involve a far greater weakening of Rangers' strength.

But history shows they've a long way to fall before they crash land amidst the chasing pack.

There is also an argument that in seasons past Rangers have enjoyed a false supremacy by spending money they just didn't have. That they cheated.

I'm not without sympathy for that line of reasoning. But if modern football was to make living beyond your means a hanging offence we'd need to regenerate Albert Pierrepoint to deal with the guilty.