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.


  1. As a Celtic fan I despise how a loyal fan of a club can take money from the 'Club They Love' as they feel hard done by Mr Bain get a grip you were part of the problem and thus had to go as for SPL then TV money is the way get a channel to solely subscribe to show SPL games and no other and sell as a setanta or so forth with 40% being pumped back into scottish football as a whole also stop the press with their anti football shit we are all sick of it be it at cfc or ibrox...

  2. I'll show the same compassion the h*ns did in 1994, this we need an old fi#m stuff is laughable.
    If they go bust, Scotland will be a better place, they can all go and support teams where they come from.

  3. doesnt nearly everyone spend what they havnt got thats why theres so many people up to their eyes in debt maybe even the blogger himself and like to say its nice and refreshing to see a celtic supporter who talks sense 

  4. Thanks for the comment, to an extent I suppose you're right but comfortably managed consumer debt doesn't seem quite comparable here. And, if - and it remains an "if" - HMRC prove their tax case that raises it to another level. But, yes, football finances seem to be worryingly about spending cash that just isn't there.


  5. Hi JFC1888

    On the "better place" argument I imagine a whopping majority of those fans would be lost to the game.

    Scottish football is financially stricken and a glance at the attendances of the non-Old Firm clubs would suggest that they can ill afford to lose Rangers.

    Celtic too would feel the pinch, at least in the short term (before a still unlikely move to England or any firming up of European league ideas) because sport needs rivalry, it's an essential part of the narrative that drives it as a marketable product.

    The TV market is increasingly brutal. We have struggled before when we have the montony of a two-horse race to sell, how much harder it would become with a one horse race.

    I can't comment on 1994 but I wouldn't be so quick to generalise. From my own experience those Hearts fans and players who spoke out when Wallace Mercer threatened Hibs will forever have a grudging respect. Admittedly those who stood back and laughed will forever be maligned. The point is it wasn't all of them.

    Thanks for the comment

  6. Hi Stubhoy123 and thanks for the comment,

    We see it so many times, the fan turned director turned architect of the club's downfall. There might be a difference with Bain in that he didn't put his own cash into the club. Maybe that makes this even worse.

    Certainly his apparent switch to innocent victim sticks in the craw.

    As for the TV money: While I take your point I just can't see us making it work with any level of success. I think figures from last season pointed to an average audience of 160,000 or thereabouts across the 60 live games. That doesn't strike me as workable. I've written about this before:

    I suppose the best thing for Rangers and Celtic would be to sell their own rights. But how that could be made to work while ensuring the uneven playing field didn't become ever more skewed would, I fear, be beyond the current SPL regime.

    Cheers again for getting in touch,

  7. If you had worked for your cash and bonuses would you not expect to receive it.The man with one name walked away with £500,000 tax paid.

  8. Hi Murray

    I suppose you would. But if through either your incompetence or your willing complicity in bad decisions a new owner had inherited an almighty mess you might expect that owner to be less than keen to retain your services or pay you handsomely to get rid of you.

    Seems a modern scourge that the well renumerated expect still to be rewarded for their incompetence.

    Now, of course, that might not be the case with Mr Bain, he might be as much as a victim in all of this as anyone. But the "he caused a lot of this mess" argument is surely the counter-allegation he'll face if and when he meets Rangers and Mr Whyte in court.

    It could be that this is all Craig Whyte's doing and another example of his cack-handedness since taking over. I suppose we'll find out soon enough. Or not, if a settlement is reached early with confidentiality agreements signed.

    Thanks for the comment,

  9. 'they can all go and support teams where they come from' - is that not a bit like the celtc diaspora??!!! Sometimes it's best to think before you press the send button, my friend!!!

  10. Although Bain was party to the overspending years, he was answering to Murray, if you remember Alister Johnston warned the Rangers' support that Whyte was maybe not the right man to take Rangers forward, did any of them listen? no, they thought he was the dogs doodahs, well it's plainly clear Craig Whyte is looking after Craig Whyte, as for Rangers, looks like administration, sale of all their assets on and off the park and probable relative oblivion for the foreseeable future. All that for £1, jeezo!

  11. In this whole sorry saga that has been sfa/rfc ltd. One question only, give that for ten years rankers refused to pay taxes to Her MAJESTY'S r&c, when the case goes against them, should the SP titles not be stripped from castle gerskull, and be distributed to whichever teams finished second in the years concerned.