Thoughts and observations from watching and reading a transcript of Alex Thomson of Channel 4’s Interview with Stewart Regan (CEO of the SFA) Broadcast by Channel 4 on 29 March 2012.
Introduction. I came across the above interview recently and listened to and transcribed it again as it reminded me of questions it raised then that the passage of time since has provided some insight into.
There is a lot to digest so the blog is broken into four sections. Three parts cover the Interview plus what they seem to tell us now, knowing what was not known then viz:
There is also an Annex at the end with excerpts from the Lord Nimmo Smith Decision for ease of reference:
The comments (in bold italics) are based on what Regan said then and what we ken noo, either as facts or questions arising from them. It is a long read but hopefully readers will be enticed by this introduction to stay the course.
In the following “SR” is Stewart Regan CEO of the SFA and “AT” is Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News.
No Independent Enquiry?
AT I’m just curious as to why they wouldn’t. With something as big as this potentially this is the biggest corruption scandal in British sport, which is – a thought – and yet the SPL deem themselves fit to investigate themselves.
SR Well I think you are calling it potentially the biggest corruption case, at this stage there has been no wrongdoing proven. There is an investigation going on
AT But you would accept that potentially, potentially that if guilty there is no question this is the biggest corruption scandal in British sport.
SR There is no wrongdoing as I said at the moment and there is nothing yet that has been established as far as the club registering players without providing the appropriate documentation, so I think it would be wrong to jump to conclusions and even use words like corruption. You know there are a series of issues here. There are some footballing matters which are being dealt through the football authorities and there are tax mattes which are being dealt with through HMRC and there is to be a Tax Tribunal due to be heard as I’m sure you are aware in April.
So even before the investigation got underway Mr Regan was saying that it would be incorrect to assume that any wrong doing took place in terms of the registration process and use of ebts. He later expands on this point in relation to EBTs as a legitimate tax arrangement device. Given that the FTT did not rule until November 2012 that the ebts issued under the Murray Management Group Remuneration Trust (MMGRT) were legal then this stance by Mr Regan appears justifiable at the time of interview – but more on that later.
AT I’m just wondering why at no stage anybody seemed, or perhaps they did, to think we need an independent body coming in this is big this is huge, potentially we need somebody from the outside or we are going simply going to be accused of investigating ourselves.
SR Well I think that might be one for you to ask the Scottish Premier League as far as their Board..
AT Well they appeal to you so I’m asking you.
SR No as you said we are the right of appeal so if the club is concerned with any punishment it has been given well then they can choose to appeal to us. We as a body have the provision in our rules to carry out independent enquiries, indeed we did so very recently by appointing the Right Honourable Lord Nimmo Smith to carry out our own investigation into Rangers and we are part way through disciplinary proceedings and they will be heard on 29 March.
Given that player registrations are ultimately lodged with the SFA where Sandy Bryson has been doing the job for some years, I did wonder why the SFA were not the body taking the lead. They had the expertise on what turned out to be a key issue, the eligibility of players if misregistration occurred. Indeed Sandy Bryson was called in to give a testimony to Lord Nimmo Smith that most folk involved in running a football team from amateur level upwards (as I was) had difficulty accepting. The Bryson interpretation suggested us amateurs had been daft not to take the risk of being found out if we did not register players correctly if only games from the point of discovery risked having results overturned. The Bryson interpretation on eligibility made no sense against that experience and it still does not to football lovers. I’m not sure if the rules have been amended to reflect the Bryson interpretation yet, but cannot see how they can be without removing a major deterrent that I always thought proper registration was there to provide.
The point about their having to be a body of higher appeal sounded plausible then, but could the Court of Arbitration on Sport not have been that body? Or did that risk taking matters out of the SFA’s control even though it would have introduced an element of the independence that Alex Thomson raises in the following paragraphs in his interview?
AT But did anybody at any stage at the SFA say to you I have a concern that we need an independent body, that the SPL can’t and shouldn’t handle this?
SR Well under the governance of football the SPL run the competition
AT I’m not asking, I’m saying did anybody come to you at any stage and say that to you. Anybody?
SR No they didn’t as far as the SPL’s processes is concerned. The SPL ,
It is notable here that Alex Thomson pushes the point about lack of independence, which is where we enter “wit we ken noo territory”.
Given that it is now known that SFA President Campbell Ogilvie sat on the Rangers FC Remunerations Policy Committee in September 1999 where it was decided Discount Option Scheme (DOS) ebts would be used as a matter of club remuneration policy using the Rangers Employee Benefit Trust (REBT).
Given that we know that Campbell Ogilvie instigated the first ebt payment to Craig Moore using the Discount Options Scheme.
Given that Ronald De Boer and Tor Andre Flo had both been paid using the same type of DOS ebt as Moore from 2000 to 2002/03 but accompanied by side letters, later concealed from HMRC in 2005 and of course the SFA from August 2000.
Given that Mr Ogilvie was also in receipt of the later MMGRT ebts disputed by HMRC in the big tax case on which the FTT had still to rule
Given that Mr Regan must have been aware at time of interview that Sherriff Officers had called at Ibrox in August 2011 to collect payment of a tax bill, which means even to a layman that it must have gone past dispute to acceptance of liability and so crystallised sometime after 31st March 2011.
Given that Craig Whyte had already agreed to pay the wee tax bill in his public Takeover statement in early June 2011.
Given that on 7th December 2011 Regan had written to Andrew Dickson at RFC, who had sat on three of the four SFA/UEFA Licensing Committee meetings in 2011, to approve a draft statement by Mr Regan on the SFA’s handling of the UEFA Licence aspect of the wee tax case, which arose as a direct result of the use of the DOS ebts to Flo and De Boer during Dickson’s ongoing tenure at RFC from 1991.
Given that Campbell Ogilvie accompanied Stewart Regan to meet Craig Whyte at the Hotel De Vin on 15th December 2011 as a result of an invite stemming from that consternation causing draft that RFC thought likely to cause problems for the SFA (having agreed before the hotel meeting that no comment should be made on the wee tax case)
Given that the wee tax case was a direct result of those early types of DOS ebts being judged illegal by an FTT considering an appeal by the Aberdeen Asset Management company in 2010.
Given all of these facts, how credible is it that no conversation took place between Regan and Campbell Ogilvie on the requirement for an independent enquiry?
If a conversation did not take place as claimed, the question has to be should it have?
Given the foregoing facts on the early ebts, how credible is it Mr Regan during this interview did not know as a result of his involvement with the overdue payable and the UEFA licence in 2011 of the illegal and therefore wrong doing nature of those early EBTS with side letters concealed from the SFA and HMRC in 2005 just before Mr Ogilvie left RFC?
SR The SPL run, the SPL run the rules of The Scottish Premier League and they apply that. There are a whole host of people raising issues on internet sites and passing comment s about various theories that they have about Scottish football particularly in the West of Scotland. I think it’s important to establish that governance of Scottish football is managed by the appropriate body whether it is the Premier League, The Football League or the overall governing body. So that as far as we are concerned we let the Scottish Premier league manage their own rules and if those rules are then broken and the club is charged they have the right of appeal to us as the Appellant body.
Given all of the now known facts listed above how credible is it that the reason given by Stewart Regan to Alex Thomson for the SFA being the appeal body was indeed the only one?
Given the foregoing how credible is it that Mr Regan was not aware that he was being economical with the truth during his interview or had he indeed been kept in the dark by others in the SFA?
Fit and Proper Person and Absence of Governance
AT Let’s talk about Craig Whyte. Ehm – Presumably when Craig Whyte was mooted as coming in as the new owner – for the grand sum of £1 – for Rangers Football club, presumably the SFA took a keen interest in this and did some kind of due diligence on this man.
SR Well we have under our articles, Article 10.2, we have a process which sets out a number of criteria for what defines a fit and proper person within football. Now as you know we cannot stop people getting involved with a business and we cannot stop people getting involved with a PLC, all we can stop them doing is having an involvement with football, so what we do as part of that process is we ask for a declaration from the Directors of the club that they have a copy of the Articles,, that they have gone through the conditions and criteria within Article 10.2 and they have confirmed to us that they meet those criteria. If subsequently those criteria are breached then of course we take appropriate action.
AT You keep quoting rules back to me that’s not what I’m asking, I’m asking is did the SFA conduct any due diligence on this individual.
SR No we asked for a self-declaration from the Directors of the club and the individual himself.
AT Forgive me that sounds absolutely incredible this is the biggest club in Scotland which has been brought to its knees by a whole range of fiscal mismanagement, it is all on the record and proven. A new man comes in claiming all kinds of things, just like the previous man, and the SFA did not check or do any due diligence whatsoever.
SR That is part of the process of governing football, we
AT That’s, that’s NOT governing football that’s the exact opposite to governing football that’s running away from governing football.
SR No if you let me, if you let me finish my answer the point I am about to make is we govern the entire game from the top of the game down to grass roots. We have changes of Directors we have changes of ownership throughout the course of the year. I’m sure that if we were to spend football’s well earned money on doing investigations into potentially every change of Director, then there would be a lot of unhappy Chairmen out there.
AT You could have easily have googled (?) for free
SR Well we rely on the clubs telling us that the Articles have been complied with and that is the process we undertake.
AT This is extraordinary I say to you again you have years of fiscal mismanagement at Rangers Football Club, a new man comes in you are telling me that nobody at The SFA as much as got on to Google to get any background information nobody did anything ? That is extraordinary.
SR Well you refer to alleged years of financial mismanagement. I think it’s important to separate out the previous regime at Rangers and the new owner.
AT Rangers were a mess financially everybody new that
SR But I think it’s important in the case of the point you are raising regarding the fit and proper person test, to separate out the previous regime from the new owner. The club was in the process of being sold, they were challenging a tax bill that had been challenged by HMRC,* and the club had been sold to a new owner. That new owner had come in, he had purchased the club, the paper work for that sale had gone through and the club had complied with our Articles of Association. We run football we don’t, we are not the police we don’t govern transactions, we don’t govern fitness, we run football and we had asked the club to declare whether or not that person was fit to hold a place in association football. They had gone through the articles they’d signed to say that they had read those articles and that there had been no breaches of any of the points set out there. That included whether a Director had been disqualified. That wasn’t disclosed to us, indeed it did not come out until the BBC did their investigation back in October of last year.
(* note that in spite of all the “givens” listed earlier, Mr Regan fails to distinguish (or appreciate) that there is more than one tax bill at play and the one for the wee tax case was not under challenge or Sherriff Officers would not have called in August 2011 to collect it.)
AT So the BBC did due diligence on fitness (??) not the SFA?
SR No, as I said it came out in October 2010 primarily as a result of a detailed investigation. We then have to respond to potential breaches of our articles and we did that We entered into dialogue with the solicitor who was acting for Mr Whyte and we were in dialogue until February 2011 (?sic) of this year when the club entered administration.
AT What I’m simply asking you to admit here is that the SFA failed and it failed Rangers in its hour of need over Craig Whyte and it failed Scottish football.
SR We didn’t fail.
AT You didn’t do anything, you said you didn’t do anything.
SR We complied with the current processes within our articles. That said I think there are a number of learnings and I think the same goes for football right across the globe. People are coming into football into a multimillion pound business and I think football needs to take a harder look at what could be done differently. We are currently exploring the possibility of carrying out due diligence using the outgoing regime to make sure that there is a full and rigorous research being done before the transaction is allowed to go ahead.
AT Do you feel the need to apologise to Rangers fans?
SR I don’t need to apologise because we complied with our articles. I don’t feel there is a need to apologise whatsoever. I think….
AT You need some new articles then don’t you?
SR Well I think the articles
AT Well let’s unpack this. You said there is no need to apologise because we followed the rule books so that’s all right. So you must therefore admit you need a new rule book.
SR No well I think it’s easy at times to try and look around and find a scapegoat and try and point fingers at where blame is to be apportioned. I think perhaps it might be worth looking at the previous regime who for four years when they said they were selling the club, said that they would sell it and act in the best interests of the club. With that in mind I think the previous regime also have to take some responsibility for selling that club and looking after so called shareholders of Rangers football club and those people who that have put money into the club over the years.
AT ?? (Interrupted)
SR the Scottish FA, as I said have a process, that process has been place for some time. It has worked very very well until now I think there are learnings undoubtably and as I said we will review where we can tighten up as I know is happening across the game right now.
The above segment on Craig Whyte and Fit and Proper Persons is a timely reminder to supporters of all clubs, but particularly of Rangers FC of what happens when those charged with governing Scottish football hide behind the letter of the rules when convenient, rather than apply the true spirit in which those rules were written. It is the approach of The Pharisees to make a wrong , right.
To be fair to the SFA though, I doubt anyone could have imagined the degree of deceit and deception that they had allowed into Scottish football in May 2011 and how useless their rules were as a result, but I am not aware to this day if the SFA have apologised to Scottish football generally and Rangers supporters in particular, not only for failing to protect them from Craig Whyte, but also failing to protect them from the consequences of the foolish financial excesses of Sir David Murray, especially from 2008 when the tax bills in respect of the MMGRT ebts began to arrive at RFC . Some intervention then, assuming something was known by some at the SFA, who also held positions at Rangers, of those huge tax demands, might have cost Rangers three titles from 2009, but what Ranger’s supporter would not give all of that up to protect their club from the fate that the failure of the SFA to govern has caused?
Also to be fair the SFA have changed the rules so that the outgoing regime is responsible for doing due diligence on any new club owners rather than relying on self-certification by the incoming club owner, but we know that did not work particularly well when Rangers Chairman Alistair Johnstone did due diligence on Craig Whyte , but then again Sir David Murray was under pressure to sell and the guy coming in, everyone was told, had wealth off the radar.
The Nature of EBTS.
AT Let’s look at EBTs. Did nobody question ebts in the Scottish game in the English game come to that simply because nobody thought they were illegal in any way and indeed are not illegal in any way if operated correctly? Is it as simple as that?
SR There is nothing wrong with ebts when used correctly and ebts are a way of providing benefits to employees and if managed in a correct manner are perfectly legitimate. I think that the issue that we know is under investigation at the moment by both HMRC as part of the large tax case and the SPL as part of their own investigation into potential no disclosure of side letters is whether or not there has been any wrong doing and I think the issue at hand is that wrongdoing or potential wrongdoing has been discussed with HMRC for some time for several years in fact so we would not get involved in anything that there is no wrongdoing taking place and ebts are, as I said, a legitimate way of doing business when used correctly.
Again taking the “givens” into account, particularly the significant event of Sherriff Officers calling to collect unpaid tax in August 2011 and the logical deduction that the SFA President must have known of the difference between the two types of ebts Rangers used, (and perhaps why they were changed) why the insistence at this point that all the ebts used by Rangers had been used correctly? Mr Regan at the time of the interview was either kept in the dark by his President, given he claims to have spoken to no one about the independence of the enquiry, or being economical with the truth.
The whole of Lord Nimmo Smith’s judgement made months after this interview, where Mr Regan stressed again and again there is no wrongdoing in the use of ebts if arranged correctly (or lawfully) is predicated on all ebts with side letters used by Rangers since 23 November 2011 actually being used correctly and in Lord Nimmo Smiths words on being “themselves not irregular”. (Para 5 of Annex 1). It is almost as if Mr Regan knew the outcome before Lord Nimmo Smith.
(In fact the ebt to Tor Andre Flo had a side letter dated 23 November and it related to a tax arrangement that had not been used correctly (using Regan’s own words) The irregular ebt for Ronald De Boer with a side letter of 30 August was placed beyond the scope of the Commission because in spite of it meeting the criteria specified by Harper MacLeod in March 2012 asking to be provided with ALL ebts and side letters and any other related documentation from July 1998 to date (including the HMRC letter of Feb 2011 that fully demonstrated that those particular ebts under the Rangers Employee Benefit Trust (REBT) were not used correctly) and so were unlawful, NONE of that documentation was provided when requested.
This enabled Lord Nimmo Smith to state in para 107 of his Decision “while there is no question of dishonesty, individual or corporate” which is a statement he could not have made had he had all the requested documentation denied to him either by dishonesty or negligence during the preparation of his Commission.
How would he have had to judge one wonders if deception and dishonesty was indeed the factor we now ken that it is?
What exactly were the consequences of the failure to provide Lord Nimmo Smith with the required documentation?
It is stated in the Decision (Annex 1 para 104) that the Inquiry proceeded on the basis that the EBT arrangements (by which it meant the MGMRT ebts) were “lawful”. As it transpired the outcome of the FTT decision announced in November 2012 was that the MGMRT ebts indeed were (although this is still under appeal by HMRC.)
However, because Lord Nimmo Smith treated the MGMRT and the Earlier Trust (REBT) as one and the same, (para 35 of Decision) this meant that the Inquiry failed to distinguish between the two trusts and necessarily treated the Earlier Trust as also being lawful (without however having properly investigated its operation). However, the MGMRT and the earlier REBT were two separate trusts and there was no necessary reason to treat them as one and the same. Had evidence relating to the REBT been produced and examined, the Inquiry could hardly have treated them) as “continuous” or allowed Lord Nimmo Smith to say “we are not aware that they were different trusts“(Annex 1 para 35)
From the Decision (Annex 1 para 40), it would appear that the President of the SFA gave evidence only as to his knowledge of the MGMRT (not the REBT). We know now that the President of the SFA had knowledge of the Earlier Trust (sitting on the RFC remuneration policy committee that agreed to their use in 1999 and indeed was active in its setting up). Why the President failed to volunteer such crucial information is surely something he should now be asked?
By the time of the Inquiry, Rangers FC had already conceded liability in what has become known as “the Wee Tax Case” (which related to the now unlawful REBTs). Having regard to the wording at para 104 of the Decision (that is an echo of what Regan stressed to Alex Thomson about ebts) where it is said that to arrange financial affairs in a manner “within the law” is not a breach of the SFA/SPL Rules) the clear implication, must be that to arrange financial affairs in such a way that they are not lawful, must be a breach of the rules.
Given the admission of liability in the Wee Tax Case, payments made in respect of the REBT could not be “lawful” (to employ the language used in the Decision) or disputed, but Mr Regan presumably did not enquire too much into the history of the wee tax case before agreeing to talk to Alex Thomson.
It will be obvious from the above that the unlawful nature of REBTs had been masked from SPL lawyers and Lord Nimmo Smith as a result of:-
(a) the failure by the Administrators of Rangers FC to provide the documentation required of them;
(b) the failure of the President of the SFA to provide to the Inquiry his own knowledge of, involvement in, and presumably as a result of it, an appreciation of the differences between the two types of ebts and the consequences thereof for the investigation.
Had the REBT been the sole subject of the Inquiry (rather than in effect not being examined at all) the following must have been different:-
(i) the President could hardly have failed to give testimony of his knowledge and involvement;
(ii) the Inquiry could not have held that the use of the REBT ebts was lawful;
(iv) the “no sporting advantage” decision given in respect of the lawful ebts could not have been applied to unlawful ebts.
The real issue in the case of the unlawful ebts was not one of misregistration (Annex 1 para 104) which in turn justified the no sporting advantage decision in paras 105/106 but of paying players by an unlawful means which “constitutes such a fundamental defect (Annex 1 para 88) that the registration of players paid this way (i.e. unlawfully) must be treated as having been invalid from the outset. “
Had the true nature of these early ebts been known to SPL lawyers the Terms of Reference of the Investigation would have to have addressed the wrong doing that Mr Regan was so keen to argue with Alex Thomson had not actually occurred (long before Lord Nimmo Smith agreed with him) or had President Ogilvie made the distinction in his testimony, it would have been impossible for Sandy Bryson’s to advise as he did regarding the effect on eligibility. He would have to have been asked questions about two types of ebts not one. Finally Lord Nimmo Smith could not have treated both as continuous.
Finally, given this incidence of non-disclosure by the Rangers Administrators (an identifiable trait of RFC dealings with authority from August 2000 to date), it is impossible to see how paragraph 107 (wherein it is stated that there is “no question of dishonesty”) can be allowed to remain unchallenged.
Of course the failure to supply the key evidence could just be an oversight given Rangers Administrators were hardly likely to have established of their own volition the importance of the documents to the enquiry and yet, had they been supplied, the enquiry could not have been based on the defence Stewart Regan was at such pains to stress in his interview with Alex Thomson at a time only 3 months after Mr Regan and Campbell Ogilvie had joined Craig Whyte for dinner as a result of an invite prompted by questions on the SFA UEFA Licence handling of the wee tax case , created by the very same unlawful ebts.
AT But as the governing body why did you not say to Rangers “look guys this this smells really bad, this looks bad you look (and you have admitted you have not paid your tax) you know we can’t do this, we have got to be open and above board, it looks bad.
SR Well think you need to look at what is legal and above board. At the time the club, were in dispute with HMRC. There was a tax case ongoing the new owner was in discussion with HMRC. In fact he has made comments and the club have made comments to that effect and because the amount was not crystallised under UEFA guidelines, whilst ever it’s in dispute it’s not classed as overdue.
SR So you need to separate out the licensing requirement, which is what the Licensing Committee did, from the tax that was owed to HMRC which is as we know what is still ongoing.
Mr Regan was not being accurate here. The Big Tax case was in dispute and the bill has not crystallised as a result. However the wee tax case crystallised in mid June 2011 and at 30th June 2011, the UEFA licence checkpoint under Article 66 of UEFA FFP, did not meet the conditions to excuse it as being an overdue payable to HMRC. Quite how the SFA handled the processing of the Article 66 submission from RFC is subject to a resolution asking UEFA to investigate put to the Celtic AGM in November 2013 which is still in progress. As has been mentioned twice before Mr Regan has either been kept in the dark or was being less than honest with Alex Thomson. Interestingly Andrew Dickson who has been at Rangers in various administration and executive capacity since 1991 sat on 3 of the four UEFA Licensing Committee meetings during 2011. He may of course have excused himself from any discussions on this matter as the rules allowed, but was a full explanation why he did so, if indeed he did, offered? Would such an explanation have enlightened Mr Regan of what he was dealing with?
AT Sometimes things can be within the rules but from a PR point of view, indeed from a moral point of view, hate to introduce morality to football but can be the wrong thing to do. You would accept that?
SR Well I think that football around the world is going through a difficult time, clubs are in difficult financial circumstances, not just in Scotland, you look down into England and look at the clubs in Administration at the moment. You know Portsmouth and Port Vale in recent times and I think Plymouth is as well again. As far as that is concerned you know that indicates that clubs are living from hand to mouth and there are deals being done all the time with HMRC, payment plans being agreed. There is huge amounts of debt in football.
AT I’m just inviting you to accept that sometimes things can be within the rules but just look bad because morally, they are bad.
ST I think when taxes aren’t paid ehm VAT in particular, National Insurance Contributions of course that’s bad and I think we accept that and we know that in the current regime there is evidence to suggest that Rangers has not paid its taxes since Mr Whyte took over the club. That’s wrong that is against the spirit of the game and certainly we would look to deal with that and stamp out that type of behaviour which is not acting with integrity.
If Carlsberg did irony!
End of Interview.
The Hard Not to Believe Conclusions
There is always the danger in examining anything of finding what you want to be there rather than what is there and it is a danger any writer has to be aware of, but given the responses from Harper MacLeod on TSFM and the total lack of response from the SPFL and SFA when being informed of the missing evidence along with what has been written here it is hard not to conclude that the Lord Nimmo Smith Inquiry was deliberately set up in such a way as to produce two results
The reader will find it hard not to conclude that either
Given that Harper MacLeod have said they passed on to the SFA in September 2014 the evidence kept from them by Rangers Administrators, has Stewart Regan spoken to either Ogilvie or Dickson since then about keeping him in the dark? Or did he know all along?
Of course these hard to believe conclusions could be discounted as delusional ramblings if either the SFA or SPFL were to say they would investigate the evidence kept from Harper MacLeod. It would also help if only one of the thirteen main stream journalists would look at the hard copy of the concealed documents they were provided with, because until someone who values sporting integrity does, the stench of corruption will hang over Scottish football for years to reek out anytime the Lord Nimmo Smith Commission is used as a justification for anything that it contains.
Annex One – Extracts from Lord Nimmo Smith Decision
 Although the payments in this case were not themselves irregular and were not in
breach of SPL or SFA Rules, the scale and extent of the proven contraventions of the disclosure rules require a substantial penalty to be imposed;
Outline of the Scheme
 As we have said, a controlling interest in Oldco was held by David Murray through the medium of Murray MHL Limited, part of the Murray Group of companies. Murray Group Management Limited (MGM) provided management services to the companies of the Murray Group. By deed dated 20 April 2001 MGM set up the Murray Group Management Remuneration Trust (the MGMRT). (We note that the MGMRT was preceded by the Rangers Employee Benefit Trust, but we are not aware that they were different trusts. We shall treat them as a continuous trust, which we shall refer to throughout as the MGMRT.)
 Mr Ogilvie learnt about the existence of the MGMRT in about 2001 or 2002, because a contribution was made for his benefit. He understood that this was non-contractual. Although as a result he knew about the existence of the MGMRT, he did not know any details of it. He subsequently became aware, while he remained director of Oldco, that contributions were being made to the MGMRT in respect of players. He assumed that these were made in respect of the players’ playing football, which was the primary function for which they were employed and remunerated. He had no involvement in the organisation or management of Oldco’s contributions to the MGMRT, whether for players or otherwise. He said:
“I assumed that all contributions to the Trust were being made legally, and that any relevant football regulations were being complied with. I do not recall contributions to the Trust being discussed in any detail, if at all, at Board meetings. In any event, Board meetings had become less and less frequent by my later years at Rangers.”
He also said: “Nothing to do with the contributions being made to the Trust fell within the scope of my remit at Rangers”.
However it should be noted that Mr Ogilvie was a member of the board of directors who approved the statutory accounts of Oldco which disclosed very substantial payments made under the EBT arrangements.
 In our opinion, this was a correct decision by Mr McKenzie. There is every reason why the rules of the SFA and the SPL relating to registration should be construed and applied consistently with each other. Mr Bryson’s evidence about the position of the SFA in this regard was clear. In our view, the Rules of the SPL, which admit of a construction consistent with those of the SFA, should be given that construction. All parties’ concerned – clubs, players and footballing authorities – should be able to proceed on the faith of an official register. This means that a player’s registration should generally be treated as standing unless and until revoked. There may be extreme cases in which there is such a fundamental defect that the registration of a player must be treated as having been invalid from the outset. But in the kind of situation that we are dealing with here we are satisfied that the registration of the Specified Players with the SPL was valid from the outset, and accordingly that they were eligible to play in official matches. There was therefore no breach of SPL Rule D1.11.
 As we have already explained, in our view the purpose of the Rules applicable to Issues 1 to 3 is to promote the sporting integrity of the game. These rules are not designed as any form of financial regulation of football, analogous to the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations. Thus it is not the purpose of the Rules to regulate how one football club may seek to gain financial and sporting advantage over others. Obviously, a successful club is able to generate more income from gate money, sponsorship, advertising, sale of branded goods and so on, and is consequently able to offer greater financial rewards to its manager and players, in the hope of even more success. Nor is it a breach of SPL or SFA Rules for a club to arrange its affairs – within the law – so as to minimise its tax liabilities. The Tax Tribunal has held (subject to appeal) that Oldco was acting within the law in setting up and operating the EBT scheme. The SPL presented no argument to challenge the decision of the majority of the Tax Tribunal and Mr McKenzie stated expressly that for all purposes of this Commission’s Inquiry and Determination the SPL accepted that decision as it stood, without regard to any possible appeal by HMRC. Accordingly we proceed on the basis that the EBT arrangements were lawful. What we are concerned with is the fact that the side-letters issued to the Specified Players, in the course of the operation of the EBT scheme, were not disclosed to the SPL and the SFA as required by their respective Rules.
 It seems appropriate in the first place to consider whether such breach by non-disclosure conferred any competitive advantage on Rangers FC. Given that we have held that Rangers FC did not breach Rule D1.11 by playing ineligible players, it did not secure any direct competitive advantage in that respect. If the breach of the rules by non-disclosure of the side-letters conferred any competitive advantage, that could only have been an indirect one. Although it is clear to us from Mr Odam’s evidence that Oldco’s failure to disclose the side-letters to the SPL and the SFA was at least partly motivated by a wish not to risk prejudicing the tax advantages of the EBT scheme, we are unable to reach the conclusion that this led to any competitive advantage. There was no evidence before us as to whether any other members of the SPL used similar EBT schemes, or the effect of their doing so. Moreover, we have received no evidence from which we could possibly say that Oldco could not or would not have entered into the EBT arrangements with players if it had been required to comply with the requirement to disclose the arrangements as part of the players’ full financial entitlement or as giving rise to payment to players. It is entirely possible that the EBT arrangements could have been disclosed to the SPL and SFA without prejudicing the argument – accepted by the majority of the Tax Tribunal at paragraph 232 of their decision – that such arrangements, resulting in loans made to the players, did not give rise to payments absolutely or unreservedly held for or to the order of the individual players. On that basis, the EBT arrangements could have been disclosed as contractual arrangements giving rise to a facility for the player to receive loans, and there would have been no breach of the disclosure rules.
 We therefore proceed on the basis that the breach of the rules relating to disclosure did not give rise to any sporting advantage, direct or indirect. We do not therefore propose to consider those sanctions which are of a sporting nature.
 We nevertheless take a serious view of a breach of rules intended to promote sporting integrity. Greater financial transparency serves to prevent financial irregularities. There is insufficient evidence before us to enable us to draw any conclusion as to exactly how the senior management of Oldco came to the conclusion that the EBT arrangements did not require to be disclosed to the SPL or the SFA. In our view, the apparent assumption both that the side-letter arrangements were entirely discretionary, and that they did not form part of any player’s contractual entitlement, was seriously misconceived. Over the years, the EBT payments disclosed in Oldco’s accounts were very substantial; at their height, during the year to 30 June 2006, they amounted to more than £9 million, against £16.7 million being that year’s figure for wages and salaries. There is no evidence that the Board of Directors of Oldco took any steps to obtain proper external legal or accountancy advice to the Board as to the risks inherent in agreeing to pay players through the EBT arrangements without disclosure to the football authorities. The directors of Oldco must bear a heavy responsibility for this. While there is no question of dishonesty, individual or corporate, we nevertheless take the view that the nondisclosure must be regarded as deliberate, in the sense that a decision was taken that the side letters need not be or should not be disclosed. No steps were taken to check, even on a hypothetical basis, the validity of that assumption with the SPL or the SFA. The evidence of Mr Odam (cited at paragraph  above) clearly indicates a view amongst the management of Oldco that it might have been detrimental to the desired tax treatment of the payments being made by Oldco to have disclosed the existence of the side-letters to the football authorities.