LNS – A Summary


cropped-sfmSquare.pngLNS is currently back in the headlines. It might therefore be a good time to try to set out a timeline describing correspondence we had with the representatives of the authorities over discrepancies and anomalies that appeared to have arisen. None of this is necessarily predicated upon the recent findings of the CoS in the Big Tax Case, but stands on its own.

Back in February 2014 The Scottish Football Monitor wrote to Harper MacLeod, the law firm that the SPL had engaged to gather evidence for the Lord Nimmo Smith (LNS) Commission investigating the full and proper registration of players paid by Rangers Football Club under Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) arrangements.

The initial set-up of the LNS Commission on 5th March 2012 by the SPL (View File) charged LNS with a look at EBTs from 1st July 1998 (when the SPL came into being).

In practice though, the Commission only looked at EBTs from 23 November 2000 onwards.

This change of date was based on the earliest side letter supplied by Duff and Phelps, although Harper MacLeod had requested ALL documentation from 1998 to March 2012 relating to ALL EBTs.

This prompted a series of letters to Harper MacLeod from The Scottish Football Monitor, although Harper MacLeod’s replies failed to address the issues raised.

The passage of time blurs memories but this archive is designed to remind readers of those blogs and correspondence, and the key points contained in them.

It also highlights the apparent inability or unwillingness on the part of the SPL and SFA to engage with us in any meaningful way.

NB: The SFA were informed of our correspondence by Harper MacLeod in October 2014.

It is extremely difficult to be concise in this situation. There are various strands of argument and details seemingly small, but vitally important – however the following is an attempt to make the material accessible and provides links to the relevant files in chronological order (links are in green).


  • Item 1: The first SFM letter of 19th February 2014 to Harper MacLeod
  • Item 2The Annexes containing the documents apparently not supplied to Harper Macleod in the spring of 2012 along with other pertinent information about the testimony given to LNS during the Commission.
  • Item 3The SFM response of 29 March 2014 to Harper MacLeod’s reply to the first letter.
  • Item 3.1: An SFM analysis of Harper MacLeod’s initial reply attached to response at 3.
  • Item 4: An SFM blog of 5th September pointing out how the documents not supplied had a direct impact on the advice given to the SPL Board to accept The Decision of The LNS Commission.
  • Item 5: The last letter of 4th October 2014 to Harper MacLeod answering points raised by them (see next) and thanking them for passing our correspondence to the SFA Compliance Officer who has so far deigned not to reply.
  • Item 5.1Harper MacLeod’s actual response to SFM 5th September letter.
  • Item 6: An SFM Blog (Inc. a transcript of an interview between Alex Thomson and Stewart Regan).
  • Item 6.1: Truncated version of above blog.
  • Item 7: A clearer extract of key document from Item 2 Annexes


Having no locus to demand answers from the SPL or the SFA, all we can do is provide information – information that we believe presents a prima facie case that LNS was deeply flawed even before the latest developments in the Tax Case came to light. The challenge for us is this: what can we do about it?

It is clear from the meagre response we have received that the authorities are unwilling to engage with us, so it is fair to assume that further correspondence will be met with the same lack of response.

Are we merely a bunch of obsessed nut-jobs with our own take on the Flat Earth conspiracy? If that is the case, surely a few words of explanation to dispel our doubts would have had traction with the rest of the football public. Indeed the lack of any reply undoubtedly serves as confirmation of our belief that something may be seriously wrong.

The questions have been posed. The SFA appears to think that not answering them is a wise course of action. Given that anecdotal evidence presents a compelling case that the general football public are widely in agreement with us, are there any journalists out there who will take the time to look at what we have observed and what we seek clarification on?

There are undoubtedly inferences to be drawn from the evidence we have, and from the silence of the authorities.

The statement by Celtic on Friday 13th November is certainly a start in the process we wish to begin, but it only mentions the elephant in the room. It gives no clue about how it could be transported to another place.

In the first instance we at SFM seek only explanations, and despite the inferences mentioned earlier, we are still eager to be satisfied that rules were followed and justice done.

Is there really  nobody in the MSM who has the courage to seek the answers we seek? I suspect not. What we do in the absence of that courage is important. We are at a crossroads. Either we give up on the game altogether and spend our Saturdays and Sundays doing other things – or we find a way to get these questions out of blog pages and into the mainstream.

We need an alliance of fans of all clubs to do that, and we will be looking to build that alliance. I would urge fans of all clubs to give this material to fan sites of their own clubs.

These are not just words. There can be no movement on this issue unless our reach is extended. SFM alone does not have the clout required to bring the clubs to the table or the MSM to fair and balanced reporting. We need that alliance of fans desperately. We don’t seek leadership of that alliance – but we are happy to provide it if required.

This is not a campaign to have Rangers punished. I understand that Rangers fans (since their club is in the middle of this mess) are reluctant to see us as anything other than a bunch of Rangers haters.

That is unequivocally not the case from the perspective of the moderators of this blog. SFM is committed to justice, and to the integrity of the sport we all love.

Justice is ON THE SIDE of Rangers and their fans – it does not conspire against them. A growing number of Rangers fans are coming round to our way of thinking and our tone must reflect that. This is not a Celtic or  Hearts or Aberdeen or anybody else v Rangers issue. This is a fans v corrupt authorities issue.

We all deserve answers, and hopefully our alliance will compel each individual club to act in the interests of the fans .






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About Trisidium

Trisidium is a Dunblane businessman with a keen interest in Scottish Football. He is a Celtic fan, although the demands of modern-day parenting have seen him less at games and more as a taxi service for his kids.

2,349 thoughts on “LNS – A Summary

  1. neepheid 17th December 2015 at 7:46 pm #… Reputation is everything for a barrister. Being represented as a bumbling fool by your client is about as bad as it gets. I expect Murray to issue a retraction very soon.
    Absolutely nh !
    And by issuing that public quote, Murray has shirley flagged up a vote of no-confidence for this ‘error-prone’ QC, so RIFC/TRFC cannot instruct him ever again.

    Which leaves the unfortunate QC to demand a public retraction and apology ?
    Or will the QC add another meeting to the ‘Rangers’ fixture list this season – in court that is – and demand damages ?

    I’ll go for a grovelling ‘clarification’ from Murray in due course…  

  2. Murray stating 5m is in the bank pending legals.  So, obviously (one would have thought), what legals?

    1/  Return of 25% RR shares.  SD/MA retain majority voting rights over matters financial. 
    2/  Return of securities over MP and car park
    3/  Confess I don’t quite understand the IP thing – they have a security over the IP which would be handed back, but separately, they have a 7 year and counting exclusivity agreement to use it regardless of the owner or any security holder.  I think!

    Ok so far.  But I wonder do Paul’s legals also include

    4/  Agreement to drop all outstanding court cases between SD and, including, crucially, the SFA.

    I suspect, assuming they have the money which it goes without saying INcludes the 2.5m they needed for operations i.e. they will be desperate for the CIC money next month to meet them again you would think.  This is where the repayment problem lies.  Mike will not accept that 4th condition unless its on his terms.     

  3. tony 17th December 2015 at 5:42 pm #paul murray has said on sky that they have the whole £5 million(again)lawyers have it to deposit lol
    Ah yes….the money is with the solicitors….makes a change from the old “cheques in the post” line and doubtless we’ll be hearing before too long that the BACS payment is “on its way”…..

  4. So has everyone sent that nice QC a link to Murray’s comment? (Is that slander or libel, btw?)

  5. parttimearab
    now paul murray is saying QC made a mistake lol,this stuff should be a tv series,what a scenario RIFC’s QC suing them for damages 01

  6. I have detected a distinct note of scepticism, bordering on the cynical, being attached to the public pronouncements of Paul Murray, acting in his (whatever) official capacity, of TRFC.
    May I remind members of this glorious blog that the aforementioned Mr Murray is a CA and a member of that illustrious body ICAS.
    I beg that he be accorded the respect that both his official and personal capacity demand.
    Oops…here comes another letter from the Institute….

  7. New  version of the £30,000,000 warchest ‘if we need players” 
    it would be ironic if they went up this season and did a yo yo back to the lower leagues for lack of players warchests debt and everything else…

  8. So I sincerely hope that Hibs fans realise they are being taken for mugs here.  Their club is being linked to Sevco as a big/top club in a pathetic attempt to distract us from the real agenda that is 100% driven by ensuring Sevco are in the top flight next season.  Make no mistake, if Hibs were in the Championship without Sevco (or even like last season with their neighbours, but still without Sevco), nobody would give a monkey’s about the top clubs being in the top division, with the usual exception of course.
    Archie Knox gives the game away in the Evening Times by going one step further.  He pretends he wants Sevco AND Hibs promoted because he thinks it is essential both are in the Premier League, but note how Archie insists Sevco come up as champions and Hibs via the playoffs.
    And Matthew Lindsay is a riot in the same article. Sevco narrowly failed to win promotion apparently, losing only 6-1 in the playoffs.  My club have been (rightly) slated for some execrable European performances, but we missed out on the Champions League group stages on the back of a 4-3 aggregate defeat.

  9. Jingso.Jimsie 17th December 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Had things to do so didn’t hear off the Sportsound bit with McMurdo senior but what I did get was all interesting stuff.

    However like Mitchell coming out in the open you have to wonder – why now with all the contributions and speaking out?

    Lets get these folks and others (EBT Souness,  for example)  in front of a Scottish Football Truth and Reconciliation panel and just spill the beans on everyone and sort this mess out once and for all.

    Then maybe we could all move on!!

  10. Like many on here, I was sitting here thinking (no i’m not Charlie Nicholas) about the continual claims of ‘certainty’ from the blue side amongst others that ‘title stripping won’t happen’, that there is no appetite for it and good old Sandy Bryson’s claim that the registrations were valid at the time and there is no mechanism for retrospective action. Add this to the current situation where DK is looking to be pals again with chairmen, reconstruction is suddenly on the agenda due to a strong Hibs challenge and clearly there’s something afoot.

    Could it be a simple as this….Rangers did register their players correctly, in other words when contracts were being approved someone at the top, yes you CO, was shown the side-letters and thereby was in a position to approve the registration because he had seen the complete remuneration package?

    If this was the case you can imagine that HMRC would be rather annoyed, to put it mildly, with the SFA for being complicit in a tax evasion scheme and of course the SFA would be petrified that this news could come out hence the determination from nearly all sides to ‘move on’?

    This would explain an awful lot….literally!

  11. Bryce Curdy 17th December 2015 at 9:24 pm #So I sincerely hope that Hibs fans realise they are being taken for mugs here. Their club is being linked to Sevco as a big/top club in a pathetic attempt to distract us from the real agenda that is 100% driven by ensuring Sevco are in the top flight next season. Make no mistake, if Hibs were in the Championship without Sevco (or even like last season with their neighbours, but still without Sevco), nobody would give a monkey’s about the top clubs being in the top division, with the usual exception of course……….
    I can’t speak for all Hibs fans, but I think it’s clear to all that Hibs are being used to diguise otherwise naked ‘fear and favour’ that should be anathema to those who have most influence on the game in Scotland.  As Hibs faced the play-offs last season, it was clear to me that they were not ready for promotion and, to be honest their journey through the Championship so far this season has been good for them – they are where they deserved to be – and I look forward to them gaining promotion on merit.  No way do I want to see them elevated through jiggery-pokery, even if it means another year in the Championship!  

  12. Stripping of Titles is unnecessary !
    All this chat of taking away trophies doesn’t cut it for me. It’s irrelevant, they belong to another era when a different Club either fairly or otherwise, won them on the field of play. The numbers cannot be added to, improved upon or enhanced in any way. Altering the stats is futile, they belonged to the Rangers FC I knew but never loved. In exactly the same way that Airdrieonians won the Scottish Cup in 1924 or Clydebank triumphed in the 2nd Division in 1976.
    These quotes are taken directly from the respective websites, take a moment to contrast & compare these with the History displayed on the new Rangers web site.
    Airdrieonians“Having been driven into full liquidation in May 2002, Airdrieonians FC became even more famous for being the first Scottish senior club to go out of business since Third Lanark in 1967. The spirit lived on, though, as the town welcomed Airdrie United into being, and saw it win the Bells Challenge Cup in 2008. Thanks to the efforts of owner and chairman Jim Ballantyne, the name Airdrieonians was restored in time for the start of the 2013-14 season. We’re at last back to two lions – and a cockerel – on the shirt.:”
    Clydebank:“At the same time, the heavily indebted Airdrieonians were liquidated. Attempts to relaunch the club were thwarted and the final straw came when Gretna FC were granted membership to the Scottish Football League ahead of the newly formed Airdrie United. Seeing the plight of the Bankies the new owners of Airdrie United made their move to buy Clydebank FC. Despite the Clydebank supporters making a bid to satisfy the administrators requirements, the Airdrie United bid was higher and ultimately accepted. This meant that Clydebank FC were effectively renamed and moved to Airdrie. Airdrie would continue as they were, but only debt free and Clydebank supporters were left with nothing, and the Bankies played their last game against Berwick Rangers at the end of the 2001-02 season.”
    Display the truth on the SPFL & Rangers websites, rid the current Rangers FC of wrongdoers, replace them with men of integrity and THEN we can move on !

  13. johnnymanc 17th December 2015 at 10:42 pm
    In the narrative BRTH sets out the actual mechanism is not known, but throughout the whole saga one thing stands out a mile – keeping information that might damage their case out of sight was key.
    It can be identified with the first ebt and side letter to De Boer not registered in 2000 and subsequently in 2012 when it was kept from SPL lawyers.
    In 2005 when HMRC asked about side letters for De Boer and Flo their existence was denied (by that time there would have been another 20 to 30 ebt cases with side letters.)
    In 2011 the arrival of the tax bill was kept quiet, which facilitated the retention of the UEFA Licence and in 2012 the HMRC letters of 2011 and attachments were kept from SPL lawyers.
    Unless there is evidence of a metanoia we have to wonder how such a mindset can be accommodated in our game.
    To be clear I don’t want them excluded but I want evidence of a metanoia before any steps are taken to restructure the leagues .
    Such evidence would be admission:
    They did try to gain sporting advantage for 12 years,
    They breached UEFA FFP rules in 2011
    and tried to cover up their behaviour since 2012,
    They realise the titles are worthless as a consequence and give them up,
    They accept no TRFC official in any position of influence at SFA or SPFL Boards or Committees for 5 years
    They sign up to a domestic version of Financial Fair Play that can be easily monitored.
    Removal of any TRFC officials involved in any of the foregoing since 2000.
    Heads would need to metaphorically roll at the SFA and SPFL too and an investigation mounted to facilitate reform but that is beyond TRFC’s control but not the clubs.
    If those conditions are met it would be churlish not to move on.
    If they are not it would be suicide for the game if restructuring were pushed through.

  14. RPMcMurphy 17th December 2015 at 11:14 pm #


    Well nearly 🙂 but I’m less bothered with the past than I am securing a safe future for the game.

    If TRFC supporters think liquidation does not mean the end of RFC then not recognising the voiding of titles is a minor mental hurdle for them.
    However if the SPFL were to say officially that those titles were won unfairly and are part of the history of RFC and not TRFC which starts from 2012 and leave it at that,  does that in the absence of actually voiding those titles make a mark more telling than voiding them?
    Damaged goods from a time TRFC cannot be proud to hold on to if it is to have a future in Scottish football?
    I think that if what we all believe to be so is recognised officially, then titles should be voided, but if not voiding is being used as a defence against a full investigation into the SFA then marking them as damaged goods would do me as long as governance reform was the main aim.

  15. Auldheid 17th December 2015 at 9:49 pm #Folks
    This is an absolute must read by BRTH on Scottish football and why it wanders into the wilderness. http://linkis.com/wordpress.com/jpuFq
    That’s a cracking (but at the same time depressing) read.
    Months of SFM posts in a precis form.

  16. Auldheid 17th December 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    The conditions you lay out for moving forward are spot on. It is quite incredible after all that’s happened we have the Chairman of one of our biggest clubs saying we should forget all about it and move on. I wonder if his very successful business had been cheated in a similar way since 2000 he would be so forgiving. Imagine it was discovered another housebuilder had used illicit means to purchase land in prime areas at a cost prohibitive to his company, making tens of millions in profit along the way. If you are reading this Mr Milne, just think about that. 

    I don’t think I’ve ever felt as sickened about the governance of our game more than I do this very day, and believe me there are many other days to compete with. In terms of media coverage the national broadcaster is triumphantly announcing FOR THE THIRD TIME IN THREE WEEKS that Rangers will pay / already have paid the loan to Sports Direct. Enough said. 

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