LNS 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 2: The 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 3: The 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 5.1: Harper 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 .