Tangled Up In Blue by Stephen O’Donnell (Book Review)


Essential reading for supporters of all Scottish football Clubs

I was asked to review Tangled Up In Blue possibly because my on line offerings, oft-times with the assistance of crowd think, tend to be as evidenced based fact as possible, with an eye for detail that if missed can produce a narrative that deviates from the story the factual evidence tells.

Book coverIn that context what is very obvious from reading Tangled Up In Blue is that the author Stephen O Donnell has put a great deal of research into his book that covers the history of Rangers from its foundation in 1872, through its incorporation in 1899, when the club became the limited liability company called The Rangers Football Club Plc , (just as Celtic had two years earlier), to its liquidation in 2012 when it became RFC 2012 plc (in liquidation).

The “new club/company” replacing RFC 2012 Plc (quoting the words of Andre Traverso the then Head of UEFA Club Licensing to explain no sanctions possible against the new club/company now called The Rangers FC Ltd) had to wait three years from its acceptance into Scottish football in August 2012 before it was eligible to apply for a UEFA licence, having fulfilled the requirement under Article 12 of UEFA FFP to have held full membership of the Scottish Football Association for longer than three years, a requirement finally met at the start of the 2016/17 licencing cycle.

Tangled Up in Blue, to be published on 19th August , is not only a reminder of the events surrounding the demise of what was perceived by Scottish society as a great institution, but in devoting the early part of the book to Rangers footballing and managerial past, provides further insight into the mindset of the culture and it’s thinking , that inevitably led to the events of 2012 resulting in an attempt by Scottish Football Authorities to untangle.

An attempt which itself has subsequently entangled Scottish football in an ongoing web of deceit, caused by the 5 Way Agreement between the SFA, the then SPL and SFL, Sevco (who then became “The Rangers Football Club PLC”) and the failed insolvent “The Rangers Football Club Ltd” in late July 2012.

The passage of time since 2012 and what was not fully reported domestically (only the revelations in “Downfall – How Rangers FC Self Destructed” by Phil McGiolla Bhain, a journalist based in Ireland, introduced by Alex Thomson an English journalist, tell the tale) and what has happened in the disentangling years since 2012, allows a fresh perspective.

As we all know, if you stand too close to a painting you will miss the full picture and Tangled Up In Blue , with the perspective time provides, paints a clear picture, one where the curtains have not been drawn back because, frankly, it is not a pretty one. It does not reflect well on Rangers or a Scottish society that perceived Rangers FC Ltd as a great Scottish institution nor does it do the credibility of Scottish football journalism any credit whatsoever.

The role of the Scottish main stream media in keeping the curtain closed comes across in terms of non or restrained reporting of events, not just in our current lifetime, but during a past where a sectarian policy of not signing Catholics was pursued for decades with no comment and where full culpability was never accepted by or imposed on Rangers as a result of deserved critical media comment, when disasters either great in human terms, like the Ibrox staircase 13 disaster in 1971 or serious in PR terms, like the reporting of supporters behaviour in Manchester 2008 before and after the UEFA Cup Final, happened.

When reading Tangled Up In Blue I was reminded of this quote in bold from “Debt of Honour” by Tom Clancy, page 530: “You can’t trust your memory with things that affect live patients. One of the first things they teach you in medical school.’ Cathy shook her head as she finished up. ‘Not in this business. too many opportunities to screw up. “If you don’t write it down, then it never happened.

This has been the primary device used by the media in Scotland since 2012 where evidence of what really took place behind the scenes has either not been published or paid little heed to by our mainstream media when anything (like the Tax Justice Network report on the SFA handling of Rangers demise) has surfaced. Apart from the informative “Downfall”, were it not for social media and a host of intrepid bloggers, what did happen to “Rangers” in 2012 didn’t happen.

There are various reasons for not writing it down that might require a book on its own. Fear of the impact on a newspaper’s sales, and by extension a journalist’s job, is one. Fear of the consequences of committing the story to print is real, and very understandable – and it wasn’t only journalists who had reason to be fearful. Others who dared pass official SFA judgement on Rangers governance found themselves under threat too when, in answer to the question “who are these people”, their names were “written down”.

When it comes to writing it down or not, and the consequences of doing so, what happened after BBC’s Jim Spence, who lost his job after only verbally mentioning an issue very sensitive to Rangers fans, is interesting.

An idea using terminology from the secret 5 Way Agreement surreptitiously seeped its way into public consciousness, by being written about and took root by being adhered to by the media who, apart from Jim Spence, benefited from the consequence of doing so.
This idea once written allowed the introduction of a previously unheard of concept of the separation of a club from its owner when up until then all football supporters, including those of Rangers, only ever thought of The Rangers Football Club Ltd as Rangers – a football club effectively owned by itself.

This selective reporting/not reporting strongly suggests that apart from the fear aspects previously covered, some/many of the football journalists and media pundits were and continue to be Tangled Up In Blue themselves. This entanglement is one that serves no club in Scottish football well, but particularly the Rangers of today, where their debt driven/UEFA money dependency business model remains unwritten and so un-examined for impact on fellow member clubs.

This review is being published as a Scottish Football Monitor blog to reach a wider Scottish footballing supporter readership because all Scottish football clubs were affected by an entanglement in a web of deceit to some degree or another that continues still. In a world plagued by lies and liars, the truth has to prevail and where better to make that happen than in our own back yard where Scottish football is played?

Perhaps though supporters of one club more than any other who should read the book and benefit from so doing, are unlikely to because, as mentioned earlier, the picture it paints is not a pretty one.

Whilst they might see Tangled Up In Blue as a harsh judgement of a great Scottish Institution, it also provides an opportunity to think again about what they think, and the culture their thinking created that has led to nothing but the kind of woe the philosophy of the Pharisees attracted.  And that will persist until there is a change of minds and hearts about who they are, what they aren’t, and what they want to be.

In the spirit of encouraging a metanoia, Tangled Up In Blue might persuade any open minded Rangers supporting reader to consider the words of Rabbie Burns, a wise and respected Scottish Institution, of a way towards inner change. That may prove difficult given their fans’ response at Kilmarnock in the aftermath of their club’s recent announcement of a diversity and inclusion campaign to help tackle discrimination and promote positive fan behaviour. But here it is in hope;

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

The response by Rangers supporters to Tangled Up In Blue will be an indicator of the distance their diversity and inclusion journey has to travel.

Who knows, SFM might be a station on that journey depending on the nature of responses to this blog.

Tangled Up In Blue by Stephen O Donnell 
from 19th August 2019.


  1. StevieBC 14th August 2019 at 10:59 StevieBC 14th August 2019 at 10:59

    'Don't think Ashley was ever very popular in the City…'


    It might not be Ashley that is under question, StevieBC:

    From the Belfast Telegraph today

    "Sports Direct has asked the UK Government to clarify how it might act if it becomes the first major UK-listed business to fail to appoint an auditor, according to reports in the Financial Times.

    It is understood that the accounting watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council, is also in conversations with Sports Direct.

    Grant Thornton has come under significant scrutiny over the past year, being named the worst performer in the FRC’s annual review in July.[my bold]

    The FRC scrutinised Grant Thornton’s audit work for Patisserie Valerie, which entered administration following a major accounting scandal, as well as outsourcing firm Interserve, which was sold in March following the appointment of administrators"

    AND from the Evening Standard:

    “Grant Thornton has faced particular criticism. It was put under special measures by the UK audit regulator after a review found it was the worst performer of 11 firms assessed. Just 50% of its audits were judged good enough.”
    See where there is big money, there are no plaster saints! or even real ones!

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  2. Call me an auld dinosaur, but when I saw this this morning in the 'Scotsman' my reaction was 

    "Ach, ffs , whoever authorised that needs his a.se kicked!"

    Or should she [no sexism here, pal!] be congratulated on hunting out another possible source of prize money, in anticipation of lack of success in the CL?

    Honest to God! 


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  3. I wrote recently about my views that there is an overly large negative element among the Celtic support. As you can imagine social media is in complete meltdown this morning after last night's result. No-one is going to deny the disappointment of having a tie won twice, and then throwing it away, and as a fan it was heartbreaking to be present to witness it. The post mortem into team selection and tactics will go on for days. However some of the stuff I have read from so called Celtic fans about Neil Lennon, Scott Brown, Peter Lawwell and the rest of the Celtic Board goes beyond the pale. I am glad there is a site like this where generally only decent, constructive viewpoints are allowed. No-one has to agree with each other of course, but it is generally kept decent. 

    As a Celtic fan of 57 years old I have been privileged to witness many great moments, and the good certainly far outweighs the bad. Save for the years of financial doping and tax cheating by David Murray it might have been even better.  I see people on here who support other clubs who maybe only have a couple, or just one fabulous trophy winning day to look back on or maybe none at all, yet it does nothing to diminish the love for their club. 

    Has the word Perspective been banned from the English language, because it is clear many people either don't know what it means, or are still willing to be influenced by the mainstream media. 

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  4. I'm going to get record numbers of thumbs down for this observation but for what it's worth it's not so much a lack of perspective but an enhanced feeling of self entitlement and hubris.

    When you are so used to dominating and winning defeat by a Euro minnow is probably hard to take.

    I note from Phil's latest that all is not well within the Celtic hoose. Could hubris be Celtics nemesis?

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  5. Apologies! My post of 12.41 was missing the item I was referring to!

    This was an item in today's 'Scotsman' saying that Celtic FC have signed an e-sports team to compete in the 'Call-of-duty' World League Championship. It apparently makes them the first UK football club to seriously invest outside of a football title FIFA.

    " This is a great opportunity in an e-sports area where we see almost no engagement from professional football club", Celtic's business manager said.


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  6. upthehoops 14th August 2019 at 13:35

    Bogs Dollox 14th August 2019 at 14:31

    As a Hearts fan I can confirm that like Celtic, fans forums and pub chat is much the same in terms of questioning the actions of the board and the football management team. It is part and parcel of football.

    Like Celtic, Hearts have no right to win every game but the fans expect my club to have the resources to do better than the poor performance at the weekend over Ross County at the weekend. It is inevitable that, while some fans have the perspective of just being happy the club survived and is slowly rebuilding, others think things should be happening faster and improvements more obvious.


    All that being said most Hearts fans know their place. Keep the finances in a sustainable state, have decent league challenge year on year, and along with a good few cup runs and a Euro spot most fans will be happy with their lot. The odd cup win is the icing on the cake. Do a Leicester City' one year and it will be seventh heaven. 


    The Celtic family on the other hand continually portray themselves as wanting to be a big player on the world stage. Which is right given the size of the stadium and the fan base. 

    However they seem to continually shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to maintaining consistent CL/Euro success.

    As Easyjambo pointed out recently, not much point in shouting about having money in the bank when the opposition, domestic and euro, are starting to catch you up.

    The small pond that is Scottish Football clearly doesn't help Celtic's ambitions  but as some kind of franchised Euro league may be around the corner they surely must be wanting to show they can produce consistent results on the pitch and are not just banners, flag displays and a flashy light show.

    As a Hoops poster said elsewhere, in discussion on last nights failure, they could have killed T'Rangers off a number of times but like the Cluj game haven't seemed to be able to deliver the killer blow.

    The feeling was that they believed, that despite what gets said, the board are happy with the aim of just be that little ahead of T'Rangers,  as opposed to being the club they think they could be.

    When you get such mixed messages then is it surprising when perspective goes out the window?  


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  7. wottpi 14th August 2019 at 15:26

    As a Hearts fan I can confirm that like Celtic, fans forums and pub chat is much the same in terms of questioning the actions of the board and the football management team. It is part and parcel of football.


    I have to say I find the pub chat much more measured than social media. Maybe it's because you can to a point choose who you debate with, with debate itself being the operative word. Some on social media seem even to lack basic social skills, let alone having the ability to have an adult debate. 

    I guess it all comes down to whether your glass is half empty or half full. If my glass was as half empty as some on social media I would give up my season ticket as there would be no point. No-one disputes the disappointment of last night, but my view is it mostly boiled down on the night to an inexplicable decision by the captain to handle in the box when Celtic were well on top and Cluj looked likely to concede every time they were attacked. That penalty gave them real momentum. Then again what do I know, apart from that no club recruits Managers and CEO's from social media, or indeed from the pub. There is a very good reason for that!

    On a lighter, completely unrelated point, as we queued to get into the ground a Policewoman on horseback shouted "keep moving this way", as people made their way towards the ground and through the turnstiles. My mate looked at me and said "wow…why did we never think of that!" We elected not to share the humour with her!

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  8. upthehoops 14th August 2019 at 15:54

    Yes the social media side of things can get hairy, which is why I tend to restrict myself to SFM where, while sometimes heated, the interchanges are generally well mannered. 

    On here everyday is a school day and their is plenty of humour to keep us all going.

    However be it football, Brexit or anything else it is always interesting to dip into other sites and (often worryingly IMHO) see how others are thinking. It then becomes scary to think that these people might be sitting close to you on a Saturday!!!

    Only managed to see the highlights of last night's game and tend to agree Brown's hand ball was a turning point. For a player of his experience it was a daft thing to do.

    However I have a lad in my youth team who has done similar a few times and it is generally because he is not the fittest and has gotten out of position.

    I'm afraid Broonies age may be catching up with him and similar rash decisions and challenges may be more common.



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  9. There is a further downside for Celtic from their early exit in CL qualifying.  As a result of changes to the qualifying format (fewer places from the smaller nations), Celtic would have been a seeded team in the play-off round had they won last night, by a relatively small margin.  However, there is now a risk that they won't be a seeded team all the way through qualifying next season should they go on to qualify as SPFL champions.

    They will have to make a decent fist of the EL groups to maintain that seeding, otherwise they could end up playing the likes of Ajax (seeded in the CL play off round this season) in order to reach the CL group stages.

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  10. easyJambo 14th August 2019 at 17:01


    That will not be an issue for Celtic next season, as Rangers are going to skate the league anyway it seems. Well if media coverage is anything to go by that will be the case. 

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  11. upthehoops 14th August 2019 at 17:27
    That will not be an issue for Celtic next season, as Rangers are going to skate the league anyway it seems. Well if media coverage is anything to go by that will be the case.
    Each year it is going to get harder and harder for scottish teams to reach the champions league stages.
    Even if an ibrox club won the league what chance would they have to qualify?
    King believes the pot of gold is at the end of the rainbow in champions league Group stages.
    If an ibrox club ever did somehow manage to get there they would be in so much debt any money achieved would be needed to cover costs.
    That is even before if they end up in debt so much they can’t even be granted a european licence in the first place.
    Jesus i remember Warburton signing players and promising them champions league by 2018

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  12. upthehoops 14th August 2019 at 15:54

    '..We elected not to share the humour with her!'


    A touch of humour goes a long way, uth. 

    It's well past the 'watershed', and I'm laughing to myself as I recall the brilliant response by a mounted officer of ,geez!not even 'Strathclyde' polis, never mind 'Police Scotland' ,but of the City of Glasgow polis ( height requirement for recruits 5 feet 11 inches!)

    On an occasion at Celtic Park when there was a match commander ( not that that term was in use, of course) in charge who had some savvy , and the hoarses were used ( as a previous poster recently recalled) to keep the turnstile queues in pretty good order ( or get swiped to hell by a hoarse's arse!),  I heard an exchange between a guy in the queue and the mounted officer, who was female. 

    The verbal exchange went like this:

    " Haw, missus, yer hoarse is swettin' "

    The brilliant, absolutely brilliant, defusing, humourous  response that in my opinion should have been enough to get that woman PC a double promotion was :

    " Aye, pal. So would you be  if you had been between my legs for the last couple of hours"

    I was very youngish at the time, and the poliswumman was far from being unattractive. 

    I quite understood. 

    I am laughing now and Mrs C is having a dekko over my shoulder to see why.

    (and has given me one of those wifely looks that instantly induces a wholly undeserved sense of 'guilt'!heartangry)




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  13. I read that the gombeen man is back!


    Tom English is back , with a degree of criticism of Celtic in 'football' matters that he never ever displayed in matters to do with the Big Lie foisted on us by the SFA, and the perversion and distortion of Scottish Football governance that allowed that perversion.

    Tom knows where the next potato is coming from, or maybe the next succulent leg of lamb.

    May it (metaphorically) choke him.
    Not because he criticises Celtic. But because he does not, and did not, get right journalistically into the ‘saga’, the deceit and rottenness at the very heart of Scottish football.
    But of course he is paid by BBC Radio Scotland!

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  14. John Clark14th August 2019 at 23:44


    Tom English has hit Celtic with a major hatchet job, but no worse than many of their own fans are dishing out.

    Perhaps Celtic would be better thieving tens of millions from the public purse, throwing the kitchen sink at it, then liquidating if it doesn't work. Tom would always be on hand with his "if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck" analogy to say the new Celtic are just the same…or would he?!!!! Would ANY of the media, would the SFA, would the SPFL, would the BBC, would the ASA? I don't think they would and I am sure the much criticised Celtic Board think that too. Celtic, and indeed every other Scottish club bar Rangers are held to the rules.  Rangers meanwhile can play fast and loose with tens of millions of public money and people like Tom English are still falling down at their feet.




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  15. upthehoops 15th August 2019 at 00:00

    '..but no worse than many of their own fans are dishing out.'


    Exactly my point, 

    Whether one's club performs well or badly in sporting, on the field, terms is always a part of the sport. 

    Always room for difference of opinion.

    When sports journalists cease to report on , or lie, about matters of indisputable fact  things move on to a different plane.

    Tom English has not had the guts to say that RFC of 1872 died.

    Or that the 5-Way Agreement is a mockery of Sport and of what sport is about.

    He has not said a word , whether as a writer for the Scotsman or for the BBC , in support of the truth: that the SFA was , is, so disgustingly in thrall to 'Ibrox' as to sell the soul of sport and of Scottish Football as to maintain that a seven year old-ish club is actually the dead, in liquidation, RFC of 1872!

    Whatever James Traynor may be said to be (which is plenty) is no where near as censorious as being described as a 'gombeen man'.







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  16. Ex Ludo 15th August 2019 at 08:24



    Looks like the politicians are getting involved in disguised remuneration cases again. This has an awfully familiar feel to it. HMRC are being painted as the baddies by IDS.


    Slight difference in the case of IDS (from, say, Alex Salmond), and the rest of his political ilk, in that it is his sole purpose in political life to help the rich get richer, and as a politician he sees his role as helping them continue to dodge income tax, or, as in this case, get away with it once caught.

    A bit political for a football forum, I know, but thanks to the dead Rangers, income tax and politics became a major issue in Scottish football quite some time ago. In truth, Rangers saw themselves as the elite (and not just in a football sense) and so deserving of special dispensations, in the same way the people IDS represents in parliament see themselves.

    Allyjambo steps down off his soapbox…

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  17. This point is about Scottish football governance at club level.

    It's just that the current wailing from CFC fans, [including myself], highlights yet again the typical disconnect between supporters and their club's Board.


    I appreciate it's a business, but if only for crude PR purposes why don't clubs have a fans' representative e.g. as a Non Exec Director, to sit on perhaps one or two fans' specific committees?

    Especially when everyone knows that without the fans, there would be no football…why are clubs so reluctant to create a Board role?

    The Supporters Liaison Officer, [SLO], is a step in the right direction, [as initiated by UEFA?], but comes across as 'enhanced customer service'.


    I might be talking mince above, but would be interested to know if there are currently Scottish clubs which have supporters represented at Board level.

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  18. Allyjambo 15th August 2019 at 08:45

    '..Slight difference in the case of IDS…'


    I am  not being excessively cynical when I say that we naturally suspect that career politicians will almost of necessity be liars and double-dealers. 

    We know that very little of what Government ministers have to say about anything has any relationship to Truth except that it is something that they generally regard as something to be avoided!

    We did not ever imagine that  the world of Scottish football would not only produce a SDM etc but infinitely worse, a governance body that in effect, endorsed cheating on a mass scale and itself created a monstrous sporting fiction.

    But that is what happened. And it makes the 6th floor a worse cess pit of lies and deceit than ever the Cabinet room in Downing Street ever was.

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  19. Ex Ludo 15th August 2019 at 08:24


    Looks like the politicians are getting involved in disguised remuneration cases again. This has an awfully familiar feel to it. HMRC are being painted as the baddies by IDS.


    While I have sympathy for anyone suffering from mental health problems, I have no sympathy whatsoever for the vast majority of those people (virtually all higher than average earners) who opted to take a proportion of their "earnings" via a loan scheme, which had a primary purpose of reducing that amount of tax they paid.

    You know, those same taxes that help provide public services to all of society.

    If they want someone to blame, then go back to their advisers who persuaded them to join such schemes, or better still look in the mirror and ask themselves if it was the morally as well as legally correct thing to do.

    For those who are complaining about the 20 year clawback. Take footballers using the DOS and Murray Group Remuneration Trust schemes.  The company knew from early 2004 that HMRC had doubts about those schemes, but continued to encourage players (who they "couldn't otherwise afford") to be remunerated that way.

    Go back and chase the employers RFC plc and Murray Group …………. oh wait!   They have gone bust, owing tens of millions in taxes to HMRC and hundreds of millions in loans to what was then a state owned bank.


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  20. So Ladbrokes are not renewing sponsorship of SPFL.


    According to Chief Liar Doncaster;

    "Given the growth of Scottish football over the past four years, we're in great shape to attract significant interest from new sponsors, both nationally and internationally."


    Or, more accurately;

    Given the now obvious levels of corruption in Scottish Football, Ladbrokes have "walked away", potentially leaving us without a sponsor AGAIN!

    Please can some business with spare money and little moral compass help us continue on our road to the bottom.


    How this odious man is still employed in Scottish Football is beyond me. I get that he invented and continues to  propagate the big lie under the direction of our club's business owners, but he appears to be useless as a commercial man.

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  21. Court action once again next week>

    LORD BANNATYNE – J Hannah, Clerk

     Wednesday 21st August

    Starred Motion (2 days)

    CA86/19 David Grier v the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland – Kennedys Scotland Kennedys Scotland – Ledingham Chalmers LLP

    I think this is a motion for a summary decree against Police Scotland. It should mean that any evidence that the police officers involved acted maliciously or beyond their powers will actually be aired in open court, rather than implied by QCs acting for the claimant.

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  22. I was in St Enoch's Square today and noticed that the Rangers shop was still open for business. Can anyone explain why this is still operating despite the court case going against them.

    Any word on the legal fees which have to be paid by tomorrow?


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  23. Ballyargus 15th August 2019 at 16:53
    Any word on the legal fees which have to be paid by tomorrow?
    There is a game tonight at ibrox.
    Maybe buy a pie pay the court fees.

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  24. easyJambo 15th August 2019 at 13:19
    Would not normally do this.But was asked (rather nicely)

    Any chance you can make a FACTUAL correction to your mate EasyJambos statement on

    The statement made by Murray was NOT “couldn’t otherwise afford” it was “PERHAPS, we may have not been able to afford”

    A huge difference and very misleading.
    Never knew i had a mate. But there you go,you learn something new every day;-)

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  25. Cluster One 15th August 2019 at 18:22

    easyJambo 15th August 2019 at 13:19
    Would not normally do this.But was asked (rather nicely)

    Any chance you can make a FACTUAL correction to your mate EasyJambos statement on

    The statement made by Murray was NOT “couldn’t otherwise afford” it was “PERHAPS, we may have not been able to afford”

    A huge difference and very misleading.
    Never knew i had a mate. But there you go,you learn something new every day;-)


    What I quoted was my recollection of what was said in the FTTT report. I've since checked it and your source was correct in stating "couldn't otherwise afford" is not accurate. If your source is offended by my recollection, then I apologise.

    However your source's recollection of “PERHAPS, we may have not been able to afford” isn't an accurate quote from the document either. 

    A check on the original FTTT reports makes four references to the sourcing of players in three paragraphs about Murray's evidence. Three of them are the Judge's interpretations, and one included some quotes made by Murray, one of which used the word perhaps.   

    @ para 36 in  the majority decision in a comment by the tribunal judges Mure and Rae

    "So far as Rangers was concerned it enabled the Club to attract players who would not otherwise have been obtainable."

    @ para 207 in  the majority decision in a comment by the tribunal judges Mure and Rae

    "This could be maximised via the trust mechanism, and moreover could only be afforded by the Club that way."

    @ para 22 in the dissenting decision quotes from Murray and comment by tribunal judge Poon

    As for Mr Black, he denied that the scheme was for tax avoidance in cross-examination, though he went on to describe the scheme as ‘a method of us acquiring, especially football wise, better players in a more cost effective manner than we would be able to do so’; that the club had been ‘very ambitious at that time’; and ‘it was seen as a correct and proper way for us to proceed’; that Rangers ‘have been very successful, because we’ve been able to attract players of a certain standard that, perhaps, we may not have been able to otherwise’ (Day 5/126). It was not examined in detail how Mr Black understood the scheme as being cost-effective. However, set in context, that cost effectiveness inferred by the trust arrangements can be inferred as coming from being able to offer the payroll equivalent of a ‘net’ sum without the costs of PAYE and NIC in addition.

    I'm comfortable with my understanding and interpretation of what was said both by Murray and the tribunal judges, and that "couldn't otherwise afford", while not a strictly accurate quotation from the FTTT report, remains is a fair representation of what was reported within it.  

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  26. Cluster One & Easyjambo

    I think CO's acquaintance/friend may be trying to infer that 'perhaps' Rangers didn't cheat the whole of Scottish football, while at the same time, cheating Her Majesty's Treasury.

    We here all know that, regardless of any nuances the supporters of a cheating club might try to use, Rangers Football Club cheated the f**k out of Scottish football, beyond any reasonable doubt. And the more they try to claim otherwise, the more each and every supporter of that dead, and deservedly dead, club deserves the fate that befell them.

    Liars and cheats will always continue to lie and cheat. It's in their DNA. They wouldn't do it in the first place if it wasn't.

    Allyjambo again climbs down off his soapbox…

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  27. easyJambo 15th August 2019 at 20:11
    I’m sure the source is looking in.;-)
    I now have a Mate, a source and an acquaintance/friend.If i hang around any longer the next round is going to cost me.

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  28. @Cluster One / @Allyjambo

    The argument that the TRFC fans wish to make is that all the players with EBTs would have gone to Ibrox anyway, even if the tax benefit was not on the table.

    That is nonsense of course, but the TRFC fans will never admit it. Doing so would effectively be an admission that the DOS and EBT schemes provided a sporting advantage.

    Hence the highlighting of the word "Perhaps" (while ignoring what Murray said earlier about acquiring better players, and what the tribunal judges took from Murray's evidence).  

    I wouldn't be surprised if the "source" was Lawman, Steerpike or any of his other aliases. It's typical of his M.O. in looking for an interpretation of individual words or phrases, in isolation, that fits in with a narrative he wishes to advance, but ignores both the full context and volume of other evidence that would lead a "reasonable person" to form a different view. 


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  29. Mr Black is, of course, David Murray.
    Just incase any younger ones looking in.
    I say that as i was reminded today that some young ibrox fans starting school and some leaving their secondary school have never seen the ibrox club lift a major trophy. So any one in their twenties and catching up on the goings on over ibrox way were only young kids at the time and a lot of it passed them by.And they may be asking who was Mr Black?
    easyJambo 15th August 2019 at 21:31
    You are wiser beyond your years.

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  30. I know that to many, David Murray was a bit of a god, but his use of the word 'perhaps' somehow mitigating Rangers use of EBTs to something less than cheating…Naw, not even the thickest of bears could possibly imagine that. Surely?

    I mean, 'perhaps I pulled the trigger' doesn't quite work as suggesting the accused is in someway innocent of murder, does it?

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  31. Three home defeats: Aberdeen, Celtic & Kilmarnock. (My team, Hearts, out last year to a team from f., £ING Malta FFS) 

    What is SCOTLAND's nadir. Do we have any further to fall.


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  32. Cluster One 15th August 2019 at 21:32

    I say that as i was reminded today that some young ibrox fans starting school and some leaving their secondary school have never seen the ibrox club lift a major trophy. So any one in their twenties and catching up on the goings on over ibrox way were only young kids at the time and a lot of it passed them by.And they may be asking who was Mr Black?


    What will not have passed those younger fans by is the notion that what happened to Rangers was some huge conspiracy by the rest of Scottish football in order to destroy them. Successful people in charge since Charles Green have peddled that notion, and it has worked big style in terms of keeping the fans on board, given the abject failure of the product on the park. The mainstream media have dutifully kept up their side of the bargain too with an utter refusal to discuss the big lie, the 2011 European Licence etc. In fact, a casual visitor to Scotland right now would be shocked to learn how much of a failure Rangers have been, given the tidal wave of positive coverage they get.


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  33. Has anyone any idea why the first tranche of legal costs has to be paid by 4pm today?

    Why not noon or 5pm or by close of business?

    A cynic might think that the judge, Lionel Persey, QC made the order in such a fashion that if £44odd,000.60 was not in Sports Direct's till by 4pm at 4:01pm Big Mike could have someone knocking at his door to let him know.

    You wouldn't want the small (in the grand scheme of this case) matter of the thick end of half a million quid to be left hanging in the air over the weekend, would you? What did the preamble to the order say? Something about under pain of fines, imprisonment of Directors, annulment of honours (i.e. Petrofac Cup and staunch majestic romping through the Championship, twice, Divisions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…) and possibly a strongly worded postcard, unstamped, from the SFA and SPFL?

    Alternatively at 4:01pm Big Mike could report the dosh had been paid which would lead all of us to spending the weekend wondering if this was a first, admitting that we didn't see that coming and leading to speculation that Mr King is obviously unwell.

    Scottish football needs a strong East Fife. On Sunday anyway.

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  34. LUGOSI 16th August 2019 at 08:00


    With the cash from last night in the bank and at least one more home European tie to come, Rangers should be able to pay that bill today. However, would it be a great shock if they didn't?

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  35. LUGOSI & uth,

    I'll be very much surprised if we hear anything soon about whether or not the legal costs are paid, unless Big Mike has to slap an injunction on them. While I'm sure King would do everything in his power to delay payment, I very much doubt those directors who are on the line for this will, if the money is available, allow any delay, whatsoever. 

    And as uth says, the club must surely have the cash splashing around from their Euro progress, and I'm sure they will be using it like water to put out the fires that seem to continuously break out at Ibrox.

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  36. Allyjambo 16th August 2019 at 08:51".

    '…And as uth says, the club must surely have the cash splashing around from their Euro progress, and I'm sure they will be using it like water to put out the fires that seem to continuously break out at Ibrox…'


    Somebody should tell Gerrard about the 'cash splashing around'!

    He has thanked Brendan Rodgers' current club ' for covering the 'financial differentials' that would have ordinarily made [Andy King] an earner out of Rangers' reach! (report by Andrew Smith in today's 'Scotsman')

    Marginally better to resort to honest begging ,I suppose, than  resort to cheating Scottish Football and the taxman again, the way the dastardly cheat SDM did for years.

    But still using players that they could not ordinarily afford?

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  37. Higgy's Shoes 15th August 2019 at 22:31

    Three home defeats: Aberdeen, Celtic & Kilmarnock. (My team, Hearts, out last year to a team from f., £ING Malta FFS) 

    What is SCOTLAND's nadir. Do we have any further to fall.



    What have you been drinking Higgy?

    Hearts last Euro campaign ended in July 2016 THREE years ago!!

    Anyway your point still stands. Other teams / countries seem to make decent progress and are in a similar situation to us in terms of being in less glamorous leagues, needing to compete before the start of the domestic season etc etc.

    Questions really have to be asked about the general technical ability of players playing for Scottish clubs (and those coming through the ranks) along with the tactics deployed by managers. 

    What I continually fail to understand is, if our SFA coaching courses etc are so highly regarded why are we not providing more of the same quality of player and coaches that can be seen elsewhere in Europe and in similar smaller nations.

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  38. Talking of splashing the cash, I've had an email from the ICIJ about a film  to be screened next month at the Venice film festival.  

    It is entitled "The Laundromat "

     The story line is about a widow (played by Meryl Streep) investigating  an insurance fraud, tracing worldwide leads to the mysterious Panama City-based financial network of lawyers Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca.

    It is the latest depiction of the Panama Papers.

    Ah, if only there was such a thing as a real investigative journalist in Scotland and/or an honest BBC/newspaper editor/proprietor.

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  39. wottpi, yes what do they actually teach in Largs?

    Mibbees just send all future coaches or managers to Iceland, Wales or Croatia instead…?


    JC, since you mention it: a bit of trivia on money laundering.

    [And apologies if discussed on SFM before.]


    Al Capone was the originator of 'money laundering'.


    He operated a string of laundries in Chicago to integrate his ill gotten gains from gangsterism.

    If he was in business today mibbees he would have beaten King to controlling RIFC/TRFC…?



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  40. StevieBC 16th August 2019 at 13:36

    '..Al Capone was the originator of 'money laundering…..If he was in business today .."


    It was beautiful that that  murdering bast.rd was done not for his murders but ,like another cheating bast.rd in a former UK colony, for tax evasion! How infra dignitatem  for those who imagine that they are too big to pay tax!

    And how annoying it is that one beknighted bad article suffered nothing for his ignoble deeds. 

    But retribution he will suffer some day or another later in life.


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  41. Wottpi:10.14

    Yes I had a few beers. In Greece at the moment.

    God, was it really 3 years ago when we lost to the 3/4 best team in Malta.

    Doesn't time fly.


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  42. Higgy's Shoes 16th August 2019 at 21:16

    '..Yes I had a few beers. In Greece at the moment.'


    Well, I think you are entitled  to enjoy an ouzo or two tonight after the wee win at murrerwell!

    And I hasten to add that my da was a murrerwell supporter afore and after the war, and some quite close friends in Embro are Hearts supporters, so I am being neutrally congratulatory , in the best sporting tradition of honouring the winner of any fairly conducted sporting contest.

    A tradition which of course was blown to hell by a sports governance body which introduced deceit and dishonour into Scottish Football, with its farcical 5-Way agreement nonsense and its antecedent alleged deceit in the matter of UEFA-licence granting to an unentitled, cheating club.

    There is no getting away from the fact, absolute ,verifiable fact, that our SFA is the institutor and propagandist of a most pernicious Lie, and was allegedly party to possible criminality some years ago.

    Such was the incestuous relationship that it had with the Rangers of 1872 ( now , as far as participation in Scottish Football is concerned,deceased).






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  43. .Remember Michael Campbell Brown,the conman who bilked Martin Edwards (Chairman of Man United) of a good few bob, and who donated £2 and a half million to the Liberal party? And beat it to Domenica, but eventually served some (perhaps not enough) years in prison for conning lots of people [ apparently dome £18 million stil unrecovered]?

    There was  a wee interview with him  on BBC Radio 4 early this morning.

    In  observing that  the Liberal Party should have refused  the money, he makes this quote of the year: "That's what they should have done, but of course, you know, the pound signs tend to obscure absolutely everything else."

    It's sad to reflect that Scottish Football has not a  few people whose view of things like truth and morality and sport is obscured by 'the pound signs'.

    Campbell Brown is ,apparently, now full of contrition and working with the prison authorities to help new prisoners adjust to the hrsh realities of prison life.

    Is there hope of redemption for such as cheated Scottish Football and the taxman with  the 5-way Agreement and/or sham EBT schemes?


    But not till they acknowledge their wrongdoing , apologise to us all, and put things right.


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  44. Interesting wee article in the print edition of The Sunday Herald today regarding Ladbrokes withdrawing sponsorship from the SPFL. Ostensibly about Ladbrokes it also discusses the wider implications for football quoting extensively from Carl Rohsler, a lawyer involved in brokering deals between clubs/leagues and betting companies.

    ”If they (betting companies) weren’t there, what you would have to do is reduce every footballer’s salary by about a zero off the end” 

    Carl Rohsler.

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  45. Ex Ludo 18th August 2019 at 15:27

    '…”If they (betting companies) weren’t there, what you would have to do is reduce every footballer’s salary by about a zero off the end” '


    Well, as Mandy Rice Davies might say, that's pretty much what a lawyer involved in brokering deals between clubs/leagues and betting companies would say, innit?broken heart



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  46. Cluster One / easyjambo


    Let us not forget the actual words spoken by Thornhill QC.  There is no room for misinterpretation.


    6 May 2011.

    "Because the whole point of the remuneration trust was it enabled the club to take on players that it otherwise couldn't afforded to pay if it had to pay the grossed up wage. This was Sir David Murray's way of putting it. It was a way of getting hold of players you otherwise couldn't afford.

    So the last thing the club would do is say to a player: now, if you don't like having remuneration trust we will pay you gross instead. It just couldn't afford to do it. It wasn't an option."

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  47. Gordon 19th August 2019 at 00:56

    '..Let us not forget the actual words spoken by Thornhill QC.  #


    For those who did not watch it live, this link might call up the video of the UK Supreme Court hearing I can't say whether it was during this hearing that Thornhill QC used the words you quote, Gordon.
    But he certainly knew the whole EBT thing was a scam, but did his duty as a lawyer to see if he could get the court to read and interpret the law his way.


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  48. With the prospect of Hearts signing (on loan) a Japanese player this week, I read that Austin McPhee can speak the language.


    Any of the Jambos on here know how he became fluent.



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  49. Gordon 19th August 2019 at 00:56

    6 May 2011.

    "Because the whole point of the remuneration trust was it enabled the club to take on players that it otherwise couldn't afforded to pay if it had to pay the grossed up wage. This was Sir David Murray's way of putting it. It was a way of getting hold of players you otherwise couldn't afford.

    JC and CO

    I’ve located a source for that report in an Alex Thomson article from February 2014 in which he recites Thorhill’s evidence on the last day of the FTTT hearings.


    I've also had another look through my notes for a similar quote and found one from the Whyte trial, where James Doleman tweeted:

    Murray on EBTs: "Gave us the opportunity to get players we otherwise couldn't afford"

    followed by:

    Murray says club agreed to pay £2.8m over "small tax case" Says EBTs "were not contractual" and were "in the accounts"

    In Lord Doherty's UTTT report (despite rejecting the HMRC appeal), he also stated:

    In the case of the footballers the agreement to pay “[x] net” was not an agreement to pay [x] after deduction of income tax. It had simply been an agreement to pay [x] on the understanding and belief that there was no tax liability. It had been a promise to provide [x], not a promise to provide a sum which after deduction of income tax comes to [x]. The surrounding circumstances showed that that must have been what the parties intended. Rangers could only afford to recruit the players on that basis. 

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  50. One for the Court correspondents


    Wednesday 21st August


    Starred Motion (2 days)


    CA86/19 David Grier v the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland

    Kennedys Scotland Kennedys Scotland

    Ledingham Chalmers LLP

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  51. Oh! something that caught my eye.


    Any contrary argument seems an affront to common sense.
    Particular categories: executives’ bonuses and footballers’ engagement terms
    [13] The respondent companies made payment of bonuses to senior employees (excluding footballers). The First-tier Tribunal accepted (paragraph 205) that those payments were entirely discretionary, without any contractual entitlement. While the views of the individual employee would be canvassed, he never had an enforceable claim to a bonus or other benefit. The arrangements were described as “very informal”, and at most offered a hope or expectation. If the employee expressed interest, the employer would make a payment to the Principal Trust. In relation to these bonuses, the First-tier Tribunal considered that the benefit amounted to “a mere discharge of an employer’s obligation to an employee”. On that basis they concluded that no tax liability arose. We observe that, although the bonus arrangements may not have been enforceable, it seems self-evident that the only reason that the bonus was paid was the fact that the senior employee in question was working for one of the group of companies and providing services for it. If bonuses had not been paid, the employment would have been significantly less attractive. Any contrary argument seems an affront to common sense.
    62] As will be apparent from the foregoing discussion, we are of opinion that it is immaterial that there was no contractual entitlement to the sums paid to the trustee of the Principal Trust. Gratuities are subject to income tax; that has long been recognized, and the position is covered expressly by section 62(2)(b) of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003. That provision applies to gratuities if they are money or money’s worth, but the sums paid to the trustee of the Principal Trust were in the form of money; this is not a case involving benefits in kind. Furthermore, so far as the footballers are concerned, at least, it seems to us that if bonuses had not been paid they might well have taken their services elsewhere.
    I believe no matter how it is worded Murray’s use of the scheme attracted a higher caliber of player to sign and stay at ibrox,although some of the players turned out to be duds shows us that murray in part was also a bit rubbish at cheating

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  52. Since it is extremely quiet on here a few random thoughts:

    If I were in any way Rangers minded (which I most certainly am not in any way shape or form or version) I would be thinking there is light at the end of the tunnel!

    Good team on the park assembled cheaply getting impressive results (non sure about wage bill?)

    Stevie G gamble a success

    45K season tickets and big crowds at Euro and other non season book games

    Internal debt converted to equity

    Celtic not looking very impressive last couple of games after a good start

    Aberdeen/Hearts/Hibs/Kilmarnock et al – irrelevant

    Great chance of Europa group stages (£1m per home game)

    OK a bit of difficulty regarding kit deal but not terminal and will be managed through

    Possibly a loss in 2019/20 but certainly less than last year

    Media still on board. OC/NC never mentioned except by bampots and that Res 12 thingy kicked down the road (DK must be giving Celtic Board lessons!)

    Please tell me I'm talking sh**e!!


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  53. Could Traynor be doing a bit of moonlighting at Lennoxtown?

    The DR is carrying a rather obvious, copy/paste PR p!sh article – but it's not from TRFC this time.

    I suppose any Scottish club can manipulate the ever compliant SMSM, when required?


    This article is a timely deflection to benefit Lawwell – very specifically – and which implies that he is not simply looking at the Cluj result, but the Big Picture instead.

    [So disgruntled CFC fans – just wind your necks in!]



    Peter Lawwell and the Hoops hierarchy have been in talks with Ajax and Copenhagen for the past three years.

    While Neil Lennon’s side failed to deliver on the pitch, the Hoops hierarchy are attempting to succeed off it …to propose a new look for Europe's premier competition, which has come in for heavy criticism in its current format.

    But Celtic – who had chief executive Peter Lawwell appointed as one of four men by the European Club Association to sit on UEFA's Professional Football Strategy Council last week – are leading the way to change the shape of the competition."



    Subtle, not.


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  54. StevieBC 20th August 2019 at 12:20

    Ok then bordersdon, you're talking sh**te!

    broken heart

    The light at the end of the tunnel is the subway train fast approaching from Cessnock.


    I was putting myself in their shoes! Anyway your reasoned points will tell them otherwise I'm sureangry


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  55. bordersdon20th August 2019 at 12:12
    ======================Some reasonable points made especially the one about Sevco looking a lot better on the pitch.
    However, with the budget stretched to breaking point already you haven't figured in the Sports Direct compo claim. It could be hefty or manageable if SD agree to spread it against a new merchandise deal but I sense this might be personal for Ashley and he will turn the screw.

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  56. As a follow up to my post from last Sunday (18th August) Channel 4 News are now highlighting that betting companies are switching their attention to online gamers who are predominantly adolescents. Maybe football has had its day?

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  57. bordersdon 20th August 2019 at 12:12
    14 7 Rate This

    Since it is extremely quiet on here a few random thoughts:
    I always think back to when a billionare with wealth of the radar had just taken over at ibrox and they had signed a few players and had gone on to win the league. And the door was ajar to the champions league riches.On the outside everything was going great.

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  58. The Court Rolls show that tomorrow's business   has been reduced to a 6 hour hearing instead of two days.

    I'l’ll be able to attend only the morning session, because I've got to be elsewhere in the afternoon! And I would have been able to attend on a second day! 

    My money would be on Grier getting a 'reasonable settlement'  without the Polis admitting 'malice' but agreeing that simple errors of communication and chain of command had been made and apologising . 

    Wednesday 21st August



     6 hours

    CA86/19 David Grier v Chief Constable Police Service of Scotland

    Kennedy’s Scotland               Ledingham Chalmers LLP

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