Below is a short post I started last Sunday ( 3rd Feb) but, due to my “butterfly mind” I have a tendency to be easily distrac…oh look, a squirrel!…sorry about that, but you see what I mean! A great deal of my time is taken up by a newly rekindled passion for photography so, by the time I returned to finish it on Tuesday evening (and until then unbeknown to me,) HMRC had been granted leave to appeal the FTT Decision, much as many people (including myself) had predicted it would.
(Given that this is the case, will the nay-sayers, the deniers & decriers now apologise for the abuse & opprobrium heaped upon our heads for daring to point this possibility out? I’m not holding my breath. Besides, they mostly appear to have gone very quiet all of a sudden.)
It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice last week that things were slightly different down Ibrox way; 1st of all we had an unheard of silence (I know, I know) from Charles Green; when was the last time he “ran his mouth” (before this week anyway)?
0n top of this the mouth-music changed ever so slightly; we’re still hearing claims that “Rangers won the FTT” or, as a certain ex-journalist (no laughing at the back!) cum nouveau PR supremo put it, “Rangers are innocent.”. However there is an unspoken, almost imperceptible, not quite there yet acknowledgement that, as has been repeated a great many times by a great many voices (again including my own,) the FTT ruled that 5 of the sub-trusts examined were in fact liable for PAYE/NIC.
Of course the 5 ruled offside were, according to informed sources (what did I just say about not laughing!), no more than “a handful of administrative errors”, “a technical breach.” “a minor clerical error,” etc etc. But were they?
To understand these terms in context, we need look no further than the Spartans situation.
Many of us were labouring under the misapprehension that Spartans were thrown out of the Scottish Cup simply over a missing date but, thanks to Duplesis posting the original link (which can be found here: http://www.spartansfc.com/2011/11/10/sfa-hearing-outcome/) on Paul McConville’s always excellent blog, it soon became clear that it was slightly more complex. But only slightly.
For those who can’t be bothered clicking on the link, it can be summarised thus:
When Spartans sent off the registration documents for Keith McLeod there was indeed a form which hadn’t been dated properly. This, I’m sure you’ll agree, is the very definition of “minor clerical error.”
The documents were then returned by the SFA to be completed properly. However, while we may never know the reason why (and there has been intense speculation about it, understandable given historic events, as well as further speculation as to whether an SPL club would have received a courtesy phone call) Spartans didn’t receive the return letter so were unaware there was a problem.
This being the case, McLeod was played in the Scottish Cup match and, following an SFA disciplinary hearing it was decided that, because he wasn’t registered, this was a “technical breach,” and Spartans were subsequently expelled from the competition.
It should be noted that, following their expulsion Spartans, rather than spitting out the dummy, took full responsibility, accepted their punishment with good grace, wished Culter well in the Cup, and made a heartfelt & sincere apology to their fans. In short they acted with the utmost dignity throughout.
So, is this what happened at RFC? Did they really just make 5 “minor clerical errors”?
I am of the opinion that anyone who makes this claim is being either naïve or, for those who have access to all the relevant information, thoroughly disingenuous; they should have their eyelids taped open & be locked in a room with nothing more than a copy of the FTT Decision, specifically page 10 lines 30-39, until they fully comprehend the mechanics of how EBT “loans” were made.
Here’s the problem with their argument:
The Trust was (allegedly) arms-length; however “Rangers would indicate the name of a suggested beneficiary and the amount to be contributed to the Trust (originally managed by Equity Trust Jersey Ltd, who were later replaced by Trident Trust Company Ltd for having the gall to (shock horror!) question the validity of some of the “Loan” requests), with the suggestion that a sub-trust for that individual, or rather his family, be set up.”
The player would then “submit a Letter of Wishes in relation to the intended beneficiaries of the Trust capital, and a Loan Request.”
These loans were never refused, and after Trident taking over never even questioned.
The “loans” were therefore advanced to the player by the Trustees from the Trust account, not by RFC.
So the “minor clerical error” would need to consist of the RFC payroll manager, rather than writing a cheque from the wages & salary account as would be the norm, but instead for RFC/MIH to deposit funds in the Trust & instruct Trident, as detailed above. Not just once either, but regularly.
Just a mistake (or rather 5 at least) then? An administrative cock-up? As the greatest armchair cynic in television history would say, “Minor clerical error my arse!”
The Upper Tribunal should be fun, if God spares us that long!
Of course since I finished writing the above we have had the Orlit/PR catastrophe, and the position at Ibrox has changed once again; the language used in their ill-advised official statements (or at least the 2nd, as this is as far as I’ve read to date) returning to the same old sabre-rattling, rabble-rousing belligerence as before.
I guess some things really do never change.