Charles Green, Chief Executive of Rangers, issued the following statement today.
“The Rangers Football Club Limited will not attend tomorrow’s hearing (Tuesday, September 11) of the SPL-appointed Commission investigating the circumstances surrounding the use of Employee Benefit Trusts by previous owners of the Club. The Club cannot continue to participate in an SPL process that we believe is fundamentally misconceived.
“Neither the SPL, nor its Commission, has any legal power or authority over the Club because it is not in the SPL. For that reason it has no legal basis on which to appoint its Commission. The Club ceased to be subject to the SPL’s rules when it was ejected from its league. Our lawyers have made that point repeatedly to the SPL in correspondence and yet our requests for an explanation from the SPL have been completely ignored. The SPL’s silence on these issues is deafening. The outcome of the SPL’s process will have no legal effect.
“First and foremost, I would like to explain this decision to our supporters across the world whose loyalty and commitment to the Club in very difficult times has been unwavering and heart-warming for all those involved at the Club.
“Since the decision was taken by HMRC on June 14 to reject administrators’ proposals for a Company Voluntary Arrangement, the fate of Rangers FC lay firmly and clearly in the ability of the consortium I led to form a new company and corporate entity that would ensure that Rangers had a future as a football club.
“At all times we were fully transparent in our dealings with the football authorities, be they the SFA, SPL or the SFL. There was no ambiguity whatsoever regarding the status of the company when it made an application to join the SPL. As we all know, 10 SPL clubs decided against the admission of the new company to the league and The Rangers Football Club Limited subsequently applied to the SFL for membership and we are grateful for their acceptance.
“In short, what was decided by the SPL membership is that Rangers was finished as a member of the SPL. Despite this, the SPL now see the new owners of the company, and the new company itself, which owns all the assets of Rangers FC - including SPL championship titles – as fair game for punishment for matters that have nothing to do with us at all. And let’s be very clear about what this Commission is. Although the SPL goes to great lengths to emphasise the independence of its Commission, the Commission is not independent of the SPL. It has been appointed by the SPL. It follows SPL rules and its process is managed by SPL staff. I don’t question the impartiality of the individual panel members but whatever decision they reach is a decision of the SPL.
“To make it crystal clear, the new owners purchased all the business and assets of Rangers, including titles and trophies. Any attempt to undermine or diminish the value of those assets will be met with the stiffest resistance, including legal recourse.
“Furthermore, we ask the question genuinely. Why did the football authorities do nothing to address an issue that was public knowledge for at least two years, and was reported in the Club’s accounts for several years, before the Club went into administration and was subsequently taken over by new owners? HMRC contacted the SPL regarding EBT matters in October 2010, they met to discuss what documentation the Club had lodged with the SPL. Did the SPL launch an investigation? Did they appoint a Commission? Did they ask to see EBT correspondence? Did they ask any questions at all? No. They did absolutely nothing.
“What compounds the breathtaking hypocrisy of the SPL in this whole saga, is that the SFA, the SPL and us - as the new owners - took part in numerous discussions regarding the new company’s league status during which it was made clear that a deal was there to be done where ‘the EBT issue’ would be dealt with as part of a package of sanctions which would be implemented in return for membership of the SFA and a place in the either the SPL or Division One. We do not accept that people who are willing to come to an agreement on such matters then have a right to instigate a full blown inquisition when matters do not unfold as they thought they would.
“In our view, it beggars belief that an authority which can be heavily involved in these discussions to the point that the Chief Executive Neil Doncaster repeatedly stated he was not interested in stripping titles from Rangers can lurch from that position to setting up its own Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Nimmo Smith. I must make clear that we are not questioning for a moment the integrity of Lord Nimmo Smith and his colleagues but we believe the SPL have been hypocritical in their approach to this matter. Quite apart from their negotiations with our consortium, I know the SPL were well advanced in their discussions with Mr Bill Miller and his representatives where EBT issues were raised and there was again an understanding that the EBT issue could be dealt with informally if new owners were to take over at Ibrox.
“Why is the SPL rushing to judgement now when it has been sitting on the matter for 2 years? Their haste is particularly difficult to understand when the tax tribunal judgement is imminent. The factual issues in both cases are identical. We have to ask why is the SPL so anxious to issue a judgement in this matter before the tax tribunal’s findings are made public. The position is even harder to understand when one of the reasons the SFA did not pursue any form of disciplinary charge on EBT matters following Lord Nimmo Smith’s April report was because it was felt unwise for the SFA to pursue the matter when the tax tribunal judgement had not been made public. Nothing has changed as the judgment still has not been made public. Why is the SPL rushing ahead when in April the SFA felt it unwise to do so?
“Rangers was not the only Club in Scotland to use EBTs yet nothing was done and little has been heard about it. Also, Rangers stands accused of achieving sporting advantage unfairly – yet there is little debate over the fact in all the years EBTs were in existence at Ibrox, the Club often failed to win either the league title, or the main cup competitions. Furthermore, the period concerned saw a significant downsizing of the playing squad both in money spent on transfers and players wages.
“The decision we have taken has not been taken lightly. There are powerful representatives from Clubs within the SPL – not all of them by any means – who appear hell bent on inflicting as much damage on Rangers as possible. It is lamentable that the Board and executive of the organisation have not been able to deal with this appropriately. We do not hold every SPL club in the same regard. Several clubs were placed in an invidious position and we believe their interests were not best served by those in more powerful positions.
“Furthermore, as a Club we are not satisfied that the issue of conflict of interest relating to advisers to the SPL has been satisfactorily dealt with.
“Once again I would thank our supporters for their patience and tolerance. They have been asked to take it on the chin time and again and we stand united in saying: No more. As far as I am concerned, Rangers Football Club has won a world record 54 league titles, and, whatever the decision of the SPL Commission, these titles cannot and will not be taken away from us.”