26 Nov 2012

The great Rangers tax avoidance scheme

Income tax was introduced in the UK as a temporary measure in time of war. It’s now the foundation of civic society: to each according to his means, a fair contribution to funding the state.

Income tax, therefore, is not just for little people, as the rich with their offshore tax avoidance schemes might like to suppose.

Though, with the Commons public accounts committee currently enraged at the £5bn now bypassing the taxman, perhaps our well-heeled friends with offshore trusts and so forth are right – tax can be a lifestyle choice rather than a legal obligation.

Thus, most reasonable people would want the taxman to investigate systems where people are receiving large sums of money and not paying up to 40 or 50 per cent income tax which all the rest of us have to find – or have it found for us at source.

So it is that taxpayers would welcome the HMRC investigation of the now-liquidated former Rangers company into how it paid players and some staff who received funds/money from employee benefit trusts (EBTs). A tax avoidance scheme where wealthy footballers and also club directors received tens of millions without paying a penny in tax, seems too good to be true.

It may yet be proven to be so.

All reasonable people would therefore welcome the taxman examining tax avoidance on the industrial scale of Ibrox, not least as we close our libraries and cut services (in hard-hit areas like Govan) due to the alleged state of public funds.

And we still cannot  know finally whether the great Ibrox tax avoidance scheme was legal or not since the tax tribunal is subject to possible appeal. For now, it’s been deemed by two to one, legal on the key narrow point of law regarding what a loan is. This may change in due course should there be an appeal.

If we consider HMRC’s response, it is clear that an appeal is high on the agenda, and that they rightly point out they have lost merely “this stage” of their challenge. They say:

“We are disappointed that we have lost this stage of the court process and we are considering an appeal.  The decision was not unanimous and the diligence of HMRC investigators was acknowledged by the whole tribunal. HMRC is committed to tackling avoidance and it is right that we challenge the type of avoidance seen in this case.”

So Sir David Murray is bang on the money when he says there is no victory here.

This blog has sometimes criticised those in the past, who have been too willing to accept passively Sir David’s word. I’m delighted, therefore, to say now that everyone should heed Sir David when he says there are no winners here.

You cannot win or lose due legal process until it is duly concluded. This process, with possible appeal, has clearly not yet run its course.

All talk of victory is  like celebrating winning the cup minutes from time when you know the other lot could score and send the whole thing to extra time.

HMRC have the option to appeal and tax experts I’ve spoken to all say what is obvious: the highly unusual split decision per se provides potential for appeal. HMRC note the rare split opinion in their statement above – that’s no accident.

Potential appeal grounds too exist in all the penetrating criticism of the Rangers EBT scheme; its operation and the conduct of the club in the course of this long investigation.

Let us highlight just some of the central observations the tribunal made:

  • the majority decision finds in favour of the taxman in the cases of five players (with the northern town aliases in the anonymised verdicts) over their contractual bonus payments
  • a key finding is that the conduct of the appellants with regard to the investigation was obstructive: “The progress of the enquiry was protracted and chequered due to key documents being withheld or actively concealed.”

Or this, for example:

“Mr Red was an incredible witness. It would appear that he was obstructive in his conduct during the HMRC’s enquiry, and obscurantist in the way he gave evidence…”

And there are numerous similar examples.

  • the operation of EBTs is comprehensively criticised from Jersey to Ibrox in terms of the agreements, oversight, and passivity of trustees
  • the minority opinion is in line with established legal precedent: “The dissenting opinion adopts the approach set down by the decision of the House of Lords in Ramsay in 1981. By giving regard to the intentions of the parties entering the arrangements, and in the absence of commercial reality for the loan structure, the monies received by the employees via the trust constitute earnings for income tax.”
  • On the issue of whether or not EBT monies were declared to the football authorities according to the rules, one opinion is unequivocal: side-letters, of course, had not been registered with the football authorities, the SFA and SPL. The spirit of their rules was that the whole contract terms should be registered.Suspiciously, no evidence was led as to who decided that the benefits in terms of the side-letters should not be registered. Non-registration of side-letters was incompatible with both authorities’ policing and disciplinary powers.”

This opinion will be of interest, given Lord Nimmo-Smith’s independent commission on just this issue, due to open on 29 January.

It makes the current Rangers owner Charles Green’s claim that this result undermines the commission look utterly bizarre.

HMRC may therefore appeal or may not. It could take a couple of months for them to decide.

More widely the club liquidators BDO will be exploring these lengthy, detailed and obviously highly critical judgements in forensic detail as they go about seeking potential sources of capital for creditors from the carcass of the dead old company.

BDO can look at directors’ duties and decide whether or not the directors were negligent in their handling of company funds, making gratuitous alienations and so on, with company funds. They are not bound by any HMRC concession that these EBT Loans were not sham trusts or sham loans – even were HMRC to concede this, and (subject to appeal) it is far from  clear that they do.

In short, Rangers play in Division 3 for one reason and one reason only: because of the financial management of the club’s directors. EBTs naturally attracted HMRC interest and thus became a major factor in rendering this great club virtually unsaleable (though far from the only factor), and contributing to its downfall.

HMRC told me this morning they have 56 days to appeal. Meanwhile the wider case for legislation on these loans looks even more overwhelming as the rest of us fork out more tax in return for spending cuts.

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274 reader comments

  1. col says:

    keep trying alex

    youre beginning to sound as bitter as the rest of scottish football

    1. John Gow says:

      Once again we have some people who will just not believe or accept truth. This article is merely stating facts. Facts that cannot be disputed. Some people never learn. Better to read the likes of Jim Traynor eh? His type having been leading you up the garden path for years yet you still think that he tells the truth. Carry on, carry on……..

    2. Carntyne says:

      Why don’t yopu read Thomson’s article and deal with the points made?

      Too difficult for you?

    3. Andy pandy says:

      Anyone who has an ISA or ever had one is now also responsible for hospital closures as they are all about paying as little tax as possible too……Aye right…Alex you got it wrong ,man up….It happens to eveyone …even the HMRC……

      1. Charles Lewis says:

        Indeed, anyone who has bought booze or cigarettes in the duty free has ‘avoided’ paying tax.

        Oh the ‘immorality’ of it all.

    4. st michael says:

      There’s a lot of hatred on this page but its not coming from Alex. As per usual someone does a story on rangers and the threats come flooding in from blinkered zombies. Instead of being angry why not listen to what hes saying? It’s your club you should want to know what’s went on so it doesn’t happen again? Any of you buying shares? Think it will get spent on the club or pay back the loans green and his xmen took out to buy and fund sevco giving them a get out? Have a hard think about it guys it is so obvious to everyone else. ‘Originally I was in it for the short term but now I’m in it for the long term’ in other words till he gets his money back. #openyoureyeszombies

    5. Derek Paterson says:

      why dont you concentrate on Starbucks etc. We have been proven innocent but yet you cannot accept this. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?
      Let go Alex truth will out

    6. Frank Cameron says:

      I remember a time when decency and honesty meant you apologised for any mistakes or errors you made,after reading this piece of fiction,it obviously doesn’t apply to you,thinking you’re right,doesn’t mean you are,try being honest with yourself,at least that way you can start looking in the mirror again.

  2. Campbell says:

    Coming soon…

    Downfall: How a once respected journalist destroyed his reputation by cosying up to bigots

    Any chance of a foreword or two?

    1. Carntyne says:

      Nonsensical drivel which does nothing to address the points made in the above article.

      Just the usual pathetic attempts to deflect attention away fromn the painful facts.

  3. Larry says:

    I knew it wouldn’t be long until we found out who the real Alex Thomson is. Poor journalist, shoddy articles, bitterness ousing from his lap-top.
    Now Alex do you think people are that gullible or are you just trying to wrack up numbers from Celtic fans reading your petty stories.
    We tax payers agree that tax avoidance should be stopped. If you are serious about this issue then stop with the Rangers hating, it’s making you look foolish now. Rangers as we all know are small fry in this issue. Shine a light on the large corporations stripping BILLIONS and stop trying to please the rebel hoards in Glasgow. There is enough bitterness in the city already.

    1. Carntyne says:

      The only defence deluded Rangers fans can come up with to the charges against Rangers, is that everyone who points out the truth is a Rangers ‘hater’.

      That is totally irrelevant, and nothing to do with the facts.

      No amount of of howling about Rangers ‘hating’ will deflect from the truth, which is now out there.

    2. SKeenan says:

      Ok then, by your standards I ought to be free to avoid tax. In fact we can all avoid tax as we are all small fry by your standards. Rangers have avoided tax of tens of millions. How many tens of millions of tax avoidance liability does it take to justify intervention by HMRC? 10? 15? 500?

      Your passion for your club has clouded your judgment and I am afraid it is you that looks foolish.

  4. John Fingland says:

    This tax avoidance scheme is small fry compared to the likes of Starbucks, Amazon and the likes of Philip Green but the mighty Alex Thomson saves his articles for Rangers. You have to wonder why?

    1. SKeenan says:

      Maybe no-one should write anything negative about the old club. Would that make you feel better?

      1. Billy Coyle says:

        If as you say,the old Rangers are the guilty party,as a new club the tax issue has nothing to do with the now new Rangers,why then is the old clubs history so important you, cant have your cake and eat it.

  5. Graham says:

    For a discredited journalist like yourself , it!s probably no surprise that you are unable to see the facts.
    The judgement was that these EBTs were not part of the contracts therefore were not wages and therefore are not taxable. The side contract issue therefore is not on the table. In fact the paragraph you quote was the HMRC lawyer case and not part of the judgement.
    In terms of the appeal HMRC can not appeal in terms of split decision or not agreeing with the verdict but only on a point of law in the process.

    Just apologise like Stuart Cosgrove and turn your limited knowledge and skills to something else but try and get facts right next time.

    1. bob says:

      If the loans were not contractual why would multi-millionaire footballers need loans that were not required to be paid back. Are all sevco supporters really that dense.

      1. Jimbo says:
    2. Carntyne says:


      Rangers fans have no interest in facts, only deflection from the truth.

      This story has a long way to go yet, and I have a feeling it will not end well for the Teddy Bears.

      1. Bruce says:

        It already has ended for them. Badly.

    3. SKeenan says:

      If you didn’t like the paragraph quoted perhaps you prefer this one cut and pasted direct from the judgement itself:
      “The conduct of the Murray Group in general, and Mr Red in particular, in the course of HMRC’s enquiry went beyond the description of ‘a lack of candour’. It would be judicial to conclude that it had been obstructive and obscurantist, and there is evidence of active concealment of documents, as the Respondents submit. Equally, to describe Mr Red as ‘somewhat defensive’ in giving his sworn testimony (para 10 MD) would be an understatement. On more than one occasion, Mr Red had attempted to mislead the Tribunal. The following paragraphs give examples of how Mr Red had made certain assertions or denials in an attempt to create an impression of the nature and operation of the Trust, which was commensurate with his own understanding of what would be the legitimate scope of its use as a tax-saving scheme.”

      1. Charles Lewis says:

        More ‘cherry-picking’ from the dissenting opinion. Why is it that you people seem unable to find anything in the majority decision …. you know, the one that actually matters?

        That said – and I can cherry pick with the best of you – I do like this part of the dissenting opinion:

        “The occasion of Rangers winning the UEFA championship led to six sub-trusts being created for Mr Warwick, Mr Camden, Mr Islington, Mr Kensington, Mr Balham, Mr Brixton to pay their entitlement via the trust arrangements.” (para 121, page 102)

        Real strong on the ‘facts’ is Dr. Poon.

      2. Frankie says:

        SKeenan, that paragraph is from the losing side.

    4. Spuds says:

      Eh Graham

      When are people going to realise that the Tax Case and the Commission are two completely separate entities? As I read it, Rangers’ tax liability has been substantially reduced, but they do NOT owe “zero” tax, just an awful lot less than HMRC were chasing. The SPL Commission is not bound by the findings of the Tribunal, in any way, shape or form. They are not not basing their decision on the law, just the SPL rules as they are written. If they find that these trusts were part of a contractual agreement that was not registered with the SPL, then Rangers will have broken SPL rules.

    5. PrideAndNoPrejudice says:

      Graham stated that “The side contract issue therefore is not on the table.”

      That is absolutely incorrect.

      The side contract issue is very much on the table. The side-letters were the the foundation upon which HRMC’s case was based. The side-letters were proven without doubt and are not therefore in question – it is an indisputable fact that they existed.

      Dr Poon was absolutely on the ball with her dissenting opinion. I defy anyone who reads the FTT report to not arrive at the same decison – and if HMRC appeals I would be very surprised if they did not win.

      The saving grace for the oldco is that it is not in HMRC’s best interests to appeal now given that they would be extremely unlikely to recover significant enough sums to justify the costs. Nevertheless, it is very possible that they will appeal, a) as a matter a principle and b) because a positive decision in their favour would increase their chances when pursuing other clubs.

  6. Paul Davis says:

    Alex – you disappoint me yet again. Whatever happened to the award winning journalist that was inside you? Seems to me that you are having a really hard time letting go of this subject and, at the same time, digging yourself into a deeper hole.

    Since HMRC can only appeal on a point of law (and not the verdict itself) there is no reasonable way for this to be concluded in HMRC’s favour. The decision was made based on the law as it stands. Nothing illegal took place. End of.

    Since you seem to be the custodian of truth on taxation – perhaps you would like to publish your tax records? I’m sure you have been paying all that’s due without investment in any scheme that could be interpreted as legal tax avoidance?

    1. Carntyne says:

      Alex Thomson has pointed out more than once he is an employee of ITN, and as such pays P.A.Y.E.

      His tax is deducted before he gets his pay.

    2. SKeenan says:

      Are you sure Rangers were paying their bills? Oh yes that’s right. It was liquidated owing, undoubtably, millions of pounds. What is you point?

    3. Spuds says:

      I’ll await HMRC’s decision on whether they do appeal or not before I’ll buy into the whole “point of law” argument, this term is being thrown about an awful lot over the last few days.

      1. Charles Lewis says:

        “You must explain why you think the First-tier Tribunal decision is wrong in law and state the outcome you are seeking.”


        Hope this helps.

      2. Frankie says:

        Spuds, that term is being used because it’s accurate.

  7. Charles Lewis says:

    Those of us who have actually read the Tribunal’s judgement will be less than impressed by your comments above. Cherry picking from the dissenting opinion to support an opinion that you have already formed is not just sloppy journalism but suggests a willingness to deceive the reader. I was not aware that this was consistent with normal journalistic ethics.

    Being a clever chap myself, I can also cherry pick from both the majority verdict and the dissenting opinion to show that contractual remuneration was disclosed to the SFA. And, further to your comment about ‘loans’, you may be interested to discover that counsel for HMRC accepted that they were loans and that they were not ‘shams’ (paragraph 188). It will be a little difficult for HMRC to go back and say “we didn’t really mean that’.

    Not that it matters. Any appeal can only be on a point of law and the fact that it was a majority verdict and not a unanimous one is not a point of law. If, indeed, there is an appeal it will probably be on the application of Ramsay and not on any of the points you make above.

    I am sure that Lord Nimmo-Smith will read the dissenting opinion. He will also read the majority decision. As the good Lord is most learned,I am sure that he will take into account when deliberating on this matter that it could all end up in the Court of Session. And that court will be most conscious of duly established decisions in law which are directly relevant to the case.

    1. Carntyne says:

      As you assure us I’m sure you are a ‘very clever chappie’, but let’s wait and see what the outcome of any HMRC appeal and the Lord Nimmo Smith’s panel’s conclusion on second contracts or side letters.

      I think it no coincidence that the tabloid’s have recently been featuring Ally McCoist’s plea to have Nimmo Smith’s investigation stopped.

      I expect more and more of this Rangers PR pap.

    2. SKeenan says:

      Were the side letters registered with the SFA which is a requirement of the articles of association?
      Simple question like. For a clever chap like you.

  8. Sean says:

    Obsessed with the worlds biggest club. Your stuff is extremely biased and weak Mr Thomson. Your Celtic minded sources have led you down the wrong road.

    1. Dave says:

      ‘Sean’: 26-Nov-12:”Obsessed with the worlds biggest club…..etc”??——–sorry…what planet are you on!(?) Bigger than Barcelona, or Real Madrid, ACMilan or Manchester United or perhaps even the Arsenal…I don’t think so!!!!

      There again none of those clubs have managed a half-decent crowd in the FOURTH TIER of their country’s leagues, as you keep telling us. What an achievement.

      Ho ho ho – perhaps you just meant this as a christmas joke…a bit like Chuckle Green’s mystical share offer?

    2. John Lennon says:

      Bad,bad man Alex….did no one tell you,you cant report the truth about Rangers..tut tut

    3. NumberNone says:

      “Obsessed with the world’s biggest club.”

      I’ve read the article carefully, no mention of Barcelona that I can see.

      Or did you mean Manchester United?

    4. PrideAndNoPrejudice says:

      “World’s Biggest Club” – ???

      You’re having a laugh right? You need to get a sense of perspective and reality.

      That’s as ridiculous as the constant statements about being the world’s most successful club. Absolute nonsense. You may have won more league titles than any other club but that is very different. On that basis, if I’d won a tenner on the lottery more times than anyone else, you would think I’m more successful than all the one-time jackpot winners.

      World’s biggest club? No, you were not – and you weren’t anywhere near being the world’s most successful club either.

    5. TheTruthIsOutThere says:

      Rangers fans need to move forward.

      Forget the past and throw your money behind the tribute act now wearing your old teams strips.
      If you are certain it’s all been a conspiracy….
      Invest, invest, invest in the brand spanking new baby, born into division 3.

      Lets ne honest, I doubt many of ‘the people’ who blame the financial death of Rangers on internet bampots and Hector will actually spend on this ‘new’ club.

      Oh wait, you bought the history.
      Maybe Britain can sell the battle of Hastings to America or China to help ease the economic downturn?
      …We can update history books accordingly.

      Don’t make me laugh….
      Rangers died, and unlike Lazarus, did not rise from the dead.
      A new team did (That’s why you ‘started’ in Div 3).
      …only the very good PR by Mr green, and the succulent lamb served by the MSM, has you throwing your support and cash behind this tribute act.
      Keep spending.
      Keep believing.
      Keep being ‘the people’

      as for the blog by Alex…
      Accept the truth as printed or offer evidence by way of dispute.
      Or just stop reading.
      You are here, reading this, because it is one of the only places you can get the truth.
      It’s hard to accept, which is why you lash out with ‘hate’.
      The defeat in the UEFA final was hard to accept, which was why you shamed Scotland by rioting in Manchester.

      You were Scotlands shame.

      Now, you have a chance to reinvent yourself with this new club.
      Help promote the national game.
      Help make Scottish football marketable.
      Help move forward.

      Or you could just be ‘the people’.

  9. Dilly Bodds says:

    Thank you once again Alex.

    Please keep the light shining on the darkest recesses of Scottish society.

    1. jim says:

      Ah , You must be speaking about Lennon and Hartson,
      Check out Lennon and Hartson tax scheme on Google , then crawl back under your Stone !

  10. trueblue says:

    we avoided nothing you muppet and the only reason were in division three is because of white putting us in to liquidation ,id worry about your job matey if murray pushes to have those who stuck their oar in charged

    1. Spuds says:

      Oldco still owe the taxman, and it’s possible that they could still have been major creditors and still rejected the CVA. Stop believing what the MSM and the rabble-rousers are feeding you.

      And what would Murray have them charged with?

    2. W Coyle says:


  11. Alex McDougall says:

    Dearo Dearo me Alex.. I won’t give you the gratitude of using your second name.. You must be scunnered at the fact your blogs and statements have all been complete and utter tosh.. Maybe you could try your hand at writing non fictional stories.. Or are you already doing that? You owe Mr Murray an apology.. You forewarded a book that was also tosh.. You go on about the pain of the taxpayer in Britain, what about innocent until proven guilty??

    1. rabthecab says:

      “what about innocent until proven guilty?”

      Read the FTT report properly, they were already found guilty!

  12. Donnie Doran says:

    Your report suggets that Rangers are alone in using EBT’s within the football community.
    Have you any data regarding which other football teams have used this scheme to pay their players or officials?
    Also, do you have any information regarding what opther organisations have used this or similar schemes to pay employees or associates?
    Considering these schemes have been around sinces the 80’s and were clearly seen as a useful tactic to avoid paying tax and NI it would seem strange that only Rangers have used them.
    In the interest of balanced reporting I would request that you report on all the other businesses, football clubs and individuals who have used these schemes to avoid paying tax since their inception.
    Whilst I am in favour of your interest in outing tax avoidance I am also very keen to see you and others being balanced in how you use the information you have available to you.



  13. ian denmark says:

    it,s about time this man,s agenda against rangers stopped.
    when will he start saying sorry for not investigating
    starbucks and every other company i.e BBC..
    for their legal tax avoidance?.
    only show in town is rangers.
    that is why.

  14. Jim McCoy says:

    Some Chip you have on your shoulder It must have been a very Hard pill to swallow for YOU when Rangers Won there Big Tax Case, In any Sport if a team wins 2-1 you accept the result, As far as the Tax man goes can they take the chance in spending another 4 Million on Principal and nothing else I don’t think so the fact they will be scrutinised to see the way they handled the whole affair some of there jobs might be on the line already,

    1. mulsiebhoy says:

      You say Oldco won the case Jim, haven’t they just been found to have lesser liabilities? A bit like going to the racetrack with £100 & claiming you’d won, because you only lost £20! And why would anyone offer to pay a £10million settlement, when you knew you were innocent of the charges? Should be interesting if BDO pursue the EBT benificiaries, for unpaid ‘loans’…then we’ll see the side-letters, of that I’m sure. In the meantime, please don’t complain that your consultancy/operation, isn’t for 2 yrs due to a lack of funding in the NHS! x

    2. rabthecab says:

      “It must have been a very Hard pill to swallow for YOU when Rangers Won there Big Tax Case.”

      Only they DIDN’T win – in 5 of the trusts adjudged by the FTT RFC(IL)/Murray Group were found liable for tax/NI.

      I am aware that in Scots law (in criminal cases at least) as well as guilty/not guilty there is a 3rd verdict available for consideration.

      The very best you could consider the FTT decision is that 3rd verdict, “Not proven.”

  15. Hughesy1873 says:

    Why not just come out and say you were wrong. Your journalism is shocking. You say HMRC have a couple of months to appeal then finish by saying they have 56 days. Which is it. You also make no mention of the fact that David Murray offered HMRC £10 million 3 years ago which they refused and then spent another £5 million on the case this has therefor cost the tax payer £15 million pounds. This does not include HMRC voting no to a cva and being the biggest crediter on money it now turns out they weren’t even owed. This costing other businesses a lot of money. They then let Craig whyte run up another £14 million of debt in PAYE and NI when he had previous for doing so. I can’t believe you have the audacity to defend HMRC who have sold the tax payer down the river. Your have criticised rangers and David Murray and attempted to cause bitterness to a great institution. All you had to do was apologise but instead you try to defend the indefensible and print the parts of a story that you want.

    1. andy says:

      2 febuarys equal 56 days unless its a leap year if im correct.

    2. Spuds says:

      2 months/56 days? You’re being slightly pedantic here surely? The verdict was delivered on the 20th, bringing it up to 62 days. EXACTLY 2 months.

      Yes they refused the £10m offer, and spent another £5m chasing the £100-odd million they believed they were due. And remember RANGERS appealed the original decision against them, so HMRC were initially proven to be justified, were they not? You can’t say they’re not owed anything, this judgement does not mean Rangers owe NOTHING, just a helluva lot less than HMRC wanted, but will still run into many millions. And they “let” Whyte run up £14mill debt? They “let” him do it? As in they set a trap and “let” him fall into it? Ridiculous!! If he had previous, shouldn’t Rangers have known about it and not “let” the club trade while insolvent?

    3. Kevin says:

      31+31-6=? Basic arithmetic. Amateur legal experts really should learn to ADD AND SUBTRACT.

    4. rabthecab says:

      “You say HMRC have a couple of months to appeal then finish by saying they have 56 days.Which is it.”

      Eh, how many days in a month, genius?

  16. Alan Mair says:

    Goodness me – that was a really biased piece of writing.

    Alex, you are obviously very hurt that the decision did not go the way you considered it should. I hope you are not as selective when reporting the news from around the world as you have been in this comment. I am not sure I can ever trust Channel 4 news to give us it straight when you are on the screen after reading this.

  17. gorillaintheroom says:

    Question – When is a loan not a loan?

    Answer – When you don’t have to pay it back.

    1. Frankie says:

      Even HMRC’s lawyer told the tribunal that the loans were not a sham.

      As for Mr Thomson, no doubt some will say it was sadly predictable that he would cherrypick aspects of the decision that are negative for Rangers. However, I can honestly say I am disappointed. I thought he was bigger than this.

  18. tom Lucas says:

    There is no doubt that the rules of the SPL have been broken and that is why Rangers are in the 3rd division.It is ironic that the club sign-up to the rules of the SPL but when they don’t suit them they want them changed. In addition whether the EBT’s are legal or not they are certainly immoral. For a club to claim that they are ‘British’ through and through then why don’t they pay their taxes like the rest of us?

    1. jim says:

      Don’t Pay Taxes,Mmmmmmm,
      Just check Lennon and Hartson Tax on Google , Whiter than White ( Not )

    2. Trevor Ferguson says:

      Tom – you are getting ahead of yourself again. Are you now an SPL lawyer? funny how you used to be an accountant and know that RFC had broken tax laws. Ooops.

      By the way, if EBTs are against SPL rules why werent Celtc punished for having one for Juninho?

  19. Graham Scott says:

    You have been one of the major contributors to the frenzy that saw Rangers declared guilty. It would be nice if you would admit that you were wrong. Your actions and those of Rangerstaxcase, and indeed those of HMRC have put this club where it is now.

    You should be big enough to admit that you were wrong and you should apologise for declaring us guilty, as far as I know you are innocent until proved guilty in this country, something that you clearly do boy understand, or wish to understand.

    You are happy to quote the one person who voted against us in the tribunal but why don’t you quote the other two. You are meant to be an impartial journalist and it is clear from your campaign that you are certainly not that.

    Why don’t you spend your time and efforts reporting on the disgrace that is HMRC, perhaps you could point out that they deliberated for 29 days but took 10 months plus to declare. It is totally unacceptable that HMRC can treat anybody in this fashion. Pethaps you could make the point that they refused £10m years ago when they had accepted £10m from Arsenal for an estimated £300 m bll. Perhaps you could point out that they refused a CVA at 8p when they accept 1p from Portsmouth.

    Perhaps you could become an impartial journalist, or then again, probably not.

    Graham Scott

    1. James says:

      A well made point that echos one I made as a comment to an earlier blog where I highlighted the lack of proper, objective, fact-based and balanced journalism by AT

      I want to see tax paid and consider myself a socialist and to a large degree I am disappointed that the club I follow pursued an albeit legitimate tax avoidance scheme as do many thousands of small busessess and large corporations.

      However the fact is Rangers are not guilty of any crime and certainly not the stuff of the hyperbole of AT and his disciples.

      The point is also well made about the C4 / AT lack of pursuit of other similar tax stories that must exist in football, sport (take golf!), business and politics.

      How about an expose on the Prime Ministers family wealth or the Chancellors or Starbucks, or Vodafone, etc….

      AT is a very poor, self interested journalist that does discredit to the profession he has chosen to pursue.

      By the way, should C4 news now also run a 5 minute update on the story, with the FTT result and possibly some sort of apology or retraction of “conflated” (copyright AT) stories designed to ramp up the anti Rangers perception?

      Where is a good C4 News editor when you need one??

    2. Frankie says:

      Perhaps Graham Scott would like to get his facts right, HMRC didn’t agree to a CVA at Portsmouth

    3. Dougie says:

      I find it amusing that Rangers fans are blaming their team being in Division 3 on the influence of Alex’s blog and the rangertaxcase blog. Nothing to do with the club accepting liability for the wee tax case then not paying that and not paying their NI and PAYE? Leaving aside the Big Tax Case, oldco currently owe HMRC over £20m? Nothing to do with Lloyds Bank deciding they wanted their money back and forcing Murray to reduce the amount of millions of debt he had with them? Instead of owing £135m if they had lost the Big Tax Case, Rangers were liquidated owing about £60m and Charles Green was offering creditors how much in the CVA while at the same time telling Rangers supporters that once creditors accepted the CVA the club would sign stars from last summers Euro 2012 tournament?

      Perhaps Rangers’ fans ire would be better directed at their own board members who ran a scheme where they loaned (cough) employees £45m in a 10 year period and the loan scheme allowed employees to never have to ever repay any of the loans back ever. So far, 2 years after the scheme ended not £1 has been repaid of the £45m ‘loaned’.

      If Rangers had never ‘loaned’ its employees and directors £45m then it would have been able to repay its current outstanding tax liabilities twice over and would never have been put in administration for debts which would have been around the size of Aberdeen FC’s current debt levels.

      Despite this i fully expect Rangers fans to continue to blame everything on Catholic journalists and Celtic sympathisers in the media or HMRC’s crazy and irrational decison to try and make Rangers pay up the wee tax case as agreed and pay their NI, PAYE and VAT like every other company.

  20. BigL says:

    If these EBTs are ‘loans’ can BDO pursue the beneficiaries of ‘loans’ for the repayment of said ‘loans’ to pay off the creditors . ?

    1. Douzpwa says:

      I doubt they will need to after all the liars and defamation cases against rangers by lazy reporters, bloggers and tweeters the old co in fact could make enough to pay off everyone owed! Question is is Alex Thomson and all the celtic fans and rest of rangers haters who wrongly called rangers cheaters about to throw up all that jelly and ice cream when they get a knock on the door for defamation? Me thinks yes :-)

  21. Big Mike says:

    Oh what a tangled web we weave! Lot of mileage in this story yet.

  22. andrew says:

    The aftermath of rangers being found innocent has been a great victory for our club and the only reason HMRC went after rangers with such vigor was to create a precedence to go after the 10+ teams in the EPL that used EBT schemes. If the amounts that were spoken of that were true that rangers were supposed to owe can you image the multi billions the EPL owe!!!!

  23. Patrick says:

    Wow! You put more emphasis on the potential appeal than the actual result.

    I observe that to be a tad odd, to say the least.

  24. the_Torch says:

    here’s what I believe to the be the number one question regarding the specific question of whether HMRC will appeal or not –
    What is the benefit of doing so? If the tribunal has decided that any monies due be paid by recipients of EBTs , then how is apportioning blame onto the old RFC going to yield a better result?
    Surely , from a tax point of view – more money can be recovered as a result of this decision than getting it reversed? Unless I am missing something fundamental? I mean I understand HMRC are one of the creditors, and would in theory gain on paper by reversing this decision – but who pays the fines and tax owed by a liquidated company?
    The moral issue is , of course completely different. Even the staunchest of Rangers supporters will admit deep down that these payments were not loans and part of the players and directors salary package. Everyone knows it , and it seems the parties involved managed (so far) to obstruct the tribunal just enough to render a 2 out of 3 verdict. I would dearly love to know if documents were obtained during Duff and Phelps time at the club – as there seemed to be an awful long time of inactivity during those months and it would not surprise me if the old “shredding” accusation was more than just a joke..

  25. Thomas Devlin says:

    “The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is.
    For to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves-and the better the teacher, the better the student body.”

    We want to be informed, sometimes we like what we read, sometimes less so but we are still informed.

    Scotland has very few true Journalists who are prepared to say what they believe.


  26. roger brookens says:

    Guilty till proven innocent, where is our great British justice system that is meant to protect, the whole case stinks

  27. section red says:

    blah blah blah blah,,,, your like a dog with rabbies

    1. mulsiebhoy says:

      A dog with ‘rabbies’?…does that mean it’s suffered Burns? You should be bard! x

    2. Tom says:

      Re read that, ‘a dog with rabies’.
      Shocking! Why not make a point?
      Has Alex lied? is there an untruth?
      I’m stunned by your utter ignorance.

    3. John Lennon says:

      Very intelligent reply..

  28. Matthew says:

    Hi Alex, remember back in June i asked you to give more evidence and ask if you should wait until the BTC was complete before building your hopes up, well here I am back from Pluto.
    See your still trying to grab onto every possible scrap to suit your agenda.

    I am not a lawyer or accountant and after this saga I will be more informed, not because of a blind hate to punish a football club that is seen as a Scottish Protestant institution but because I try to keep an open mind before coming to any form of conclusion.
    The decision from the first tier tribunal was based on existing points of law and as such the HMRC can only appeal on points of law, not because there was a split decision, or because one of the panels conclusions are being shown for the world and their dog to disseminate, at this point a majority is a majority.
    Which we should try to move on, maintaining the hatred is preventing anyone from moving forward.

    See you are still rolling out the SPL investigation into side letters, I think it fair you should tell your readers the tribunal findings that all player contractual information was passed to the SFA and as any additional loans were not contractual do not need to be disclosed. Even though these payments were disclosed, as far as I’m aware the only club not to disclose these EBT payments were Celtic, but surprise surprise they don’t have a case to answer. One rule for one another rule for everyone else.

    The most important part in all this mess is if HMRC had concluded this sorry saga earlier then, Murray would have been in a better position to sell Rangers, Lloyds would not need to force him to sell and the train crash would not have got into the front door never mind the boardroom.

    1. Moon Beam says:

      Everyone who says anything negative about Rangers (RIP) or Sevco does so out of “blind hate”, it’s all a big conspiracy.

    2. PrideAndNoPrejudice says:

      Matthew said “I think it fair you should tell your readers the tribunal findings that all player contractual information was passed to the SFA and as any additional loans were not contractual do not need to be disclosed.”

      Wrong. The FTT clearly proved that the side-letters were contractual. You should read their findings if you are in any doubt. Here are a couple of particularly apt extracts:

      From page 70 of the FTT report:
      “Another strand of evidence being tested was the nature and purpose of the sideletters. Asked about the secrecy surrounding the side-letters, referring to the fact that they were not lodged with the SFA, nor disclosed in the long period of HMRC’s enquiry, Mr Red’s reply was: ‘I still say there is nothing secret about them. We have nothing to hide in these side letters’. While not denying the proposition put to him by the Respondents that ‘there’s an overarching contract with each of the footballers, consisting of the written contract and the side letters’, Mr Red maintained that ‘it’s our view that the side-letter or the letters of undertaking do not need to be registered or lodged with the SFA’ (Day 3/31-32).”

      From page 87 of the FTT report:
      “In cases where the Remuneration Trust arrangement was used, the agreement would have two parts: the employment contract and a letter of undertaking, usually signed on the same day. The letter of undertaking is referred internally within the group as ‘the side-letter’, and stated that the employer would undertake to contribute specified sums at specified dates into the employee’s sub-trust. The side-letter was not lodged with the SFA or SPL.”

      The FTT clearly proved the existence and the purpose of the side-letters. They detailed monies that would be paid to players – for playing – and details should therefore have been given to the SFA / SPL. The only question now is the issue of the punishment – title stipping is surely on the cards.

      1. Bruce says:

        Those quotes don’t prove the side letters were contractual. They prove that one of the witnesses claimed they were contractual, in his view. IIRC, that witness’s testimony was slated.

      2. Bruce says:

        And aren’t you aware that p87 is well into the dissenting view which, of course, stated that HMRC’s assertion that EBT’s were payment, not loans, was correct.

  29. Archie Gemmell says:

    HMRC told you ‘this morning’ ? Why did you have to ask them ? The rest of the country have known since the day the result was announced how long they have to appeal.

    Don’t let your grief and disappointment at the result spoil your work Alex.


    1. W Wilson says:

      he wasn’t asking them anything, he was begging them to appeal.

  30. JohnC says:

    Is the liquidation of Rangers a big enough sacraficial succulent lamb to end the investigation into fiscal irregularities practiced by their administrators and the administrators of Scottish Football.
    Looks to me a mere layman thay the club was killed to cover the tracks of pirates.
    Hopefully it fails and justice is done
    I hear next week there will be a show of solidarity similar to the armed forces on Rememberance Sunday. 2000 unemployed health workers will be supported in a demonstration against cuts.
    Instead of firing an artilliary gun, supporters will be educated in the latest resuscitation techniques in case they ever need to revive their club again or assist with a patient at an understaffed hospital department. Shame

  31. Gary Usher says:

    Do you and the company you work for pay the correct levels of Tax?

  32. Chris B says:

    Not even trying to hide it anymore

  33. Alan Douglas says:

    Are you man enough to apologise for your pathetic anti-Rangers drivel Thomson.?

    No, I don’t think you are. Keep digging a grave for your own career. I find its best not to interrupt my enemy when he is making a mistake.

    1. John Lennon says:

      So why comment Alan?

  34. Dave Dunlop says:

    Give it up Mr Thomson. It’s making you look rather silly.

  35. HJC says:

    It is true Rangers have won a battle but the war still goes on, although reading and listening to the Scottish media you would think the war is over.
    If HMRC reads any of the media north of the border then they will require no more motivation to put right an obvious wrong.

  36. droid says:

    What a significantly contrasting report to that churnalised by the Scottish mainstream stenographers since Friday. Clinical in comparison to the obfuscation, Mr Thomson you nail it again!

    1. ed says:

      Pseudo intellectial alert !

      Fan – E

    2. ed says:

      Pseudo intellectual alert !!!

  37. Scottybhoy says:

    You’re right this is far from over and I would be amazed if HMRC do not appeal what appears on the surface to be a ridiculous decision. The scathing minority explanation from Dr. Heidi Poon supports this.

    As for the SPL commission, there is so much evidence in this report that it makes it almost impossible not to find Rangers in breach of the regulations. Not least the admission by Rangers own QC, Andrew Thornhill that the side letters were contractual. This being the case they are payments for footballing activities that were not registered and were deliberately hidden from the SFA and SPL.

    Sadly the MSM refuse to report this and have been in full gloating mode while ignoring the important elements of the report.

    1. derek says:

      scotty what is this MSM u speak of,may i take this moment to pass on my condolences in the sad departing of the rangerstaxcase,i know it was close to your heart,and no doubt nothing will be able to fill the space its departing has left in your heart,its a cruel,cruel world,R.I.P rangerstaxcase,you may be gone,but im sure you wont be forgotten…AMEN

    2. Frankie says:

      Celtic fans are of course clutching at any straw they can find. An appeal of the tribunal decision is only possible on a point of law. We’ll see what happens….

  38. Raymac says:

    I wonder if Wonga would give me a loan that I don’t need to repay. Incredible decision. Whatever happened to the “Golden Mean” in law? It looks as if the legal eagles found the grain of sand they were looking for on the seashore of Rangers/MIH business doings. I’m a retired VP and still pay around 15% tax on a fraction of what those “Directors” and footballers were receiving. If it’s good enough for me then it’s good enough for them.

  39. James Cameron says:

    As you allude to the Fat Lady has not sung yet. So we need to wait and see. Personally I can see an appeal coming. For such a case to rest on a slim interpretation of what a loan is ripe for appeal. The public deserve it.

  40. louie says:

    Any idea what the result of the FTTT was ?

  41. Stuart says:

    Do u not have anything else to write a bout but rangers ? Rangers have been guilty all along in your eyes but now innocent in eyes of the law so get it up ye until other wise proven we have done f all wrong and we are still the people

  42. Marc watt says:

    Almost a week after the verdict of the rangers EBT case, why do you feel the need to still be blogging about a subject that as far as I can tell, isn’t the most important piece of news in the headlines at the moment?
    We all know that this was a test case for HMRC , and although they are considering an appeal, they have just as much chance of losing that as well .Would you be willing to drop your infatuation with this club if that happens, or will you continue to write your blog?
    There are larger companies, and private citizens for that matter, that have far greater reason to be investigated by HMRC, and who could possibly bring in far larger sums of money to the economy than this case has. So Mr Thomson, as channels 4s “chief correspondent” shouldn’t you be reporting from Israel or on matters more important to the country as a whole?

  43. Aj says:

    Sadly your arguments are becoming more desperate, selective and futile by each passing week. I note your online buddy has now removed many of his posts – would you like to comment why this might be…….

  44. James A Barr says:

    Living in Scotland , as I do, it is shameful that I have to rely on an English journalist to give something other than a This is a great Victory for Rangers kind of article.
    It is more or less reported here, ie Scotland, as if Rangers did nothing wrong and would still be in the SPL were it not for those nasty tax people. There is hardly any mention of Dual Contracts nor of the milllions owed to other creditors.
    Scotland is a beautiful country but our Media is shameful.

    1. Archie Gemmell says:

      Yes You are correct. Scotlands media is shameful.
      The fact that there has been a feeding frenzy for the past two years by about 99% of the media accusing Rangers of cheating and similar is indeed ‘shameful’.
      That most, like Thomson are now seeking to twist the tribunal result around by concentrating on what the only Law expert on the panel said is also ‘shameful’.

    2. Ally says:

      If you’ve learned nothing, try and learn that presupposing the results of any enquiry is both unfair and risky. While there MAY have been some technical breach of rules, the inquiry has yet to sit, let alone judge.
      You also seem to ignore the money lost by Rangers (in whatever incarnation) due to the events of the last 8 months. The value of all the players on their books was lost, and could potentially have served to repay all the money owed had the club (and company) been allowed to regroup instead of being chased by the baying crowd with pitchforks. Rangers as a club are suffering more than anyone else as a result of this campaign of hatred, and the persistent pointing of fingers, even now, just proves what we’ve been saying all along. This was never about right and wrong, or even about tax – it was the weakened animal being set upon by the herd. Rangers supporters can walk with their heads held high, and can look to this as an opportunity to show the reason they are the biggest club in the land by coming back from this almost fatal attack stronger, bigger and more successful than ever. Live with it.

  45. william Anderson says:

    What you seem to miss is that Rangers case was upheld it does not have to be all three of the people judging the case to reject or uphold the case against Rangers we do have majority verdicts in our courts it happens every day.
    It is also a fact that EBTS are legal,you may not agree with them but they are legal,and how come HMRC picked on Rangers they are small fry in comparison to Starbucks.Google and Amazon will you be so robust in your pursuit of these companies or do you have some kind of vendetta against Glasgow Rangers I will watch with interest.

  46. UncleNos says:

    You are obviously from the other side of Glasgow by your comments. You are blind if you think that HMRC’s incorrect attack on Rangers was not the only reason that some more credible figure was found as a buyer and Rangers not taken properly forward. The moral stand point is not in question by any supporters I have spoken to but as you rightly say those with money will find a way of avoiding paying tax (just as most would). I see little moral difference in celtic trying to avoid VAT a few years ago. Side letters or not it makes no difference these where loans and as such are not payments for playing that is why Green is right in saying that this ruling undermines the SPL comity. As for BDO recouping any monies, not likely, the loans when due are repayable to the trustees and not Oldco, this money is outside the remit of Rangers then and now (part of how EBT’s work)
    I find your one sided and blinkered report fairly typical of the media when it comes to being made a fool and now you are trying to cover our butts since being proved to have jumped the gun calling for Rangers to be taken out and shot.

    1. John Lennon says:

      Dont think he’s from Glasgow? And he’s already stated he’s NOT a Celtic fan…oh,wait…he’s an honest , factual reporter…aye he must be a Celtic fan..go away and read your Succulent Lamb,scottish media if you dont like it..

  47. C says:

    You should go do some proper journalistic investigation into something new. Very lazy and spiteful nonsense

    You must be proud!

  48. Brian says:

    Many outside, though despairingly few inside, of the Scottish mainstream media have written at length in regard of this subject whereby receiving unacceptable levels of criticism for having done so.

    It’s been said that such an interest is nothing but an attack on Rangers and an act desired to destabilize a great institution, it is even heralded by the brain-dead amongst manys a cyber community as an attack of powerful Catholic figureheads, hellbent on wrecking all that will not conform with Romes rule…absolute nonsense and cringeworthy at best.

    Now however there is an even more surprising, though equally as alarming, twist to this story.

    The seemingly never ending story of ‘alleged’ tax avoidance at Rangers; many are being ridiculed and taunted in the face of what is peddled as a ‘victory’ and a vindicative judgement.

    Worse still, many of the stories main characters has postured up and insisted that legal actions should be forthcoming.

    In fact, a popular, though quite why; god only knows, national newspaper whoms circulation is predominantly aimed at the west central Scottish male (a surprisingly narrow target demographic for a ‘national’ profit seeking company albeit that of a written press group whoms ‘holding company’, the larger media empire that own it are said themselves to be some tens or more accurately hundreds of millions in debt themselves, though I can’t imagine why, after all it seems such a sensible business model, anyhow I digress), have actually insisted that Rangers, now I can only assume this to be the dead, liquidated and rightfully entitled to be known as ‘Rangers’, may seek to sue HMRC and the footballing authorities for playing an ‘investigative role’ in their downfall.

    Seriously ‘litigation’ for having stood accused…if true this could make some interesting shockwaves through criminal court cases, especially those were ‘not guilty’ was NOT the expressed verdict…’not proven’ or charges removed on matters of a technicality have never amounted to vindication in my, nor any sane persons mind.

    The verdict must be tempered as you so rightly point out, Alex, with the very deliberate wording of the judges summary.

    The FTT verdict certainly shocked a few of us, an appeal by HMRC most certainly wouldn’t. But did the judgement actually provide absolute vindication or merely serve to emphasize the morally reprehensible conduct of an organisation who have tread an, as yet, untraceable path through a maze of very complex and thorny legal issues?

    What as you say, is absolutely certain is that there can be no winners, not when the end result is a list of unpaid creditors and a public purse hamstrung by actions of massive institutions, which to any right thinking person, are deliberate acts to avoid taxation…whether that can be absolutely proved to be legal, illegal, fair or not, these schemes are contrived to cheat the public purse…that much is surely not even up for debate.

    For that last reason alone I must state how proud I am to see a journalist like yourself, speak without fear or favour and to summarise such complexity of law in such lay-man terms.

    I sense that as result of the recent FTT judgement, at this juncture neither the Rangers tax case is a thing of the past nor is the virtually certain wave of similar cases soon to be brought before court featuring big English football clubs.

    HMRC are playing a long-term strategy but their end game is clear…win at all costs and one case at a time seek to close the loopholes that so far have assisted organisations in hiding behind previously held legal precedence and restrictions.

    If HMRC are to have their way, soon everyone must pay all that is due and tax avoidance will be a thing of the past. The blurry lines between ‘avoidance’ and ‘evasion’ will then be much clearer for all to see.

    An enjoyable read and a very like-minded summary, thanks Alex.

  49. Alexander says:

    Oh dear Alex such a one sided piece….one could be forgiven you had a vested interest in the book Downfall. Either that or you were trying to antagonise the Rangers suppport to issue a threat from a spoof account.

    Oh wait a minute….

    You really are a complete charlatan.

  50. Allan says:

    Deary deary me, does Alex require some dry stalks of last years harvest to grab a hold of?

    What an utter load of old tosh. This banal rant is typical of a man about to be proved oh so wrong after listening to the whispering lies from those who tried to kill off this great club.
    Pack up your index finger and have a look at Amazon or Starbucks ya plum.

  51. Stan says:

    Welcome to Scotland Alex, unfortunately we have people who are incapable of being able to process facts and form an opinion for themselves. They attack anyone who has a different opinion to them.

    The tax case is far from over along with BDO and Scottish footballs enquiries into the old Rangers football club. It cannot be right that rich people can be given millions in loans and never have to repay them, it is like getting of on a technicality, that does not make it right.

    New rangers being a new club should not be impacted by any of this as they seek to win their first trophy. BDO need to go after any source of money owed to the old club for the benefit of the creditors who are owed money.

    Decent people should not celebrate that tax free loans were given to rich rich people , even if it exploited a loophole and was found legal, whilst the most vulnerable people in our society suffer in these times of austerity. It is probably lost on some people that their is an irony regarding their celebration of the FTT and the impact on their lives regarding local services being withdrawn due to reduced funding.

  52. del says:

    Excellent article. Its not over until its over. This is going to run for a long time yet.

  53. Kieron says:

    Lot of Zombies on here pretending they have won a great victory. Er its not over yet and your club is still dead. mwahahahaha

  54. steven holden says:


    Give it up. They won the case against HMRC. Now how about you spend a few days to think about how else you can keep yourself in the public domain. The Liquidation of Rangers FC is all but wrapped up. They are in Division 3 now so Relax and Enjoy the next three Seasons.
    Just move on now and Stop Playing up to the Away Crowd. :-P

    P.S Myself and two friends met you in person this year and discussed your true thoughts on things its over. Peace to you

  55. Jamie says:

    It staggers me the number of the rangers fans on this who simply cannot admit their former club, the establishment, the quintessentially british club, actively sought out ways to avoid paying tax to the 1 person and nation they go to great lengths to proclaim! The irony of it all is flabbergasting.

  56. Deansy says:

    Alex – bet it comes as no great shock that your blog is inundated with views from ‘The Dark-side’ – don’t worry, it won’t last long. An appeal will look at WHY one judge (qualified in tax-matters) found them guilty based on the documentary PROOF but the other two (NOT qualified in tax-matters) found them not guilty based on ‘verbal testimonies’ from the very people who stood to gain from this scam ???. It’s almost as if the court had the murder-weapon, the fingerprints, the DNA, witnesses etc – but then let the accused off because he said “I didn’t do it” !!!

  57. Alistair M says:

    All you’ve done here is reiterate the case for the prosecution (the same one that the criminal behind the RTC blog very selectively leaked). But there’s also a case for the defence, and it’s a stronger one – hence the FTT’s decision. At the very least, you must accept the findings of the hearing add credence to the notion that Sir David Murray followed his tax consultants’ advice in good faith that the schemes under scrutiny were within the law and within the rules.

    In any case, to put this article into glaringly obvious context: Companies seek to minimise the amount of tax they pay. So do individuals. I have an ISA. Wealthy football managers seek to invest in schemes which keep the pounds they earn in their own pocket

    The much-celebrated superheroes of football, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have colossal debts – including substantial unpaid tax bills. Do you believe that if you investigated the payments and bonuses of Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal or Spurs players that they would have taken no measures to avoid paying tax? The simple fact of the matter is that football clubs do what they can to maximise the bang-to-the-buck ratio of their expenditure in order to offer the best entertainment possible to their supporters.

    HMRC thought they could call Rangers out on their use of EBTs, and so far they have been proved wrong. They may well appeal but to what worthwhile end? There is literally NO CHANCE that they can recover the amounts they claim are due since the oldco has been liquidated. Three years ago they rejected a £10 million settlement offer and went on to spend several million more pounds of taxpayers’ money in pursuit of an appeal clearly destined to be fruitless. To my (admittedly limited) knowledge, HMRC have NEVER successfully challenged a company over its use of EBTs. Why would they gamble yet more public money on an appeal that they are no more likely to win, and which would, in any case, result in a net loss?

    The loophole has been closed. EBTs are now illegal and will never be used again. It’s just another skirmish in the continuing arms race between taxman and taxpayer.

    1. Al Ansar says:

      Well done Al. Your use of the word ‘outwith’ has outed you as being from within ‘Scotlands borders’ as you put it yourself. Methinks you are masquerading as an impartial party in this, like Mr Thomson purports to be. I wonder what your own real affiliations are?

      Your obvious bitterness is symptomatic of those who have sought to exploit this case for their own partisan ends. Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel now.

      A sea change is on the way. Let us hope it sweeps away both your bitterness and the self righteous cloak behind which Mr Thomson has tried to conceal his predjudices.

      By the way (another phrase from north of the border you note) the initial s in scot free is not normally capitalised, as it comes from an old word for a tax (ironic eh!), rather than the demonym for folks from Scotland.

      Pip pip!

  58. al says:

    Well done Mr T.

    If this was all left to those within Scotlands borders to investigate or decide upon Rangers (1873) would have gotten off Scot free with everything.

    Their bullying nature however does not extend outwith the small world they, their cohorts and sympathisers once ruled by hook or by crook.

    Even still the arrognace and denial oozes from their comments as if this was all someone elses fault. They were the innocent party. Well tell that to the scores of people they left short and to all those who lost out because Rangers decided to use the tax money to fund their football team.

    And then they use the recent judgement as if it is proof they are the victims. Laughable.

    Justice was done to a great extent anyway and perhaps if there is any fair play in Scotland they will be posthumously stripped of the trophies they won with the aid of the money they stole. Money that should have being used to not just to pay newsagents, facepainters and florists, but also to run the military, which they have such a fetish about, schools, of all denominations and scores of other organisations and groups which rely on all of us to pay our taxes.

  59. John Kone says:

    Alex, really, it is about time you got away from you obsession with rangers, it is no longer healthy. This one sided view you have is very sad for a so called professional journalist, i will never believe another word said on channel 4 news.

  60. Freddie says:

    That was a peculiarly ‘West of Scotland’ decision on the BIG TAX CASE Alex. Don’t you dare investigate ? The appeal will overturn the ‘majority’ decision.

  61. czech mate says:

    “Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.”
    ― Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

    Alex, in the interests of transparency, and demonstrating your moral integrity (for this is surely required for any self proclaimed judges of ‘immoral’ behaviour), are you wiling to state here and now that you have never undertaken any activities that have resulted in reducing you tax liability from the maximum possible rate?

    And if so, are you willing to publish full details of your earnings and tax payments. Any reluctance to do so may infer that you have something to hide, and therefore give the doubters reason to undermine your admirable moral stance.

    1. PrideAndNoPrejudice says:

      To the likes of Czech Mate and others above –

      Why on earth should Alex Thomson be expected to disclose his personal tax information to all and sundry? So nobody can comment unless they disclose their tax records to Joe Public and prove that they haven’t used a tax avoidance scheme.

      By your rationale, presumably you will therefore be publishing your own tax records, yes?

      No, of course not.

      The supposed arguments about morality hold no water anyway. You appear to forget the basic tenet that tax avoidance is absolutely legal and above board. Tax evasion on the other hand…

  62. John Dryburgh says:

    Alex, do you have an ISA? Do you have an accountant that helps find you find tax efficient ways of using your money?

    Where is the vitriol for the current and former members of the celtic staff that invest in film companies to avoid paying tax

    the governemnt encourages companies to find efficient ways of avoiding corporation tax

    why the attack on Rangers, not Starbucks. or the BBC, or Vodafone…?

  63. Philip Edwards says:


    I fear you have trodden on that weird animal – football chauvinism.

    Keep up the good work.

  64. david mclaren says:

    Why are you word for word the same as proven sectarian bigots,are you one yourself? Or are you just a weak fool taken in by your fine friends who have duped you big time.

  65. John Dryburgh says:

    For an Employee Benefit Trust (EBT), to be operated legally for tax purposes, money is deposited in the trust by the employer. Thereafter, the employer must have no control or involvement in the disbursement of funds. Employees can then apply to the trust for loans. The loans must be discretionary i.e. contractual obligations or wages (of any kind) cannot be paid tax-free through an EBT.

    CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS cannot be paid tax free.

    In the SPL, contractual obligations have to be declared to the SPL, how can they still examine Rangers if the FFT agrees these were not contractual obligations?

  66. William MacRitchie says:

    I must have missed some really important classes at law school. It was not until I came across the likes of Alex that I realised that a 2-1 majority verdict is somehow tainted. No – all three judges have to decide in Rangers’ favour for it to be good law!

    And even if all three had decided in Rangers’ favour, people like Alex would be determined it was only half time – as an appeal is possible. And for Alex, the mere possibility of an appeal renders the initial judgment unreliable. What idiocy.

    He talks of the tragedy of libraries closing through lack of funding. No word about the tragedy of a 140 year old institution dying because HMRC decides to hound them out of existence. In Alex’s view – HMRC’s victims are smug millionaires like Sir David Murray. The reality is, of course, that Rangers are and always have been the favoured team of the West of Scotland’s sprawling underclass. How satisfying it must be to educated middle class bigots to be able to put the boot in to them.

  67. Keith says:


    You are a disgrace to your profession


  68. droid says:

    My goodness have you seen such a salvo since you where last in Gaza? How quickly bravery and it’s respects are forgotten.

  69. David Hamill says:

    Mr Thomson, do you use a Financial Advisor/Accountant when dealing with HMRC in relation to what you require to pay. I’m quite sure he will advise you the best way to to limit what you pay within the regulations.
    This is what Rangers done, the regulations were changed many years later and HMRC tried and so far have failed to backdate them. They are not the only club in Scotland to have used them.
    There are many Tax avoidance schemes out there, planting trees, Film Industry (ask former players of other Scottish Clubs how that went). Yes morally wrong but just about everybody has done, tips,homers, working while on benefit, tax avoidance is widespread.
    Can you look in the mirror and say No not me. I doubt it very much.

  70. carson says:

    the tribunal went for rangers ? if it did not why would hmrc appeal ? the two legal men , (legal experts ) went for rangers ? is the third member a legal expert ? how is your complaint about how you were threatened coming along ? are you a fantasist ? are you still considered a respected journalist ? were you really in gaza ? i would love a reply , or even to have this posted , please but i dont think you will unless three names gives you the ok.

  71. Disappointed says:

    I’m disappointed that in your blog you have failed to address the far more serious issues of:

    – Why HMRC despite having a now clearly flimsy case rejected an offer of £10 million 2 years ago and wasted several million more taxpayers money pursuing this?
    – Who within HMRC was responsible for the frequent leaking of information which caused massive damage to the name of Rangers football club who have now been shown to be innocent.

    Will you cover these two issues in your next blog?

  72. old codger says:

    So transparent, Mr T, get over it.

  73. Kaiserdozy says:

    C’mon Alex, can you please indulge us in one of your Syrian Indiana Jones style blogs. I loved reading about those escapades, even though ‘The Temple of Doom’ was more believable.

  74. Ally says:

    Shouldn’t you be spending your time deleting your previous posts like your fellow Rangers hater over at rangerstaxcase instead of desperately trying to find chinks in the pretty cast iron result from the tax case?
    Rangers have accepted the outcome of the last 18 months debacle. They’ve accepted, to a man, that they play in the third division, that they lost all their players due to the company reform – at a cost significantly more than that owed by the last company. That they were led down a destructive path by one careless owner. That the vilification of all things Rangers over the last 8 months has been almost universal due to a constant campaign by “writers” such as yourself?
    As always, the Rangers family have dealt with the time with dignity despite much provocation.
    You would do well to realise your position is now untenable and back down from your ridiculous campaign and start worrying about your own career.
    The indépendant review is coming. You’re in the headlights.

  75. Jim smith says:

    The hypocrisy in that blog is amazing, going on about money lost to the tax payer in one sentence then calling for even more tax payer money to be wasted on an appeal that will fail. This case has already cost hmrc/tax payers £4,000,000 and you want them to spend another £2,000,000 to run around and chase their own tails for the next 2 or 3 years?

    Rangers won the case end of, dry your eyes and move on to a real story. Your propaganda has failed it’s only a matter of time before the spl ends it’s witch hunt now and Rangers are fully exonerated.

    Time to eat humble pie.

  76. JohnC says:

    From all the crowing going on, I expect every other appeal and investigation will be welcomed with open arms, as they will only further clear the name of the memory of the once mighty club Rangers. Charges of irregularities and disrepute must be dealt with through full co-operation with any and every investigating body.
    As each appeal and investigateion clears them of another trumped up charge, the campaign of victimisation is revealed peice by piece, there can be no greater vindication of innocence.
    Meanwhile back in the real world obfuscation and misdirection and a squalor for immediate cesation to any further investigations are the chosen response, WHY

    1. rabthecab says:

      “there can be no greater vindication of innocence…”

      Yet another one who hasn’t been paying attention; in the matter of 5 of the trusts examined the FTT found that there was tax & NI to pay, ergo protestations of innocence are at best misguided. As I stated earlier (and others have since) there is no such thing as a little bit guilty.

  77. monthegoats says:

    Tomo the trumpet blowing hot air again ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  78. SairFecht says:

    ‘Tax is a cancer on society’ – Paul Baxendale Walker, tax guru to Rangers under David Murray and associates. The ordinary football fan has undoubtedly suffered enough from this – but in a situation where an individual or organisation can get away with granting themself a tax-free loan of £millions and not pay it back in their lifetime and still call it a loan – then surely it’s time to nail it down and do something about it. Creditors are owed millions – time to call in those ‘loans’ – every penny if necessary – and get some real justice for Murray’s corporate mismanagement. (Starting with his). As well as hindering (and consequently delaying) the tax case through non-co-operation I seem to recall some problems with handing over documents to the EBT/dual contract investigation as well – published evidence (if genuine of course) of an instruction to destroy an email relating to the matter – and finally refusal to answer to the tribunal. Surely no-one – even the most passionate Rangers fan – can suggest that all of this can now be simply swept under the carpet? Why want to reward the blatant arrogance shown by this ‘cabal’ now that they are officially no longer part of the Rangers set-up?

  79. BlueNotWhyte says:

    A truly embarrassing outcome for HMRC. Around £2mil owed by the Rangers according to the tribunal and yet HMRC refused a £10mil offer from the club ?

    Mind you there are not the only ones with red faces as the so-called expert online bloggers predictions of a “guilty” verdict has now been exposed as the complete nonsense more level-headed, and better qualified, observers expected it to be.

    Also there is no escaping the fact that a tribunal deciding whether payments to employees fell within the legitimacy of an EBT tax-saving scheme or not, is not a criminal trial, so therefore there can be no “guilty “ or “not guilty” verdict.

    And there remains the crucial point that it was always in Rangers best interests to exercise vigilance over these schemes in order to maximise their tax-saving benefits. So it came as no surprise to those with a bit of common sense that the only strands that fell outwith the remit failed to qualify on the minutiae of the structure of the schemes rather than any intentional shifting of the EBT goalposts.

    But surely the biggest shame of all lies at the door of a cash-strapped SPL desperately trying to welsh a few bob of the Rangers, or to defraud the Rangers of hard-earned trophies, via an ambiguous tribunal set up to “punish” them purely on the semantics of “side-letters”?

    They may ignore the facts at their peril. All EBT’s were fully and openly declared every year and any alleged “side-letters” made no material difference whatsoever to the actual payments which were all duly declared.

    Let’s hope that those SPL clubs, and certain media outlets, have very deep pockets, as with the Rangers FC completely vindicated of any wrongdoing, there is now the matter of litigation and possible criminal proceedings against the real guilty parties in Scottish Footballs most shameful episode.

  80. John says:

    Good golly – the pain is strong in this one. Which is lovely!

  81. OnlyFactsWillDo says:


    Page 28/29

    “Then, Mr Thornhill submitted, the employee should be taxed not on the emolument but on the benefit. It was irrelevant, he continued, whether the Remuneration Trust benefit was contractual. He conceded that where it derived from a (footballer’s) side-letter it was contractual, but not in the cases of bonuses paid to employees of other Murray Group companies.”

  82. slartibartfast says:

    Enjoy your next Starbucks Alex

  83. bill says:

    come on now alex…say sorry..then go away never to darken our door again…

    or are you just gonna make more tales up…..

  84. graham riddick says:

    Looking forward to you doing a special report on the tax avoidance schemes by the present Celtic manager,one of their previous managers and a host of ex Celtic players
    However i won’t hold my breath, as you obviously only see through your green and grey specs

  85. Philip Morrison says:

    Stick to reporting in a war zone, its far safer than upsetting Rangers fans. No matter the logical arguments you use their blinkered outlook will not see sense. How can people defend millionaire footballers receiving “loans” in order to defraud us the ordinary tax payers is beyond me.

  86. Davie_Edinburgh says:

    Dear…oh dear. What a bitter twisted lot all those ran*ers fans are.
    The facts are that HMRC were probably just trying to get their heads around such a perverse split judgement in favour of the tax avoidance scheme – which accounts for the lengthy delay in announcing the FTT.
    The clue might be in the F, as in FIRST which suggests as detailed by Alex Thomson above that it should be referred upwards to an UPPER tax tribunial for a more realistic & in my opinion correct decision.
    The judges have even so pointed out that some of these EBTs have not been set up correctly and there will be tax to pay on those – maybe not £49m plus penalties but a significant amount nevertheless.
    Unregistered side-letter or dual contracts could also be quite a pandora’s box for oldclub and MIH.
    Finally, why would anybody think that these EBTs were a “good idea”, or passionately defend their use (as above, numerous) – even if they have (-at this halfway stage-) be deemed semi-legal? Murray’s scheme along with massive over-spending on players effectively resulted in non-interest by any reliable purchaser for his “5-star” club, which meant that someone like Craig Whyte was able to buy Rangers for £1.00 and proceed to mortgage off it’s heritage, then proceed to CHEAT ( yes CHEAT!) all us taxpayers by not paying any P.A.Y.E. or N.I. for over 10 months – subsequently leading to the ignominy of liquidation.

  87. Colin Hutchison says:

    Biased opinion, HMRC aappealing is the equivelent of a suicide mission wasting money at every turn, they have leaked information the whole way through and should be investigated. However you don’t mention this in you on sided article. Poor poor poor reporting.Biased one sided article.

  88. listenteyerda says:

    Rangers FC. The club or company or whatever They are called, the Company or Club that appealed against a Tax decision that was made 3 years ago,seems to have won their appeal, although Hector might just Start to work on this controversial reversal! The point I make is that Rangers FC .or whatever their old fans call them, are EXTINCT because of NOT PAYING Income Tax, not because they TRIED to AVOID Paying, This is NOT the CLUB who now find themselves in the 3rd division,as most of their old fans would like to hope! This is a New team in the 4th tier, and should not even be in that division,according to the rules! Now, referring to the Excellent blog by one of the most respected reporters in these isles , I find it amusing,but not the least surprising, that the comments above about the Foreword in a book, a Best Seller! should annoy such Naive fans, A Tosh Book they say! DOWNFALL Written by a Celtic fan who Warned the then living Rangers,over two years ago What was about to Happen! and it came to pass!

  89. Barney says:

    I expected justice and this is what we get. Hopefully HMRC will appeal and expose this scam, for that is what is, once and for all. I held grudging respect for this club over years – not any more.

    If I ever hear the word “dignity” and Rangers in the same sentence I swear I will throw up.

  90. Manandboy says:

    Hi Alex,

    A pleasure to read once again another of your excellent pieces.

    Pay no attention to most of these comments – it’s just the orchestrated reaction of the criminal club as they are reminded of how things are not going to go their way.

    For myself, you’re still one of the best.

  91. DUNCAN says:

    You need to give this nonsense up you will only end up bitter and twisted like a wee ginger man you may know, come to a home game at Ibrox as were all loved up in SPL 3 join the people at the worlds best football club.

  92. David Black says:

    I don’t think it really matters whether HMRC chase money that is not obviously there from the defunct Rangers FC, however the investigation has most certainly proved beyond all doubt that players did receive contractual payments that were noty declared to the SFA. 3 points docked for every game those players appeared in, or just take any prizes won during those years

    1. Bruce says:

      Has to be the 3 points docked and see where that leaves us.

  93. Margaret Anderson says:

    I am sick to death of people still sticking the boot into Rangers. What sad, lonely lives they must live. I always thought if you were charged with an offence the majority verdict stood! Not so according to reporters none more so than this one. The decision has been made, get over it. If HMRC had enough evidence to prove that Rangers were wrong then they would have produced their evidence before Rangers were liquidated and they would have stood a chance of getting their money but they won’t get anything now. But they didn’t so they are now grasping at straws.

  94. George says:

    Thomson, what I find astonishing is your total lack of willingness to accept that you backed the wrong horse and got this whole thing badly wrong. EBT’s are not illegal and in my view it is the responsibility of everyone both private and corporate to minimise by all legal means the amount of tax they pay. The country is awash with highly paid accountants whose sole purpose in life is to achieve tax minimisation for their employers/clients. Anyone who starts pushing the morality argument really has to think carefully, are not ISA’s and TESSA’s just a legitimate form of tax avoidance?
    Your highly selective use of excerpts from the FTT report and inaccuracy as to on what basis HMRC could justify launching an appeal just make you look rather amateurish from a journalistic point of view and far from impartial in relation to this whole subject. I really think the time has come for you to stop blogging on this issue as your obvious bias and vitriol towards Rangers and it’s fan base appears to be affecting your ability to think straight.

  95. SootsyBhoy says:

    Does this so called ‘verdict’ mean rangers ain’t dead pmsl

  96. The Iceman says:

    A clear and factual account. Worryingly no newspapers nor the BBC in Scotland have chosen to present this to the scottish people and instead have fed them a frenzied myriad of untruths purporting to clear rangers – the FTTT judgement does no such thing.

    It is deeply worrying that those Rangers fans who claim they have read the FTTT result and are commenting on here – clearly haven’t.

    Thommo’s report is accurate in every detail. He quotes from the findings. It is also worthy of note that none of the majority judges saw fit to challenge or note any inaccuracies in Heidi Poon’s reading of the case.

    The decision rested not on an exoneration of Rangers but on the Ramsay principle – that existing legislation covered this case based on trusts and loans and therefore they had no jurisdiction whereas one judge felt that the reality of the mismanagement of the trust and its abuse by Murray and Rangers – which none of the judges disputed – was such that to allow it legal staus was simply flying in the face of the reality of how it operated regardless of its legal status. A complex judgement and one I can report but do not have the expertise to comment on.

    Given the outstanding cases as documented by Thommo above then an appeal seems very likely.

    The delays in this tribunal’s findings which did indeed contribute to the collapse of Rangers were entirely down to Rangers’ conduct – they deliberately delayed – as agreed by all sides. Instead of raging at HMRC Rangers fans should surely reflect upon the conduct of Sir david murray which precipitated the death of the club.

    Rangers died becaude of the actions which were reckless of David Murray – he failed to co-operate with the tax authorities and failed to provide sufficient finance to cover a losing verdict. This was reckless and led directly to the downfall of Rangers. The real victims were and are the Rangers supporters – and the only culprit was the owner of the club from 2001 – 2011.

    Why the loyalty to a man who even in this supposed victory ( 5 cases were lost and an undisclosed number not contested – so an admission and a finding of guilt on some but not all charges would be more accurate) is revealed as obstructionist and non-cooperative and who destroyed your club? You now support a new one ( and good luck I seriously mean that – what has happened to your club is shameful) and treat it as the old one – you are entitled to do that .

    You are in SFL3 – not as a punishment – but rather thanks to the geneorsity of footballing bodies whose only correct action according to the rules of the association and its member leagues was in fact to deny you entry at all. Your present finances look shoogly – only a Share issue will get you to the end of the season – coupled with prepaying next year’s ST’s

    You should be angry – utterly incandescent – with Murray and grateful to the powers that be for allowing you to have a club to support in the league and yet you feel that others destroyed you and you are the victims of an injustice perpetrated by those whose only rule breaches were solely to save you.

    You attack those with the courage to tell you the truth. You defend those who destroyed you.

    It is very difficult to talk to any rangers fans reasonably – their world view is so skewed from the objective facts that in the process of trying to explain the situation to them – they decide you are some hatred filled bigot.

    All very sad1

  97. William Paterson says:

    I see you are now using the word avoidance whilst describing the FTTT…..too little to late your previous blogs suggested and in fact used the words tax evasion and if your gonna use Sir David Murrays quite of this being no victory, please put it in the correct context.

    What SDM meant that he felt it was no victory for Rangers as the damage has already been done. I ask as many others have done, is why is your attention focused only on Rangers there are far larger fish to fry yet you choose Rangers………

  98. Felix Nieto says:

    The first rule of holes… if you are in one, stop digging.

    Why continue with this misinformed drivel you seem so eager to publish?

    You really are making yourself look the fool.

  99. Colin S says:

    I see the many RFC fans have crawled out of their caves asif they have done nothing wrong,do you still not know you still bumped taxman and many creditors for millions and RFC fans are celebrating because their club owes less remuneration to the taxman than was thought only by a 2-1 verdict i may add,i’d love HMRC to appeal this verdict and slap them all down again but i think HMRC have sent a very clear message to people who want to avoid/evade paying tax and for a so called “Institution” like Rangers 1872 to have done so is just wrong and no1 should be defending them as it’s morally wrong and this was the so called “Great British club”,lool,only until it came to paying British taxes eh.Your new club are in 3rd division because even the owners of the old club thought they where guilty which is why Murray offered to pay £20million and taxman said no and now we have people on here saying you owe Murray an apology,haha,you couldn’t make it up,this is the man who killed their club but now they think he’s their main man again,pmsl.The man sold club to Craig Whyte for £1 after the board and a private detective telling him not to and yet here they are defending him,oh yes i forgot,it was the banks fault,they forced him to sell,haha,even though his own MIH companies owed in the region of £900million,poor wee Murray eh,pmsl.He knew exactly what he done and still chose to sell club to CW as he couldn’t wait to get out of Ibrox fast enough,he said nothing for months/years and now he’s threatening to sue people,haha,maybe if he hadn’t obstructed HMRC and witholding documents which resulted in the delay the great Glasgow Rangers wouldn’t have died but no it’s the press fault,i mean the bank,eh sorry i mean Craig Whyte and the SFA,e1 else but theirs.

  100. Halfwaybear says:

    Alex drop the dead donkey, your flogging a dead horse, you might have been abroad last week but the News is Rangers won their tax case. Despite all you and your cohorts attempts to undermine the club.

    Gaza awaits, get back to your day job, you appear to have lost the plot this past six months.

  101. alan Fagan says:

    It has to be said Mr Thomsons credibility as a serious journalist is in grave danger . This case seems to have been hi jacked by assorted fanatics and bigots with an agenda to make sure that Rangers fc were punished and then dragged through the gutter.Unfortunately when the result of the first tier tribunal did not go the way that was longed /prayed /and for the sake of your credibility needed ,you bleat like a child that “Its not fair i wanted to win ” I feel it is time to be objective and remember what a noble profession journalism can be . Raise your eyes Mr Thomson you have been taken in, You surely as a man of intelligence cannot consider this a case that H.M.R.C would dare take to appeal, can you imagine if they lost that as well .

  102. David B says:

    Well well well, when you spend so long cosying up with those “tarred with the secterian brush” you are going to get in some way poisoned yourself I suppose. I

    In some ways I actually have sympathy for you, it was not enough that not once but twice you laughed along on your twitter at a memorial statue of John Greig hobbling away from Ibrox that a venom filled celtic fan had sent you, causing understanding outrage among the normal in society which led to you eventually apologising like a quivering wreck, if that was not enough you then laughed along with a “dalek” jibe (created by some of the lunatic fringe element of the celtic support again) relating to fans who died on the stairs at Ibrox…it does not read well does it. .

    These are the people you have got into bed with and just look at how low you have stooped, most of the journalists who know who you are think you have lost the plot and say you have zero credibility, anyone with a shred of understanding on this whole HMRC debacle would come to the same conclusion, Much like Phil 20 names you will come out of this as someone tarnished but perhaps your brush will be tarred with “deluded mentalist struggling to use a level of balance”…..

    I hope you have medication for whatever it is you are going through.

  103. Mr Green says:

    A lot of Trolls on here today Alex….or perhaps the same clown in different guises. The “We won” mentality has really taken hold. If they were so innocent why did they decide to maintain anonymity at the hearing? Their ex GMs in the shape of Bro Mure and Rae took care of this mess for the morons. There presence will not be allowed during the Upper Tribunal hearing.

  104. anti sevco says:

    thompson is spot on, there is along way to go on this,HMRC will smash oldco in extratime.
    whats with the, he must be a celtic man nonsesnse comments, its the rest of scottish football that are behind the reality check, or has the scottish league only ever had 2 clubs?. shame on you sevco lads and your kaflic conspiracy.

  105. jandrew says:

    Bravo Alex! Good to hear your safe and well and still shooting from the hip. Keep up the good work, I for one appreciate your interfering. Without your articles, we would still be paranoid. Thank you

  106. gerry m says:

    more power to your elbow alex, i suspect that besides tax avoidance, money laundering was going on too. in answer to some of your critics on your comments section, two wrongs don’t make a right. alex i’m born and bred in glasgow and after 73 years i can smell bigotry your reporting is much appreciated by fair minded pensioners,teachers, nurses, council workers etc

  107. Harry says:

    Sad that some look at this as some sort of victory ?
    Guys earning less than a £1000 per month paying more tax than tax avoidance members earning over £160k per month .

  108. jinky44 says:

    Paid any of your creditors yet? No I thought not. One in particular is the children’s charity up in Jordonhill that the mighty Glasgow Rangers failed to hand over £3600 to.

    Shame on you and your beloved club!!

  109. Declan O`Malley says:

    Brave and honest blog .
    Rangers football club operated an aggressive tax avoidance scheme allowing highly paid millionaire football players to avoid much of their tax liability .

    The HMRC were acting only behalf of the old the sick the vulnerable . RFC and their players should have paid their fair share towards schools hospitals and government services.
    It should not be a cause of celebration that another group of rich people have found a scheme to dodge tax . I hope the HMRC appeal and win . As an average salaried PAYE taxpayer I am fed up paying whilst the rich get away with it

  110. Pabloh says:


    You must have a laugh when you read all these sevco fans trying to discredit your work?

    After all; you are stating facts!

    Ps. Facts can touch nerves up here in Scotland!

  111. Hayes says:

    No doubt in my mind asa tax payer what Rangers did was moraly wrong. Although deemed legal but sir if you want to be taken as a serious journalist and not the bigot you seem to be. May I suggest you look at some of the tax avpidance schemes that are used by English football. I look forwaed to your blog. If not I as a non football fan will agree that you have infact got an agenda against Glasgow Rangers.

  112. FrankB says:

    Unfortuately the polarisation of views are clear from the recent posts, although it would appear that close reading of the report has not made any impression on a number of the contributors. The dissenting report should be given careful consideration and will be of great interest to future panels examining this ongoing saga. It is disappointing that there is not condemnation of the practices of extremely wealthy individuals who try to avoid their social responsibilities through payment of taxes. It is sad to reflect that it requires someone with courage from outwith Scotland to challenge and shine a light on these practices.

  113. Frankie says:

    Fabulous piece Alex, truth hurts. I think all of the negative comments probably come from the same family!!

    1. Bruce says:

      The truth hurts?

      Not as much as seeing your club liquidated.

  114. hang 'em high says:


  115. Madalyn says:


    You’ll now no doubt be aware that the so called “forces of darkness ” are now well mobilised against you. Don’t be diverted from your fine work.

  116. Tom Park says:

    I quote your Blog

    “All reasonable people would therefore welcome the taxman examining tax avoidance on the industrial scale of Ibrox, not least as we close our libraries and cut services (in hard-hit areas like Govan) due to the alleged state of public funds”

    You may not be informed enough to make this statement due to your sloppy journalism.

    But the Libraries in Govan are funded by Council Tax nothing to do with HMRC

    Really Mr Thomson, you should get the facts right, it’s what all decent journalists do.

    1. rabthecab says:

      “But the Libraries in Govan are funded by Council Tax nothing to do with HMRC.”

      Perhaps you should research any topic on which you intend to make any comment on; All local councils receive funding from central Government, without which they simply could not function, as the take from Council Tax is nowhere near enough to cover expenditure.

  117. Larrybhoy says:

    Well done Alex, yet again going where the rest of the so called main stream media in Scotland dare not to; interesting that you attract such a venomous reaction from some hurting Sevco fans; interesting, but perhaps not surprising, given that our daily rags have swept large parts of the FTT tribunal report under the carpet; later, rather than sooner, another penny will drop (pun intended).

    Keep up the good work sir

  118. mr.bojangles says:

    Keep telling the truth Mr.Thomson. The problem with the tribute act followers of the new ibroke club..is the drivel and nonsense they read and hear from the scottish media.It really is a sad state of affairs when it has to be a journalist from down south to tell it how it is concerning the skull duggery of the now defunct r angers. Keep at it Mr.Thomson, a lot of decent people are interested in the real story relating to the defunct r angers and their trail of debt and their murky business. The followers of the tribute act ( the r angers f.c.) are brainwashed by the propaganda from the scottish media, they are still peddling the myth that it’s still r angers..jeez ! Keep up the good work.

  119. Stevie says:

    Just like a football match Alex this story is just at half time.
    I would be very surprised if HMRC accept this slim judgment on they say so of two to one.
    I feel very sorry for you and the hate you receive from a Scottish football club fans claiming to be the British establishment club.

  120. gorillaintheroom says:

    Hmmmm…….seems like sevconians for the very first time have found their voice and thumbs aloft……. congrats on a great RESPONSE of a see through concerted campaign……. just a wee bitty too late!

    It’s close to midnight…….

  121. Doc says:

    If Someone is Charged with 111 charges of theft and admits 37 of these would they be innocent? of course not, they are accountable 37 times oldco went bust owing £ 55 Million not only £14 Million Also Wee tax case which Rangers did Not dipute resulted from payments made to Tore Andre Flo and Ronald De Boar. Guilty as charged.

  122. Heltraq says:

    Thanks once again Alex for an unbiased article stating facts as they appear as opposed to the party line being trotted out by all and sundry in the MSM.I no longer buy newspapers and get most of my newsfix from reputable sources and many bloggers who express varied opinions re things I find important.I have never been interested in the football part of this sorry tale but continue to feel mild despair when reading some of the comments verging on triumphalism appearing above .Keep that light shining MrThompson .

  123. john williams says:

    Alex, your piece shows up on rangers `newsnow` and is doing the rounds on said clubs fans websites, ergo the agnst in some of the comments. Could be to try to shout you down and silence You. (NELSON HAS ABETTER CHANCE OF GETTING HIS EYE BACK) The discerning of readers will understand a balanced and forthright analysis. Thanks for your honesty in this.

  124. rossco says:

    Alex, Alex, Alex give it a rest now will you. Your defence of your stance is now extremely tabloidish. Twisting any little point you can to suit your failed assertions. You are not fooling anyone anymore and it takes a bigger man to admit you jumped the gun, have been hoodwinked and failed to fully grasp that all Rangers were doing was what any other businessman always trys to do which is to achieve tax breaks. All the high and mighty moralizing is becoming dull. Also what do you know about Govan mate??…Give up you buffoon.

  125. John says:

    I cannot see how a journalist is “discredited” by reporting his findings. Tax avoidance is a lucrative industry. Do we wish the details or not ?

  126. Trevor Ferguson says:

    Oh dear Alex.

    Of all the companies that operate in the UK you focus on Rangers. Why is that? Why focus on this club? Why not focus on investment schemes that invest in bogus films – many employees of Celtc Football Club have invested in schemes that have invested in films, are some of them operated to evade tax? Why not focus on all these since they lose more tax than the LEGAL EBT scheme operated by Rangers?

    Do you have an ISA Alex? Isnt that Tax Avoidance? Do you have a full time contract with Channel 4 or do you have a personal service firm to evade paying the tax of an employee?

    In the interests of fairness, openess and sporting ( and taxing ) integrity I think you should tell us!

    1. PrideAndNoPrejudice says:

      An EBT that is used properly to provide non-contractual benefits to employees at the discretion of the trustees is legitimate tax avoidance.

      An EBT that is used improperly to provide contractual benefits to employees is illegitimate tax evasion.

      The FTT clearly proved that the side-letters were contractual. Players negotiated their wages and the side-letters specified specific dates and amounts for paying part of those wages via the EBTs.

      Tax avoidance or tax evasion? It couldn’t possibly be any clearer.

  127. Jim says:

    Still got that chip on your shoulder with Rangers, still cherry picking only parts of the full story that support an anti Rangers agenda and even at that misrepresenting them.
    So what are we to take from this? Is your continual condemnation of Rangers when there are many other companies with far larger avoidance schemes ongoing to do with pigheadedness and a stubborn refusal to accept you might have got this one wrong? Or is it just bigotry? I don’t mean bigotry in a religious sense, as that seems to be how many people see that word, but bigotry as in a deep seated hatred toward a company that owned a football club or to the football club itself.
    I just cannot understand how someone like yourself would allow yourself to stoop to the low standard of journalism that you’ve been peddling for months on end now and I cannot believe that your employers still allow it. This is not merely someone looking at this through Rangers tinted glasses, I’m talking about misrepresenting facts, showing no journalistic balance in your articles, using your articles to promote a book you wrote the foreward for without making it clear you had a connection, printing offensive material then lying about your awareness of how offensive it would be before printing a half hearted apology which further attacks members of the club…. the list could go on.
    With your conduct over the last few months you’ve brought shame on yourself and on Channel 4, it’s difficult to take either of you seriously now.
    For months all you have done is fan sectarian flames in my part of the world when you could be using your position of publicity to help rather than hinder.
    Shame on you.

  128. tom says:

    HMRC are to appeal the decision, will be announced next week.
    I fear that this might drag on for some time, however if there has been people intentionally obstructing the initial hearing then HMRC will be one step ahead of them during appeal and its now a case of lets win this even though we might not get one penny back.
    I commend this approach and the blame game thats being directed at our tax officials can be attached to the real culprits and that is Rangers football club and it’s directors.

    1. UncleNos says:

      As far as we have been led to believe any appeal can only be made on point of law not on the findings themselves. It would be unlikely therefore that you are remotely correct in your assumption that HMRC will appeal.

  129. UncleNos says:

    It appears that about 40 of the 44 coments so far are pulling holes in your arguments and showing you up as the poor journalist you are now.
    I hope that C4 read these and ask you to explain yourself as it would seem daily obvious that you are like most Celtic minded now grasping at straws. You fail yet again to state all the facts that are prevalent, only the ones supporting the continued persecution of a law abiding club. We, as I have said, do not argue the moral case simpily that in the eyes of the law all but a tiny percentage of the LOANS where run correctly and those that weren’t were run by the loans trustees anyway not RFC.
    Trulley you must feel that you shoud apologise for these insults that you sling with little or no foundation (certainly not in law anyway) I hope that you and many of your fellow ‘jurnos’ are brought to task for the way you have reported this story.
    One word sums up the actions of most of the main stream media SHAMEFUL.

    1. rabthecab says:

      “all but a tiny percentage of the LOANS where run correctly and those that weren’t were run by the loans trustees anyway not RFC.”

      Even the tiniest of percentages is enough to sink your argument.

      As for the 2nd part of your sentence, had you read the Tribunal decision properly you would be aware that the original Trustees were replaced because they started to question the “direction” from RFC(IL) regarding some of the “loans” they were instructed to pay.

      An inconvenient truth?

  130. Raj says:

    Why do all you football supporters use “we”, as if you personally were affected by any events that happen to your teams? You are not in the team, part of the management or employed by these people. IMHO, a special kind of mental illness is at play here, with each imagined slight being regarded as life threatening. Quite sad really, since the spivs are just shearing you stupid sheep of your hard earned cash!

  131. hammy says:

    The recipient of these loans are legally held responsible for repayment unless the lender writes it off , the scam option.


  132. rossco says:

    admit you got it wrong?? this blog is futile and stinks of desperation

  133. Cosmichaggis says:

    Excellent article as always Alex. The truth about what really went on at Ibrox is slowly coming out, but unfortunately we will never fully know the real truth about the whole saga. A very grubby time for Scottish football and our society. No winners sums it up.

  134. Pc says:

    There needs to be a new definition of the word “innocent” proposed by the Oxford dictionary. The use of this repugnant system to avoid paying any dues to the country by the people who live and work in it must be condemned. Starbucks, Amazon, JImmy Carr, Rangers et al, must be forced to pay taxes like most normal working individuals.

    The focus of the moral outrage of the average Rangers support voiced on this page would be best served asking the people who used to run your club why they pursued this system in the first place, ultimately causing the demise of the club, instead of attacking anyone who chose to speak up against it.

    Scandal is rife here, but it has very little to do with anyone other than Rangers Football Club.

  135. Peter says:

    The best case scenario for old Rangers if HMRC dont appeal – They are the Starbucks of football – and they and the Scottish media are celebrating as if this is something to be proud of

  136. brayrfc says:

    oh dear alex if i was you i would be looking for a bit more overtime if sir david decides to persue the anti rangers mob through the courts.Mind you if all else fails you can get a job writing for pacific shelf thats where most of your anti rangers views come from anyway we never did expect an apology from the likes of you but remeber one thing together we are rangers forever no surrender

  137. AntoniousF says:

    Alex, you are correct, this is far from over. Rangers may be 2-1 up at half time v HMRC, but there is still the 2nd half and possibly extra time. And if they get into the final they will be meeting Nimmo-Smith’s 11, who believe that attack is the best form of defence (no parking the bus here).

    Dual contracts (side letters) = 0-3 or 3-0 against scoreline, depending if you were home or away off course.

    now i am off to ask my bank manager for a 500k EBT loan that i don’t need to pay back. Naw, may as well make it a million.

    unless Mr Murray still has some left over in his scheme he can ‘loan’ me. Mr Souness got a ‘loan’ and he wasn’t an employee at the time.

    p.s. i am sure you are well used to the character assassination attempts by now. so predictable.

  138. tamthetim says:

    This is not the end ( of the tax case ) , this is only the beginning

    The fat lady has not sung yet

  139. John G says:

    Alex, you’ll see from most of the replies here that most people just believe what they want to believe, no matter the facts. It is obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense, and without an ounce of prejudice, that this story is not over yet.

    And yet the redtops and radio phone-ins trumpet last week’s decision as a victory for the poor, put-upon, old Rangers: once again, they are the victims. Little mention then, and certainly no apology, for the £13 milion STILL not paid to the taxman (even ignoring the possible EBT amounts that may still be due), or to the dozens of private companies who still await their bills to be settled. And they still have the gall to parade our armed forces on their old pitch as if they hadn’t actually avoided or point-blank refused to pay the taxes that could have saved the lives of some of their comrades; their collective brass neck is blowtorch-resistant.

    The bottom line, that the media and many Rangers supporters do not accept, is that Rangers died because they couldn’t pay their creditors, and their so-called loyal supporters could not mobilise to save their club before it breathed its last. Rangers were the authors of their own Downfall, no-one else. Death by shame.

    1. pcnotpc says:

      oooohh John.

      Rangers died? Hurting much?
      When the titles re not stripped will you self combust with hatred?

  140. massy says:

    Poor journalism = poor journalist, that is all.

  141. Juandoscontactlens says:

    The comments here astound me. To believe that a journalist is actively a fan of your rivals because you disagree with his point of view is bizarre. Rangers are in the Third Division because they went bankrupt. The split decision proves that possible buyers were right to be wary of buying into an unknown business prospect, with possibly crippling tax debts. Sad but true- if it happened now things would look a lot different, but timing is everything in business. Cash flow is king.

  142. bkk bhoy says:

    A few points of clarification

    1. Rangers FC are in process of being Liquidated mainly due to tax avoidance – that is non payment of tax or cheating the public.

    2. Rangers were not demoted – Sevco 5088 transferred the football licence of Rangers FC to the new club. Admitted to DIV 3 though failed to meet regs.

    3. Rangers FC may have to go to appeal stage if HMRC choose to do so

    4. Is the Sevco share offer for the CLUB or COMPANY… ? best look at this before parting with cash…

  143. farflung says:

    Truely gutted…….I used to hold Alex in seriously high regard…….sorry Mr T you are an amateur

  144. Alistair M says:

    All you’ve done here is reiterate the case for the prosecution (the same one that the criminal behind the RTC blog very selectively leaked). But there’s also a case for the defence, and it’s a stronger one – hence the FTT’s decision. At the very least, you must accept the findings of the hearing add credence to the notion that Sir David Murray followed his tax consultants’ advice in good faith that the schemes under scrutiny were within the law and within the rules.

    In any case, to put this article into glaringly obvious context: Companies seek to minimise the amount of tax they pay. So do individuals. I have an ISA. Wealthy football managers seek to invest in schemes which keep the pounds they earn in their own pocket:


    The much-celebrated superheroes of football, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have colossal debts – including substantial unpaid tax bills. Do you believe that if you investigated the payments and bonuses of Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal or Spurs players that they would have taken no measures to avoid paying tax? The simple fact of the matter is that football clubs do what they can to maximise the bang-to-the-buck ratio of their expenditure in order to offer the best entertainment possible to their supporters.

    HMRC thought they could call Rangers out on their use of EBTs, and so far they have been proved wrong. They may well appeal but to what worthwhile end? There is literally NO CHANCE that they can recover the amounts they claim are due since the oldco has been liquidated. Three years ago they rejected a £10 million settlement offer and went on to spend several million more pounds of taxpayers’ money in pursuit of an appeal clearly destined to be fruitless. To my (admittedly limited) knowledge, HMRC have NEVER successfully challenged a company over its use of EBTs. Why would they gamble yet more public money on an appeal that they are no more likely to win, and which would, in any case, result in a net loss?

    The loophole has been closed. EBTs are now illegal and will never be used again. It’s just another skirmish in the continuing arms race between taxman and taxpayer.

    1. rabthecab says:

      And you have to accept that, with regard to 5 players (at least) there was a proven PAYE/NIC liability. Guilty as charged M’lud.

      You ask why HMRC refused an offer of £10 million. Did you ever think to ask why, if RFC(IL)/MIH had done nothing wrong, they offered this money in the 1st place?

      Thought not.

  145. Labboy says:

    As soon as I read “most reasonable people” I knew where you were headed. Another tired pathetic attempt to criminalise a great football club, grow up sonny ,let it go, don’t be so bitter and twisted like others have been.

  146. Dilly Bodds says:

    Reading the posts makes one wonder whether any of the “peepil” have read the Tribunal’s reports.

    Then one remembers that it is the “peepil” and realises that this would be impossible for most of them. As for the others there are none so blind as those who will not see.

    Roll on January and the stripping of titles!

  147. Alistair M says:

    All you’ve done here is reiterate the case for the prosecution (the same one that the criminal behind the RTC blog very selectively leaked). But there’s also a case for the defence, and it’s a stronger one – hence the FTT’s decision. At the very least, you must accept the findings of the hearing add credence to the notion that Sir David Murray followed his tax consultants’ advice in good faith that the schemes under scrutiny were within the law and within the rules.

    In any case, to put this article into glaringly obvious context: Companies seek to minimise the amount of tax they pay. So do individuals. I have an ISA. Wealthy football managers seek to invest in schemes which keep the pounds they earn in their own pocket (just google “record tax scheme blow” and you’ll see what I mean). The much-celebrated superheroes of football, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have colossal debts – including substantial unpaid tax bills. Do you believe that if you investigated the payments and bonuses of Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal or Spurs players that they would have taken no measures to avoid paying tax? The simple fact of the matter is that football clubs do what they can to maximise the bang-to-the-buck ratio of their expenditure in order to offer the best entertainment possible to their supporters.

    HMRC thought they could call Rangers out on their use of EBTs, and so far they have been proved wrong. They may well appeal but to what worthwhile end? There is literally NO CHANCE that they can recover the amounts they claim are due since the oldco has been liquidated. Three years ago they rejected a £10 million settlement offer and went on to spend several million more pounds of taxpayers’ money in pursuit of an appeal clearly destined to be fruitless. To my (admittedly limited) knowledge, HMRC have NEVER successfully challenged a company over its use of EBTs. Why would they gamble yet more public money on an appeal that they are no more likely to win, and which would, in any case, result in a net loss?

    The loophole has been closed. EBTs are now illegal and will never be used again. It’s just another skirmish in the continuing arms race between taxman and taxpayer.

  148. Alan Thomson says:

    Alex, as someone above has already mentioned, thank you for shining a light into the murky world of scottish football and exposing the Glasgow media for the utterly poor sycophantic old firm accolytes that they are.
    Your detached, objective and intelligent reporting is not what the neanderthals are used to, hence the bile being directed onto yourself here.
    As James A Barr said, Our media is shameful.

  149. Grumble says:

    Alex, do you, like millions of people in the UK, have an ISA ?? If so why ? The answer is to legally avoid paying tax. – much the same as an EBT. The morality of EBTs questionable but, like it or not they are legal – at least in Rangers case. There are in excess of 2000 EBT schemes in operation, and many EPL clubs use or have used them (so have Celtic). Please use your investigative journalism to look more closely at some of these other schemes and lay off Rangers. You really are beginning to sound like a bitter, twisted and rather desperate individual whose only agenda is to have go at Rangers at every and any opportunity.

  150. D.McFadden says:

    How wonderful to see so many clever deaddy bears on here clarifying the facts?
    Could you all clarify this for me?
    How many of these “loans” were ever paid back?
    Secondly why were these “loans” never called in by Rfc when the Lloyds Bank called in their monies owed by overspending Rfc?
    WhenBDO go chasing the lone recipitants and then the truth will out …..plenty more to come and you lot know it.

    1. Frankie says:

      The loans were not called in by Rangers because they were not made by Rangers. They were made by a Trust (the “T” in EBT).

    2. Doug says:

      Whether you like it or not the issue of whether these were or were not loans was not even contested by the tax man. They remain an outstanding liability at death. In Law: they are loans.

      Rangers could not recall the loans because they were made by a trust, not by Rangers. In Law: Rangers did not control the trusts.

      These are just facts.

    3. Dougie says:

      Your ignorance is breathtaking. The money is paid into a trust fund on behalf of the employee. Any payment from this trust fund to the employee is made at the discretion of the trustees of the trust fund. Rangers have nothing to do with this. They neither make a “loan” nor are they due any repayment of a “loan”

      Just another “fact” being perpetrated by the straw-clutchers to justify their mock outrage.

      1. Bruce says:

        Your naivety is breathtaking.

      2. rabthecab says:

        “The money is paid into a trust fund on behalf of the employee. Any payment from this trust fund to the employee is made at the discretion of the trustees of the trust fund. Rangers have nothing to do with this.”

        Guess you missed the bit of the Report regarding the original Trust Administrator being replaced because they began to query the payments they were told to make (by Rangers*)?

  151. bankie john says:

    Hi Alex
    This is what it’s like up here. How so many can think Old Rangers are now squeaky clean because of the split verdict, shows you the low level of rational analysis in our Scottish media. It’s very worrying. Compelling and damning evidence that Old Rangers cheated not only Scottish football but also deprived everyone else of substantial funds meant for the common kitty is somehow dismissed. DOUBLETHINK! These are not true fans of the truth but true fanatics.

  152. rossco says:

    D is for dafty Alex did you come across this word upon your recent trips to ascertain the current social situation down in Govan

  153. Bill Hicks says:

    Simple fact is any appeal is destined to fail,(Mr Thomson) HMRC accepted that the loan scheme was not a sham and the loan documents were legal,Dr Poon ignored these facts ang gave her decision on opinions, not facts.The only way that HMRC would have had a cause to appeal would have been if Dr Poon had found in favour of Rangers(using opinion,not fact) and any appeal has to be lodged by 24th December,

  154. John Lennon says:

    Great reporting again Alex.If you read the scottish so called journalists you would think that Rangers were totally innocent in all this and that the big bad man done it and ran away.Succulent lamb brigade is back.And going by most of the comments on here the hordes have fallen for it AGAIN..Gullible..Its a breath of fresh air to read factual unbiased reporting like this article.Dont let their fans get to you and keep up the good work.

  155. Mourne Man says:

    I hope your reports on non – Rangers FC subjects are not littered with as much inaccurate stuff as you have written about Rangers.
    If I may paraphrase an old saying ” Better to remain silent and be thought a bitter fool than to speak up and confirm that you are.”

  156. William says:

    An appeal can only be made on a point of law, not on the decision and even if the point of law is upheld the decision in favour of MIH cannot be changed retrospectively so give it up Mr Thompson, your bile will get you nowhere.

    1. rabthecab says:

      “if the point of law is upheld the decision in favour of MIH cannot be changed retrospectively”

      As the findings of the FTT are not binding in law (but those of the UT are,) how on earth can the decision NOT be changed?

    2. rabthecab says:

      Oops, forgot to ask: if the FTT decision can’t be overturned, then why does the right to ask leave to appeal even exist?

      1. dr whitecoat says:

        taxi for Rabthecab

      2. rabthecab says:

        @dr whitecoat

        Care to explain?

  157. Kenny says:

    Appeal. Appeal. Appeal. Appeal. tIs that you have to hold onto now, Alex? How many times in one article is too many times to wish out loud for an appeal? Your outright refusal to accept that the FTTT ruled in Rangers´favour is hilarious. As is your selective highlighting of the minority view of a single Panel member. Talk about Journalists with Agendas? This takes the biscuit and it makes you even more of a laughing stock than you already were last week.

  158. Lemi says:

    Is it too much to expect a little more humility and a little less arrogance from Mr Thompson, in light of the verdict?

  159. Alan Hutchison says:

    So Alex you point out that some employees at Rangers were less than co-operative about releasing information to HMRC.

    Did you ever stop to think that they were maybe distressed at seeing their personal tax affairs leaked and broadcast all over several Celtic fans websites and blogs?

    You bang on about the morality of this case but blatantly chose to ignore the criminality that went on.

  160. Smitzer007 says:

    Oh dear Alex. Rangers are to blame for the closure of libraries etc. What has happened to you. Your argument is only one step away from Godwin’s Law. I’ll stay on your favourite topic and compare your career to a former Rangers player. You are the journalistic equivalent of Charlie Miller. You had it all, you got in with the wrong crowd and you blew it ! Such a shame.

  161. Dilly Bodds says:

    Kenny, Lemi and Wulliam

    I had assumed you and your kind would be too busy adding multiple signatures to the petition to spare the time to spout nonsense here, You will be rumbled doing that just as the EBT scam was rumbled in a number of the cases before the tribunal,

    This should, if there is any justice, lead to the stripping of titles and these being awarded to the runners up.

  162. Dan says:

    Keep on criticizing, insulting, and judging other people. Someday somehow, someone will do the same to you…Karma do exist dear.

  163. Chris Park says:

    Alex, your credibility lies in tatters. You have blogged prolifically on this topic and almost all of them were attempts to convince your readers that Rangers were guilty of tax avoidance, this is of course when you weren’t blogging about the wider Rangers support and accusing us of having a virulent underclass that was apparently the scourge of Scotland. You seem to be desperate for HMRC to appeal this decision, they very well may, but it will be on a point of law and not on the whim of people, such as yourself, with petted lips. Ever since you became involved in the Rangers story it has been clear that you’ve been working to an agenda, one that sought to harm Rangers and our support, and you’ve added nothing of any worth other than to destroy your own, and Channel 4’s, credibility with a huge number of people.

  164. Dave says:

    Dear…oh dear. What a bitter twisted lot all those rangers fans are.
    I reckon that HMRC were probably just trying to get their heads around such a perverse split judgement in favour of the tax avoidance scheme – which accounts for the lengthy delay in announcing the FTT decision.
    The clue might be in the F, as in FIRST which suggests as detailed by Alex Thomson above that it should be referred upwards to an UPPER tax tribunial for a more realistic & in my opinion correct/final decision.
    The judges have even so pointed out that some of these EBTs have not been set up correctly and there will be tax to pay on those – maybe not £49m plus penalties but a significant amount nevertheless.
    Unregistered side-letter or alleged dual contracts could if they prove to exist also be quite a pandora’s box for oldclub and/or the MIH.

    Finally, why would anybody think that these EBTs were a “good idea”, or passionately defend their use (as above, numerous) – even if they have (-at this halfway stage-) be deemed semi-legal? Murray’s scheme along with massive over-spending on players effectively resulted in non-interest by any reliable purchaser for his “5-star” club, which meant that someone like Craig Whyte was able to buy Rangers for £1.00 and proceed to mortgage off it’s heritage, then proceed to CHEAT ( yes CHEAT!) all us taxpayers by not paying any P.A.Y.E. or N.I. for over 10 months – subsequently leading to the ignominy of liquidation.

  165. Diamond Lad says:

    Just read your blog Alex,YAWN.

  166. HMRC1 says:

    As a previous poster noted, the comments on here are polarised by their club following.
    However … we really should be expecting a bit more objectivity from you Alex.
    I have little doubt that murky things have gone on at RFC — but just as equally (if not more) murky things have happened at CFC, and others.

    This seemingly hopeful obsession with the Revenue man appealling purely on the basis of winning a case without any money in it …. it’s simply hopeful.
    Not objective.

    Your recent tweet about Rangers and “tax evasion” just shows how poor this all is from you.
    By all means, maintain a blog detailing what’s going on.

    But it’s becoming too much of a RTC clone now to have any credibility.
    Even objective viewers must be wondering about your vitriolic attacks on the club and fans.

    This nonsense from all over will of course continue until HMRC makes it decision on an appeal — the truth is that they have already made it.
    There’s no money to be made from pursuing an oldco without capital, and there’s no benefit in an Upper Tier setting case law for an EBT case that the Tribunal decision plainly displays as being unique in nature and inapplicable to any other corporate body.

    NO appeal will be made.

    1. rabthecab says:

      That’s no more than wishful thinking, it’s been clear from the start that the main reason for HMRC prosecuting this case is to set legal precedence.

    2. Prince Charles says:

      RE “No appeal”.
      Appeal lodged today,have a happy Christmas.
      Tis the season to be jolly.

    3. PrideAndNoPrejudice says:

      HMRC1 said “No appeal will be made”.

      Go that one wrong didn’t you?

      You clearly assumed that HMRC would give up because there is no money in the oldco coffers.

      That was a very foolish assumption.

      As I stated before (and as did others), there are other relevant factors. There was always a high chance that HMRC would appeal:

      a) as a matter of principle
      b) because the FTTT report largely proved the facts in their favour (despite the decision)
      c) because a win will make it easier for them to pursue other clubs who similarly abused EBTs.

      Lord Nimmo-Smith will no doubt also take cognisance of the FTTT’s findings and his enquiry is surely now a formality. Title-stripping must surely be on the cards.

  167. The sword,with the really pointy bit at the end. says:

    Now then,now then,guys an galls hows about this then.HMRC will keep appealing until they get the correct verdict.
    Sooper Ally is sookin right in wi David Murray,wonder why?
    The only way to clean The Rangers financials up is to get all the “loans ” paid back,pronto.
    Ha ha big Eck,Bazza and wee Minty.

  168. Rapid6 says:

    Some people will scavange on even the tinest piece of information in an attempt to support their cause but this is getting desperate. AT doesn’t like Rangers much and is willing to undermine his whole career by pursuing this, let him!

    Celtic’s EBT was considered to be legitimate because they paid the tax on it, so all Rangers need to do is pay the tax on the 5 that were shown not to be loans, also the independent commission can take in to consideration that Rangers offered £10m to HMRC as a settlement for these 5 which was refused. Another point that needs to be highlighted is that the stripping of titles is the most severe of many punishments available to the SPL and therefore extremely unlikely for the sake of 5 players.

    As for the hyped up claims about hospitals and libraries closing, I think that’s more to do with the hundreds of millions the government squander on aid to developed countries and civil cervant misdemeanours, for example the £80m wasted on the west coast franchise bid. A bit like HMRC, millions spent and nothing to show for it.

    Alex, you have your own agenda, so as we sarcastically say in Scotland……..aye,good luck wi that!

    1. Bruce says:

      Except that tax will never be paid.

    2. rabthecab says:

      “the stripping of titles is the most severe of many punishments available…”

      No it’s not, it is in fact the LEAST of many.

  169. Sparts says:

    It’s gloriously bemusing to witness Gers fans coming out and slating Alex for this article. It’s almost as if they feel Rangers have been vindicated – they certainly have not.
    I’m utterly nonplussed as top what happens to Rangers but like Alex I do care whether or not people are paying their taxes. I also care that all clubs are playing on a level field.
    How any Rangers fan can accept that what they were doing was fair (note, not illegal – at the moment) and responsible behaviour is beyond me.
    Alex quite clearly supplies some alarming facts about this case. HMRC had what they thought was a legitamate claim. It would appear that Rangers too thought they were on a sticky wicket with this. Alex is not the first to conclude that the reason this case dragged on for so long was caused by staffers at Iboxx or employees of David Murray being obstructive and misleading – this is a matter of fact and not up for debate.
    Seems to me that HMRC were doing their job, Rangers were very worried that they had been tripped up but ultimately got off by a split decision.
    It’s obvious to any reasonable person who is to blame for Rangers being kicked out of the SPL, and it’s not HMRC. Any reasonable person would also agree that non payment of tax on earnings (call it a loan if you wish) is unacceptable and HMRC were correct to pursue this. Personally I hope they appeal as I don’t want to see anyone being paid through EBT’s and avoiding contributing to society.

  170. Ciara says:

    Mr Thomson, surely someone representing channel 4 news should concentrate on more important issues. Continually baiting football fans from Glasgow seems to be an obsession and highly unprofessional. From my understanding a judgement was made on this case by a judicial panel and if hmrc see fit they will appeal. I am sure baiting scottish football fans is highly amusing but for the sake of non football fans and channel 4 viewers please try to move on or look for employment with a sports broadcaster.

  171. mruphill says:

    Alex, I actually used to enjoy reading your articles and blogs, but this really needs to stop. Every comment you now make on this subject puts you further and further in to the ridiculous deep hole you have dug yourself.
    I don’t know who has pushed you in this direction, I doubt it has been Channel 4, but please for your credability of what you have left go back to what your good at. (which is now in question).

  172. Spuds says:

    All I keep hearing is that an appeal can only be made based on a point of law. I haven’t heard one actual qualified lawyer/solicitor/barrister/judge/anyone with any legal know-how say this.

    Wasn’t this appeal hearing based on an appeal by Rangers of the original decision. Was THEIR appeal based on a point of law? If so, what was the point of law? If not, why so now?

    What is hilarious is they way Rangers supporters are heralding this as a victory, and how the use of EBTs has been vindicated. While lawful, they are morally reprehensible. They are STILL a form of tax avoidance. They are STILL proof that Rangers withheld many millions of pounds from the British taxpayer, STILL proof that Rangers are no better than the likes of Google, Starbucks and Amazon when it comes to paying taxes, and then have the audacity to crow and gloat about it.

    I’d love to know which part of Alex Thomson’s reports about Rangers are inaccurate? The use of EBTs on a grand scale has been proven and accepted as fact by your own club. The SPL Commission, by the way, is not bound by the Tribunals findings, in fact they are within their rights to completely disregard them. The Commission will not base their decision on law, but will determine if the EBTs were in breach of their own rules, leading (presumably) to sanctions against the old club.

    Of course, this won’t affect the new club currently plying their trade in Division 3, as they are debt-free, and breaking World Records left, right and centre. But just remember the demise of the old club wasn’t brought about by Alex Thomson, or indeed any blog, journalist, governing body or government agency. It was brought about by Rangers using methods of tax avoidance that were unscrupulous enough to warrant in investigation into tax evasion, dodgy player contracts (still to be decided upon), non-payment of taxes and a general malaise when it came to showing any form of dignity or social responsibility.

  173. Mike Fox says:

    Why do people keep comparing multi-millionaires abusing EBT’s with people who have ISA’s. ISA’s are a government sponsored incentive to encourage people to save. Even EBT’s are ok if used morally and responsibly. Lots of companies have EBT’s for employee share schemes for example which are run in a fully transparent, controlled and HMRC approved manner.

    Anyone defending Rangers as being ‘innocent’ is condoning blatant theft of tax money maybe legally but we all know in a very sleekit, morally corrupt manner. What is most confusing is the people kicking up the biggest stink on sites like this are the ones who were robbed the most – the average season ticket buying, tax paying Rangers supporter.

    Nobody is saying all Rangers supporters are tax ‘avoiders’, legal or otherwise. The Jimmy Carr’s, Amazon’s,Starbucks and the rich fat cat non-tax payers of this world are the lowest of the low and the people you are defending (SDM and his cohorts) are people who have besmirched the Rangers name and reputation – as a community and charitable provider – by putting it on a par with those lowlifes.

    Instead of venting your anger at someone who is reporting what he sees shouldn’t you be venting it at the Murray’s, Fergusons and Kloses to pay back their loans or at least the tax they avoided to go towards the debts and get some of your good reputation back. I’m sure Mr Thomson would be one of the first to publicly praise such a stance.

    Legal does not always mean innocent.

  174. Dilly Bodds says:

    The dead club were found to be guilty in some of the cases before the tribunal.

    That means they cheated. There are no degrees of guilt. If you are pronounced guilty albeit on only some of the charges against you are guilty—–not a wee bit guilty.

    Roll on January and the stripping of titles.

  175. scapaflow says:

    They defo were ‘loans’, just like the money was only ‘resting’ in Father Ted’s bank account.
    Keep up the good work Alex, the Rangers PR machine aka the Scottish msm have been on a succulent lamb fest since the FTT result.

  176. davy says:

    Alex…since you are the pillar of virtue..and you don’t just pick random targets…a fair-minded man with principles..I look forward to you spending so much time and effort investigating football that is muuuuch closer to home for you.
    Have you checked out the Independents revelations re. the EPL..or are you more interested in coining in money taken from the gullible Celtic fans who obsess more about Rangers than some Rangers fans.
    Fans of a club with it’s own more sinister, dark history.

    1. rabthecab says:

      “are you more interested in coining in money taken from the gullible Celtic fans…”

      Eh, in what way, shape or form Is AT “coining in money” from ANYONE by reporting on the biggest tax scam in British sporting history? Maybe you’re trying to suggest that Peter Lawwell controls C4, as well as the entire Scottish MSM?

      I think we should be told…

  177. davy says:
  178. Martin, Dundee says:

    From day one of this story it has been a morality tale about business ethics-not a football tale. There are many who would like it to be a “football story” so as to avoid the more difficult conversation about bad business ethics-namely the avoidance of paying tax through EBTs by Rangers (40% of £40-£50 million is a lot of money lost from the public purse). Sometimes the law is an ass as has been proven by the split verdict on the big tax case. What cannot be disputed is the immoral stance of a large organisation avoiding taxes, this debate is gathering speed and at the moment the national (UK) focus is on Google, Starbucks, and Amazon. From an ethical position business organisations like Rangers are in there too and the real debate is now as a Rangers fan do you take a moral stance and accept that if every business organisation did as the above mentioned firms our economy would be as bankrupt as Greece, where tax avoidance is endemic. Judging by the increased activity of unrepentant Rangers fans on this blog it would appear that many of the fans would like the rest of us to talk football rather than ethics. It comes down to the question-do you need a tribunal to differentiate between right and wrong? I don’t think you do, the way however that Rangers fans have embraced the 2/1 split decision on the EBTs so warmly is perhaps because taking an ethical stance is not something that sits comfortably with hubris.

  179. W Wilson says:

    Rangers did not make loans to players. They made non contractual payments to an employment benifit trust. The sub trust made loans to players.
    The FTTT found in Rangers favour. I know it hurts but thats the truth of the matter. And as it was the two Lawyers on the tribunal that found in Rangers favour, it’s very unlikely that HMRC will appeal on a point of law.

  180. Alexander says:

    Alex you were wrong, why not just admit it? So now that it has been proved that Rangers tax ‘arrangements’ didn’t break the law as you and your acolytes asserted you are peddling the morality motif? Oh how the mighty have fallen.

    If we were to address the moralty of much of which happens in our society the Rangers tax case would be an insignificant pimple on a single celled amoeba’s backside. As someone who has covered the horror and idiscriminant brutality of wars prosecuted under the auspices of the falsest of pretences why have you chosen to escalate to incredible lengths what really does not amount to a whole hill of beans, except for Rangers supporters and a handful of crazy zealots for whom their hatred of Rangers is all consuming?

    I really don’t want to dislike you as I don’t know you, but I am really struggling as to why you would take such a stance against my football club in its time of need, in any other country on earth the football authorities, media and government would have done everything to assist a club so viciously raped by a rogue custodian.

    Surely there is more of a story in why so many peole in positions of authority turned a blind eye in what was a potentially criminal deriliction of their legal duty? On the eve of the Chancellors autumn statement it is clear that big business has driven a coach and horses through the British tax system to such an extent that the public is voting with its freedom of choice in regard to many of those businesses seen to be ‘morally’ bereft in regard to their tax burden, why not turn your considerable influence to those travesties?

    If you wish to highlight the lack of morality in regard to tax and football, why not offer a universal review of such, shining a light on all clubs, players and officials who sail close to the wind in regard to the tax system. Those zealots of whom I made mention of previously care not a jot about your career and whether it ends up down the toilet, their only desire is to see Rangers FC destroyed and as we have seen with the RTC bloggers and some HMRC employees they are willing to risk their liberty to so do.

    Some of the language and imagery deployed by those Zealots are reminiscent of that used by the Nazis when consigning the Jews, Gypsies, mentally and physically handicapped etc to the status of underclass and we all know what happened thereafter!

    To sum up, yes there is an imorality in avoiding your taxes, legal or otherwise, but Rangers are only the tip of the iceberg as has been highlighted by the behaviour of everyone from broadcasters right through to bankers in legally avoiding a burden which the less fortunate bear with alacrity. Some Rangers fans may have politics with which you and your republican buddies have truck with, why not have a healthy debate with the rank and file of that support to guage the true feelings of Rangers supporters. Dont pre judge and lump all supporters in to homogenous lump, there are many shades of grey and different colours of opinion amongst us, we are indeed a broad church.

  181. Big Mike says:

    We do not pay NIC we do not pay Income Tax and we do not pay PAYE, we don’t even pay our creditors. But we are squeaky clean. That is the mentality you are up against Alex.

  182. Prince Charles says:

    God bless HMRC,Channel 4 staff and all the The Rangers fans,have a peaceful and jolly mid winter solstice.

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