28 Feb 2013

Nimmo-Smith report: could titles be stripped from Rangers?

As usual the only clear and unequivocal winners will be the lawyers. Beyond that little can be said with certainty.

For sure, Lord Nimmo-Smith’s independent commission  into Rangers FC’s payments to players is at least a one-stop-shop in that the Lord examines and passes whatever sanctions he and his two assistants deem necessary – or exonerate the club altogether.

Basically they are judging whether Rangers cheated their way to successive Scottish Championships by failing to notify the Premier League of the full payments players were receiving.

So the trio of lawyers decide guilt or innocence and pass sanctions if – and only if – appropriate.

Much dramatic chatter and hot air has been expended about whether Scottish titles will be stripped from Ibrox and certainly the power exists for that should the club be found guilty.

But so too does a whole range of other sanctions ranging through fines to a proverbial slap over the wrist with a limp lettuce leaf.

There has been little by way of signals, leaks or steers until today. Though curiously the new Rangers owner Charles Green was told long in advance that the 28th would be D-Day.

For a man who has chosen to sit on the sidelines and do little more than insult the Independent Commission and claim he was boycotting it, he was well-briefed on this matter at least.

Upon the announcement (due at noon though Rangers may go public before then) the club can appeal to the Scottish Football Association if it feels hard done by.

But here things get truly murky. Because the period in question is essentially the first decade of this century, that is, the old, liquidated Rangers. It does not legally concern Charles Green’s new Rangers company.

Or does it? Can financial or other sanctions be imposed that materially affect the new company currently trying to play its way back to big-time football from the fourth tier of the game?

Ask two sports lawyers and you will get three opinions back on this, minimum.

Personally I hope for a swift end and we can all move on to football from the era of the suits – legal and material. Rangers need that. Football needs it.

But don’t bet the farm against a fudge, a long appeal process after today and no real end in sight on the cheating charges which still hang over Ibrox.

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38 reader comments

  1. John says:

    Sorry tae disappoint ye Ecky. Looks like no titles will be stripped. Away n have a good greet. And u can just pipe doon wance n for aw. We are the peepul :))))

  2. Andy Elliott says:

    This is about the most non-partisan thing I’ve seen you write about Rangers, well done! The internet thugs won’t like it tho’.

  3. Stevie says:

    Looks like a ‘fudge’ is the outcome. No titles to be stripped despite years of undisclosed payments to players. It leaves a legacy of cheating intact in Scottish football. No real surprises as the old establishment club has enjoyed preferential treatment even in death.

  4. William SNEDDON says:

    Keep the tainted titles nobody wants them, oldco found guilty of cheating, would, nt touch them with a bargepole

    1. Margaret Stevenson says:

      Oldco as you called them found NOT guilty of cheating to win titles ,they are not guilty for other clubs not being good enough on the day to win ,but sadly nothing that is done will satisfy some fans of other clubs

      1. Bruce says:

        The old club was not found not guilty. How can you find someone not guilty then still punish them. The reality is that they were let off very lightly.

  5. Lol says:


    Sorry thommo.

    Another non-story.

    No title strips, no on field advantage. No cheating.

    Between this and the tax case being no more. What on earth are you going to write about?

    Or you clutching at straws for the HMRC appeal? Which btw… I can warn you months in advance – it’s another non-story.


  6. Succulent Lamb says:

    The quintessential welch club has been found guilty of cheating but are allowed to retain their ill-gotten gains? Says everything about Scottish society.

    1. Margaret Stevenson says:

      What a pathetic comment and says more about sections of Scottish society than a football club ever could then again your name says it all

  7. Erch says:

    HELLO HELLO taradadada……c’way the Gers!

  8. Tee Hee says:

    The media hype behind today’s sentence has been nothing short of farcical. Yes, title stripping etc sells papers or in your case, gets internet hits. What will you write about now? You may need to go back to being a ‘sports’ journalist. £250,000, we’ll take that. Scream into your pillow tonight, no one cares what you have to say. 3rd division, on road to recovery and not a damned thing you can do about it.

  9. Craig says:

    It’s not about titles being stripped, it’s about recognition that Rangers cheated Scottish football. Another mark against a corrupt club, in black and white, legal, i’s dotted, t’s crossed, fact.

    Time surely to apologise for it happening on the current fans watch, WATP indeed, the people who let your grandfathers and fathers down and will have to explain to your sons why you never asked a question.

    1. Margaret Stevenson says:

      Which part of the judgement did you fail to understand NO cheating on the field of play ,no unfair advantage just better team on the day .
      Paperwork not correctly filed is way off what you accuse no apology required but perhaps you need to take a look at your undisguised anger at a football club you obviously have issues

      1. Bruce says:

        I think you need to stop living in denial. You write as though somehow Rangers have been vindicated. They clearly still broke the rules. That’s in the report. They’re still tax cheats on a scale never seen before in British football, having gone bust owing some £20+ million in taxes and £50+ million altogether. And it’ll be a lot more if HMRC win their appeal.

      2. david tolmie says:

        Take honest sports with honest rules golf Ian woosnam left a 15th club by mistake in his bag broke the rules 2 shot penalty for every hole played 6 shot penalty lost the British Open by 2 playing an illegally registered player you lose 3 points for every game they play in even you should realise that the S F A told LNS to ignore that and 1 year mistake 10 years cheating Ps Your not wanted in England by the Police so what you going to do when the loses swallow up the share issue and your stuck in Scotland

  10. John says:


    Boo hoo. Dry yer eyes. Ruling has stated Rangers gain no advantage on the field of play.

    … GIRFUY .. 54 & counting.

    What a great day for the Berz.

    Pity the Shellick. Timplode on on mass on all media outlets

  11. Holger Meins says:

    Scotland is a pathetic small country which is run by self serving medieval organisations. Scottish football is corrupt and morally bankrupt.

    1. Margaret Stevenson says:

      Really how pathetic are you , how dare you comment on Scotland with obviously no real knowledge of the same , we have millions of friendly intelligent happy and bright people in our country ,agreed we have some idiots however they I can assure you are in the minority ,I am sure you are not representative of the nation you come from

      1. Holger Meins says:

        Margaret, I am Scottish and ashamed of it.

  12. Philip Edwards says:


    Let’s assume Rangers get stripped of ill-gotten titles (as they should be, but won’t be).

    Taken to its logical conclusion, that means all win bonuses and prize money should be repaid.

    And we should ask: among the players, management and coaching staff, and administrative staff – who knew what and when did they know it?

    But my bet is that this whole corrupt saga will be air brushed from history and quickly covered over. You need only look to Italian football – the most worthless and corrupt of all – for precedent.

    Caledonia Amnesia indeed. And Anglia Amnesia isn’t far behind.

  13. SW2 says:

    The Rangers haters must accept the decision and move on with their lives.

    I would imagine the 250k can be paid through the SPL prize money witheld from the club. To paraphrase a popular quote applied to my club, They (The SPL) can’t have it both ways!

  14. bankie john says:

    Amazing that the fans of Rangers old and new think that being found guilty is a victory. Of course, keeping their tainted titles is seen by them as a victory – the most important one apparently – more important even than losing their dignity. They don’t care that the world knows now they cheated, as long as they won, that’s what counts. Morality and justice is for suckers. How very british.
    CHEATSCHEATSCHEATSCHEATSCHEATS – never win (eventually i hope).

  15. Declan O'Timothy says:

    Why’s everyone making a big deal about this title stripping? It’s the old (now dead) Rangers who had won all these titles. The new Rangers 2012 haven’t won a trophy yet.

    Rangers dead. Celtic with NO DEBT what so ever. Celtic strutting their stuff in the Champions League while Rangers demoted to SF3. Happy days! lol

    1. Scottish Football is a Mess says:

      Well done on being able to string a few sentences together.

      Best submission by a 5 year old to date.

    2. AH 75 says:

      Sorry Declan, Rangers were not demoted to SFL 3. The previous team had their licence withdrawn and the new team had to apply to join the SFL.

      Otherwise you’re spot on.

  16. John says:

    Why still all the comments about cheating ? Have these people read the statement ? Obviously not , NO advantage on field of play , Rangers only guilty of not registering the perfectly lawful EBT payments , administration error at worst , but keep up the obsession , maybe worry more about your own teams and your fast failing SPL , your league is sinking while you concentrate all your time and energy on your hatred towards Rangers , TRUE football fans from the SPL teams are more concerned in what’s happening with Scottish football , you lot seem to hang about waiting on any rumours concerning rangers just to satisfy your hateful blood thirst , when was the last time you went to see your own teams play , probably 2 games a season , grow up , get rid of your rangers obsession and concentrate on supporting your own failing teams , pathetic

    1. Hughesy1873 says:

      Magic day. Years of being called cheats and not one Celtic supporter/Rangers hater has came on to say sorry!!!!! Dignity

  17. Andy Elliott says:

    It might take someone to draw a picture for the east end loonies, but according to Nimmo-Smith the only thing Rangers are guilty of is an administrative error not cheating! Leave the green specs when reading the verdict bhoys and you might actually understand this!

  18. Duncan says:

    So after all your comments and driving an agenda could it possibly be time for some honesty from Channel four, how about an independant news network allowing a reporter to report his own view’s as the god’s honest truth.
    BBC has answers also, nothing but a kangaroo court at all levels a clerical error from the SPL, nothing illegal from HMRC.
    Will you put your name on the petition for parliament to investigate?, had enough of people baying for blood.
    Remember the Italian teams caught cheating, world cup draw to qatar?

  19. Duncan says:

    Why don’t you read the report before trying to flog, Rangers are still the same team, support we are a family and want to be back winning titles in the top of Scottish football and also providing competition and financial rewards to other clubs through the gates .
    Everything was on public record(EBT’s) for all to see if they wanted including the SFA and SPL the club just saved two stamps.

  20. BB says:

    im sick of the whole ‘Rangers’ thing. if they had put them in the 1st Division
    i think it would of been a good decision and everyone could of got on with it.
    Celtic is my team but my best pal is a Rangers fan and we have banter with
    each other nothing hatred nothing religious. the way it should be with people
    as its only a football game at the end of the day and religious fanatics should
    stay away from football grounds.Rangers are in the 3rd division so i think its
    time for people to leave it be and just let them get on with it.it will be a long
    time before they are back anywhere near Celtic’s stature but thats down to
    circumstances of there own doing no one elses.Scottish football needs to
    move on or we will still be talking about oldco/newco till next year!

    1. Conal says:

      Rangers weren’t put in any league. Rangers FC is dead. A new team Rangers International FC applied to join the Scottish leagues and were allowed to join the lower league.

  21. Craig says:

    I have to say this Alex, You wanted Rangers to be stripped of titles,ever since you started reporting on the Rangers situation, early last year. Your Anti-Rangers agenda and attitude sickened me, that along with Channel 4, your job is to report the facts, of course give an opinion, but the bias you have shown is nothing short of disgusting, bad day at the office Alex, Journo of the year, ha ha ha

    WATP, 54 Titles and still going strong!

  22. Rex Moist says:

    Well now that injustice has been swept under the carpet Sevco or The Rainjurs (as the zombies) prefer to call them can get on with the business of winning their 1st trophy!

  23. John Finlaysonfinlayson.john@sky.com says:

    Strange judgment. The Tax Tribunal declares the payments as non-contractual loans that are repayable at some point in the future so no tax liability ensues. The SPL Tribunal appears to accept that such payments do not infringe SPL rules as they were legal under the EBT rules set by Parliament and if Rangers had disclosed the payments to the SPL they would simply have ‘noted’ that payments had been made and no further action would have been taken. So why did the SPL proceed with the Nimmo-Smith farce? Even worse, why impose a fine for something that would have been ignored anyway? It looks to me as if the £250K fine is a face-saving exercise for Messrs Doncaster and Regan. But I hope there will be no appeals from either side as Scottish football needs to move on very quickly. The whole of football across the world is laughing at Scotland.

  24. Mal says:

    The only reason that rangers never had their titles stripped is because of badly worded SPL/SFA rules.

    See: http://scotslawthoughts.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/rangers-oldco-not-guilty-of-fielding-ineligible-players-why/#more-3204

    If it were any other club then they would have been found guilty and lost their titles.

    I think the commission were scared of the backlash by the rangers fans (not all just the fanatics that have been threatening everyone) and they went down the route of the badly worded rules and not by what they stood for.

    This is a mockery of Scottish football.

    Now the question stands will Sevco pay the fine – they stated that they would pay all oldco football related debts (I don’t think so).

  25. Bruce says:

    An administrative error? Who is kidding who?

  26. kevin barry says:

    rfc still in the fish bowl
    the inbred fan was born that way
    we should all ignore them and move on
    its just another bad light shinning on scotland
    but should not reflect on the vast majority of its
    great citizens.

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