The False Pretences of Scottish Football 1999 to 2018


An Evidence based Timeline of systematic cheating by Rangers FC / cover up by the Scottish Football Association since 1999.


What follows is a factual account, backed up by source documents. The narrative is liberally peppered with references to these documents and each reference is in the form of a hyperlink to the actual source material itself. So if you click on a “Ref” linl, it will take you directly to the source of the information


The “false pretence” began in September 1999  Ref1  when Rangers Football Club plc (RFC) first paid Craig Moore via the vehicle of an Discounted Option Scheme – Employee Benefit Trust (DOS EBT), which enabled the club to avoid paying tax and national insurance contributions on that and subsequent payments. The same vehicle was also used to make payments to Ronald De Boer and Tor Andre Flo who sought and were given indemnities (the first of many ebts with side letters) against any future claims from HMRC for payment of tax on their earnings

The operation of such schemes was declared unlawful for tax purposes by a First Tier Tribunal (FTT) looking at a similar scheme in October 2010, and led to HMRC seeking that RFC settled its resultant tax liability from that point.

Despite the existence of an apparent tax liability in early 2011, RFC was successful in its application for a UEFA Licence for season 2011/12.  The award of that licence, led to questions about its validity being raised by a group of shareholders at the Celtic AGM in November 2013. Four year later the Scottish Football Association (SFA) finally agreed to look into the matter as a result of court testimony in June 2017

It emerged from the Craig Whyte trial that Rangers had admitted liability for £2.8m of unpaid tax in relation to payments made under the DOS EBT arrangement 2000/2002. Ref1a  before the 31 March 2011.  This conflicted with the proof required in March 2011 to obtain the licence, a conflict continued with further submissions made under UEFA monitoring rules in June and September 2011.

The contemporaneous documentation and other evidence pose a number of questions of the SFA in terms of what they knew or were told in 2011. Additionally, it poses questions to the SPL (now SPFL) about the terms of reference and approach of the Lord Nimmo Smith led Commission in 2012, into breaches of SPL rules relating to payments to players.

The documents demonstrate of cheating by RFC but also a level of neglect/ collusion or cover up, by the SFA throughout the licensing process.  Requests made by Celtic FC for the football authorities to undertake a full investigation into these matters were rejected by the SFA, who said:

“However, the image of the game in Scotland can only be damaged further by ‘raking over the coals’ of everything that has happened in the last six years for a further lengthy period of time.

“No-one is complacent or insensitive to the issues. It will be impossible to satisfy every supporter, every club official and every member club. Nevertheless, the Board of the Scottish FA is resolute.

“It has acted with integrity and in the best interests of Scottish football at all times.”

The Timeline that follows reveals dishonesty by Rangers and attempts to cover it up by the Scottish Football Association and questions the SFA’s assertion that they have acted with integrity and if they have confused their own best commercial interests with what is best for the integrity and long term wellbeing of the professional game in Scotland which, in the absence of the will to pursue dishonesty vigorously ,now looks like a cheats charter.

There is enough evidence of regular non-disclosure and misleading statements to justify a comprehensive investigation into licencing events in 2011 AND the commissioning of Lord Nimmo Smith  in 2012 , the latter which the SFA has rejected .

Only in September 2017, following the Craig Whyte trial, did the SFA agree to a narrow and limited investigation by the Compliance Officer into the submissions made by RFC, leading to the grant of the UEFA Licence for 2011/12.

Unanswered questions remain about the SFA’s own role in the process in 2011, compared to what followed when RFC sought a new UEFA licence for season 2012/13, before entering administration.

There are also issues raised by the SFA’s responses to requests for clarification made by Celtic shareholders beginning in 2014, after the Celtic AGM in 2013, when Resolution 12 asked that Celtic request the UEFA CFCB to investigate.

A wider and far reaching investigation based on what took place in 2011, 2012 and thereafter in response to enquiries is necessary, if only to:

  • Examine and strengthen UEFA and National Club Licensing rules and processes by introducing some independent oversight of the club licensing process as conducted by the SFA in order to prevent a repeat.
  • Reassure the life blood of the game in Scotland, the supporters of all clubs, that if evidence of dishonesty is provided it will be acted upon and not ignored to preserve faulty governance structures.
  • Rule out the possibility of fraud by the Rangers FC aided by their Auditors Grant Thornton and as suggested by HMRC against the UK taxpayer and the rival Scottish clubs for a UEFA place with the consequent loss to those clubs of prize money as a result of the actions of Sir David Murray during his time as owner of Rangers FC up to 6th May 2011. Source: Ref1b
  • Provide reassurance by clubs that they trust that the SFA when carrying out their club licencing responsibilities, both domestic and UEFA , has acted with integrity and in the best interest of Scottish Football at all times before supporters commit to season book purchases.

Clubs can only ask customers to purchase tickets to watch a sport whose integrity the clubs believe in. Celtic and the SPFL ’s request for an investigation by the SFA suggests the SPFL have no faith in SFA governance.


Next: The Wee Tax Case Timeline: What Story Does It Tell?