Rangers cannot be punished further over their EBT tax scheme, says SPFL

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JULY 26, 2017 – The Scottish Professional Football League says it cannot impose fresh sanctions on Rangers over the club’s use of a controversial tax scheme.

But its board has called for an independent review “into Scottish football’s actions and processes”.

It had taken legal advice after the Supreme Court ruled this month against the club over its use of employee benefit trusts from 2001 to 2010.

“No further disciplinary proceedings will be taken,” it said in a statement.

“The SPFL board further announced that it supports the calls that have been made for an independent review concerning the way in which Scottish football’s authorities have dealt with non-payment of tax by clubs, have applied their rules and regulations, and the sufficiency of changes made to their rules and regulations in this area over the last few years.”

A 2013 Scottish Premier League commission had found that Rangers were in breach of player registration rules during the EBT period.

Headed by Lord Nimmo-Smith, the commission fined the Ibrox club £250,000 but resisted calls for them to be stripped of titles won during that period.

However, following the Supreme Court ruling in favour of HM Revenue and Customs, Celtic said they expected the SPFL to review the 2013 decision that their city rivals “did not gain any unfair competitive advantage”.

However, the governing body revealed that its senior counsel, Gerry Moynihan QC, had concluded that the case against Rangers in relation to EBTs was “now closed and cannot be re-opened by the SPFL. Nor can the commission or a new commission now impose further or different sanctions”.

“The SPFL has no power in law to re-open these issues and the commission has no power in law, assuming it wished to do so, to modify or supplement the sanction previously imposed,” it stated.

Rangers captain Barry Ferguson lifts the SPL title in 2009

Moynihan also concluded that there was nothing in the rules of regulations of the SPL, or its SPFL predecessor, that would have allowed the governing body to pursue the matter further.

The SPFL pointed out that, since 2010, it “has brought in a number of rule changes dealing with non-payment of tax. These were further bolstered at Monday’s SPFL annual general meeting”.

Moynihan’s advice to the governing body, the detailed questions it had asked and his answers have been published on its official website.

SPFL chairman Ralph Topping recognised the clamour for further action.

“The board of the SPFL has noted the calls that have been made for an independent review and report concerning the way in which Scottish football’s authorities have dealt with non-payment of tax by clubs, application of their rules and regulations and the sufficiency of changes made to their rules and regulations in this area over the last few years,” he said.

“The board of the SPFL supports those calls for such an independent review and will seek to facilitate such review and the publication of its report with and to the Scottish FA.

“The SPFL will seek to agree terms of reference with the Scottish FA and the identification of appropriate independent reviewers.”

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