A happy new year for Rangers fans?
Happy new year! To you and to Rangers supporters everywhere. Almost all football fans are screwed by a game that often seems deeply confused as to whether it’s a sport or a business – but the Ibrox faithful have been more screwed than most.
So what can we hope for out of the Ibrox wreckage for 2013?
1. The end – and a return to football matters for Rangers. That means the end to the Big Tax Case. The appeal must be dealt with speedily, unlike the absurdly long spectacle of the First Tier Tax Tribunal (FTTT) last year.
According to the HMRC press office today, they expect the high court to be the next part of the process. Ultimately of course, the bizarre world of EBT loans needs sorting via the public accounts committee, Treasury and parliament. We cannot go on in football – in life – with the loans-you-never-really-pay-back-but-are-loans nonsense while the rest of humanity pays its way.
2. Justice – we now know from the FTTT that Rangers Football Club copped to dodgy tax arrangements for several players which is an unfair financial advantage. This is cheating. Sanctions from the taxman must presumably follow from that, as we would all agree.
3. More justice – everyone wants rid of the payments declaration issue one way or another, and the Nimmo-Smith independent review needs to decide swiftly whether or not Rangers also cheated on this and the rules enforced in terms of sanctions. Everyone needs to move on.
RFC, though, were right not to agree a ludicrous deal with the SFA/SPL to forfeit trophies without due process. The club is innocent of any wrongdoing until such time as LNS finds otherwise – or not. But let it all finally end soon, please, for football’s sake.
4. Rangers won’t die, and all the claptrap about zombies and dead clubs needs immediate deletion. A club is – must be – its culture and fanbase, and as Rangers have shown, that will not be killed by the suits who gambled with their passion and their loyalty and then all walked away when they lost so badly and made the once-great club, first, unsaleable and second, liquidated.
5. Stand up for your club – the last point should get us thinking. As Rangers fans rediscover that football should be about affordable standing tickets for young people who make noise, so should the game’s leaders. Hillsborough was a tragedy – but one caused by fences and poor policing, not terracing.
The Germans and other leagues know how to make football safe, noisy, and a place where teenagers and thus The Future can go. Every senior official in the game should experience the modern German terracing operation, see that Taylor got it wrong, and apply the lesson.
6. Integrity came onto the field late – but what an impact player it was in Scottish football. Long may it continue, after The Chairmen came from across Scotland to tell the SFA/SPL precisely where to stuff their tawdry plan for Rangers in the SPL at any price. Remember all the “armageddon” forecasts? Now we have exciting times up at Inverness Caledonian Thistle. We have Annan, Brechin and the Hedge – a land of new possibility and sporting topiary! And credit to RFC and fans for wanting it so – whatever the reasons.
7. The underclass- all clubs have one, it seems. Bigger the club – bigger the problem. Celtic’s self-image of being one vast family of Mother Theresas is somewhat at odds with their Boxing Day display. Equally the intimidation of public figures and journalists (arguably entire newspapers) by Rangers fans was a dismal aspect of the past turbulent year. Signs are, the police are now beginning to take matters seriously in and out of the new legal framework.
8. The succulent lambs – the media kowtowing to big clubs because of the need for stories or terror of falling circulations, played a significant part in Rangers’ downfall. It’s to be hoped the persistence of some in the Scottish media will continue to show up the silence of the lambs. But there are some alarming signs. One commentator in the Herald recently offering the following:
“Newspapers once broke the stories, but as the Rangers saga showed, they are now better placed to analyse them, to provide perspective, reason and commentary.”
As a statement of journalistic capitulation, this takes some beating. Firemen put out fires. Doctors cure people. Journalists break stories.
9. BDO - the liquidation process will take years now. There ain’t no money in terms of assets of course. So the only place it can be got is from litigation and thus there may well be a great deal of it as the liquidators go about their business. Who knows, one fine day the charities, small businesses and educational establishments still out of pocket to Rangers may one day get their money.
10. Follow the money – the millions raised from the share issue need close examination where possible. In particular, how long-term this investment might be and how locked in the major stakeholders really are or want to be? Fans should be given answers to difficult questions on this so they won’t get fooled again.
Hoping to see some of you at Napier in Edinburgh on January 21st – and wishing you all a happy, healthy, prosperous and taxpaying New Year!
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