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SBD Global/March 1, 2013/Franchises

Commission Fines Rangers Oldco $380K For Undisclosed EBT Payments, Will Keep Titles

Lawlord Nimmo Smith has judged that Scottish Third Division side Rangers "did not gain an unfair sporting advantage from their use of EBTs," according to Keith Jackson of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. This is "the crucial factor behind his decision not to strip the Ibrox club of any of its 54 titles" -- despite handing out a £250,000 ($380,000) fine. Smith -- who has been heading up the three man independent commission, which has been probing alleged breaches of Scottish Premier League rules -- "has found the club guilty only of failing to submit details of the tax avoidance scheme to league bosses" (DAILY RECORD, 2/28).  The BBC's Chris McLaughlin reported the commission found that the "oldco" management "did not take professional advice on disclosing the payments." The commission stated: "Oldco through its senior management decided that such side-letter arrangements should not be disclosed to the football authorities. The board of directors sanctioned the making of payments under the side-letter arrangements without taking any legal or accountancy advice to justify the non-disclosure." The commission also said: "The scale and extent of the proven contraventions of the disclosure rules require a substantial penalty to be imposed" (BBC, 2/28).

NEWCO NOT RESPONSIBLE: The PA's Lisa Gray reported the commission confirmed its earlier decision that "newco Rangers could not be held responsible for any breach of rules by the oldco." The decision "is set to conclude a lengthy process begun by the SPL on March 5, before Rangers were consigned to liquidation and were relaunched as a new company." Some of the delay "was caused by administrators Duff and Phelps' failure to release documents, for which oldco Rangers were 'admonished'" Thursday. The commission was appointed on August 2 (PA, 2/28). The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported Rangers CEO Charles Green claims his refusal to "surrender" SPL titles has been vindicated by the outcome of an investigation into undisclosed payments to players. Green previously claimed that "he was offered a deal to trade titles for membership" of the Scottish FA after the club was consigned to liquidation in the summer. Green said in a statement: "It is a matter of fact that people within the SPL wanted me, at first, to surrender titles as part of a deal to enable Rangers to play again as a member of the SFA. I rejected and resisted that suggestion and today's decision vindicates the position of the board and the supporters" (DAILY RECORD, 2/28).
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