SFAWhile the media discusses whether Sportscene should have more than one camera and increase its budget from buttons to pennies, a major report on corruption in Scottish sport is ignored.

Here is a strange state of affairs. The excellent website Inside World Football recently ran an article headed “Rangers tax case draws call for independent inquiry into Scottish football.” The intro was damning of our game’s authorities: “Glasgow Rangers escaped being stripped of historic league titles by the Scottish Football Association on false pretences, a report by the Tax Justice Network has alleged.” You can read the article here.

Or you could read about it on the blogs operated by (Rangers supporter) John James or (Celtic-minded) Phil Mac Giolla Bhain or The Clumpany. You could even go the extra yard and read the entire 32-page report by George Turner and Alex Cobham here.

Where you WON’T be able to read about it is in Scottish newspapers, nor will you be enlightened by our broadcasters. Indeed, BBC listeners were blocked from raising it on a phone-in programmed this week. Radio silence prevailed. As the BBC’s Kenny Macintyre explained in a series of tweets: “We are aware of the report & the interest in the subject. It’s a very complicated story …There are legalities around it …At this stage, we are not convinced there’s enough in it to be worthy of discussion on our programme.”

Really? SFA President Campbell Ogilvie, formerly of Rangers, failed to tell the truth to a judge-led inquiry set up by the SFA, leading them to a “material error of fact in their judgement.” And that’s not worthy of discussion on a football phone-in?

An independent report concludes that the SFA are “not fit for fair play” but it’s all a bit too complicated. Or this: “That the SFA appear to have been negligent in dealing with Rangers’ licence to play in Europe in the 2011 season is one thing. However, there appears to be evidence that the SFA colluded with the club to cover up their failings after news of the dispute between Rangers and HMRC became public.” Move along, nothing to see here! And by the way, the dispute “became public” not thanks to our newspaper journalists or broadcasters, but courtesy of a freelance beavering away in County Donegal.

“It is difficult to imagine any regulator, in any other sector, running press statements past the people they were regulating for approval. It is even more difficult to understand how a regulator can be seen to be impartial if it drops public statements it was planning to make about a company they regulate on the request of the company and arranges a private dinner between the chief executives in the following weeks.”

Here’s another lulu. “The close relationship between the SFA and the club is also a concern. It is difficult to imagine any regulator, in any other sector, running press statements past the people they were regulating for approval. It is even more difficult to understand how a regulator can be seen to be impartial if it drops public statements it was planning to make about a company they regulate on the request of the company and arranges a private dinner between the chief executives in the following weeks.”

And this: “There was a fundamental failure by the SFA to meet its responsibilities towards Scottish football.” But this was not deemed worthy of discussion on a football programme. It was all too complicated so instead we got: “Who’s to blame for the the position Kilmarnock Football Club finds itself in. Call us on 0500 92 95 00.”

Let’s just wait for the Chilcot Report to be published on July 6 and listen for Huw Edwards to intone: “It’s a bit complicated, there are legalities around it, so we’re not convinced it is worthy of inclusion in this news broadcast.

Let’s just wait for the Chilcot Report to be published on July 6 and listen for Huw Edwards to intone: “It’s a bit complicated, there are legalities around it, so we’re not convinced it is worthy of inclusion in this news broadcast.

So who is behind this damning report on our football authorities? “The Tax Justice Network is an independent international network launched in 2003. We are dedicated to high-level research, analysis and advocacy in the area of international tax and the international aspects of financial regulation. We map, analyse and explain the role of tax and the harmful impacts of tax evasion, tax avoidance, tax competition and tax havens. The world of offshore tax havens is a particular focus of our work.

“The Tax Justice Network started the Offshore Game project because of the potential for the toxic combination of poor regulation and financial secrecy (often driven by tax avoidance) to damage the integrity of sport.”

So why is silence golden when it comes to criticism of Rangers? Partly it’s because a section of the club’s support will make efforts to get you sacked (just ask Graham Spiers or Jim Spence or Angela Haggerty). Just for wondering on Twitter whether the reference to “legalities” meant Rangers had resorted to lawyer’s letters to kill the Tax Justice Network story, I got this helpful response from one Edward McKinley: “You’re a fanny.” The last time I blogged about the pressures applied to The Herald over a Graham Spiers article, the abuse was more explicit and I was likened to a paedophile. Some journalists have been warned by the police of threats of physical violence.

The Tax Justice Network report is spot-on. “In sports, regulators have a particular responsibility. Although legally football clubs are structured as any other business, football clubs have a far greater significance and meaning to most people than any other business. If your local supermarket goes bust, you just try the one down the road. Football loyalties are not so easily switched; at The Offshore Game, we are yet to hear of anyone having their ashes scattered in the aisles at Tesco.

“To preserve the integrity of the system, the regulator must be beyond reproach, and behave in a way which does not produce any suspicion that that they might be exercising their power unfairly, in favour of one team over another. It is on this last point, that The Offshore Game team have serious concerns about the behaviour and conduct of the Scottish Football Regulator, the Scottish Football Association.”

“To preserve the integrity of the system, the regulator must be beyond reproach, and behave in a way which does not produce any suspicion that that they might be exercising their power unfairly, in favour of one team over another. It is on this last point, that The Offshore Game team have serious concerns about the behaviour and conduct of the Scottish Football Regulator, the Scottish Football Association.”

They are right to say there must be an independent public inquiry. But would the Scottish media even report it?

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