2007 - 2022

The Unreported

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?

Comments (32)

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  1. The Clumpany says:

    A belter! Well done. Here is my ‘satirical’ take on the MSM’s spinelessness https://theclumpany.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/the-no-news-day/

  2. The Clumpany says:

    The Scottish sports medi is humiliating itself like never before. And that’s saying something!

  3. Hugh Brodie says:

    Finally someone in the Scottish media acknowledges and endorses this damning report. One thing though. No mention of the clubs themselves who’s silence is deafening. Well done.

  4. Noelsky Trotsky says:

    Well done for speaking out when the rest have completely blanked this story. If it wasn’t for offshore game, the clumpany, Phil and the others tweeting and pushing it out, it would’ve died a death. The silence from the SMSM is astonishing.

  5. James Lewsley says:

    Wonder if there will be an outcry as DDU have been fined for fielding ineligible players whereas some other clubs get away with improper registrations and side letters

  6. Bernard Thompson says:

    Great to read a journalist of Robbie Dinwoodie’s stature saying what the entire Scottish mainstream media establishment is collectively refusing to do: tell the truth about Rangers and the club’s relationship with those running Scottish football.

    Transparency is supposed to be about instilling confidence that what is unseen is not evidence of malpractice.

    The Scottish football establishment – and the sports media is an intrinsic part of that establishment – contrives to stonewall any legitimate questioning and, at the same time, pour scorn on those asking the questions.

    There are two choices: radical change or the final destruction of the game in Scotland, leaving only nylon blazers administering themselves.

    And yet this rank rotten state of affairs is not new. Consider the fact that Scotland is the only team from the British Isles to have failed to progress from the group stages of any major tournament, despite a historical roll of talent to make many currently successful nations drool.

    Scottish football has persisted with it’s insular approach and has let the world pass it by.

    Much of this, apparently, has been because the preservation of Rangers took precedence over any other issue in the game.

    The best laid schemes, etc.

  7. w.b.robertson says:

    Robbie`s piece is spot on. However, as he says, football teams are NOT normal businesses. Irate customers can switch supermarkets. But irate fans foam at the mouth, scream about bias, suggest boycotts etc. I can well understand why editors find excuses to ignore ceertain stories. In another life, some 50 years ago, I remember a Scottish tabloid had a front page about an incident in a Lanarkshire grotto. The next day we had lawyer`s letters from the RC diocese protesting that our report was anti-Catholic. A couple of hours later we had a lawyer`s letter claiming that the report was anti-Rangers. Incidentally, to add to the irony, the two reporters whose by-lines appeared, were from both sides of the dyke. The experience simply confirmed what we should have known – where there is any controversy that involves the two sides of the Old Firm, it is safer to spike the copy. And get a bit of peace.

  8. Tony D says:

    We’re being ran by a bowling club cabal, our game is toxic steeped in secrecy, underhanded deals, and all for the safety of one club, if there’s no change soon, our game will die, it’s on its knees now and getting weaker by the day, and the SMSM are no help either, I do fear for our game.

  9. Alf Baird says:

    This seems to be symptomatic of a wider problem in Scotland and the UK generally. NGO’s, public procurement, the PFI scandal, the non-transparent nature of offshore tax haven ownership of key former public utilities (ports, airports, energy etc) and large private estates, and numerous other areas of public life and society, following on from the tsunami of public corruption unearthed south of the border – Chilcot, BBC, Rotherham, Hillsborough, BAe, Leveson etc. Postal votes an aa.

  10. Drew Campbell says:

    Can I suggest Robbie and/or The Clumpany and/or the Offshore Game send copies of their material to outlets down south? Kind of reciprocity for Scottish titles naming Ryan Giggs et al.

    Private Eye would be interested I’m sure, as might Alex Thomson at Channel 4.

    1. Mungo says:

      I sent it to my Private Eye contact, who has run with stories before that I gave him. Nothing yet. Might need a prod…

  11. john young says:

    The Catholic Church pilloried and rightly so on it,s cover ups,but the SFA nothing on the news/newspapers etc,do they will they ever learn?that eventually the truth will out,if there is nothing to hide why no statement?

  12. Doubting Thomas says:

    Why has nobody mentioned big Dermot? Is it acceptable to have his in perpetuity dividend from the Sellik holding company paid to a tax haven in Gibraltar? He is not even resident there ffs!
    Is it because the club has so much debt it can’t afford to pay him?
    And whatever happened to ra Sellik fitba and athletic co?
    Don’t tell me they have been consigned to history on a Pacific shelf.
    Whit happened to the history…….

    1. Johnbud says:

      DT, you have just brought someone else and another club into a discussion about the SFA colluding with old rfc, why? Can you dispute any of the comments or allegations in this article or TOG report? If sellik(sic) lost it’s history by buying another company and NOT entering Admin or getting LIQUIDATED, how on earth have trfc gotten hold of rfc’s history? Simple question but I know you will not reply as if you did you would have to confront the horrible truth!

      So Robbie, are you saying that the entire SMSM is scared to say anything negative about the Ibrox club? Have you ventured onto SFM? Absolutely fantastic reading on there.

      And to think Celtic fans were, and to some extent still are, called paranoid??

      Great read, thanks for posting it!


      1. Doubting Thomas says:

        Here was silly me thinking that tax dodging by the majority shareholding entity of a fitba club was pertinent even though not actually mentioned in this report.
        It’s not as though the gent has a history of tax dodging and suspected bribery and corruption.
        It was probably all Charles Haughey’s fault.
        Why did he need a boat anyway.
        I suppose given the fact that an apology has been issued by the producers of the report acknowledging that Rangers are Rangers renders this contribution which relies so heavily on the report as pish.

        1. Johnbud says:

          Is this the one where they say “the history and SPIRIT of the club remains with the fans, not any company”?
          Spirit hmmmm, remains with the fans not any compnay? So you didn’t buy the history?
          So again, not going to dispute any facts in the report?
          Did you see there other update where they dispelled any notion that the report was wrong?

          As to your 2nd point about Oirish (sic) from the Caribbean, I don’t approve of or like any individuals dodging their fair share of tax payments, however, this is an individual not an organisation, what is so hard about this that all trfc fans seem to put both together?? Your club cheated on and industrial scale, your club, not an individual avoiding his own tax, your club as a whole! Do you really not see any difference?

          1. Doubting Thomas says:

            So sellik are quite happy to pay money to an offshore trust or company in the full knowledge that tax will not be paid in the UK?
            And you think that is ok?
            The sum involved here is in excess of £550k every year and this has been going on for how many years?
            When does industrial tax dodging start and stop?
            My personal opinion ( and this goes for my team too ) is that anybody taking money from Scottish football should be paying tax in the UK not anywhere else.
            In fact I would go further and impose this across all businesses.
            But I think you deliberately missed the point of the apology and I think we know why which is that the club is the club regardless of the holding vehicle.
            The loonball in Donegal who has been tarred with the sickening sectarian brush and who constantly portrays himself as in the know did not see this coming and I suspect most sellik fhans before they jumped on the bandwagon of this report did not either.

      2. Doubting Thomas says:

        I was actually referring to yet another situation where the regulators of Scottish fitba have failed to adequately deal with alleged tax dodging by a known tax dodger who funnily enough is based offshore and is not a Uk citizen or resident for the purposes of taxation.
        Oirish fae the Caribean disnae quite cut it. Don’t you agree?

        1. Johnbud says:


          I agree and said as much in a previous reply to you, everyone should pay their fair share of tax. There is, however, a difference between the two scenarios.

          One simple question DT, what was the name of the holding company that CW used to purchase rangers that is now being liquidated? If what you say is true and there was separation, dis incorporation even, between club and company then please enlighten me.

    2. Robert Graham says:

      good to see a honest opinion of a totally unbiased piece ,this neutral theme appears to be spreading across all independence supporting sites i wonder if the perpetrators are aware of the consequences of their attempts at further division of an already fractured society .

  13. seumas ciaragain says:

    Bella & Robbie,thank you so much for actually publishing the fact that this report exists. The truly Orwellian situation that presently presents itself within the Scottish media is disturbing. In the extreme. That so many would be “journalists” could collude to totally blank this story,provided with documentation to verify the facts that Campbell Ogilvie (then President of the SFA) deliberately lied to a (fake) quasi legal commission regarding the financial wrongdoings of his previous employers whom had been cheating both the HMRC and Scottish football for many years. The evidence is overwhelming. Campbell Ogilvie still sups from the trough via EUFA and has refused to respond to any questions posed. The SFA also refuse to respond,indeed the well respected authors of the report invited a response from both, “no comment” was the response from both. This is deemed acceptable by the mainstream media ? No questions? I hear tell that “there are legal issues” and that “WE ? don’t think there is anything new in this “. New in this? Stonewall evidence that the then SFA President “horribly conflicted” according to his cohort S Reagan lied to the cowboy LNS commission in regard to his involvement in the illegal and fraudulent DOS scheme. The documents are there for all to peruse,there can be no question as to the guilt of Ogilvie on these matters,which begs the obvious question,WHY is he still employed anywhere within football administration ? Scottish football is corrupt to the core,but they are angels compared with the Scottish fourth estate whom have failed themselves as well as the very people they were sworn to protect. SHAME on them! They won’t be anywhere near a mirror anytime soon! Not an unbroken one anyway. Thank (insert whatever deity suits) for the 5th Estate, Thanks Bella for giving a voice in the silence.

  14. tartanfever says:

    What will happen ? Absolutely nothing. Nothing changes, never will. Placid fans return week in week out, Doncaster and Co still reign supreme and we have a Scottish Govt now too scared too dabble in football because one half or both of the old firm will go apeshit at them. HMRC are so critically understaffed, as well as being bent, that nothing will be forthcoming from them and newspapers, who rely on club patronage to fill their backpages will not lift a finger.

    Tell you what, I’ll take my hat off to the first set of club fans that declare a one game home boycott to force their club top get involved in cleaning up football. Hurt them by hitting their pocket. Oh wait you can’t – most of you are season ticket holders having paid your money up front like the good hillgrazers you are.

  15. Frank Smith says:

    In the 80s Scotland’s national team qualified for International tournaments .Our clubs won European tournaments too.
    All was well under David Murray took over at Ibrox.Up until that period our clubs had produced and developed their own players often the best players were sold to big English clubs.The clubs benefited financially and the international team benefited as our players gained experience .
    Murray changed all this he spent millions bringing in the players from England and abroad .Instead of transfer money coming in to Scotland it was going out of Scottish football.Other clubs borrowed to compete.
    Later when Fergus Mcann came to Celtic ,he reorganised Celtic finances and they began to compete.Being a bad loser Murray with the support of certain individuals in the Bank of Scotland started borrowing tens of millions .He also started to use the Discounted Options scheme and later Employment Benefit trusts as tax avoidance schemes

    The administrators of Scottish football turned a blind eye ,backed by a compliant media no questions were asked.

    Scottish football stinks There needs to be an inquiry into the whole Murray empire its links to the Bank of Scotland the media and the SFA.

    1. John says:

      What can not be right is ditching your tax debt to society and keeping your so called history intact. If Carlsberg did IRONY it would be Armed Forces day at Ibrokes, where all the equipment on show and right down to the ropes used to abseil from crumbling stands is paid for by every other taxpayer in the country.

  16. Robert Macfarlane says:

    What does football have to do with Scottish Independence?

    This is why I and many other people I know have stopped following Bella. It fails to recognise that by alienating football fans of a certain colour, it is hardening the soft no vote. Some people even think deliberately. I wouldn’t comment on that.

    Suffice to say after a couple of years of staying clear of Bella, the first time I read one of the articles, yet again it is about the same issue.

    This topic does nothing to generate support for independence. I won’t make the same mistake a second time!

    1. Josef O Luain says:

      If you’re happy to dismiss issues of culture and identity in your reckoning of the Scottish nation, then I suppose football has nothing at all to do with Scottish independence.

      1. Robert Graham says:

        maybe a discussion on Apartheid in the Scottish Education system would be more appropriate ?.
        Now that would certainly provoke some interesting points for discussion , and that would really divide the tribes . Job done mission accomplished a successful division of independence supporters .

        1. Johnbud says:

          Even better, lets call separate faith schools apartheid! That way we can demonise that and belittle actual apartheid, brilliant!

          I thought Rangers (RIP) were a Scottish institution, surely their illegitimate, irresponsible, corrupt child deserves some sort of discussion?

          If you believe in independence then all your opinions on everything must be the same as mine, otherwise you are a WM lackey!

          Get off your high horse, if you don’t want to read about it don’t click through!

    2. Robert Graham says:

      I thought it was only wings over scotland that was infected ,they appear to be indulging in a three week long hatefest , surprising they continue with a football theme on a supposedly independence supporting forum just coincidence ? , someone or some department in westminster is pulling the strings here and these idiots can’t see it because their blind hatred of a particular football team suspends all reason thats if they had any to suspend in the first place .

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