Rangers broke tax rules over EBT scheme, rules Supreme Court

The longest running financial scandal in Scottish football has finally come to a close with the Supreme Court in London throwing out an appeal by Rangers liquidators BDO.

After two tribunal verdicts and a Court of Session verdict, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has won their battle over Rangers’ use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) with it being unanimously agreed that the Scottish club broke tax rules.

Between 2001 and 2010, Rangers paid out around £50 million to 80 players, managers and club officials using the EBT scheme.

Two tax tribunals found in Rangers’ favour but as the battle raged over the tax case, Rangers went into administration and thereafter liquidation.

HMRC appealed against the tribunal decisions, arguing that the EBTs were not in fact loans but actually earnings and should be taxed accordingly, and won in the Court of Session in 2015.

The decision now means that liquidators BDO are now liable for the tax and will now have to use their creditors’ pot, reportedly to be in the region of £40 million, to pay off the taxman.

HMRC used Rangers as a test case and Wednesday’s victory could open the floodgates on similar action against clubs across the country. They could now issue Follower Notices, demanding payments from clubs and companies who ran similar schemes.

A commission led by Judge Lord Nimmo Smith had previously ruled that Rangers had gained ‘no sporting advantage’ over their use of EBTs, but this was heavily influenced by the first tier tribunal result – which Rangers won.

With the highest court in the land now ruling that Rangers broke tax rules in their use of EBTs, calls for the Ibrox side to be stripped of silverware won between 2001 and 2011 will intensify, with the SPFL and the Scottish FA facing the wrath of Scottish football.

Rangers had to pay a £250,000 fine issued by the SPL in 2013 after the old club were found to have withheld “side letters” detailing EBT payments to players in breach of league rules, in what the organisation claimed amounted to 11 years’ worth of ‘admin errors’.

The Supreme Court ruling comes on the back of the new Rangers club being knocked out of Europe at the first time of asking by Luxembourg minnows Progrès 2-1 on aggregate, in what has been described as the worst defeat for a Scottish Club in the history of European competition.


Comments (19)

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  1. Kerly says:

    F##k this good bye

  2. jack elliot says:


    Employee benefit trusts are commonly used by companies to so as to pay their top-earning employees which would avoid paying,

    Cheating on the income tax and NICs that would be payable under the Pay As You Earn.

    This is an another example of how the rich avoid paying even the basic taxes.

    They use lawyers and jump hoops around the tax laws.

    But sometimes you could jump into a ring of fire.

    Perhaps we should re-enact the old English Saxon laws of the “the ordeal by fire”

    The gained profitably at the expense of society and so you be accountable in a proper manner.


  3. Scott young says:

    Old news. Move on.

    1. Gordon Bickerton says:

      Old news my erse.

      Move on? So that cheats get away with cheating?

      Get real.

  4. James Mills says:

    The real scandal in this is that it has taken the highest court in the land to come to this decision – a decision that anyone in the street could have adjudicated on in two minutes had they been asked :
    Question : If I give you a ‘loan’ which you never have to repay in lieu of wages , does this amount to tax evasion ?

  5. Jozef O Luain says:

    “Surrender” would’ve been quite sufficient and acceptable to most folks, Kerly.

  6. jozef O Luain says:

    “Surrender” would’ve been quite sufficient and acceptable to most folks, Kerly.

    (Triplicate comment.)

    1. Willie says:

      Big business equals big tax avoidance schemes. It is endemic as the Panama papers show.

      But oh, how the sectarian tribal mindset of some gloat with this news simply because it’s Glasgow Rangers.

      Tax law is complicated as this appeal after appeal process shows. Maybe some of the gloating Einsteins could spend some of their time thinking about how society can reduce the extent of massive tax avoidance by the super wealthy.

      1. “Tax law is complicated”

      2. jozef O Luain says:

        Your opening sentence is bang-on. “Sectarian tribal mindset” in the context of Glasgow Rangers, is ridiculous. “Famine Song”, anyone?

  7. Iain MacEchern says:

    Interesting that out of all the rugby & football clubs in the UK that have used this type of scheme, HMRC selected the Scottish club for the test case. What’s the betting that no club south of the border will be persued as vigorously as Rangers. Maybe all Rangers union supporters will have second thoughts about how much the establishment value them.

  8. Kenny Smith says:

    I never said we should have got off without punishment. In my view were punished. Obviously people will have different options on whether that was severe enough. My point on the last post was the continual articles on this subject for me is getting tiresome. I am guilty by association I get that but Iv seen my club almost become extinct and learn nothing up to now, suffer the rise through the lower leagues and struggle to lay a glove on our rivals( in a purely sporting sense) I doubt many will have the violins out but give the Joe on the street a break we only want to watch football. Again not looking for sympathy but its hards enough being a open Indy and Rangers supporter without coming on these pages and getting it on here as well. Let’s talk about getting yes2 up off its arse and organised again because there is more pressing matters than laughing at Rangers

    1. Gordon McAdam says:

      But your club did become extinct.

  9. Kenny Smith says:

    My comments are not showing instantly like they used to is there something wrong or are comments being moderated now?

    1. Jo says:

      Yes, same here Kenny.

  10. Mach1 says:

    Financial doping on an industrial scale. This must result in stripping of titles from oldco. This would impact newco in unexpected ways but only where the fiction of the same club applies. A statement from newco distancing itself from past cheating would be apt. Ditching those tainted by it should be the immediate reaction. Can’t see any of this happening without fans of the clubs who lost out pressing SFA to act. But the final judgement should give everyone who craves justice more than a little encouragement. They cheated and must pay.

  11. Penny says:

    The corruption of Football is what this case is about; that Rangers took a path to corruption that eventually led to their own bankruptcy is a cautionary tale regarding who owns and controls the game. Premier League is now a plaything of absentee oligarchs which is what perhaps the mini oligarch who concocted these schemes aspired to. The cost? The English team is barely able to beat the teams of the other three nations with any consistency; it can only lose to other nations like Germany where the clubs are firmly rooted in community, mainly community owned with tickets that are affordable and training programmes that benefit kids in the community. So Rangers has a choice: it can try to build from a base in the community and take the 10 years required or it can moan and moan and moan –as if its injury was somehow visited upon it from somewhere else than its owner. And yes, the ill-gotten winning games should be stripped out of its record.

  12. Pedro Mendes says:

    When BBC Scotland revealed all about the EBT scheme, Murray made a criminal complaint, claiming that such information was ‘private and confidential’. Was he worried about the tax bill heading his way or the possibility of being stripped of the honours, which he funded by taking out bank loan after bank loan helped by ‘acquaintances’ in positions of power at the Bank of Scotland. PEOPLE BUY THEIR HOUSES WITHBANK LOANS MOVE ON

  13. Derek says:

    I wait with baited breath for calls for Celtic to be stripped of their 9 in a row titles …after all they fiddled gate reciepts from 1888 till the day of hillsborough..the Kelly’s and whites trousered shed loads on the side to avoid paying tax …so this fake moral outrage disnae wash with me…even on the day of the hillsborough tragedy there was 20 thousand knocked of the official attendance..when rangers wer the guests..you tally up 100 years of gate fiddling enabling the hoops to spend more than the provincial clubs makes the gers ebt small beer..the past loves to be swept under the proverbial kerpit by the green quarter of glasgow..and let’s not start on the real crimes..

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