Former Celtic keeper Robert Douglas has had a pop at the football authorities over their handling of the Rangers EBT scandal, saying they’ve buried their ‘head in the sand’.
Rangers used the Employee Benefit Trust scheme to pay out money to more than 80 former players, managers and officials at Ibrox – with the full amount thought to be over £47 million – between 2001 and 2010.
Two tribunals in 2012 and 2014 found in favour of Rangers, but the Court of Session in 2015 found for HMRC after an appeal. Rangers liquidators BDO then appealed to the Supreme Court but they ruled in favour of HMRC dismissing Rangers’ appeal.
Despite calls for the football authorities to act on the new judgement, the SPFL and Scottish FA dismissed any new investigation telling those calling for action to ‘move on for the better of the Scottish game’.
Douglas played at Celtic for five years, between 2000 and 2005, during the height of Rangers’ tax avoidance scheme. He said: “The authorities in Scotland have put their head in the sand a bit regarding it.
“It’s a hard one but it’ll rumble on for years. It’s gone. There’s no point in dwelling on it. I can’t see the authorities doing anything about it now.”
Rangers won 13 trophies during the time they used the EBT scheme, when asked if the Ibrox side should be stripped of titles won during this time, Douglas added: “Probably.”
Speaking to the BBC, Douglas also opened up on his own finances after he was declared bankrupt after failing to settle several large bills – with the majority thought to be owed to HMRC in relation to the Eclipse film tax scheme.
The shot-stopper admitted: “The film partnership turned into a disaster. You look at the amount of professional players that went bankrupt.
“Big big names, big big earners over their careers, not just in one spell. I think the only people that won out of it was the financial advisers, that would be fair to say.”
BBC remain silent on ex-Gers and their financial misconduct
While it seems that Douglas was open and honest about his financial misadventures to the Beeb, the same cannot be said for those of the Light Blue persuasion who regularly appear on BBC football programmes be it on the TV or radio.
Former Rangers captain Barry Ferguson – a regular on BBC Sportsound – was made bankrupt in July before HMRC hit him with a bill for not only being in the same film tax scheme as Douglas, but also the £2.5 million he was paid through the EBT scheme. Conveniently putting all of his assets in his wife’s name before the bankruptcy order.
Other prominent Beeb regulars include Alex Rae, Billy Dodds and Steven Thompson who profited from the tax avoidance scheme. But none of them have went public over their tax avoidance as part of the EBT scheme or even questioned about it.
In fact, the media are seldom seen to question any recipient of the EBT scheme indepth and ask the tough questions of the likes of Graeme Souness for example, who claimed in a half-assed line of questioning, that he was paid £30,000 through the scheme for scouting for Rangers while claiming that he was unemployed at the time – yet he was Blackburn manager during this period.
The question is why are the mainstream media in Scotland lacking a spine when it comes to questioning ex-Rangers players who dodged tax yet ask the likes of Douglas quite openly about his tax affairs and financial misadventures?