1 Mar 2013

Rangers fined but keep titles

1:25 pm on 1 March 2013

The former Rangers football club has been fined $460,000 for making undisclosed payments to players, but will not be stripped of any titles.

An independent commission appointed by the Scottish Premier League found the old company or "Oldco" Rangers guilty of failing to make proper disclosure of "side-letter arrangements" between 2000 and 2011.

But Scotland's most successful club avoided being stripped of any of the five SPL titles they won during the period after the three-man commission, all lawyers, ruled Rangers "did not gain any unfair competitive advantage".

The inquiry centred on payments made to players in the form of "loans" through offshore employee Benefit Trusts set up by former Rangers chairman David Murray.

It found those arrangements, required to be disclosed under the rules of the SPL and the Scottish Football Association, were, however, not revealed to the football authorities.

The commission statement says: "Although the payments in this case were not themselves irregular and were not in breach of SPL or SFA Rules, the scale and extent of the proven contraventions of the disclosure rules require a substantial penalty to be imposed.

"Rangers FC did not gain any unfair competitive advantage from the contraventions of the SPL rules in failing to make proper disclosure of the side-letter arrangements, nor did the non-disclosure have the effect that any of the registered players were ineligible to play, and for this and other reasons no sporting sanction or penalty should be imposed upon Rangers FC."

Rangers were expelled from the SPL because of their financial problems and demoted into the Third Division, the fourth and lowest tier of Scottish professional football before the start of this season, after a new company or "newco" was formed to take charge of the club's business.

In a separate court case, Murray International Holdings won its appeal in principle against a tax bill surrounding the EBTs but British tax authorities have since appealed against that verdict.