THE Scottish Football Association has been plunged into crisis after SFA president Campbell Ogilvie revealed he benefited from the controversial Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) scheme during his time at Rangers and knew it was in operation.
By Angela Haggerty & Matt Coyle
OGILVIE was employed at the Ibrox club from 1978 until 2005 and served as company secretary and later general secretary during his time. He became treasurer at the SFA in 2003, Vice President in 2007 and president in 2011.
Rangers FC is currently under investigation by the Scottish Premier League (SPL) over allegations the club failed to declare payments to players using EBT scheme between 2001-2010, a breach of the footballing body’s rules. If found guilty, Rangers may be deemed to have fielded ineligible players and a maximum penalty could be expulsion from the SPL. The club is also subject to an independent investigation by the SFA – one which Ogilvie has taken no part in.
“In relation to the recent investigation, I can confirm that I asked to be excluded from the Scottish FA’s Independent Inquiry into Rangers,” Ogilvie said. “In the interests of good governance it was absolutely right that this was the case.”
The club is also expecting the outcome of “the big tax case” with HMRC, who claim they are owed around £49m from the Ibrox side in unpaid tax resulting from the EBT scheme over a decade. The scheme was brought in under the tenure of Sir David Murray, who sold Rangers to Craig Whyte in June 2011 for £1.
Ogilvie said on Wednesday: “I was aware of the EBT scheme in operation at Rangers during my time at the club and, indeed, was a member. The existence of the scheme was published in Rangers’ annual accounts.”
Questions have been raised about how much SFA president Ogilvie knew about the existence of any alleged double contracts. The SFA rule on registration states: “All payments made to a player relating to his playing activities must be clearly recorded upon the relevant contract and/or agreement. No payment for his playing activities may be made to the player through a third party.”
“My role at Rangers, until the mid-90s, included finalising the paperwork for player registrations,” Ogilvie said. “As confirmed by Sir David Murray, it was never my role to negotiate contracts during my time at Rangers. It is also worth noting that, since the mid-90s, I was not responsible for the drafting or administering of player contracts.”
A disagreement has developed between former Rangers owner Sir David Murray and former director Hugh Adam over the double contracts issue at the club. It’s alleged that EBTs were used to pay a portion of player wages without paying tax, and that EBT contracts were kept separate from declared employment contracts.
Adam told the Daily Mail in an explosive interview in early March that EBTs may have been in use in the mid 1990s – the HMRC case only covers the period from 2001 – and that payments were not declared in player contracts lodged at the SFA, which is a contravention of the rules.
Murray dismissed Adam’s claims as “fantasy” and refuted the allegation that double contracts were in regular use at the club.
However, former Rangers director, Mike McGill, admitted the club had used an offshore EBT scheme in 1999 which resulted in the “small tax case” with HMRC. The Rangers board accepted the correct taxes had not been paid and accepted liability in the sum of £2.8m. It is not known whether double contracts were used in the scheme.
While Rangers FC is already under investigation over alleged dual contracts resulting from the EBT scheme used from 2001, it is unclear whether the governing body will investigate if any were used in the 1999 EBT case, in which Rangers conceded its own wrong-doing. The SFA were unavailable for comment or clarification at time of publishing.