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  1. By Donald MacLeod, 1 February 2015 8.03am. New York may have locked down in preparation for a “Snowmaggedon” that never came, but sadly in Glasgow it seems we are in great danger of doing the very same thing Not over dodgy weather forecasting, I might add, but over “dodgy” football fixtures – particularly those between bitter Old Firm/New Co Firm (what does it matter) rivals Celtic and Rangers. This afternoon, in case you’ve been living on Mars, sees the rare return of those footballing titans, who will square up to each other at Hampden. It’s a game which will have the winner earning the right to play against the victor of yesterday’s New Firm match in the final of the Scottish League Cup, but is one that will probably be remembered not for the football but for all the wrong reasons. The media hyperbole and Police Scotland’s overzealous, and at times totally paranoid, approach to the build-up of this game has made sure of that. So much so that the other semi-final, again between two bitter rivals, had barely been given a mention. I pointed this out to my Head of Marketing, an avid and disillusioned bluenose, and he hadn’t a clue there was even a game on. The fact that 40,000-plus fans with cash to spend were about to descend on Glasgow from the North East of Scotland in the early hours of Saturday morning had totally escaped his notice! Time had stopped for him, as it had for many in this city. Sunday was all that mattered. Police Scotland see it rather differently. They have already rounded up known hooligans in both cities and all eyes, ears, CCTV and handcuffs were not just focused on today’s big match but yesterday’s as well. But was another inhospitable ring of steel thrown around the the city to greet all those arriving from the north really the best way to protect and promote the city. It seems so wrong on so many levels. The hysterical hype and threats of severe punishments being exacted on those caught up in the fervour and crossfire of both games, but especially today’s, has reached epic proportions. Not only do we have both sets of fans being warned to be on their best behaviour or else, which is understandable given their past acrimonious encounters, but the players and managers have been as well. Celtic players have been banned from tweeting. Many pubs and clubs have also been told they will face the full force of the law and possible loss of licence if they are captured serving someone who is a wee bit too merry or who bursts into song. Fans have even been told that they cannot now take a flag or banner into the stadium unless they are also carrying a fire safety certificate! Come on, it’s becoming ridiculous! Do we really need such a heavy sledgehammer to crack so few bigoted nuts? We are not only driving football further into the gutter with our OTT hype but crippling business at the same by scaring non-football fans, shoppers, tourists, students, diners, clubbers and residents away from the city. Fear is being used here as a tactic to intimidate and deter and that is feeding the frenzy and creating yet more animosity Glasgow shouldn’t be closed off or be a place to be feared. It should be open and welcoming to all! If we regard ourselves as an open, free and tolerant society then we shouldn’t allow ourselves to become the exact opposite – closed, restrictive and intolerant every time the Old Firm are thrown together. Of course the full force of the law should be applied to those who cause trouble. The book should be thrown at them and the key chucked away. But the vast majority of fans aren’t troublemakers and neither is the general public – and all those trying to eke out a living in very trying times shouldn’t be treated as if they are. http://www.sundaypost.com/news-views/columnists/donald-macleod/over-the-top-old-firm-hype-will-penalise-the-city-1.818620
  2. ...ahead of much-anticipated Ibrox EGM 07:42, 1 February 2015 By Scott McDermott KING landed in Glasgow last night as he attempts to galvanise support ahead of the EGM but the former Rangers director won't be at Hampden for the League Cup semi-final against Celtic. DAVE KING jetted into Glasgow last night – but WON’T attend Rangers’ League Cup clash with Celtic at Hampden today. The former Ibrox director flew in from South Africa and will spend a week in the UK to galvanise support ahead of the much-anticipated Ibrox EGM. King will attempt to convince the club’s shareholders in Scotland as well as its investors in London to back his bid to remove the current Ibrox regime. The Rangers board have until Friday to announce a date for the EGM. King believes he can gain 51 per cent of votes to eject chairman David Somers, chief executive Derek Llambias, finance director Barry Leach and James Easdale from the top of the marble staircase. King’s wants himself, ex-director Paul Murray and former brewery boss John Gilligan to take over. And he’s hoping his latest visit will ensure his group – along with the Three Bears consortium headed by motor mogul Douglas Park and the Ibrox fans – have the required support. MailSport understands that King will decline the chance to be at Hampden for this afternoon’s Old Firm derby. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/battle-rangers-steps-up-dave-5082369
  3. Former Celtic boss Neil Lennon is the latest big name in football who could face a hefty bill for investing in a tax avoidance scheme. According to STV News, Lennon (who now manages Bolton Wanderers) alongside Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne, St Mirren caretaker boss Gary Teale and former Scotland captain Gary McAllister, are being probe for investment investing in schemes operated by Ingenious Media Holdings. HMRC is questioning the legitimacy of three schemes operated by Ingenious – Inside Track Productions, Ingenious Film Partners 2 and Ingenious Games LLP. According to Companies House, former Aberdeen players Stephen Glass and Eion Jess, ex-Rangers striker Billy Dodds and former Scotland internationals Colin Hendry and Dominic Matteo also invested in the scheme. Other former footballers being probed include Match of the Day pundits Martin Keown and Danny Murphy. http://citywire.co.uk/wealth-manager/news/former-celtic-boss-lennon-faces-big-bill-over-tax-scheme/a795765
  4. FOREWORD: The author would like to thank the author of The Football Tax Havens Blog for the provision of some of the information used in this article. There is one thing I can say with some certainty regarding the HMRC enquiry into Rangers Football Club and that is that it has left a legacy of confusion, contradiction, misdirection ( some of which may either be deliberate or as a consequence of gross negligence) and of course, last but not least, accusation. The fact that some of the key players involved in the whole process now face criminal prosecution should confirm, for even the casual onlooker, that all has not been above board. Allow me to illustrate courtesy of these two links, which contain contradictory information, but nonetheless, were written in good faith by the respective authors. http://sport.stv.tv/blog/203241-rang...ions-answered/ http://www.accountancyage.com/aa/new...kets-by-gbp73m The former link written by Mike Farrell for STV attributes HMRC as the largest single creditor at the time of rejection of the CVA whilst the second link written by Rachael Singh for AccountancyAge suggests at the time HMRC vetoed the proposed the CVA they were in fact the second largest single creditor. What we do know is that at some point Duff & Phelps added the outstanding potential estimated liability regarding EBT’s to the overall bill due to HMRC. A potential bill which never came to fruition due to the rulings of various Tax Tribunals in favour of Rangers. What is both concerning and alarming is that such “confusion” appears to extend to high level executives within HMRC itself as this Public Accounts Committee Q & A demonstrates. http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevi...ral/11443.html In question 54/55, tendered by Anne McGuire MP, Mr Jim Harra – Director General Business Tax HMRC, moves to correct Ms McGuire regarding her apparent “misapprehension” by responding as follows: “It has been in the media. This dispute on employee benefit trusts was not the reason why Rangers went into liquidation. It was for non-payment of their standard pay-as-you-earn and VAT obligations.” No Mr Harra that is not entirely accurate either. That is the reason that Rangers went into administration. The reason Rangers went into liquidation is because, as either the primary or secondary creditor, HMRC the organisation you represent, vetoed the proposal for a CVA. It is really asking too much of HMRC officials, particularly high ranking ones to provide accurate information in response to questions from Members of Parliament who sit on a Public Accounts Committee? Furthermore, just to add some added spice to this bubbling pot of confusion and accusation, the reasons for such refusal are themselves subject to considerable speculation. http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/q...0639n.24716091 http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/h...probe.24725771 In the questions aforementioned Ms McGuire also raises the subject of pre-litigation settlement. It is perhaps worth highlighting at this point that Rangers were not the first football club to fall foul of HMRC. In 2005 during Ray Parlour’s divorce proceedings it was revealed that during season 2000/01 Parlour paid tax at a rate of only 22% courtesy of an off shore benefit trust operated by Arsenal. HMRC reacted to this information billing Arsenal for £12 million which they settled in full. While the differing circumstances of each case make a side by side comparison impractical, it does raise the question of why HMRC waited 5 years to pursue Rangers in respect of an EBT payment scheme previously declared in annual accounts) Returning to the subject of settlement Mr Harra responds: “In terms of when we decide to litigate, we have a published litigation and settlements strategy that states we will settle only for what we believe we are due under the law. If we believe that we have a greater than evens chance of getting more by litigating than what we can get by settling, generally speaking that is what we will do: we will litigate. We are proud of the success record that we have in litigation. In avoidance cases, we win about 80% of all the cases that we litigate, but that does mean we are not successful in 20% of them. We are disappointed by the upper-tier tribunal decision in the Rangers case. It is still something that can be the subject of appeal, so I cannot go into too much detail about the litigation itself, but, as I said, we have a very good track record and we may not have reached the end of the line on this one.” Of course such litigation is at public taxpayer’s expense. Perhaps Ms McGuire would care to ask HMRC at the next Q & A why a government agency whose remit is to bring people to account for failing to keep meticulous financial records, cannot themselves keep accurate records with regard to their own operating costs. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/h...-case.26228807 So in summary we have HMRC continuing to pursue Rangers FC (Oldco) at public expense, having refused an offer of an earlier settlement, in the belief they will be “getting more by litigating than we can by settling” despite the fact HMRC themselves forced the company they are pursuing into liquidation. Perhaps Ms McGuire would care to ask what financial settlement HMRC hope to achieve from a liquidated company. The more you add up the sums the less it makes logical or financial sense, in fact it only serves to add credibility to the accusation that HMRC’s rejection of a CVA was to ensure an investigation into Rangers directors and owners. If the circumstances aforesaid have caused you to utter the words “scandalous” then you may want to re-think your choice of words. In the Rangers Tax Case HMRC considered that the appointment of EBT funds on to a sub-fund or sub-trust for the benefit of a particular employee and/or their family gave rise to a PAYE charge. HMRC were also of the opinion that loans provided from these sub-funds were not loans, but were akin to a bonus available without any chance of repayment and, therefore, again subject to PAYE. What lifts this above even “scandalous” is such arguments have been challenged unsuccessfully before in the cases of Dextra Accessories ([2005] STC 1111) and Sempra Metals ([2007] STC 1559), yet HMRC continue to put forward this argument, at the tax payers expense of course Sometimes “scandalous” is just not enough.
  5. Yesterday morning there were rumours from several 'in the know' posters on FF suggesting that there are a couple of loan signings on the way from Newcastle Utd. Obviously, nothing happened on Friday and if such deals were to go through it would have to be at a date when they could have no influence on the League Cup semi-final. Let's go with the rumour for a minute and say they were to sign on Monday. I'd have to ask why not sign them on the previous Monday prior to the semi-final at Hampden ? You could ask a similar but more important question about Kenny McDowelll and why is he still in the dug-out despite resigning, patently not wanting to be in the job and having been prepared to infer that the RIFC board were misleading the fans when making their statement about Novo ? The board have recent previous when it comes to pitching an unhappy McDowell into the hotseat for a vital match. We know what happened at Easter Road that day, we were lucky to come away with a 4-0 defeat. So coming back to tomorrow, the boards, whether it be Sandy Easdale, chairman of TRFC or the collection of what many regard as malfeasent numpties who sit around the RIFC table,.... don't seem to be that interested in allowing or giving Rangers a fighting chance in Sunday's game. Not appointing a new first team manager in present circumstances is to my mind negligence. Are they writing off the Celtic game and preparing the ground for next week and a new manager with a couple of the only thing that comes from MASH/Newcastle, 'loans' ? Or perhaps my imagination doesn't grasp the scale of their disinterest at a time when John Carver is confirmed as caretaker manager of Newcastle for the rest of the season following four straight defeats. Maybe I do the board a disservice, as I forget for a moment their all too obvious priorities. Perperation for the League Cup semi-final started some weeks ago with the Sports Direct commemorative T-shirt for reaching the semi-final. I don't imagine many reading this will have bought one but don't worry, I'm sure the 293rd richest person in the world will have Rangers paying for unsold stock. Maybe he could make enough money to offer us another loan with largely what should be our own money,..... again. Bottomline is that we have a rudderless, discontented football club (other than for the interests of Sports Direct) and the board not only haven't lifted a positive finger but seem intent on pissing off supporters and staff to boot as we head towards Hampden. We might aswell of had a board of McNally, Phil3names and Haggerty. They couldn't have fecked things up as badly for Rangers as recent RIFC boards have, both generally and particularly going into this game.
  6. Celtic Fans Open to Ridicule Over Rangers “Old Firm” Claims – by Rob Atkinson. http://roblufc.org/2015/01/30/celtic-fans-open-to-ridicule-over-rangers-old-firm-claims-by-rob-atkinson/
  7. http://www.shareprophets.com/views/10353/rangers-fc-an-open-letter-to-the-scottish-fa-demanding-formal-enquiry By Tom Winnifrith, The Sheriff of AIM | Friday 30 January 2015 Earlier this week I asked if the Board of AIM listed Rangers FC could justify why it had rejected two refinancings in favour of a third proposal put forward by a major shareholder in the club Mr. Michael Ashley. The Board of Rangers RF (RFC) is dominated by business associates of Mr. Ashley. Can Rangers show paperwork to justify its decisions and therefore show that it did not breach Section 994 of the 2006 Companies Act? Rangers has not responded. And so today I have written to the Scottish FA asking it to formally investigate.
  8. Taken from FF. http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/public-accounts-committee/hmrc-standard-report-201314-part-1/oral/11443.html Q50 Austin Mitchell: What is the main problem? Will you ever be able to require these multinationals to pay tax here on the profits they generate here? What is stopping you? Lin Homer: International law. Jim Harra: We have discussed in the Committee before that there is an international framework of laws. There is an OECD project in which the UK is a leading participant. Q51 Chair: Are you working on that? Jim Harra: Yes, the BEPS project. There are 15 action points in that project, the first seven of which are due to report in September this year to the G20, and the remainder in 2015. In there are policy changes aimed at ensuring that profits are allocated to the place where they are earned, and also that there is greater transparency between multinationals and tax authorities about where they operate and where their profits are. Chair: Okay. I will come back to some of these issues; I did warn you before you came to the Committee. I am going to Anne and Guto, and then I will come back on some of the issues arising out of what Austin said. Q52 Mrs McGuire: Could I have some information on one of the high-profile areas of tax avoidance, which is employee benefit trusts? I note that you have had a reasonably good year in terms of pulling back some significant sums. My understanding is that there was a 160% increase in the amount of money that you have managed to pull back. What criteria did you use for settlement opportunities? I understand that the aim of HMRC is to reach a settlement rather than go for an expensive court case. Where are the opportunities for those settlements? Jim Harra: We have published the settlement opportunities that are available to employers who have engaged in employee benefit trust avoidance. A significant number have stepped forward and settled on that basis. I can certainly send you a link to the detailed explanation of that. It gives a settlement opportunity that is within the law, but which is more attractive to the employer than the worst-case scenario if they go into litigation with us and lose. So a number of them have concluded that the best thing to do is to settle on that basis. It brings in an amount of tax that ultimately could be what they are liable for. It saves us a lot of resource, which we can then deploy on those who are fighting us and enables them to move on. There are a significant number of variants of employee benefit trust avoidance. One issue for us is that if we were to try and litigate—unlike marketed avoidance schemes, where you usually have a large number of followers of schemes with exactly the same pretty much in each one—these companies are pretty bespoke, so I think the settlement opportunity is the most effective way of resolving the bulk of these cases. Q53 Mrs McGuire: Can I ask what the current legal status is of employee benefit trusts? Can I turn to a piece of documentation or a link that will give me secure information? Can I be confident that an EBT is in compliance with HMRC rules? Or are they all up for grabs? Jim Harra: Employee benefit trusts are entirely legal. There can be good non-tax reasons why an employer would wish to set one up, but we did see a significant drive a few years ago. One of the key reasons for setting them up was to avoid pay-as-you-earn and national insurance obligations. We have published information about what is and is not acceptable from a tax point of view, and what we will challenge from a tax point of view, as well as the settlement opportunity that is available to companies if they choose to avail themselves of it. Q54 Mrs McGuire: You’ve lost a pretty high-profile case in Scotland recently. It is in the public domain, so I am not putting out there what has not been in every Scottish newspaper and probably every football newspaper. One of the criticisms from Sir David Murray—or, if not him, certainly his spokesperson—was that you had various opportunities to settle with Rangers football club, but you decided to push to the upper-tier tribunal, which you lost. I know there are four or five outstanding issues to do with a referral back. If you do not want to speak about that particular case, can you tell me what the criteria would have been for not going for a settlement in cases such as that? I am not entirely convinced of all the financial arguments on this point, but the ramifications that have been suggested are that you may, by your action, have put the club into serious financial jeopardy. Jim Harra: First of all, if I can correct that misapprehension, which has been— Q55 Mrs McGuire: That’s fine. This is your opportunity. Jim Harra: It has been in the media. This dispute on employee benefit trusts was not the reason why Rangers went into liquidation. It was for non-payment of their standard pay-as-you-earn and VAT obligations. Q56 Mrs McGuire: That’s why I caveated my question. Jim Harra: In terms of when we decide to litigate, we have a published litigation and settlements strategy that states we will settle only for what we believe we are due under the law. If we believe that we have a greater than evens chance of getting more by litigating than what we can get by settling, generally speaking that is what we will do: we will litigate. We are proud of the success record that we have in litigation. In avoidance cases, we win about 80% of all the cases that we litigate, but that does mean we are not successful in 20% of them. We are disappointed by the upper-tier tribunal decision in the Rangers case. It is still something that can be the subject of appeal, so I cannot go into too much detail about the litigation itself, but, as I said, we have a very good track record and we may not have reached the end of the line on this one. Q57 Mrs McGuire: Given, though, that it is in the public domain that Murray International Holdings wanted to have a settlement, was there any opportunity at all, from your point of view, for some consensus to settle on this case? Or, as some would allege—certainly some supporters of Rangers football club—were you out to take a high profile business to court when you could have actually reached a settlement? Jim Harra: I can’t discuss what discussions we had in that particular case. It certainly is the case that where we receive a settlement offer from large businesses, whether the case workers are minded to accept or reject them, they come to the tax assurance commissioner and two other commissioners to make the decision. That has been the case since 2012, and that would include major EBT cases. It is certainly the case that we reject settlement offers where we believe that the better value for the Exchequer is to proceed with litigation, but we do that in accordance with published criteria. Q58 Mrs McGuire: So you are rejecting the allegation that this was a high-profile case that you could have settled in a different way? Jim Harra: Yes. We certainly don’t decide to take people on because they are high-profile; we use objective criteria for deciding whether to litigate. Sir Amyas Morse: Just for clarity—forgive me, because this is due to my faulty memory, I am sure—you did have exemplary criteria in individual tax avoidance, didn’t you? So if you had an individual who was in a prominent position, that would affect your approach to investigating tax avoidance, or your policy in terms of settlement, or what you would look for in terms of penalties and disclosure. Or is that not a factor at all? Exemplary issues are not a factor for you—is that what you are saying? Jim Harra: I think when it comes to litigating a technical tax issue, that is not a factor for us. There are certainly some people from whom we expect higher standards of behaviour than others, and therefore we can take a tougher line. For example, if an accountant in the tax profession does something, we may decide to penalise them more or to take a criminal approach, whereas if it was a plumber, say, we might have taken a slightly different approach. Lin Homer: Just to be very clear to both of you, no, we do not take cases with a view to the headlines, if that is the suggestion. Indeed, I think quite a lot of our debates with you about taxpayer confidentiality are partly because we believe it is very important that we apply our principles consistently and fairly. That is why it is so important that the published guidelines are applied. Also, it is why we think the tax assurance commissioner role has been a big part of trying to ensure that consistency over the last period, and of course Edward has just published his second report. Q59 Mrs McGuire: Could I ask one final, more general question on EBTs? Reading the professional press, there appears to be a view that some companies involved in promoting EBTs are beginning to feel that it is about time to bite back at HMRC, and collectively they are looking at whether or not they challenge your interpretation of EBTs, as opposed to waiting for you guys to come for them. Obviously, you will be aware of that, given that you will scan the professional press, a bit like ourselves, but do you think that that is a realistic option for some of those companies and firms? Jim Harra: They are perfectly entitled to challenge us; we are no more in the driving seat on litigation than the taxpayer is. At any point a taxpayer can say, “I’ve had enough of talking to you about this, HMRC. I believe you are wrong, and if you don’t concede, I’m taking this to tribunal,” and they are perfectly within their rights to do that. I have to say that to date the trend on EBTs has been to come to us and to settle.
  9. Can someone explain the answer given ? http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-01-20/221441/ Q Asked by Mr Brian H. Donohoe(Central Ayrshire)Asked on: 20 January 2015 HM Treasury. Rangers Football Club - 221441 To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department plans to pursue a claim for costs against Rangers Football Club. A Answered by: Mr David Gauke Answered on: 29 January 2015 The information requested was not held within the Department in the form requested. A number of parties were involved in litigation and it was not possible to extract costs relating to an individual party without incurring disproportionate costs. Grouped Questions: 221440
  10. Mysterious owners and main shareholders behind Scottish football clubs must be revealed, a government report has said. A group set up to examine the involvement of supporters in the running of football clubs in Scotland has published its final report. The report, ordered by the Scottish Government last year, has called on clubs to reveal their owner and main shareholders to fans to increase transparency. Another main recommendation is that details of directors and board meetings are made available to fans of all clubs. There continues to be challenges in identifying the owners of some clubs in Scottish football and this should be resolved, the report stated. The report said: "While the ownership of most Scottish clubs is readily apparent, there have been and continue to be challenges in identifying the owners of some clubs. "Given the contribution these clubs make to communities and to the nation it is clear that supporters and others in a community should have the right to know who owns their football clubs." The group involved in writing the report, which involved senior figures in the SPFL, SFA and sportscotland, recommended that the identity of the "ultimate beneficial owner of a club" should be declared. It added that if the owner was a trust involving a group of people, then the individuals should also be identified. This recommendation is relevant to the situation at Rangers where a number of mysterious trusts and firms hold major shareholdings without fans knowing who they are. The report said: "To participate in the Scottish Professional Football League, a club must declare to the SPFL and to the SFA, and publish, the identity of the ultimate beneficial owner of the club. "Should that owner be a trust, the club must disclose the ultimate beneficiaries of the trust and the name of the trustees. "Of fundamental importance to supporters are the risks to their club where an owner does not have, or does not appear to have, that club’s best interests at heart." The report also recommended: "That further consideration is given as to how best to protect supporters and communities, in circumstances where an owner may be seeking to exploit the value of a club’s assets for personal gain. "Naturally supporter interest in club ownership is concerned with clubs’ financial sustainability, and hence tends to be intensified where a club has financial difficulties. "Indeed in the majority of recent Scottish football club financial failures, supporters have been involved in one form or another in the ownership structure which allowed their club to exit administration." The implementation of these recommendations will be overseen by the working group and taken forward by the clubs and governing bodies. Jamie Hepburn, minister for sport, said: "Supporters should be at the heart of their football clubs, but too often they have felt marginalised and excluded. "We established this working group because we wanted to find ways of making supporter involvement easier, and of strengthening the relationship between clubs and the communities they represent. "The group has come up with some interesting recommendations and it is now dependent on everyone involved, including the Scottish Government, to make these work. "These are challenging times for Scotland’s football clubs. The Scottish Government agrees with the working group that a legislative approach to addressing many of these issues is simply too prescriptive and not desirable or necessary at this stage." Stewart Regan, Scottish FA chief executive, said: "The Scottish FA acknowledges the need for greater supporter involvement in the national game. It is also supportive of the need to enhance fan engagement, not just in-stadia but expanding our digital provision. "We have been pleased with the commitment shown by our colleagues in the working group and look forward to working together to implement the recommendations contained in the report." Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, said: "Supporters are the lifeblood of the game in Scotland. We welcome initiatives that are designed to increase fans’ engagement with their clubs." http://sport.stv.tv/football/clubs/rangers/308495-football-club-owners-and-shareholders-must-be-revealed-says-report/?
  11. In days of old when football was football and only a few anoraks could tell you the names of the club board, the idea of an Old Firm game playing a supporting role in a day of sport would have the wee men in white coats heading in your direction. However that is how I am viewing this Sunday's mouth-watering line-up, and it is a sign of how much trouble our beloved club is in that it has come to this at all. The reality of a league cup semi final against our greatest rivals at Hampden would normally have me all fired up for weeks, and I cannot remember ever going into a domestic semi-final or final without the confidence that our heroes will emerge victorious. Indeed in any other time I would be eyeing up this fixture as the first course in another possible treble, and at the very least the chance to deny that other mob their chance of a treble. This Sunday we have the England v Australia ODI cricket final from Perth, WA, which starts in the wee small hours of Sunday morning. While England will be rightfully underdogs against the home team, this cricketing equivalent of an OF match will have plenty of spice and aggression and entertainment. At the time where that match is reaching boiling point, we then move to Melbourne for the Australian Open tennis final between our own Andy Murray and (probably) Novak Djokovic. These two have played 4 Grand Slam finals between them, each winning two each, and this could be an absolute belter of a match and one I am looking forward to immensely. Of course if Stan Wawrinka wins the SF (at time of writing it is a close match in the 4th set) it pits the defending champion against Murray, who has reached the Oz Open on 3 previous occassions, only to come up short each time against Djokovic and Federer. Then we have the football with our own match at 1.30, and a potentially attractive match between two good footballing sides in Southampton and Swansea at 4pm, and a double header from Spain involving Sevilla v Espanyol & a good looking clash between Barca & 6th placed Villarreal. By the time we have all had our football fix for the day, the biggest sporting event in the USA takes over with the Superbowl, this year between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks in what promises to be a clash between the best attacking (or offense in USA lingo) team (New England) and the best defence (Seattle), with all the razzmatazz and colour this event brings. When the Vince Lombardi trophy is handed out around 3am, it will signal the end of a near 24 hours of non-stop sporting action for tv viewers, with 3 cup finals, a semi-final, and some good league action along the way. I for one cant wait for it all to start, and I just hope above all hope that what would, in any other era, be the main event for me at 1.30 in the south side of my home town amongst these global events attracting the best part of a billion viewers, and is on Sunday a bit part story, doesnt spoil this day of all sporting days. So come on England, Murray, Rangers for a treble that would have me positively gushing and have me remembering the 1st of February 2015 as a unique day when all that is good with the world was put right.
  12. “The dark eleventh hour Draws on and sees us sold To every evil power We fought against of old. Rebellion, rapine hate Oppression, wrong and greed Are loosed to rule our fate” I don’t think regular readers of this blog would describe me as what the media refer to as a “pop-pom cheerleader” of the various factions vying for control of our club. I’ve never seen the attraction nor sense of writing a blog to further the endeavours of rich businessmen who can afford their own PR machines. I’ve been highly critical of Dave King’s strategy to gain control of our club, and I stand by such criticism to this day. When I wrote my open letter to him, I envisaged King riding in like the 7th cavalry, scooping up shares to gain control of our club. Thereby uniting a fractured support, and thus enabling us to get behind our club where together we could build a stable future for her. What we got of course was something completely different which has only served to exacerbate such fractures. Furthermore, contrary to some reports, Mike Ashley is not the devil incarnate. He is a powerful, ruthless and opportunistic businessman who appears to maximise to his full potential, the misfortune and weakness of others. Sentiment does not appear to come into it – just ask the employees of USC. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/mike-ashley-wields-his-iron-fist-once-more-at-usc-9994171.html Alarmingly, our football club appears to be the latest victim of Mr Ashley’s growing business empire and he has been assisted in this to the full by a thoroughly incompetent, self-serving and shambolic Rangers board. Having comprehensively failed to balance the housekeeping budget they have then compounded the problem by rejecting all offers of outside investment thus leaving our club on the equivalent of a life support machine – relying on short term cash infusions where only the good grace and will of the donors prevented us from going under, as this shambles of a board failed to meet the repayments within the agreed time period. While the Man who would be King issued sound bite statements to the press, Ashley continued to increase his powerbase within our club, but of course every power grab carried a considerable financial caveat. Our retail, our historical assets, even our very trademark were considered fair game. Where there were dissenting voices within our boardroom, people who dared to highlight that such deals were not in the best interests of our club – Ashley eradicated them. Messrs Wallace, Nash & Crighton – RIP. A number of leaked e-mails demonstrated that the remnants of the Rangers board appeared to be more concerned about preserving their places on the board rather than pursuing the best financial deal for the club. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/rangers/11247379/Sandy-Easdales-true-role-in-Rangers-takeover-talks-thrown-into-question-by-release-of-emails.html Further confirmation of this was provided courtesy of Colin Kingsnorth of Laxey, who clearly felt it was appropriate to call time on this acquiescing of power to the Ashley Empire. http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11788/9626770/scottish-championship-laxey-partners-sell-rangers-shares The consequence of course, is that we now have a Rangers board dominated by Ashley men. These are the same men who control the destiny of our retail, our historical assets (with the exception of Ibrox – for now) our very trademark. I will ask you a simple question. When it comes to a crucial vote in our boardroom whose interests will these men move to protect – Rangers or Sports Direct? The situation is beyond dire but it is still salvageable. Dave King has called for an EGM which will present us with the opportunity to replace the current board. I’m not being melodramatic when I say the destiny and future of our club is in the hand of shareholders. Furthermore I will not mislead you. I’m convinced Dave King does not have the financial muscle which the Ashley Empire has at its disposal. If we vote to remove the current board and replace it with a Dave King one, I believe our club will be on its knees for a longer period. But I’d much rather be on my knees under my own strength, striving and aspiring to restore this club to its former glory with every part of the body working together to achieve that aim, than be on my knees bended in servitude and reliant on the quick fix solutions of others at a cost which threaten to take away my very soul, my very heritage and my identity, What answer from the North? A resounding “Thanks, but No thanks Mr Ashley”
  13. I was never going to get a chance at Rangers says Ryan Finnie as he signs on for Partick Thistle 14:56, 29 January 2015 By Euan McLean THE full-back, 19, joins the Firhill club until the end of season in bid to grab first-team action as Murray Park kid exodus continues. Ryan Finnie in action for Rangers Under-20s RYAN FINNIE signed for Partick Thistle today after realising he was never going to get his big chance to shine at Rangers. The 19-year-old full-back has joined the Firhill club until the end of the season after negotiating a release from his Ibrox contract to boost his search for first-team football. Now Finnie, who came through the youth ranks at Hamilton before joining Gers last March, hopes to shine for the Jags in the second half of the season to show he is ready to take his career to the next level. FInnie said: “Being a young player I couldn’t see any way to break into the team at Rangers with them not doing so well as they should have been. So I’ve come here hoping to get an opportunity to prove myself. “This is a good chance for me to progress and start getting some game time."
  14. Rangers keeper Steve Simonsen to learn his fate next month after allegedly placing 55 bets on football matches 20:16, 29 January 2015 By David McCarthy IT is unknown whether Simonsen pleaded guilty when he contacted the SFA in relation to the accusation. Keeper faces ban if found guilty of betting on football RANGERS keeper Steve Simonsen has responded to betting charges brought against him by the SFA and will now learn his fate next month. The ruling body confirmed last night that the Ibrox goalie , who is alleged to have placed 55 bets on football matches , had contacted the association in relation to the accusation by yesterday's deadline – but refused to say if he had pleaded guilty. Simonsen's case will be heard by the Judicial Panel on February 12. Panel members will decide if there is a case to answer if the 35-year-old Englishman has denied the charges or the scale of punishment if he has admitted to placing the bets. An SFA spokesman said: "Mr Simonsen has responded and that will be factored into the judicial panel hearing when they meet. That's all we can say as this is a live case." Tony Nicoletti/Daily Record RANGERS midfielder Ian Black arrives the SFA headquarters at Hampden Park to hear the outcome of a fine for breaching betting rules. pictured with Barry Hughs Photo Tony Nicoletti Ian Black (right) leaves Hampden with agent, Barry Hughes, after being banned for breaching betting rules In September 2013, Simonsen’s team-mate Ian Black was fined £7,500 and handed a 10-game ban, seven of which were suspended, when he admitted placing 160 football bets over a seven-year period. Three of those included betting against his own team to win.
  15. Nacho Novo brands Rangers board 'disgusting' and 'pathetic' for dragging stricken Fernando Ricksen into his Murray Park ban row 16:59, 29 January 2015 By Keith Jackson "Fitness had nothing to do with it – I’d have played for him with two broken legs," insists the fuming former Ibrox striker. NACHO NOVO has branded the Rangers board ‘disgusting’ and slammed them for bringing suffering Fernando Ricksen into his Murray Park banning storm. The Spaniard was officially blackballed from using the club’s training complex on Tuesday and insisted the under-fire board had given him the boot because of his recent high-profile backing of a fans’ group which is demanding regime change. The club responded by issuing a statement in which they denied Novo’s support of Rangers First had any part in the decision - while insisting the striker and former team-mate Peter Lovenkrands had been granted special permission to use the facilities to get in shape for Fernando Ricksen’s fundraiser on Sunday. But Novo hit back today when he told Record Sport Online: “The latest statement from the board is a joke. To use Fernando’s name to make excuses for their own behaviour is not acceptable. It’s disgusting and it sums up everything they do. “Fernando is a good friend of mine. I didn’t need to train at Murray Park to get for his game. I would have played in it if I had two broken legs so fitness had nothing to do with it. “The fact is I have been training at Rangers since the season ended in America in November. I have done the same thing every year since I first left the club to move to Spain in 2010. So for them to say this now is incredible. It has nothing to do with Peter either - he was only around for four days. “Kenny McDowall has already explained he was told to tell me that I was not welcome any more. But the people who run this club don’t have the balls to tell me to my face. They get other people to do their dirty jobs for them. “It’s embarrassing. It’s becoming a joke. These people are not good enough to be in charge of a club like Rangers.” The board’s official statement read: “Rangers today would like to clarify the situation with regard to Nacho Novo following recent reports in the media. “At no time was Nacho instructed to leave Murray Park due to him joining a Rangers supporters’ group. The Club had permitted Nacho and Peter Lovenkrands to train at Murray Park for a number of weeks in the lead up to the Fernando Ricksen Tribute Match to allow them to get match fit. “We would like to wish Nacho all the very best for the upcoming season and thank both him and Peter for taking part in Sunday’s Tribute match for Fernando.” Novo is furious the board have branded him a liar and revealed also he had offered to play for the club for free until he returns to the States for the start of the North American Soccer League next month. He continued: “If I say something then it’s because it’s true. It’s what happened. I don’t need to lie about anything and I also don’t accept their best wishes because they are pathetic. “What annoys me even more is that they used Fernando’s name to make themselves look better. It’s just not good enough. “They are saying I am lying but the truth is, since I came back in November, I was speaking to Ally McCoist and then Kenny also about playing for the club for free until I return to America for the start of the season. It was possible that I could have joined on loan and it would not have cost the club a penny. “Look, maybe I’m too old. Maybe at 35, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything for the team. But I would have given 100 commitment and I would have tried to compete because I wanted to help Rangers. And I wouldn’t have taken a penny. “The supporters know how I feel about this club and like them, all I want is for this club to be put back in safe hands.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/nacho-novo-brands-rangers-board-5066750
  16. Excellent statement from The Blue Order. TBO Backs Rangers First and Buy Rangers. 29th Jan 2015 The Blue Order are pleased to confirm that the group has made a £500 contribution to both RST BuyRangers and Rangers First, to include life membership of both schemes. This outlay represents a very significant amount of our group funds but we felt that it was crucial that we played our part in committing to the current collective effort of the Rangers support to attain as many shares as possible ahead of the upcoming EGM. Within TBO, there is a strong appetite for significant and meaningful fan ownership and we wish to urge all our fellow fans to pursue this aspiration as much as possible. The journey to Fan Ownership will be a long and testing one, but the momentum currently carrying all fan share investment schemes is very encouraging to say the least and within our fanbase, is certainly unprecedented. TBO would like to think that the days of the Rangers support sitting idly by, whilst various self-serving custodians take advantage of the club are over. Rangers Football Club should be managed for the benefit of Rangers and the fans, not for anyone else. Given recent events and the latest disgraceful decision to hand more assets and revenue streams to asset strippers, we all know how difficult this will be, but we must campaign and organise for the fight and hope that a successful conclusion to the EGM issue will not be the end but instead will be a catalyst for real change toward significant fan ownership. Ahead of the League Cup Semi Final v Them, TBO had discussed putting funds toward a display as we have done previously at Hampden. Current group issues and logistics meant that this would be difficult to produce, to live up to the standards of previous efforts by ourselves and others. There was already talk of buying shares and we believe that our funds are better to be used at this current time on fan share schemes than a one-off display. Considering this, TBO would encourage all fans going to the game at Hampden to bring a flag or banner. A sea of red, white and blue in the Rangers end can look as good as any organised display. We ask those who have not already joined Buy Rangers or Rangers First to do so immediately, get yourself involved and ask your friends and family members too. This is something that all Rangers fans can be part of, from as little as £5 per month. This is not about TBO or any other group. This is about our Rangers which belongs to us all. This is about a collective effort that can make a difference if we all want it to. Two schemes, join either or both but do join! Are you in? #sharesforthebears www.therst.co.uk www.rangersfirst.org
  17. The Rangers Supporters Trust wishes to express its concern at what we consider to be a clear attempt by some online elements of the Celtic support to incite trouble ahead of an Old Firm game which already has the potential to be a powder keg fixture. We, along with the vast majority of the Rangers support, noted with some amusement the recent advert taken out by Celtic supporters in a once respected Sunday newspaper. However, what has followed makes us considerably more uneasy. There is now no question that a hardcore element of the Celtic support are not content with the troubles which have plagued our club over the past few years. For them, Rangers Football Club, and by extension its fans, must cease to exist. Whether this stems from an inferiority complex amongst part of a generation who had to live through Nine-In-A Row, or whether it is down to a more ingrained bigotry, a fierce football rivalry is not sufficient for these people. We are extremely concerned that the rhetoric and hatred spewed out by the likes of Phil MacGiollabhain, Angela Haggerty, Paul Brennan’s CQN website and others, is a deliberate attempt to try to stoke sectarian fires and incite violence at the upcoming fixture. One need only view the reaction of some Celtic fans to the recent blog by MacGiollabhain entitled “The ****** Blood Festival” to see how these people operate. MacGiollabhain himself has never challenged the assertion that he is “tarred with a sickening sectarian brush” and he has willing servants in Miss Haggerty, CQN and several other online Celtic sites. We urge all sane Celtic fans to ignore their bile. We hope the upcoming fixture will be fiercely contested. We hope, despite being clear underdogs, that Rangers will win. We also hope that fans of both teams will be able to travel to and watch the match safely. We hope that Police Scotland, as well as policing the day effectively, will take careful note of those who continue to try to incite violence at the upcoming fixture. It would be an odd legal system that arrested people for singing songs but ignored hate speech and incitement of violence. Should the worst happen, we hope the full force of the law will be brought to bear not only on the perpetrators of any trouble but also those who encourage it online. Rangers and our fans have many challenges to face in the months and years ahead. Challenges which are considerably more important to our long term future than this upcoming Old Firm game. We urge Rangers fans to stay safe, behave in a way which can make us all proud of our club and enjoy their day." - See more at: http://www.therst.co.uk/news/rst-concerns-over-upcoming-old-firm-game/#sthash.dvHYDWc2.dpuf
  18. ...bring back memories of administration at Ibrox. AFTER Mike Ashley stepped up his Ibrox power grab with another huge loan this week KEITH asks; is the Sports Direct supremo actually asset-stripping Rangers or is he preparing to negotiate with a new board? IS Mike Ashley asset-stripping Rangers ? That’s the question asked under parliamentary privilege at the House of Commons on Tuesday and one the Newcastle owner will have to answer if, as expected, he is summoned to attend a Westminster enquiry . On the face of it, there seems a strong case for the prosecution. In the last few days, and without even stepping foot in Glasgow, Ashley has managed to sweep through Ibrox, scooping up just about everything of value that wasn’t nailed down. Had he bothered to turn up in person he might have made his way home on the famous old St Etienne bike, testing the integrity of its 37-year-old frame to the full. Integrity. Now there’s a word that might cause Ashley more discomfort than half an hour on a racer’s saddle. There are 7.125billion people on the planet. Only 292 of them have more money than Ashley. And yet this champion of the zero hours contracts dumped 200 workers from his high street fashion store USC on to the dole just after Christmas without so much as a lump of coal for a thank you. Integrity? In Big Mike’s world that’s for wimps. Little wonder then that he has acted so brazenly in his Ibrox power grab. With one hand he has fed Rangers with a succession of life-saving drip-feed loans while with the other he’s throttled it into submission. His latest £10million handout was his way of parcelling up an entire institution into one of those vulgar, oversized Sports Direct carrier bags. As bargains go, this one takes some beating. For the price of a fully repayable loan (or in other words for not a single penny) Ashley controls every last bit of Rangers FC, from the old boardroom to the dressing rooms inside Murray Park. His commercial contract has been massively beefed up – Sports Direct now own 75 per cent of the club’s own retail company – which means the badges and crests are now in Ashley’s name too. Also as part of the new agreement, if Rangers should strike a multi-million shirt sponsorship deal, the vast majority of that money will go straight into Ashley’s back pocket. So, in summary, a business already teetering on the verge of insolvency has now taken on a mountain of new debt, while giving up huge chunks of its only existing revenue. Now I’m no Lord Sugar but even so, the logic being applied here seems so flawed that it’s bordering on insane. This business now has its bare toes curled around the summit of Everest, having pawned off its safety harness. With one puff of his chubby red cheeks, Ashley could blow the whole thing into oblivion. In fact, this latest decision by a board which is itself not fit for purpose has a very familiar and nasty whiff of madness to it. And the similarities don’t end there because another red flag was raised in Tuesday’s Stock Exchange statement and it came in the form of two words that became part of the Rangers discussion during Craig Whyte’s chaotic end of days – floating charge. Now Ashley too has placed a floating charge over the club’s assets and although this may be purely coincidental, while his motives and strategy remain a complete mystery, it ought to raise the general level of alarm. So is Ashley actually asset-stripping Rangers right in front of the eyes of its supporters? Or is this latest move the latest part of some other plan for the Ibrox club? Those who study Ashley’s dealings closely describe him as the ultimate high-roller poker player. They are quick to point out too that, deliberately inserted into Tuesday’s statement, was a line about all of these agreements being reversible upon repayment. It could be, in tieing up all of the above, Ashley is merely about to spread them down like a massive pile of casino chips. That he is preparing for defeat at an egm in the knowledge that Dave King’s requisition already has majority support among the club’s shareholders. Certainly, if any of these city types were previously undecided as to which way to cast their votes, the terms of Tuesday’s £10m loan shark deal would have helped make up their minds. If anything, by accepting Ashley’s deal over a rival offer from Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor, the board may have significantly bolstered the mood for regime change. Where the numbers are concerned, King’s hand has just been strengthened. Even so, Ashley heads into this showdown holding all the aces. Even if the board is obliterated, King will still have to deal with the man who controls the club’s assets. And Ashley will call the shots. What he will not do is roll over. He’s had serious skin in this Rangers game for too long to fold now. Ashley has been at the table for more than two years, ever since he handed £1m to Charles Green in advance of the £22m IPO of December 2012. Sports Direct has been stuffing its tills with blue pounds ever since courtesy of Green’s incredible generosity. His old pal Derek Llambias was even invited into Ibrox around the same time to strike a deal which saw Ashley buy the stadium’s naming rights for a pound. Llambias now sits at the head of the board in his role as CEO but he too has been around this saga for longer than most will have realised. He owns 51 per cent of a PR firm called Keith Bishop Associates who, around the time of that IPO, were invoicing former Finance Director Brian Stockbridge for all manner of sums without ever appearing to engage in any actual PR for the club. Stranger still, these payments were being signed off at a time when Green was hiring his own PR guru. Ironically, Llambias was appointed to the Rangers board late in 2014, not long after the Keith Bishop contract had been terminated by his predecessor Graham Wallace. Intriguing isn’t it? So on Monday afternoon I contacted Keith Bishop, who acts as Ashley’s official spokesperson, by phone earlier to ask him about some of this mysterious stuff. He requested I submit any questions via an email. That email landed in his inbox less than half an hour later. It took him until last night to respond in an email which read: “This company’s relationship with its clients are, and remain, confidential and not open to be discussed in the public domain.” All of which just goes to prove that it’s getting harder and harder to get a straight answer to anything Rangers related these days. So is Ashley really asset-stripping Rangers? Or is he gearing up for a massive game of negotiation poker with King and a new board? That would certainly seem the more logical view. But then again, this is Rangers. Logic left the building some time ago. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/keith-jackson-mike-ashleys-rangers-5062140
  19. Following detailed legal advice, the Rangers Supporters Trust (RST), with the financial backing of the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund (RFFF), submitted a petition to the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Monday 26th January, seeking an interim interdict to stop the Rangers board from granting security over Ibrox in favour of Sports Direct. Discussions between our lawyers and the board’s lawyers continued over the past three days. The conclusion of these discussions was the that board has agreed not to grant security over Ibrox for a period up until the 17th February covered by the advance notice they submitted. We are disappointed that we were not able to secure the extension of this commitment until the date of the upcoming EGM, as this now leaves a short period of time in which the board could grant security over Ibrox before they are hopefully removed. This is particularly concerning given the announcement yesterday that a further period of due diligence is required for the second £5m tranche of debt that the board has decided to saddle the club with. We believe our actions had a material impact in stopping the board from granting security over Ibrox. The revised deal with Sports Direct was agreed late on Monday night according to Paul Shackleton, the club’s AIM nomad. This was immediately following the petition submitted to the court, the announcement of which delayed what would have been a necessary interdict hearing in the Court of Session on Tuesday. We do not believe that the filing of a notice of intention to grant security over Ibrox was an error and we believe that a fixed security over Ibrox would most likely have been granted to Sports Direct had it not been challenged. We would like to register our disappointment that it was necessary to take legal action to hold this board to their public promises to shareholders and fans. Whilst we are pleased that the immediate danger posed to Ibrox has been averted, we share the anger of other fans at the latest act of corporate piracy perpetrated by the current Rangers directors. By accepting this deal with Sports Direct, they have plunged our club into unnecessary debt and, by pawning off further revenue streams including shirt sponsorship, have limited our ability to repay that debt. They have done this in their own interests and those of Mike Ashley. David Somers, Derek Llambias, James Easdale and Barry Leach have, in our opinion, neglected their duties to the PLC they are meant to represent. Our fans have one chance to remove these directors before they cause even more damage. We urge them to sign up at http://www.therst.co.uk/buyrangers and ensure that this board is removed at the upcoming EGM and replaced with directors who put Rangers Football Club above their own personal positions and the financial betterment of their masters. We will continue to liaise with our lawyers, the RFFF and other major shareholders regarding the actions of the Easdale brothers, David Somers, Derek Llambias and Barry Leach. We look forward to a forensic examination of their conduct following the EGM. We would like to thank the RFFF for their continued support, without which it would have been very difficult to challenge the actions of this discredited board. - See more at: http://www.therst.co.uk/news/ibrox-court-action-statement/#sthash.GhlaIbzq.dpuf
  20. Rangers International Football Club plc - Is it breaching the Companies Act? Is its Nomad a cretin or worse? http://www.shareprophets.com/views/10306/rangers-international-football-club-plc-is-it-breaching-the-companies-act-is-its-nomad-a-cretin-or-worse
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