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  1. By Chris McLaughlin Lalit Modi, the first commissioner of cricket's Indian Premier League, has expressed an interest in buying a large shareholding in Rangers. BBC Scotland has learned Modi's representatives made contact with the chairman of Rangers' football board, Sandy Easdale, earlier this week. The groups talked about the potential sale of the 26% stake Easdale controls. It is believed a price has already been discussed. And a meeting could take place as early as next week. Modi was banned for life by the Indian Cricket Board of Control after they charged him with misconduct relating to financial irregularities. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/31168745
  2. Northern Ireland international Shane Ferguson is thrilled to have joined Rangers. The talented winger, who along with four Newcastle United team-mates have been loaned to the Ibrox men until the end of the season, conceded he’s over the moon with the move to the Glasgow giants, however he wouldn’t be available for selection as he continues to recover from a knee injury. “It’s going to be another few weeks before I get up to Glasgow but I can’t wait to get started,” said Ferguson. “Three of the lads went straight away and did their press conference and trained with the team but I have to bide my time. “I’m almost back to full training and as soon as I am completely fit I will be in Scotland and hopefully I can help Rangers win promotion back to the top flight of Scottish football. “Everyone knows Rangers are a huge club. OK, the last few years have been tough for everyone at the club and the fans who have stuck by them but I am excited about playing for such a big club. “The last three months have been frustrating after I picked up a knee injury in training. “This is an opportunity for me to go and get games as soon as I am fit and nothing would make me happier than being part of the side that took Rangers back to where they should be in Scottish football. “They are second in the league and have a bit of ground to make up on Hearts but it is a challenge that I am relishing and I know the other lads feel exactly the same. “I’ve never been in this situation before. When I spent time on loan at Birmingham it was never a case of us challenging for promotion so there is a lot riding on the last few months of the season.” Although a few eyebrows were raised that he made his move to the Gers on deadline day, but for the 23-year-old he just wants to play football. “My family have always been very supportive of everything I have wanted to do in my career – and a move to Rangers is no different,” he admitted. “The decision was mine to make and nothing entered my mind other than football. I am a footballer and that is all that matters. “I know a few people hiding behind a computer have had a pop at me but all I want to do is play football and Rangers are giving me that opportunity. “People can say what they want but I am happy to be signing for Rangers. “I have to say almost all the comments I’ve received from people back home and in Scotland have been really positive. “That means a lot to me and, of course, there has been a bit of banter with my mates back home, too. “I have a lot of friends who are Celtic fans but I have lots who support Rangers, too, so I’m sure the stick will be flying for a while yet.” The Eglinton man also confirmed that he took advice from Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill prior to his move. “The first I heard about Rangers being an option was on Sunday night. The five of us got a call and were told to go and have a think about it,” he added. “After I decided it was definitely something I wanted to do, it all happened pretty quickly. “With the Scottish transfer window shutting at midnight, I knew the move had to happen that day even though I wouldn’t be going there straight away. “I just can’t wait to get there. I already know Dean Shiels from playing with him for Northern Ireland but I didn’t speak to many people before signing. “Michael O’Neill had heard about the move and I spoke to him and his advice confirmed what I was already thinking about going. “There were a few rumours doing the rounds about me not signing but that was never the case. I knew it was a good move for me and that was that. “I have actually played at Ibrox for Newcastle in a summer friendly and had to mark Kyle Lafferty when I came on. “The atmosphere was incredible for that game so I can’t wait to experience it when those fans are behind you. I am really excited about playing there.” Ferguson, who still has 18 months remaining on his contract with the Toon Army, believes the next few months could be something special. “The next six months are massive. I want to help Rangers win the league and, of course, helping Northern Ireland qualify for Euro 2016 has been on my mind. “I want to be as sharp as I possibly can be by the time our next games comes around in March and if I am playing regularly for Rangers that is brilliant. “I wouldn’t want to harm our chances of playing when I’m not at my best but this move will definitely help that.” http://www.londonderrysentinel.co.uk/sport/football/ferguson-delighted-with-rangers-move-1-6563801
  3. https://m.facebook.com/rangersfansboard Rangers Fans Board 25 minutes ago · EGM DATE: The RFB can officially announce, as informed tonight by Derek Llambias, that the EGM is to be held on the 6th of March 2015
  4. Seems the Newcastle supporters think he doesn't get a chance because he fell out with the coaching staff.
  5. https://www.justgiving.com/MND-Scotland?utm_medium=email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20150205_utm_campaign=SocialNotificationFriendX
  6. According to Ronnie Esplin on Twitter, Kenny McDowall says he has been told to play 5 loan players. Wow!
  7. http://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/latest-news/309-seconds-out-dave-king-v-mike-ashley-the-big-fight-continues Ding Ding! As the bell rings out for another round of a fight that appears to have been ongoing for at least two years, one can’t help shake the feeling we’re now reaching the closing stages of this ceaseless contest. With Mike Ashley now having played all his secured loan cards and Dave King finally putting his money where his mouth is, surely the next three weeks will see this hitherto open-ended bout be won by one or the other? Certainly an EGM in early March looks as if it will, for the short term at least, decide the winner. In the Blue corner we have Dave King: a Rangers fan, wealthy South African businessman and carrying the backing of other high net worth ‘Rangers minded’ individuals (as well as the main fan groups) on his side. In the Red corner, sits the heavyweight Mike Ashley: an admired billionaire entrepreneur, a no-nonsense negotiator and with the advantage of having his backers already directly involved with the club. It would take a brave man to try and separate these successful prize-fighters. But with no knock-out blow in sight, the decision will be made by the three judges: Mr AIM from Fit-and-Proper Street, London; Mr Regan from Puppet Place, Hampden; and thousands of Rangers shareholders – all of whom have their own specific interest in this bout. Who will prevail? Certainly, the press conference of Dave King yesterday was one of a confident man. Open, transparent, knowledgeable and with just the right amount of sincerity; there weren’t many Rangers fans complaining about his performance. Yes, many of us have held doubts over King’s less than impressive historic ownership efforts but in recent times, he has clearly upped his game. Firstly by buying shares himself, secondly by cleverly (apparently) working in tandem (though not concert) with other financially independent bears and, finally, unlike Ashley’s camp, coming to Scotland to show he’s not afraid of meeting the media (and his critics) on their terms. No-one can deny today’s subsequent press coverage is impressive. However, while some may swoon at the promises he makes; his opponents (plural) will not. To begin with, Mike Ashley has not made his fortune through weakness. Throughout his business career, he’s faced many a negative period. From risky investments losing their worth, to media and political pressure on his activities; despite his success and contribution to British business, Ashley has never been an immediately popular figure. Not amongst his peers, not amongst Newcastle supporters and certainly not revered by Rangers fans. As such, while Dave King’s poise yesterday may have impressed you or me, Ashley will be equally assured in his position and determined to defend his Rangers interests. Dave King may feel the EGM is already won but there will be no throwing in of the towel by Ashley – that’s for sure. Indeed, if we delve deeper into King’s comments, although he spoke of an ‘indifference’ to Ashley’s involvement and tried to play down the significance of the Englishman’s stake in Rangers, there was tentative evidence of an olive branch being offered. Yes, King may not want to do a boardroom deal ahead of next month’s general meeting but there has to be (and appeared to be) an acknowledgement Rangers’ ties to Ashley won’t be so easily cut. In that sense, it’s interesting to note that King (on the face of it at least) hasn’t written off working with him in the future. And why would he? After all, in many ways they’re kindred spirits. Both are less than popular with the SFA, both are less than popular with the Establishment and both are as stubborn as business people can get. Perhaps (probably?) that obdurateness may mean an obvious partnership is impossible but a short-to-medium term truce may well benefit both them and the club going forward. I can’t be the only Rangers fan intrigued in that possibility. I’d also imagine investors – both at supporter and institutional level may be attracted to such. In point of fact, it’s that very attraction that will prove key to Rangers going forward. Not only do we need the investment King and his associated are offering but we need share issues, contracts and external agreements to ensure the club is financially viable. Most importantly, we need an engaged fan-base; not just in terms of buying season tickets at pre-2014/15 levels or ordering various pieces of merchandise but via actual investment in the club – both emotionally and objectively as part of an increased say for supporters. Recent years have shown us how important it is for fans to be involved in the decision-making process and recent months has seen an agreeable upsurge in regard for fan/share ownership schemes. If we juxtapose that with events at Hearts and Motherwell then fan ownership in conjunction with philanthropic, affluent supporters is now a very real possibility. Further, if we consider the problems the Scottish game faces with its rapidly decreasing reputation and sponsorship reputation some would argue it will be a necessity. Ergo, the quicker we and all involved with the club realise that, the better. We need not be ever-reliant on bank loans, unfavourable contracts and greedy players – let’s now belatedly take the opportunity to build a sustainable club with its foundations built in the Govan community and beyond. Yes, this wouldn’t happen overnight and Paul Murray is correct to caution us in that regard. However, nurturing the seed of something better, more durable and more resilient is surely something worth waiting for. With that in mind, the coming weeks and months shouldn’t just be about cheering Dave King, Mike Ashley or anyone else to victory in their efforts. Yes, one or both or none may be worth backing at some point but the truth is, in the fight for Rangers’ future, it is the club and the fans that have been on the ropes and punch drunk for almost four years now. Therefore, it’s now time for us to take control of our own destiny and we have to realise we have the strongest punch when it comes to the future. We just need to use that power wisely. The rumoured March 6th EGM will be our first test. However, the fight will go on and we must take ownership of our own fate. Let’s get ready to rumble.
  8. WOULD-BE Rangers saviour Dave King held court in Glasgow earlier today as he outlined his vision for the future of the crisis club. He sat alongside John Gilligan and Paul Murray, the men he hopes will join him on a new-look Rangers board before the end of the month. King is convinced he has won more than 50 per cent shareholder approval to remove the current incumbents, with Rangers expected to confirm the date of the general meeting by Friday. King, Murray and Gilligan answered questions for an hour from daily newspaper reporters at the offices of PR company Level Five. We publish part one of the full question and answer session below - all 4,000 words of it. Are you going to win the EGM? Dave King: “Yes. We have enough support. I am absolutely certain we have more than 50 percent even if every single shareholder votes, which is unlikely. We are well over 50 percent. We will win.” There has been a history of flip-flopping by institutional investors – are you certain there are no surprises coming? DK: “It has happened previously. Well, in some senses it has and it hasn't. Previously - and Paul (Murray) may be better able to answer than me because he was more directly involved - you can get a sense from institutional investors they are supporting you and then you interpret that as they will vote for you. However, when it comes to the vote their view is: ‘we’re not active supporters therefore we’re not voting, so we’re kinda with you intellectually and mentally and we agree with you but we’re not willing to vote’. “That has been taken out of the mix. The key event was the removal, the very non-strategic removal, by the board or the powers-that-be behind the board, of Norman Crighton. That was the single biggest tactical error that the board made because once he was gone the institutions said: ‘Look, that’s enough now, this is not being run on a proper basis’. That was the basis for the Three Bears being able to acquire their shares from Laxey and it was the basis for me acquiring shares. That became a turning point and if you look at it now, really other than River & Mercantile there is no real institution in there. So I feel very, very strong and solid about the current shareholder mix. If that hadn't happened I would have been in the same situation perhaps Paul was in (previously), where I certainly wouldn't have called the meeting with the same level of confidence.” No date has been called yet, do you expect them to stall or trip you up? DK: “I don’t expect it. It could still happen. The reason I don’t expect is that they have had almost 21 days and if there were any concerns about the technical aspect, whether the Is were dotted and the Ts were crossed, I would have thought I would have had some communication by now. It’s almost three weeks. I have had no indication of the board at all that there are any concerns with the requisition itself, therefore I expect that by the deadline on Friday they will announce the general meeting. “I have had no communication in fact whatsoever, directly or indirectly, with any of the board members at all since the requisition. There was just a request from (NOMAD) Paul Shackleton yesterday. He phoned me, and he asked if I was willing to negotiate a compromise and he made an attempt to suggest what he thought might be a way forward without calling a general meeting. But the alternative was far from being acceptable.” What was his compromise? DK: “It was about the existing four directors remaining and me getting a couple of appointments and a couple of independents, and ‘given that Llambias and Leach are really independents the board would be balanced’. It was really, quite frankly, a nonsense, a nonsense suggestion. It would just have created further impasse. We have had enough uncertainty I think. We really have to go forward with a different structure.” Did that phone call indicate they are hugely concerned? DK: “Well yeah. I said: ‘Look if you want to save the money you know what to do to save money. You have had long enough to look at the shareholders’ register, you know you’re going to lose, therefore I think the right thing for the board to do is make the appointments and resign, that’s the way to save the money, we don’t have to have the general meeting where it will cost £50,000-£60,000-£70,000, whatever, that’s money the club doesn't have to spend and the outcome I believe is a foregone conclusion’. So that is what I would hope they would do on Friday. I would be surprised if they would do it but I think it could be a responsible thing to do.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/part-one-every-question-every-5106662
  9. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/rangers-boardroom-battle-dave-king-5100588 DAVE KING will outline his vision for the future tomorrow as the Battle for the Blue Room gathers pace. King has called a press conference in Glasgow city centre where he is set to confront the challenges facing the club, now under the grip of Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley.
  10. I see Frazer Fyvie for all the rave bullshit he got is back in Scotland at Hibs. Kyle Lafferty has moved to future European Champions Caykur Rizespor in Turkey.
  11. Hi chaps and chapesses. Didn't get to see the game on Sunday due to TV not showing it here but after being out of touch for a long time how far away are we from the supposed measuring stick? TBH a 2-0 defeat is more than I would have expected. What is more gutting is that they are certainly no great shakes and if we had been managed rightly on our so called journey we could and should have won this and been a match for them. As such, anyone who was there can let me know far behind are we? And if we get promotion via the plays off this season where are we on par with the other sides.
  12. Another record for Deadline Day? Five players to boost the squad, are you a happy Bear?
  13. A ten-year-old boy on a Rangers bus was struck by a bottle thrown by rival fans before Sunday's Old Firm clash. The incident happened on Nutberry Court, near Cathcart Road in Glasgow’s south side, before the weekend’s league cup semi-final at Hampden. The attack took place when a Rangers minibus travelling to the game was surrounded by Celtic fans hurling abuse at around 12.30pm. A door on the minibus was opened and a bottle thrown inside. It struck the young supporter who needed hospital treatment as a result. The ten-year-old was taken to Glasgow’s Yorkhill Hospital where it is understood he received treatment for a broken jaw and three missing teeth before he was later released. Officers have now launched an investigation to catch those responsible. The man who threw the bottle is described as white, 5 ft 11 in height, of heavy build and was wearing green clothing and possibly a white beanie hat. Kenneth MacEwan, Cathcart CID, said on Monday: "This was an appalling assault on the boy who was with his dad and fellow supporters going to his first Celtic v Rangers game. "He never got to the match but instead was detained overnight in hospital and has a facial injury and teeth missing. "We do believe that this was football related. "Yes, it would appear that the bottle was deliberately thrown at the mini bus, however, we don't think the boy was specifically targeted as such. "Obviously Cathcart Road was very busy at this time so plenty people would have been about when this happened. I would appeal to them or indeed any of the group which we believe the man was with, to contact police." Police made 37 arrests over trouble related to Sunday's Old Firm clash. Celtic and Rangers clashed at Hampden in Sunday's league cup semi-final in the first meeting between the two sides in almost three years. Police confirmed on Monday they made 37 arrests in relation to the powderkeg match. A total of 23 of those arrested are expected to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday, 12 of those for alleged sectarian breach of the peace, A further 11 people have been reported to the procurator fiscal and three were handed fixed penalty notices. http://news.stv.tv/west-central/308852-ten-year-old-boy-on-rangers-bus-hit-by-bottle-before-old-firm-clash/
  14. Glasgow Rangers bidding to sign clutch of Newcastle United fringe players on deadline day Glasgow Rangers are hoping to tie up a multiple loan deal for a clutch of Newcastle United fringe players on deadline day. The Ibrox club are eager to bolster their squad in order to keep a tight grip on the Scottish Championship play-off spot they are currently occupying. With Hearts the runaway leaders, Rangers’ hopes of promotion will go up in smoke if they slip out of second place with Hibernian breathing down their neck. Now Rangers hope to sign some of United’s fringe players which could see the likes of Haris Vuckic, Gael Bigirimana and Kevin Mbabu going north of the border. Today is the last day that international loan deals can be completed and that includes moves to Scotland. I haven't a clue about these players, but I'm sure they'll be better than what we have at the moment. http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/glasgow-rangers-bidding-sign-clutch-8561228?
  15. ...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
  16. 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
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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/?
  20. 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.
  21. The Sun have dropped the Old as in Old Firm to make it the Firm. Do these nuts care about selling papers.
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