Rangers use of EBTs from 2001 to 2010 not only placed the club in great danger, but has allowed enemies of the club to moralise to all who will listen over "tax avoidance"
Despite the EBT scheme being a perfectly legal one used widely in England, the interpretations of it in Scotland by tax sponging student bloggers, and lazy biased journalists have been uniformly inaccurate.
Let’s be absolutely clear, the use of EBTs was legal, and could have been used by any other club in Scotland, and was in fact used by Celtic for one season.
When former Bank Of England Chief Brian Quinn took over the reins as Chairman, he stopped the Celtic using the facility directly.
That, however, does not ensure that both Celtic as a club and an employer can be completely excluded from questions on how payments are made to players and staff.
Bear in mind that the amnesty period for the SPL’s request for full information on player remuneration, since the SPL began has passed.
The questions over the remuneration for some players who have played for Celtic have largely not been asked, and those that have asked have met a wall of silence
Among them is Robbie Keane. The deal for Celtic to take him on loan was widely reported as being fully funded not by Celtic, but by majority shareholder Dermot Desmond
It is also widely speculated that Juninho received an EBT while at the club. Was it declared to the SFA and SPL?
Other high earning stars such as Thomas Graveson, Craig Bellamy and Roy Keane earned sums far higher than most of their team mates.
Did they have dual contracts? Why are the media not asking these questions?
Of course, these questions relate directly to the day to day business and management of Celtic the club, but what of employees of Celtic?
While Rangers have been in the depths of despair, the lack of sympathy from Celtic has been unsurprising, with some comment from Neil Lennon being uncalled for, but the depth of hatred and vindictiveness from their support has been on a scale even streetwise bears are taken aback by.
With blogs set up purely to highlight Rangers finances, and other Celtic blogs spending most of their time on the subject of Rangers, the common theme is that tax avoidance is wrong, and that perpetrators should be punished in the strongest terms.
Of course, as a tax payer myself I concur, except that I believe that all should be treated equally.
Equally, it should be noted that self-employed website owners, fanzine business owners, T shirt salesmen, and non UK Citizens are probably not the best people to lecture on tax avoidance, unless it’s from their experience of how to get away with it, or how they were made bankrupt.
So, while the agenda to punish Rangers has been apparently about morals, and about “doing the right thing”, those same hypocrites have completely ignored the direct questions to Celtic as a football club, and ignored the emerging news of Celtic Players and Directors participating in tax avoidance schemes.
What, you ask? Celtic players and staff avoiding tax?
Well it’s true.
Last week the Daily Mail reported on one such tax scheme, with one of the few names mentioned being the Celtic Manager Neil Lennon, who invested in the scheme while a player at Celtic
“Innovator One designed the plans so that if investors put in £20,000, they could get back £40,000 in tax relief immediately as a result of the partnerships they joined paying large sums for technology using loans from the bank.
But the taxman decided that since the loan money went round in a circle, being put on deposit with the bank that had originally made the loan, investors were eligible only for relief on the sums they had actually contributed.”
Following recent moves by HMRC to tighten up loopholes on Tax avoidance schemes the Independent reported that one such scheme called Eclipse 35 was now illegal.
There are numerous other similar investment vehicles that do the same thing, with such schemes including “Inside Track 3 LLP”, and “Ingenious Film Partners 2 LLP”
A number of Celtic players and employees were named on another Daily Mail article on tax avoidance in relation to these schemes
Director Searches on Lennon, Mjallby, Bellamy, Petta, Hartson and Sylla are interesting
Other members of Inside Track 3 include Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell and Celtic Financial Director Eric Riley
The full board for this scheme is below.
So, at the time of joining, none of the people involved appear to have done anything illegal.
Now, though, after the Eclipse 35 ruling, they will have to withdraw from these schemes.
Now, given that the moral argument that the Celtic support has been made redundant, will the moral judges of Scottish Football apply some balance and pursue Celtic for answers on EBTs, and possible dual contracts?
Will they then condemn the practices of senior Celtic staff and players for participating in tax avoidance schemes?
If not, are they just hypocrites?
What of the SFA and SPL boards, standing in judgement on Rangers, while board members Lawwell and Riley themselves utilise tax avoidance schemes
Will said Directors resign from the respective boards in shame?