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SPFL appoint EBT profiteer to Scottish FA Regulatory Advisory Group

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SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has announced that Andrew Dickson, Head of Football Administration at Rangers, has been appointed to the Scottish FA’s Football Regulatory Advisory Board.

Doncaster announced: “It’s important that all of our bigger clubs are properly represented. With that in mind, Andrew Dickson has been appointed on to the FRAG and the Scottish FA’s new congress. Andrew is the same as Stewart [Robertson]. I’m delighted he has got the recognition of being involved after many years working in different roles at Rangers. It’s important that all of our clubs have a voice and that our bigger clubs are properly represented.”

However, it seems that Doncaster has a short memory when it comes to Dickson and his role at Rangers.

Dickson, who was co-opted to the Rangers board back in March following the suspension of chief executive Derek Llambias and finance director Barry Leach, was party to Rangers’ £47 million tax avoidance operation – more commonly known as Employee Benefit Trusts [EBTs].

Not only did Dickson profit from the scheme receiving £33,000, but as finance controller at Ibrox up until 2003 and subsequently head of football administration to the present day – he was knee deep in Rangers breaching the SPL rules on disclosing information regarding payments to players as well as failing to provide the governing body with information when requested to do so.

The commission, which imposed a fine of £250,000 on Rangers, claimed that there was a deliberate decision made by Rangers not to provide the football authorities with the relevant information over an 11 year period.

They announced: “We nevertheless take a serious view of a breach of rules intended to promote sporting integrity. Greater financial transparency serves to prevent financial irregularities. There is insufficient evidence before us to enable us to draw any conclusion as to exactly how the senior management of Oldco came to the conclusion that the EBT arrangements did not require to be disclosed to the SPL or the SFA.

“In our view, the apparent assumption both that the side-letter arrangements were entirely discretionary, and that they did not form part of any player’s contractual entitlement, was seriously misconceived.

“Over the years, the EBT payments disclosed in Oldco’s accounts were very substantial; at their height, during the year to 30 June 2006, they amounted to more than £9 million, against £16.7 million being that year’s figure for wages and salaries.

“There is no evidence that the Board of Directors of Oldco took any steps to obtain proper external legal or accountancy advice to the Board as to the risks inherent in agreeing to pay players through the EBT arrangements without disclosure to the football authorities.

“The directors of Oldco must bear a heavy responsibility for this.

“While there is no question of dishonesty, individual or corporate, we nevertheless take the view that the non-disclosure must be regarded as deliberate, in the sense that a decision was taken that the sideletters need not be or should not be disclosed.

“No steps were taken to check, even on a hypothetical basis, the validity of that assumption with the SPL or the SFA.

“The evidence of Mr Odam clearly indicates a view amongst the management of Oldco that it might have been detrimental to the desired tax treatment of the payments being made by Oldco to have disclosed the existence of the side-letters to the football authorities.

Dickson, who was privy to all dealings with players signings from their contracts to the day-to-day running of the club itself, was party to the club deliberately making the decision to hide the details of Rangers’ EBT scheme to the league’s governing body.

So how can his place on the Scottish FA’s Football Regulatory Advisory Group be justified? Can the SPFL explain that one to us?

Rangers’ managing director Stewart Robertson is more credible given his experience at Motherwell and in my opinion of anyone at Rangers were to be appointed then Robertson should have joined Hearts owner Ann Budge in this group.

He would have been the ‘proper’ representative from Rangers Football Club.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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