Celtic Diary Friday September 8: Res12 The Beginning of the End
The decision to reproduce the 2012 letter from Peter Lawwell to Stewart Regan in yesterdays London Times was quite a surprise, and has prompted a few questions.
This is the letter..
Another letter, this time from the SPFL’s Neil Doncaster was sent in July of this year. We know that the SFA met a week or so after receiving it to discuss it, but it was yesterday before a reply was given.
Doncaster wanted the SFA to participate in a review…
To which the SFA hurriedly replied yesterday…
Thats where we’re up to.
But this sudden, almost frenzied release of correspondence throws up a number of questions…
Going back, first of all, to the Times article..
Who gave them the letter ?
Apart from Lawwell,there are four possibilities. Look at who got the original. Topping, Longmuir, Infantino and of course, Regan.
It’s highly unlikely Infantino knows where his copy is by now, and Longmuir and Topping have distanced themselves from the whole issue.
If it had been him, he would not have given it to a London paper, he has fallen out of favour with the Scottish media, but would still be able to manipulate the story a little to make it appear as though its still a Celtic Rangers issue, and of no concern to anyone else.
That leaves Lawwell…
Why would he give it to them ?
By giving it to a London paper, he ensures a degree of control in how it is presented, and it means that a much wider audience, which may still be unaware or correctly advised of the issue becomes aware.
Especially his colleagues at the Eurpoean Club Association, who he may need a good word from should UEFA become involved at a later date. After all, UEFA would ask the Scottish guys at UEFA what its all about, and they may not be entirely truthful in their replies, especially as they are central to any review.
Why now ?
Perhaps he was just trying to get a response to the Doncaster letter, which seems to have been taking a while for Regan to er, compose.
If thats the case, it worked. Regan must have been screaming to his secretary to type quicker as he dictated his attempt at damage control.
Is the Doncaster letter of any significance, or is he just going through the motions ?
It’s entirely possible that Doncasters request for the SFA to participate in a judicial review is merely paying lip service to Lawwell. He could just be covering his own tracks by asking, and then , having been told no, he may well try to say thats the end of the matter.
If that is the case, then he will be hung out to dry with Regan and his cronies, and one or two club chairmen will be facing the wrath of their support.
However, Doncaster wrote that letter on behalf of the 42 league clubs. He will have had to solicit approval.
Doncaster only does what the clubs want him to do, or to say.
His last attempt to draw a line under events failed miserably, with an attendant lawyer he only succeeded in further muddying the waters, and making the SPFL appear just as guilty as the SFA.
This would not have been what the clubs wanted. There’s little doubt they would all rather move on, but it must be coming clear to them now that they will not be allowed to.
Hence Doncaster acting on their behalf by asking Regan if he’d like to take part in a review .
What will be reviewed ?
It says at the top of his letter they want to review Tax Avoidance schemes at Rangers and the actions of Scottish football authorities, which presumably includes the SPFL as well as the SFA.
Again, there is a danger the whole thing will be a whitewash, and had Regan consented to take part, there was a line about “records ” at both offices that could be useful.
Surely if no one has anything to hide, they would all welcome the chance to get everything into the open so we can all move on ?
If, however , Doncaster, acting on behalf of the clubs, is genuine, this is probably the most significant development to date on the issue.
Note the review will cover tax avoidance schemes at Rangers. Nowhere else, and this has nothing to do with any other club.
It will cover the actions of the authorities.
This suggests that its not about title stripping, which the press would have you believe, and its not about Celtic and Rangers, as they too would prefer we thought.
Its about the tax dodging, and one would hope that improperly registered players is included in that remit, as it overlaps with the actions of the authorities.
We need to move away from the title stripping narrative, and onto the question of the way the authorities acted.
We need to know who presented the registrations to the SFA, and who accepted them.
By expanding on that theme, we also have to ask, and here’s where Resolution 12 and smoking guns come into play, who at the SFA submitted the information on the crystallised “wee tax debt ” to UEFA, and who at UEFA accepted it ?
Which, as we know, was crucial in granting a licence to play in the champions League for the old Ibrox club.
As far back as 2009, the SFA were aware of financial irregularities at the Ibrox club..
The third party was …HMRC.
Why did no one at the SFA ask HMRC what it was all about ?
Why weren’t the press on it immediately ?
Even back then, were they hoping it would all go away ?
Had the London police not found some papers relating to the Boumsong transfer-where a former Rangers employee paid a huge transfer fee to buy him from the club for his new employers-then it might well have done.
Why has Regan declined to take part in a review ?
One can only speculate, but my guess is he, and his SFA cronies, are as guilty as the proverbial puppy sitting next to a pile of poo.
Whats also interesting is the use of language in his reply.
He doesn’t decline the offer on the basis of a lack of evidence, whether new or old.
He declines it to avoid further damage to the game, which means he accepts the game has been damaged, by the tax avoidance scheme and the actions of Scottish football authorities, yet has no wish to “rake over the coals ”
Raking over the coals means
to talk about unpleasant things from the past that other people would prefer not to talk about
Not to be confused with hauling over the coals, which was used in the middle ages to ensure those who had doubts about their faith, heretics, would find it easier to remove those doubts.
Does this mean that Regan doesn;t want to talk about them any more ?
Or Campbel Ogilvie, or Andrew Dickson, or indeed do any of thise involved not want to talk about it any more ?
Ogilvie was central to all of this, and Dickson may well have been.
Though he struggles to remember, as we saw in 2011 at the First Tier Tax tribunal.. when he was asked about the removal of side letters…
You would think all of the characters in this story would welcome a chance to clear their names, and er, move on…
Well, I would.
Thats where we’re up to, but whats it all about ?
Wheres it all heading ?
This is where we can only speculate.
We are now all aware that Lawwell has been acting in the best interests of the club. I was already aware, but did ask him if he felt he could maybe keep reminding us if that.
Well, he has now. That for sure.
The original letter to Regan is five years old.
During that period a lot has happened.
We now know that the tax avoidance scheme was illegal.
We now know that players were improperly registered.
We now know that there can be no more stalling by those we are suggesting were compliant or incompetent.
Thats why the second letter was sent , and Regan, it appears, was kind of hoping Lawwell had forgotten about it.
The times article looks like a statement of intent from Celtic, and Regan, panicking a little, seems to be pleading with his old chum Doncaster to drop it, to remember who is pals are.
Maybe its even a veiled threat to Doncaster that he, too, would prefer not to talk about those events, as perhaps there is evidence he was complicit…
Doncaster, however, acts on behalf of the clubs, and that will be his defence.
The clubs, remember, bar a noble few, may well have accepted the new Rangers into the First Division, or even the Premier League, but the supporters were having none of it, and men like Turnbull Hutton made certain it didn’t happen.
what we may be seeing here are the first shots in a battle for control of Scottish football.
A battle that has been coming for a while.
On the one side we have the SFA, who are unregulated, unaccountable and lack transparency.
On the other, we have the SPFL, backed by the clubs, who will do the bidding of their support.
What happens if the SPFL hold an independent review without the participation of the SFA
Could they call the SFA board in for questioning ? Could they demand answers ?
If Regan and his cronies fail to appear, could the SPFL, or the Gaming Board of the SFA-we’re back to Lawwell again-actually call for a vote of no confidence in the board of the SFA ?
With Doncaster acting for the clubs with his request for SFA particpation, we could assume support for such a motion is already there.
Could we indeed, be witnessing the advent of Armageddon, but not the one envisaged by Regan back in the day ?
I sincerely hope so.
And Regan, how is he feeling right now, with the walls closing in on him ?
Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.