What Part Did Stewart Regan SFA CEO Play on Behalf of SFA in Shaping the SFA Judicial Panel and SPL Lord Nimmo Smith Commission Terms of Reference from February 2012?
In a E Tims diary earlier it was suggested that Stewart Regan the departed CEO of the SFA might have had a hand in the departure of Garry Hughes by drawing to Dave King’s attention Hughes “ great unwashed reference. This got me thinking about Regan’s role in what in my opinion has been the toxification of Scottish football since 2011 and what follows suggests he has questions to answer, questions that the upcoming JPDT on Rangers noncompliance with the UEFA FFP regulations in respect of the Licence Rangers were granted in 2011, should be asking.
One of the mysteries of both the SFA led Judicial Panel and the SPL led Lord Nimmo Smith Commission in 2012 was the exclusion of any reference whatsoever to the wee tax case £2.8 M liability that arose before 31 March 2011 and was the known subject of discussions between Regan, the SFA Licensing Unit and Rangers from Dec 2011 to Feb 2012.
The following timeline , with supporting documentation accessible via an underlined hyperlink by pressing Ctrl key and left Mouse Click, suggests the SFA engineered the nature of the two subsequent judicial processes in 2012 to produce a result that was anything but sporting justice, given the 12 years of sporting dishonesty by Rangers FC from 2000. It also shows how Sir David Murray was excluded from that process and suggests the departed SFA CEO Stewart Regan has questions to answer. Answers that Lord Nimmo Smith should be able to throw some light on if put to him.
JPDT/LNS Timeline Dec 2011 to April 2012
6th Dec 2011: Stewart Regan SFA CEO and Andrew Dickson Rangers FC Football administrator converse about the wee tax liability of £2.8m arising in March 2011 and the circumstances of its granting.
(This was because of general interest arising after HMRC sent Sheriff Officers into Ibrox to collect payment on 10 August 2011. A “potential” liability as it was described by Rangers Chairman Alastair Johnson on 1st April 2011, takes longer than 4 months to reach overdue collection status and merit such aggressive action and supporter pressure led to Celtic asking the SFA questions in late November 2011.)
7th Dec 2011: Regan sends a draft explaining the granting circumstances to Ali Russell CEO of Rangers for consideration. A draft that was met with consternation at Ibrox, in particular Ramsay Smith who says, “If they persist they will only cause issues for themselves as much as Rangers”. As a result, a meeting is arranged between Craig Whyte, Ali Russell, Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie at Hotel Du Vin on 20th December 2011. Campbell Ogilvie was the person responsible for setting up the Discount Option (EBT) Scheme in September 1999 that eventually created the wee tax case liability. He was also a recipient of a payment of £95,000 from the “Big Tax Case” ebt scheme that replaced the DOS scheme in 2002/03.
Whatever Regan is told in addition to what he and Dickson discussed on 6/7 Dec 2011 about the wee tax liability is not known but Regan’s draft never gets published.
31 Jan 2012: Ken Olverman (Rangers Financial Controller) sends Keith Sharp Financial Accountant at the SFA a A UEFA License Application Template from Rangers Football Club for a UEFA licence for 2012.
The accompanying e mail of 31 Jan 2012 states wee tax case liability was appealed. This is not true, there was an appeal about the penalty but not core liability which was subsequently dismissed by HMRC on 10 Feb 2012
1st Feb 2012: Sharp at the SFA seeks proof there is a legal dispute or an agreement to pay has been reached on both Wee and Big tax cases.
10 Feb 2012: HMRC confirm appeal was only in respect of the penalty, reject both appeal and offer to settle and say HMRC reserve the right to take any further action without notice.
14 Feb 2012: Four days later HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) made an unsuccessful bid at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to appoint its own Administrator but Rangers appointed Duff and Phelps as their own Administrators as result of HMRC bid.
17 Feb 2012: SFA announce an enquiry to be chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith and that its independent panel would also include Professor Niall Lothian, a past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and Bob Downes, who is deputy chairman of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. Surprisingly, given his role as SFA chief executive, Stewart Regan also sat on the panel on what purported to be an independent investigation.
21st February 2012: According to this Telegraph Report 21 Feb 2012 Regan met Lord Nimmo Smith to define the terms of reference for the Judicial Panel that later in April ruled on charges that Craig Whyte had brought the game into disrepute. An output of Lord Nimmo Smith’s endeavours under the terms of reference, presumably agreed solely between him and Regan on or about 21st February , was an Inquiry report whose findings but not the report itself were presented to the JPDT.
The late Paul McConville questioned this process in August 2012 asking in an article well worth reading in full at https://www.sfm.scot/whatever-happened-to-the-nimmo-smith-report/ why the report was not provided and then supplying a possible answer. . That answer points out that as a result of the absence of Craig Whyte contesting the charges and RFC agreeing them then no documentary evidence needed to be presented to the JPDT.
That absence of evidence might explain what follows.
29 March to 23 April 2012: Surprisingly though whilst non-payment of VAT/PAYE tax is part of the supporting evidence for charges against Craig Whyte that the JP DT considered in April , Craig Whyte’s failure to pay the wee tax liability, that he had given a written public undertaking to do in June 2011 as part of the agreement to purchase Rangers, does not form part of the JPDT charges, presumably not being covered by the terms of reference agreed between Regan and Lord Nimmo Smith in February 2012.
Reference is made in the Judicial Panel Disciplinary Tribunal findings to other payment undertakings made by Craig Whyte in the April Judicial Panel report but not to the wee tax case undertaking.
This omission from the terms of reference is surprising on two counts:
⦁ Stewart Regan’s knowledge of the wee tax case liability after the 6th December 2011 discussion with Andrew Dickson and what emerged from the Hotel Du Vin meeting on 20th December 2011 that caused Regan not to publish his draft. The charges of non-payment and the decision of the Justice Panel in April 2012 can be read at
Judicial Panel Disciplinary Tribunal Apr 2012
⦁ The SFA’s own licensing department in early February 2012 were questioning the status of the wee tax case liability, which they had not done in 2011. This suggests some knowledge of the detail was known to the SFA as result of events in 2011.
Questions arising from the foregoing:
⦁ Were details of wee tax case liability provided to Lord Nimmo Smith at the discussion of 21st February where he and Regan set out the terms of reference? It was after all non-payment of tax, just like VAT and PAYE.
⦁ If not, why not?
⦁ March 15th 2012. When SPL lawyers started investigation into use of side letters with ebts whose use started on 30 Aug 2000, did SFA inform SPL lawyers of any of their knowledge of the nature of the wee tax case ebts gleaned in 2011?
⦁ If not, why not?
⦁ If there was a sharing why was the 30 Aug side letter plus contents of associated HMRC letters of ⦁ 23 Feb 2011 and ⦁ 20 May 2011 (the latter that Rangers FC had to give the SFA in May 2011 under UEFA FFP licensing regulations) not taken account of by SPL lawyers in the LNS Commission Terms of Reference?
⦁ If SPL lawyers were not informed, did the non-disclosure of what the SFA/Regan knew as well as Duff & Phelps failure to respond fully to SPL lawyer letter of 15 March 2012 undermine the basis of the LNS decisions?
⦁ Specifically, if Lord Nimmo Smith had been provided with full information on the nature of the wee tax case liability, along with Sir David Murrays testimony to the FTT stating
⦁ “I think it was a method of us acquiring, especially football wise, better players in a more cost effective manner than we would be able do so. In the football world, we’re in a very competitive game and you’re competing with players and countries all around the world. And we were very ambitious at that time. And it was seen as a correct and proper way for us to proceed.”
⦁ “As a club, we have been very successful, because we’ve been able to attract players of a certain standard that, perhaps, we may not have been able to do otherwise.”
Could Lord Nimmo Smith have decided:
⦁ “Rangers FC did not gain any unfair competitive advantage from the contraventions of the SPL Rules in failing to make proper disclosure of the side-letter arrangements, nor did the non-disclosure have the effect that any of the registered players were ineligible to play, and for this and other reasons no sporting sanction or penalty should be imposed upon Rangers FC;” or state
⦁ “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 nondisclosure must be regarded as deliberate, in the sense that a decision was taken that the sideletters need not be or should not be disclosed”
⦁ “By deed dated 20 April 2001 MGM set up the Murray Group Management Remuneration Trust (the MGMRT). (We note that the MGMRT was preceded by the Rangers Employee Benefit Trust, but we are not aware that they were different trusts. We shall treat them as a continuous trust, which we shall refer to throughout as the MGMRT.)
⦁ “Nor is it a breach of SPL or SFA Rules for a club to arrange its affairs – within the law – so as to minimise its tax liabilities. The Tax Tribunal has held (subject to appeal) that Oldco was acting within the law in setting up and operating the EBT scheme. The SPL presented no argument to challenge the decision of the majority of the Tax Tribunal and Mr McKenzie stated expressly that for all purposes of this Commission’s Inquiry and Determination the SPL accepted that decision as it stood, without regard to any possible appeal by HMRC. Accordingly, we proceed on the basis that the EBT arrangements were lawful.”?
Whilst the SFA do not wish to have an enquiry into the handling of Rangers use of ebts is that any reason why the SPFL should not take up Stewart Regan’s suggestion in his letter of 18 Aug 2017 to Celtic suggesting that the SPFL ask Lord Nimmo Smith to consider Sir David Murrays FTT testimony re competitive advantage to see if that undermines his findings in any way but also include the questions
⦁ Was Lord Nimmo Smith made aware of the wee tax case detail by Stewart Regan when he sat with him in February 2012 when establishing the terms of reference for the Judicial Panel of April 2012 deciding if Craig Whyte had brought the game into disrepute?
⦁ What was the role of the then SFA Compliance Officer after Regan and LNS set the Terms of Reference?
⦁ Gary Allan QC alludes that the JPDT was totally nondependent of the LNS Inquiry report and yet it was the Compliance Officer Vincent Lunnny that was putting the case forward for the SFA. Did he not know of the WTC and the Sheriffs visiting Ibrox and any of the events thereafter?
⦁ Or was the evidence not presented to him so that he in turn couldn’t present it to the Disciplinary Tribunal although this seems very weak. The Compliance Officer has his own powers of investigation. In fact, it was stated when the Inquiry was announced that, “The inquiry team have been handed the same powers as the SFA to investigate the potential breach of their rules…”.
⦁ Had the information surrounding the wee tax case that had not been disclosed by Duff and Phelps to SPL lawyers in April 2012 been presented to him, would that too have undermined his decision?
PS. Is this Sun article, by Roger Hannah, of 10 March 2012 an attempt by Stewart Regan to divert attention from the behaviour of Rangers under the ownership of Sir David Murray and focus on Craig Whyte?
Obstructive Liars…That is what We Had To Face At Rangers
Regan slams whyte
The findings had been presented to the Board, yet they decided there was a case for a Disciplinary Tribunal.
Why would the SFA not wait for the outcome of the JPDT before condemning someone, does the SFA not defer to innocent until proven guilty?
After the Tribunal had announced its outcome Stewart Regan stated “it is inappropriate to discuss the findings” based on the fact that those findings were subject to appeal.
Pity he didn’t follow that protocol before the Tribunal