The body at the bottom of the stairs

As the festive season is almost upon us, childhood memories of board games on Christmas day always come into my mind.

My all-time favourite was Cluedo.

If you remember, the original “whodunit” starts when a dead chap is found at the bottom of a rather impressive staircase, but of course, that isn’t where the deed was done.

He was moved…

On my first glance through the ruling by the first-tier tribunal gave a wealth of characters for a reprise of the old board game.

I can’t look at a cast of people given colours for last names and not think of the Reverend Green and Colonel Mustard.

In the FTT report, Mr Magenta caught my eye.

However, I fear that Mr Scarlet and Mr Indigo could end up going at it in the library with the lead piping, and that Mr Black seems to be quite the character!

So, is that it all over then?

Well, not quite.

The press release I got from HMRC mentioned that an appeal was being considered by Hector.

Moreover, we don’t know the size of the reduced liability to the deceased club.

What we do know is that the big tax case (BTC) put a sort of planning blight on Rangers

The utility function of the BTC in the saga of the downfall of Rangers was to make the club unsellable to a buyer who had substantial amounts of cash.

Once the basic arithmetic of the BTC was known – the assessment delivered by HMRC – the only type of buyer interested would be one like Craig Whyte.

For any prospective buyer it was always going to be a case of caveat emptor, but it was hard to ignore when it was splashed all over the News of the World in May 2010.

The anonymised report of the tribunal paints a picture of less than cooperative Rangers in their dealings with HMRC investigators.

“15. (iii) HMRC opened enquiry into the use of the MGRT in January 2004. The progress of the enquiry was protracted and chequered due to key documents being withheld or actively concealed.”

However, important documents did come into the possession of Hector after the City of London Police raided Ibrox in 2007 for an entirely different matter.

Despite the trumpeting of the mainstream media that Rangers have won the big tax case, the reality is more complex.

The dead club’s tax liability has been substantially reduced, but it is not zero.

Until we know what the bad news is for the “limited number of cases” mentioned on page 58, it is impossible to gauge the importance of the ruling, should it stand.

For five unnamed players, Murray International Holdings (MIH) conceded the following:

“Footballers: guaranteed bonuses

210. Finally, Mr Thornhill noted five cases where peculiarly trust payments were made in respect of guaranteed bonuses. These relate to Messrs Selby, Inverness, Doncaster, Barrow, and Furness, as confirmed by his instructing solicitor’s letter of 29 September 2011. The Appellants concede that in these cases there is a sufficient nexus with a contractual right to create a tax liability (paras 19 and 20 of Supplementary Skeletal Argument of 4 November 2011).”

A leading sports lawyer commented to me that this ruling could have a significant impact on Lord Nimmo Smith’s deliberations for the SPL.  If only one of those five hardy northern lads had a lengthy career at Rangers then many games could be involved.

Had this outcome arrived quicker, I believe that Craig Whyte would still be the owner of a Rangers FC that had their history intact.

No doubt people on Planet Fitba will look to bash and bend the facts contained in the FTT report into their preferred conspiracy theory.

However, the simple fact is that a complex legal case took a long time in the first-tier tribunal and while the big tax case was hanging over the club, Craig Whyte simply ran out of cash and stopped paying tax altogether.

Once in administration, there was no chance of a CVA being accepted because of the BTC.

You know the rest.

At this point there is still a body at the bottom of the big staircase to be explained.

I reckon it was Mr Whyte in the Blue Room.

However, who gave him the keys to the big house?

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