The highest standards

When the president of the Scottish Football Association makes a statement, it is important that all on Planet Fitba take heed.

I do not know Campbell Ogilvie, but I am told that he is a very nice man and I have no reason to doubt that.

However, when he says things like: “At a time when Scottish football faces challenges on many fronts, it is incumbent on our biggest clubs to set the highest standards,” I am puzzled.

What precisely does Campbell Ogilvie mean by “the highest standards”?

From 1978 until 2005 he worked at the heart of Rangers Football Club.

From the day he joined in the late 1970s until 1989 the Ibrox outfit had an unwritten, but very publicly acknowledged employment policy.

The home crowd were soothed to know that they would never be watching a Catholic player in the famous light blue shirt.

Did “the highest standards” then mean a Fenian-free team?

From 1989-2005 Campbell Ogilvie continued to register players at Rangers, many of them were Catholic, bit none wore the green of the Republic of Ireland.

In that period of time Rangers were unique in senior British football in not having a full or under-21 international from the Republic of Ireland in their first team.

In March 2012 SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said of his president: “I think it’s pretty obvious that he’s heavily conflicted”.

It is not clear if Stewart Regan knew whether Campbell Ogilvie was in the room in 1999 when the Ibrox club embarked upon their creative taxation polices.

Ogilvie attended a meeting as company secretary of Rangers on 16 September 1999 to discuss remuneration planning of Rangers employees, at which it was confirmed that Craig Moore was to be offered beneficial ownership of the company’s shareholding in Montreal Limited as a constituent part of the remuneration package to Craig Moore.

The current SFA president was employed by Rangers in various capacities until around September 2005 and he was there at the time in March/April 2005 when HMRC made enquiries about side letters regarding players paid through the Discounted Options Scheme (DOS) which led to the bill known as the “Wee Tax Case”. The players paid via the DOS were Craig Moore, Tore Andre Flo and Ronald De Boer.

Campbell Ogilvie was a beneficiary of a payment of £95,000 from Murray Group Management Remuneration Trust (Employee Benefit Trust), but while he acknowledged the payment in 2012, he denied knowing any further details about it.  This, of course, is the “Big Tax case” and it is still going through the tax tribunal system.

The current SFA president also gave testimony to the Lord Nimmo Smith inquiry in early 2013 examining player registration and non-reporting of EBT side letters at Rangers.

Given that President Ogilvie is committed to the “highest standards”, I am surprised that he did not provide any testimony or clarification to Lord Nimmo Smith on players named in the Commission List who were in receipt of trust payments with side letters withheld that were paid via the DOS in spite of his inside knowledge and possible knowledge of their illegality stemming from the HMRC enquiries in March/April 2005.

He became president of the SFA in early June 2011; just before the UEFA licencing monitoring checkpoint process on 30 June 2011 took place, which was questioned by Celtic shareholders at the recent AGM.

Because of the SFA’s decision to act as appellant body and in the interests of maintaining the highest standards, Campbell Ogilvie perhaps should have informed the SPL of his role in establishing the Discounted Options Scheme in 1999 during the commissioning of the inquiry by Lord Nimmo Smith.

Had his key role in the Discounted Options Scheme been known at the time then any reasonable person might have concluded that the role of appellant body should not have gone to the SFA as he was, and remains, president.

Had he declared that interest, a possible alternative to the SFA as appellant body was the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

If the SFA President is concerned about maintaining the highest standards then he should address his own conduct in the taxation polices that led to the downfall of the club he so loyally served over many years.

While Campbell Ogilvie remains President of the association tasked with governing the national game, the guid folk of Planet Fitba can be forgiven for remaining sceptical about any SFA statements containing the term “highest standards”.

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