Scottish Football, Sevco, SFA

A Question About John Greig


[European Cup not pictured]
Good Evening.

The Clumpany wishes to ask a hypothetical question. 

Today, the Daily Record ran a huge splash about HMRC pursuing Rangers’ EBT recipients for tax on their ‘loans’ should they not repay them before 5 April 2019.

Fair play to the Daily Record for highlighting the breathtaking spectacle which helped to soup-up Scottish football for the best part of a decade. Let us hope that (in the public interest) the Record now pursues the interesting question of why former Rangers manager Graeme Souness received an Employee Benefit Trust long after he ceased to be an employee of Rangers. 

I suggest that the SFA, the FA and the English sports media might be a good place to start asking should Mr Souness not wish to answer the question himself.

But the main point of this blog is to consider the wider implications of EBTs in the specific case of a particular Ibrox legend.

Following the Record’s article, a number of folk on Twitter suggested that the undeclared side letters which seemed to have accompanied some EBTs (and which the SFA apparently deemed as only constituting ‘imperfect player registration’) contained an indemnity. An indemnity against any further income tax.

Whether such costs could be deemed as a part of player ‘wages’ and thereby a footballing debt for which Sevco might be liable under the terms of the secret Five-Way Agreement remains to be seen. 

That’s the trouble with secret agreements… You never know…

However, this observation prompted me to think about an intriguing scenario.

The legendary John Greig had a Rangers  EBT worth £40,000. You may remember that Greig brought the European Cup Winners Cup home from what was left of Barcelona in 1972. He was a former Rangers captain and has been voted the ‘Greatest Ever Ranger’. In May 2015 he was appointed as Honorary Life President of ‘Rangers’ (sic)

Here is the 2015 announcement from the ‘club’, in full. It is well worth a read.

“THE CLUB can tonight confirm that John Greig has been named as Honorary Life President of Rangers.

During his 18 years as a player, Greig was a massive figure at Ibrox and was recognised as such when the support named him the club’s Greatest Ever Player.

He was an inspirational captain who lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup, beating Moscow Dynamo 3-2 in the Final in 1972 and played in three Treble winning sides.

His honours with Rangers include five Championships, six Scottish Cups and four League Cups. He also captained his country and won 44 caps.

Greig speaking from the Rangers Trophy Room inside Ibrox said: “It’s a tremendous honour and one that I am very proud of. 

“When I think back to the many great people who have passed through this club over the years and if this was available in their time, they would have also been very strong candidates.
“I am very humbled by the appointment.”

Rangers Chairman Dave King said: “We are absolutely delighted that John has agreed to accept this position. He epitomises what this club should always be about.

“I think it’s very important that he is seen. Certainly in my view, he represents the history of the club and he represents the value system that I think we all want to take the club back to.

“I see that as the more iconic and symbolic status of having John Greig and having someone who represents the fullness and the richness of the Rangers experience.”

Greig, a skilful and versatile player who turned in top performances at full back, wing half and inside forward during his career, experienced the glittering prizes early in life. But he has also known the lean years.

When times were difficult and Celtic were enjoying success under Jock Stein, Greig saw it through. As captain of Scotland he was a target for top English clubs, but Greig stayed with Rangers.

That loyalty and his strength of character meant that he, more than anyone, came to embody the spirit of Rangers. He commanded enormous respect for his playing ability and for his passionate will to win, qualities close to the hearts of the supporters.

Following his playing career, Greg was appointed as manager of the Club in 1978 replacing Jock Wallace.

He went desperately close to winning the Treble in his first season. Rangers won the Cup, beating Hibernian 3-2 at the third attempt, and the League Cup 2-1 against Aberdeen. But when leading the table they lost 4-2 at Celtic and the chance of the League was gone.

Rangers had also enjoyed a good run in the European Cup, beating Juventus and PSV Eindhoven before going down 2-1 on aggregate to Cologne in the quarter-finals.

Rangers were to win another Cup and League Cup under Greig, but the team were unable to make an impression in the championship.

He resigned in October 1983 and was replaced by previous manager Jock Wallace.

Greig, who received the MBE for his services to football, had been one of the most important and influential personalities in the history of the club and in 1990 he returned to Ibrox as public relations officer.

Following the arrival of Dick Advocaat, Greig worked closely with the Dutchman as virtually part of the coaching staff. Alex McLeish also utilised Greig’s experience in his early months and the legendary figure was also subsequently a member of the board at the club.

Greig took some time away from coming to matches at Ibrox until after the EGM and the change of regime in March of this year.”

Lovely, eh?

And now we get to my question:

Regardless of whether he had a side letter, will the ‘same club’ tell its Honorary Life President to take a running jump should he ask it to indemnify him against any additional tax bill arising from his EBT? An EBT that was awarded by the undying club of which he was the greatest player Captain?

Excuse my greed, but that question begs a supplementary which I will also now ask:

Assuming that any EBT liabilities on John Greig are worth paying, does the ‘same club’ deem any other EBT recipients who contributed to its glorious ‘history’ as less worthy of similar cover?

I look forward to Mr King showing the true value of ‘unbroken history’ in the form of cold hard cash sometime soon…