Rangers: Dave King insists EBTs did not give club an unfair advantage

Dave King
Chairman Dave King says the real beneficiary of the EBT scheme was the Murray Group

Dave King says the Employment Benefit Trusts used by Rangers "had no impact on the performance on the pitch".

Following the Supreme Court ruling that Rangers misused the scheme by paying more than £47m to players and staff in tax-free loans, chairman King released a statement on the club website.

Amid fresh calls for the club to be stripped of honours, King insists: "We won all of our titles fair and square."

And he added that the "real beneficiary was the Murray Group".

King said his statement was made in his capacity as "a former director and shareholder of Oldco to provide supporters with the true position following the final tax ruling and to correct any false impression created by David Murray's conflicting evidence in the Craig Whyte trial".

Giving evidence in court in April, former owner Murray said of the EBT scheme: "It gave us the opportunity to get players we may otherwise not been able to afford."

'No benefit whatsoever'

The EBT scheme was in operation from 2001-2010, during which Rangers won 14 major honours, but King is adamant the team did not benefit unfairly.

"As an investor and board member during the period of the so-called benefit I can categorically assure all supporters that the club received no benefit whatsoever," the statement continued.

"The opposite is true as the effect on the club was wholly negative. It was charged huge sums for advice from other Murray Group entities and it bore the consequences when that advice proved inadequate. Every single player that was signed during that period would have been signed whether the Murray Group tax scheme was in place or not. The real beneficiary was the Murray Group.

David Murray
David Murray and his companies were the beneficiaries of the EBT scheme, according to King

"All board members were aware during that period that we were often deliberately spending more than we earned and this was reported in the annual financial statements. The cash needed to fund any shortfall came from share placements, shareholder loans, and third-party bank finance.

"As David Murray was personally dealing with transfer expenditure, I sought assurances in a board meeting each year that he would stand behind any deficit that could not be immediately funded if he over extended in the transfer market. He gave these assurances and he honoured them until the Murray Group got into financial difficulty.

"Put simply, the Murray Group tax scheme helped David Murray reduce his overall investment into Oldco while simultaneously reducing any reliance on increased third-party bank finance. The benefit went exclusively to David Murray and the Murray Group. Whether the scheme was in place or not, or whether it survived tax scrutiny or not, made no difference whatsoever to the playing squad of the club during that period and hence had no impact on the performance on the pitch. We won all of our titles fair and square."

Celtic's response 'disappointing'

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, Celtic said they would await a review of the decision made by a 2013 Scottish Premier League commission that Rangers "did not gain any unfair competitive advantage" from the use of EBTs.

And King added: "The Celtic board issued a statement agitating for a re-opening and reversal of the decisions previously made when, in fact, nothing has changed.

"It is disappointing that they have attempted to influence the footballing authorities to alter its historic football honours by calling on administrators and lawyers to achieve off the pitch what its teams failed to do on the pitch."

Celtic Park
King was critical of Celtic over their response to the Supreme Court ruling

The SFA's position

The Scottish FA issued a statement following the Supreme Court's decision, which said "the board has determined that no further disciplinary action should be taken at this time."

King's statement continued: "It is reassuring to note that the SFA promptly and correctly put out a statement confirming, against Celtic's attempt to influence, that the final tax ruling has no impact whatsoever on the practical and legal findings already made. This is now another matter that we can finally put behind us."

Overspending

The use of EBTs shone a light on Rangers' spending on players and, with King having overseen the purchase of nine new faces this summer, he acknowledged that: "As we rebuild the squad we are deliberately and transparently spending beyond our income.

"While I am chairman, Rangers' overspending will always be on a sustainable and robust basis and one that safeguards the future of our club."

The Murray Group have yet to respond to King's statement.

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