A man who many Rangers supporters have held principally responsible for the club’s current plight is Sir David Murray. There is a great debate within the fanbase as to whether he or subsequent owner Craig Whyte is responsible, and no matter which side you fundamentally take, there is no denying that both men have had significant roles in the overall debacle.
Back in the earlier portion of his regime, Murray was barely out of the newspapers or off the TV. He was very much the face of the regime; while Walter Smith or Dick Advocaat did their work on the pitch, Murray would be granting yet another interview from behind that mahogany desk in his Ibrox office. However, as his enthusiasm for the role weaned in the latter stages of his tenure, his media appearances lessened until he was effectively calling a radio silence. During this period, Martin Bain became the main cog of the Rangers media machine – working on transfers, dealing with the press, and generally being the central point of Rangers’ operations. Murray had effectively disappeared into the scenery.
He only resurfaced occasionally with soundbites about selling the club to someone he would trust, to someone that the club’s future would thrive with. And since the start (and end) of the Whyte regime, apart from saying he was ‘duped’ by Whyte, Murray has effectively sealed his shutters closed.
With the EBT/’dual contract’ investigation in full flow by the SPL, being carried out by lawyers of a dubious origin from Harper MacLeod, given they previously represented Celtic (worthy of a blog entry in itself), Sir David Murray has returned to the fore with a very deliberate statement denying any wrongdoing by himself or his regime, and crucially, accusing the SPL of effectively ‘making up rules’ as they go along:
“This is particularly relevant to the SPL rules where it would appear that there are efforts to retrospectively rewrite laws to incorporate items not previously covered.”
Whatever you think of Murray, the SPL and SFA have time and again shown their mismanagement of this situation, and their willingness to make up the law as they go along. Lord Glennie has already ruled one punishment to be illegal, under precisely the same conditions as Murray has stated above, which goes to prove that the ones who should be under investigation are the SFA and SPL.
Murray further added:
“As the law stands, it is the right of every taxpayer to minimise his tax liability. For example, taxpayers are entitled to maximise contributions to pension funds and benefit from the resultant tax allowances. Tax AVOIDANCE is a right. It is tax EVASION which is a crime.”
This relates to the EBT’s themselves. In other words, they are entirely legal, and only misuse of them, which would equate to evasion, is against the law.
“This is not a criminal matter and there is presently no question as to the legality of these schemes. Rangers agreed contracts of employment with its players (and staff). The EBT scheme involved the contribution of funds into an offshore discretionary trust managed by independent trustees.”
The above seems to be the truth, purely because there has been no hard evidence to the contrary.
Many supporters still have an axe to grind with Murray, justifiably or otherwise, but there has been a notable absence of objection to this statement. The truth is, Murray appears to have joined the growing band of defenders of the club. Green, McCoist, Malcolm Murray, Jackie McNamara (never thought I would say that!) and now the former owner. Sir David added to his statement by castigating Regan and Doncaster when he spoke to the Daily Record:
“Everyone knows what is going on in this country with regards the punishment of Rangers – this is not about sporting integrity, there is an agenda against the club. No one is denying that Rangers deserved to be punished for what has happened over the last year. But it has become a farce. Rangers have been placed on trial in a kangaroo court. It has to stop.”
Murray has nothing to gain beyond defending himself; but the fact he has chosen to speak out in defence of the club as a whole is a very useful tool in the fight against these ridiculous and seemingly perennial sanctions. He also joined the ranks who have scoffed at the absurd and transparent phrase ‘sporting integrity’:
“This is not about sporting integrity. That term was used as a smokescreen by people who had their own agendas and by club owners who wanted to cut their own costs.”
Say what you like about Murray, he is bang on the mark with his latest comments. And finished them off with a very sharp attack directly at the continuingly useless and possibly corrupt Stewart Regan:
“If Stewart Regan wanted to know what was going on at Rangers would it not have been prudent of him to ask to speak to a man who had 23 years of ownership and chairmanship? I still can’t work out why I was not asked to participate. I wrote to Regan on May 15 to express my disappointment over what I viewed as an unjustified attack on my character and an inaccurate reflection of my ownership of Rangers. I received a letter back from Regan saying the letter would be passed on and my comments noted. So I have come to the conclusion he doesn’t want to hear from me, which is strange when he is supposed to conducting things in an impartial manner. It’s almost as if he wants me to go away. Well he can see from my statement today and from what I am saying to you now that I will not be going away while Rangers are being treated in such an unfair and unjust manner.”
It is a very good question; why has no authority ever directly questioned Murray himself? He is inviting it and yet Regan ‘ignores’ him.
Yes, Murray was irresponsible in his tenure; he let his ego and ambition get the better of him, but his comments over the past few days have been extremely accurate and surprisingly have gathered little criticism even from his biggest detractors.
But whether it will make any difference in a ‘kangaroo court’ is another matter.