Sweet Little Lies

Tell me all your sweet, sweet little lies
All about the dark places you hide
Tell me all your problems, make them mine
Tell me all your sweet, sweet little lies

The stridency of Scottish journalist/pundits, particularly coming from those on the BBC Sportsound platform from where they cry out for an investigation into what took place behind the scenes before and after the SPFL put forward a resolution to SPFL clubs, subsequently accepted by the majority, that allowed SPFL to pay out needed prize money to sides below the Premier level is, to quote an old saying, “the talk of the steamie”.

Whilst those cries are ostensibly in support of a demand led by The Rangers FC for a need to change the governance at the SPFL, it is not clear if they mean the way the SPFL conduct business or the way individuals inside the SPFL go about the conduct of that business.

During on-air interviews, questions are being put to clubs about the degree of confidence they have in individuals rather than the processes, systems and structures. This suggests it is individuals who are being placed under scrutiny, and not the dysfunctional processes and structures themselves. A pity, since there is little doubt the governance is dysfunctional.

SFM has long been asking questions about the system and processes of governance and in fact tried to elicit the help of a number of journalists (in 2014) after information which had not been made available to the then SPFL lawyers Harper MacLeod during or after the LNS inquiry had surfaced.

Information that had it been made available would have changed the charges of Old Rangers’ mis-registration of players contracts, and to the more recent and unresolved matter of their failing to act in good faith to fellow club members (which the SFA Compliance Officer made in June 2018 in respect of non-compliance with UEFA FFP regulations relating to tax overdue in 2011).

Following the last Celtic AGM a detailed independent investigation by an accountant was provided to Celtic who passed it to the SFA where the matter has been overtaken by world events but not forgotten. That report can be read here.

It only adds to the mountain of evidence on https://www.res12.uk that suggests the need for reform of both governance bodies, their structures, systems and process.

Instead the media have given us a narrow head hunt to remove individuals for reasons that can only be guessed. This from individuals in the media whose motivations are as questionable now as they were in 2014, when they and their organisations ignored stronger evidence of greater wrong doing than has so far been presented by those currently advocating change.

The current media clamour for heads on a plate carries with it more than a whiff of hypocrisy.

During week commencing 22 September 2014, some volunteer SFM readers posted a bundle of documents that had surfaced to a number of journalists. SFM had previously sent these documents to Harper MacLeod, the then SPL lawyers. These were important documents pertinent to Lord Nimmo Smith’s inquiry into Rangers use of EBTs, documents which had not been made available to Harper MacLeod by Rangers Administrators Duff and Phelps despite being requested in March 2012 as part of the commissioning of LNS.

Earlier SFM blogs provide the details of communications with Harper MacLeod and can be read from the same link(s) provided to 12 Scottish media journalists in the draft below.

Some of the addresses may have received more than one copy but apart from one for whom only an e mail address was known, they should have received at least one hard copy of what Harper MacLeod/SPFL had been provided with which the latter passed to the SFA Compliance Officer in September 2014 according to their last reply to SFM. It is unlikely none were received by the organisations they were addressed to.

The draft to the journalist which the volunteers were at liberty to amend said:

I am a reader of The Scottish Football Monitor web site and attach for your information a set of documents that Duff and Phelps, acting as Rangers Administrators in April 2012, failed to provide to the then Scottish Premier League solicitors Harper MacLeod, who were charged with gathering evidence to investigate the matter of incorrect player registrations from July 1998 involving concealed side letters and employee benefit trusts by Rangers FC as defined in the eventual Lord Nimmo Smith Commission.

The failure to supply the requested information in the form of the attached documents as clearly instructed resulted in incorrect terms of reference being drawn up by Harper Macleod and a consequent serious error of judgement by Lords Nimmo Smith in his Decision as regards sporting advantage.

The information in the attached was provided to Harper MacLeod and the SPL Board in Feb 2014 and it was pointed out in subsequent correspondence that SFA President Campbell Ogilvie had failed to make a distinction in his testimony to Lord Nimmo Smith between the already confirmed as irregular Discount Option Scheme EBTs paid to Craig Moore, Tor Andre Flo and Ronald De Boer from 1999 to 2002/03 under Rangers Employee Benefit Trust (REBT) and the later loan EBTsfrom 2002/03 onwards under the Murray Group Management Remuneration Trust (MGMRT), having initiated the first DOS EBT to Craig Moore (as shown in the attached) and being a beneficiary of a MGMRT EBT as widely reported in national press in March 2012 at the time investigations commenced.
The complete narrative was set out in a series of blogs on The Scottish Football Monitor Web Site that are accessible from

(Edit: The links to the original SFM blogs were listed but some have been lost but original sources have been uploaded to Google Drive accessible from the above link)

However in spite of the correspondence sent to Harper MacLeod, there has been no response from them or the SPFL, save their answer to the original letter. (Edit: There was subsequent correspondence with Harper Macleod after the package and this letter was sent to the journalists which can be read from the above index to the original blogs.)

These points suggests that the SPFL, Harper MacLeod and Lord Nimmo Smith were misled by Duff and Phelps failure to supply the attached documents as instructed as well as Campbell Ogilvie’s failure to correct Lord Nimmo Smiths decision to treat all EBTs as “regular” when the DOS EBTs are not, as the attached evidence clearly demonstrates.

You are one of a number of journalists to whom this letter and attachments is addressed either electronically or hard copy. We are hoping that some journalists will prove themselves worthy of the challenge and investigate the story, even if only to refute it and stop suspicion of a cover up.

A copy of this letter and responses from addressees (or failures) will be published on The Scottish Football Monitor web site for the Scottish football supporting public to note. The e mail address for your reply is press@sfm.scot and we hope that you will investigate what appears to have been the corruption of the very process set up to establish the truth or you will explain why you cannot.
Yours in Sport

Note: The letter above was drafted and distributed with the documentation before a reply from Harper MacLeod was received, but as the reply did not address the issue of the nature of the irregular DOS EBTs, the request to journalists to investigate was even more valid.
The following were the journalists to whom documentation was posted/delivered.

Mr Richard Gordon
Mr Richard Wilson
Mr Tom English all at the BBC.

Mr Grant Russell
Mr Peter A Smith. At STV

Mr Andrew Rennie Daily Record Sports Editor

Mr Paul Hutcheon
Mr Graham Speirs
Mr Gerry Braiden at The Herald

Mr Mathew Lindsay Evening Times (belatedly)

Mr Gerry McCulloch Radio Clyde

Ms Jane Hamilton Freelance ex-Sun Sunday Mail (by e mail)

Only three individuals showed an interest but it is inconceivable to think that the media outlets they worked for were ignorant of the information provided or that the Scottish media sports departments are unaware of the narrative and its implications which were subsequently picked up by The Offshore Game but drew no refuting comments with the exception of Tom English.

He opined that the TOG report was ‘flawed’ although he did not specify how he came to that conclusion.

Darren Cooney of the Daily Record did take an interest in November 2015 when he met an SFM representative, who explained the case then sent him a summary to give to his editor but The Daily Record did not publish the story nor give any reason why they didn’t.

Grant Russell was with STV at the time and a meeting with him was arranged with a fellow SFM contributor but he failed to show up.
He subsequently did show an interest when The Court of Session ruled the Big Tax Case unlawful in July 2017, when he was provided with the a note of the consequences for the LNS Commission. However Grant moved jobs to join Motherwell in late October 2017.

Why bring all this his up now?
Because currently, the existence of texts and e-mails and unsubstantiated claims of skullduggery appear to have energised a media (and BBC Sports Department in particular) that had ‘no appetite’ to investigate actual evidence presented to them in 2014. There seems to be little doubt that an agenda is being followed, but as the preceeding paragraphs demonstrate, it casts doubt that their motivation is reform of the governance of Scottish football, and raises a suspicion that replacement of individuals (whose steerage of the good ship Scottish Football into the RFC iceberg was deemed adequate a decade ago) is what is important. A meaningless powerplay. No more no less.

One may jump to the conclusion that the foregoing is a defence of the individuals at the centre of this controversy, and that it defends the SPFL position in respect of the requisitioners review of governance. That would be the wrong conclusion. The point is that a wide-ranging review of the SFA/SPFL governance is way overdue.

The time window covered by any review should the very least cover the tenure of those accused of malfeasance and mis-governance. The media, and the requisitioners are cherry-picking their poor governance. That is poor governance in itself.

1,118 thoughts on “Sweet Little Lies”

  1. Fair enough JC. Then there’s trust, now there’s an issue!

    I wouldn’t trust the SPFL or the SFA to draw a cup round. Neither would I trust Ms Budge to do what’s best for Scottish fitba rather than play to her club’s fans’ bank accounts. 


  2. Arbitration! There's a whole world out there of which I knew nothing. 

    There's the Arbitration(Scotland) Act 2010, containing the Scottish Arbitration Rules, and 

     there is a list of 'arbitral appointments referees'!

    It seems that if parties cannot agree who should be the arbitrators in their dispute , either of them can ask one of the 'list' to make the appointments.

    Who's on the list? 

    Agricultural Industries Confederation Limited(2)

    Chartered Institute of Arbitrators

    Dean of the Faculty of Advocates

    Institution of Civil Engineers

    Law Society of Scotland

    Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland

    Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

    Scottish Agricultural Arbiters and Valuers Association(3)


    And it seems that although the decision of Arbitrators is 'final' there cab be some rights of review or appeal!

    And it seems the Arbitration Panel'spowers are full enough to 'reduce' (cancel) the SPFL's full decision, and not just award compensation to those affected adversely by that decision.

    Can any of us see that happening?

    I suspect they'll bugger about, and let the decision stand, and Hearts &Partick will walkaway with enough dosh in compensation to pay the fine the SFA will hit them with for daring to go the Courts, and a few bob left over!

    There's a lawyer chap  coming on 'Sportsound' to explain the arbitration process, which has nothing to do with the SFA, according to Richard Gordon.

    So it's not in the Judicial Panel Protocol, and doesn't involve the Compliance Officer. 



  3. I heard the QC on 'Sportsound' say that an Arbitration award is 'final'. 

    That made me have another look at the Scottish Arbitration rules in case I had to apologise for saying in my earlier post that there were some possibilities of appeal or review

    Rule 67

    67(1)A party may appeal to the Outer House against the tribunal's award on the ground that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to make the award (a “jurisdictional appeal”).

    Rule 68

    68(1)A party may appeal to the Outer House against the tribunal's award on the ground of serious irregularity (a “serious irregularity appeal”).

    Rule 69

    (1)A party may appeal to the Outer House against the tribunal's award on the ground that the tribunal erred on a point of Scots law (a “legal error appeal”).


    I would imagine of course that there must be very, very few ,if any Appeals under these rules, but nevertheless the possibility of Appeal is there in the Rules. 


  4. John Clark4th July 2020 at 15:50

    As always on SFM everyday is a school day.

    I think the problem with the word Arbitration is that many folk may think of union v company disputes where a compromise is reached through the Concilliation element offered by an organisation such as ACAS.

    The reality of the situation is what we now have a process that is one step below what would have happened in the CoS.

    Any mis-step in the process or the decision making being dodgy in terms of the law then it can all go back to the CoS.

    D Utd, Raith and Cove lost the call to dismiss.

    The SPFL could hardly argue not going to arbitration as it is the football way. So Hearts Partick lose but it's really the status quo.

    While commercial confidentiality issues are understood, SPFL D Utd Raith & Cove somehow feared information being made available. Hearts/Thistle win

    Arbitration will resolve the  issue but also be effectively the independent investigation the SPFL and some clubs were keen to avoid.

    So a win for football, albeit fans may not manage to see the full details of what shenanigans took place.

  5. wottpi 4th July 2020 at 17:37

    '.. on SFM everyday is a school day…

    …Arbitration will resolve the  issue but also be effectively the independent investigation the SPFL and some clubs were keen to avoid.'


    Yes, I have been introduced and educated in so many aspects of life by being prompted to research by many posts and reflections by people in whose life experience has been is different from mine.

    I was reassured when I read and heard the stuff about Arbitration, and especially by the answer the QC (Paul Reid) gave on 'Sportsound' to the question as to whether the Arbitration Tribunal might keep the 'wider picture' in mind (i.e. the 'inconvenience' that would be caused if it found that the SPFL's actions had been  unlawful) and decided on balance  in favour of the SPFL.

    Time will tell whether there was any hanky-panky or significant irregularity in the whole of the 'Written resolution' process and vote!

    The answer was that he couldn't imagine a Tribunal okaying something that it knew to be unlawful.

  6. Hello everybody,

    I have watched from afar for years and finally plucked up the courage to join the forum.

    Good to see supporters of many clubs on a forum, having healthy debate, save for a comment I read in the last week that said The Rangers International Football Club had been the most inconvenienced club in this Covid Pandemic that Scottish Football as a whole has contrived to make a sows ear of! A leap into the world of fantasy that was a step too far I’m afraid.

    Scottish Football in the last twenty five years has been run by rank amateurs with too many vested interests. It has seen the demise of a competitive international team, the biggest sporting scandal in British history and continues to choose the wrong option whenever it can. It should not be forgotten that the football authorities are there at the behest of the member clubs. They continually sign up for this circus, they provide the next in line for the rotational blazer wearers and first class cabin travellers. Only the clubs with a collective will for real change can reshape and modernise the football model in Scotland.

    In any other multi million pound enterprise one would expect the administration to be carried out by the best available qualified professional in each particular field. The fact that we have David McCallum (Maxwell – I couldn’t even tell you what he looks like, hence invisible man jibe) as CEO of The SFA is a classic example of this as did the appointment of Gordon Smith some years back. Absolutely no qualifications to be in such a position, well certainly not publicly which allows some to ask why?

    The real lifeblood of the game, the supporters, have been left out in the cold. They are turnstile fodder that are treated with contempt by the committees and some of their own clubs. One needs only look at the cynical marketing ploys to make fans feel compelled to part with their cash.

    The Scottish media are complicit in the ongoing shambles too. In the majority I find them to be sub standard and, in many cases, incompetent and have no basis of fact for any of their articles.

    They are particularly adept at convincing the largest demographic in the land that everything in the garden is rosy. They are complicit in the lies that lead to the pockets being picked of those supporters who are so starved of success they cling to these fabrications. It’s a shameful manipulation of the understandable desperation of the victims of these lies.

    So many things wrong, but by golly do I miss the noise, the smell, the taste of football. I hold out some hope that one day everyone will come to their senses and see the bigger picture to reinvigorate our national sport.

    I hope you are all safe and well during these unprecedented times. 


  7. John Clark 4th July 2020 at 13:34
    I suspect they’ll bugger about, and let the decision stand, and Hearts &Partick will walkaway with enough dosh in compensation to pay the fine the SFA will hit them with for daring to go the Courts, and a few bob left over!
    The cost of going to court, is the ibrox club still picking up that tab? or was that just another sound bite.
    And if the ibrox club have shied away from that bill just who is picking it up?

  8. John Clark 4th July 2020 at 13:34
    Who’s on the list?
    Equally, an original vision of the SFA’s wholesale reforms last year(2011) was to provide an arm’s-length body to consider football disciplinary matters. The member clubs agreed, as the SFA has pointed out this

    week, to install a so-called ‘cab rank’ of legal, business and football experts to provide an on-demand adjudication service.
    SFA panel admits ‘rushed’ decision on Rangers
    As a matter of fact, they worked their socks off to get the job done.

    At which point Gary Allan QC, Eric Drysdale of Raith Rovers and Alistair Murning, erstwhile football commentator, discovered that their best intentions had paved the highway to hell. If you are a Rangers supporter you might well want to read that a few times – and reflect upon how much good it did them.

    After listening to four solid days of Lord Nimmo Smith’s summation of the evidence against Craig Whyte and Rangers, the three men sat down last Friday to consider the courses of action open to them. Had they been dealing with just about any other football club they would have been well within their rights to have told themselves: “Stuff this – we’ll start again Monday morning, OK?”

    Instead, they convened until 10.45 on Friday night. On Monday they again worked long into the evening hours. And for whose benefit, exactly? For Rangers – whose administrators had conveyed that they needed a verdict delivered with absolute urgency.

    As Eric Drysdale told this column: “The administrators were desperate for decisions in respect of prospective buyers and there was extreme keenness on the part of the panel members to deliver the judgments to them
    I see Lord Clark has given the SFA 28 DAYS to get it sorted, lets hope it is not another rush decision the last time the administrators were desperate for decisions in respect of prospective buyers.
    This time they are urged to take every possible step to ensure there is NO delay to the new season.

  9. wottpi 4th July 2020 at 17:37

    John Clark4th July 2020 at 15:50

    As always on SFM everyday is a school day.

    I think the problem with the word Arbitration is that many folk may think of union v company disputes where a compromise is reached through the Concilliation element offered by an organisation such as ACAS.


    Yes, some people confuse arbitration with what is now more commonly known as "mediation".  In mediation both parties are encouraged through a mediator to find a compromise position that is acceptable to both.

    Arbitration is simply asking a third party to make a determination following the submission of arguments by both parties about the issue(s) in dispute. That determination may fully, partly, or fail meet the requests of either, both or neither party.

  10. Moya 4th July 2020 at 18:49 Edit

    Hello everybody,


    Hello yersel.

    I listened to Sportsound today, some good input from SFSA on their survey seeking supporters views on impact of CoVid 19

    https://scottishfsa.org/survey-results-the-effect-of-covid-19-on-supporter-behaviour/ (more later I understand)

     a reasonable report on what will happen next on the Hearts/Partick Thistle v SPFL situation ( both will get relegated but with some form of solidarity compensation (as in Scottish football needs both) but when the pundits get on about financial aspects of CoVid 19 its funny they never advocate players taking a cut in contracted wages in case they upset their pals for at the end of the day its all an old pals act.   

  11. Auldheid 4th July 2020 at 22:19

    … but when the pundits get on about financial aspects of CoVid 19 its funny they never advocate players taking a cut in contracted wages in case they upset their pals for at the end of the day its all an old pals act.   


    Why should they, I haven't.

    People seem to think that football players should work to different rules than everyone else. 

    Most footballers in Scotland don't earn a huge amount of money and their career in the game won't be that long so why should they take "a cut in contracted wages" any more than everyone else.


  12. This is the kind of thing that is a perfect example of the prostitution of journalism by the SMSM!


    I don't blame  Matt Polster, of course, (I'd never heard of him) but the trivial, nonsensical sh.te that Fraser Wilson ( of whom also I have never heard!) has written  is like an advertising puff for which someone might have been paid by a football club to boost its image as a club with claims to have world-cup-class players on its books!

    It is just such absolute journalistic crap!

    Honest to God, what are they like?


  13. Auldheid 4th July 2020 at 22:19

    " a reasonable report on what will happen next on the Hearts/Partick Thistle v SPFL situation ( both will get relegated but with some form of solidarity compensation (as in Scottish football needs both) .."


    Not, Auldheid, a reasonable "report" but, I humbly submit,  mere speculation that the Arbitration Tribunal will conveniently find in favour of the SPFL.

    I admit that I too was ready to believe that 'Arbitration' was no more than 'mediation' where no point of principle is involved and folk can be talked into agreement and shake hands and move on

    But Arbitration , as eJ's post a little earlier explains, is no less a matter of application of law and legal principles than is a Court hearing!

    And the process is not in any way under the control or direction of the SFA ( in a way that some people believe the Judicial Panel Protocol may have been some years ago)

    On the ex-player 'pundits' , some of whom were EBT beneficiaries who owe the rest of us some money, and whom I despise and, in respect of their employment by the BBC, condemn BBC Radio Scotland for sliding them a few bob, I would not expect them to be anything other than protective of players, because they themselves bloody well needed protection!

    But Homunculus makes a fair point: the majority of  players in the SPFL are in no better position to take a cut in wages than the rest of workers in the same sort of wages/salary band.


  14. Homunculus

    The context was the cost of Covid19 and financial impact on clubs.

    Wages, especially football wages are a large part of the cost.

    If the club cannot pay them then Footballers have the choice as does everyone else, take home less pay or have no pay to take home.

    My point is  why no mention by ex players in the media that perhaps footballers might have to consider  the same factors  as those that ultimately pay them, the ability to keep paying? 

    It wasnt that they were all overpaid anyway. 



  15. John  Clark

    I should have made it clearer that the bit in brackets was my prediction of eventual outcome not what  was reported on Sportsound which was setting out the technicalities.

    I should also make it clearer is my prediction is based on cynicism having observed how SFA/SPFL always get the result they want by hook or by legal crook.

    Now if only the case  for revisiting LNS and concluding the 2011 UEFA licence could be put to arbitration but of course clubs weren’t interested.

  16. Seeing Auldheid on here today brought together an idea that was planted last week on reading of more layoffs at The Herald.

    Relatively regularly we see suggestions that the Res12 guys should take the whole thing to court privately. It is usually accompanied by suggestions of, and support for, crowd funding the case. It would of course fill the pockets of the legal profession and also run the risk that any outcome less than a 100% win would be regarded by the media as a 100% loss.

    So, how about this? Let's crowd fund purchasing The Herald and for once print the whole story truthfully. It would be a lot cheaper than legal fees and might even introduce a novel concept to reporting in this country – Print the facts!


  17. Mickey Edwards 5th July 2020 at 08:55

    '..So, how about this? Let's crowd fund purchasing The Herald ..'


    That led me on an entertaining wee search to find from whom the Res 12 would buy the 'Herald' if they were so minded.

    I think I knew already that it is owned by 'Newsquest' . 


    But 'Newsquest' was owned by Gannet Inc  until December 2019, when it was swallied up by New Media Investment Group Inc..(they say 'merged')


    and folk began to get chopped!


    He, however, who was CEO of Newsquest Media , and therefore UK boss of the Herald  pre-merger with New Media Investment Group Inc ,still seems to be in post, as far as I can see, so maybe he's the one who would have to  be approached!

    I read about these things now in light of what I have learned about how our Football Authorities work. (Auldheid has nothing on me when it comes to cynicism!)

    And, frankly, I conclude that if piddling little associations of football clubs can sell out truth and integrity in sport (in feckin Sport!) in the way that the SFA and SPFL did in 2012  and the SPFL has done this year, I can only imagine what the boards of companies like New Media Investment Group Inc might be prepared to do, where the  filthy lucre  involved is incomparably greater!

    I still cannot believe that 41 football clubs, some of which have themselves  had the bitter experience of having to claw their way out of Administration, were and are happy to accept the Big Lie.

    They had courage enough to insist that Sevco, if admitted at all, should be admitted only as a new club, and into the bottommost league. 

    And then, whether corruptly or because they  did not have the 'cojones', failed  to follow through and tell the truth: that TRFC is not, and could not possibly be, the same RFC of 1872 that, even as I post, is still in Liquidation. 

    But instead  accepted the nonsense-speak that TRFC acquired the share in the SPL that RFC of 1872 had had but lost when it was Liquidated!

    Honest to God! How any of those men/women can look at themselves in the mirrror without shame!

    The pandemic is not, of course, any fault of Scottish Football.

    But if Scottish Football goes down the pan, hell mend any and all involved in the creation and fostering of the Big Lie.

    And in particular, may the gentlemen (and, possibly, some ladies) of the SMSM descend into the deepest pit of Dante's 'Inferno' , for their craven cowardice and abandonment of any and all 'journalistic principle'.

    Or , from a more earthbound perspective, who would give a toss if our 'sports journalists' got the heave? They have supported a devious, untrustworthy governance body and  two deceitful football clubs in the Big Lie.

    If New Media Investment Group Inc were to decide that the Herald was to be chopped I would shed no more tears than I would if BBC Radio Scotland Sports were to be axed.


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