In the Service of Fools


Given the recent heightened focus on the refereeing standards in Scotland, I was asked to update a previous blog from 2010 that included suggestions for changing the way refereeing is managed in Scotland .

Having had a look at original my thoughts are “ here we are again”, for the very same reasons the blog was penned in 2010.


Because the refereeing issue is in my view connected to a lack of proper financial controls that create moral hazard, where one party can act with reckless abandon (see Rangers latest accounts), but other parties, as happened in 2012 are left to face the consequences.

So I’ll just repeat the suggestions made then but with an added comment on the proposed use of VAR, and how that and proper financial controls can save Scottish football from itself. First the Referee Service

Note the word “service” for this is the way that much of what the SFA do should be viewed. The SFA provide a number of services to the clubs who play in Scotland. They should not be seen as their masters but their servants. Or in modern terms the clubs in their professional leagues are the customers and the SFA the service providers. This change of attitude would allow competition to provide such services to enter the scene and so improve them.

This would be a huge cultural change but it has to start somewhere and here we are again under starters orders IF supporters act to bring the change about by calling their clubs to account for allowing the past to repeat itself today  as a result of the notorious  sporting integrity breaking Five Way Agreement, that UEFA never clapped eyes on where our game became a franchise and clubs where stores that changed from Mr Noodles to Nachos but were still the same because they sold food. 


The Referee Service

This would be split with the SFA doing the recruitment, training and match appointments (having taken the nature of the game to be officiated into account). However the monitoring and evaluation would be the province of the customer, using referees or ex refs from anywhere to mark to a standard set by the customer. This spilt of responsibilities would prevent any one person being in a position to exert his own influence on referees as a result of being part of the appointment and evaluation process. It would safeguard the SFA from the kind of suspicion that led to the referees’ strike and lead to a higher standard of referee because the customer would be setting the standard not the supplier (as happens everywhere in business but football) If it did not, it would free the SPL/SL to hire their own referees from wherever they could get them. A bit of competition never did anybody any harm and that includes our referees who, if they reached higher standards, would be in more demand outside Scotland.

Here is the addition brought on by the introduction of VAR which is just another service. Use this “here we go again” opportunity to put the VAR service AND the refereeing it watches over out to tender. The VAR supplier is also the referee monitor service to the leagues and the SFA become trainers and developers at lower levels of professional referees and work with the VAR service under a contract that rewards both parties.  

The Licensing Service

This needs to be calibrated to meet the financial position of Scottish clubs.  The principles in UEFA FFP that stipulate what is to be treated as allowable income and allowable debt continue,  but regulating controls to prevent clubs going bust or acting in a reckless financial manner need introduced. Points deduction is no deterrent if such recklessness creates huge points gap at end of season when the CL money is at stake. Nor is the threat of losing all won by that recklessness a deterrent, when the nature of how it was won is downplayed then ignored and airbrushed from football history.

If survival depends on access to CL geld then referees , as matters continue to stand will come under the kind of scrutiny that unless addressed,  leads to an ever growing suspicion,  because here we bloody well are again,  that our game is bent .

Worse it leads to thinking that the clubs like it that way but ignore that their supporters do not and will continue to ignore until supporters vote with their feet.

In short the Licensing Service that is supposed to protect the financial well being of Scottish clubs has failed. It perpetuates a moral hazard almost by design that caused Rangers demise in 2012  and that failure and how it was dealt with under the 5 Way Agreement has undermined the integrity of our game, causing increased scrutiny of referee decisions and if not dealt with this time will eventually kill football in Scotland as a sport.

VAR however if introduced as a professional service on lines suggested should encourage more prudent financial behaviour in future by making reckless behaviour so risky it will stop and with it the moral hazard it creates.

Previous articleThe Stella Dallas of Europe
Celtic fan from Glasgow living mostly in Spain. A contributor to several websites, discussion groups and blogs, and a member of the Resolution 12 Celtic shareholders' group. Committed to sporting integrity, good governance, and the idea that football is interdependent. We all need each other in the game.


  1. ‘vernallen 6th October 2021 At 01:26

    While its interesting to see the various comments on Scottish referees and what can be done to improve it, a more interesting research project would be on the woeful record of Scottish clubs in European competitions…’
    The simple answer to this is that the ‘top’ Scottish clubs, when playing in Europe, give the ball away far too easily & far too often, giving their opponents good possession in dangerous areas of the field. It’s not all down to pressure either; it’s lack of technical skills. It would be interesting to see analysis of how many goals Scottish teams concede in UEFA competitions within a few phases of making an unforced error.

    It happens domestically as well, but the difference is that the opposing team can’t keep possession either (or benefit from it!) & promptly gives the ball away themselves!

  2. Here we are again, Auldheid. Not sure I can believe that 11 years later, we are pretty much back where we started. The question remains – how do we instigate a change ?

  3. I’m sure most people will agree that, whilst the standard of refereeing in Scotland was never that high many years ago, it has regressed rapidly in the last 30 years. I’d go so far as to say that the current bunch are the worst yet; the fact that none of our grade 1 officials were considered good enough to be included in the recent Euros seems to back that opinion up.
    For me, they are a symptom of the mediocrity that the governing bodies who run our game are quite happy to settle for. I’d include our clubs in that too.
    None of them are prepared to stick their heads out and challenge how our game is run, content just to sit there, afraid to rock the boat. Those who are, usually find themselves short of backing and we’re back to square one. Our clubs are run by self-serving cowards and until that changes, we will be stuck in mediocrity for good.
    Both the SFA and the SPFL need gutting out and it really annoys me that we have such poor officials running our game, without anyone taking them to task.
    It’s high time Scottish fitba moved into the 21st century.

  4. I was reminded that I posted about the appointment of the current Head of Refereeing Operations back in January 2020:

    ‘Re the appointment of Crawford Allan:

    Another insular, in-the-bubble, ‘We’re doing the best we can, we can’t upset the Grade 1s, because we’re feart of them.’ appointment.

    Is the board of the SFA so blind to the almost-daily criticism of refereeing performance, standards & consistency from fans, players, managers & media that it thinks that an ‘in-house’ appointment is what is needed at this time?

    It makes me wonder how much input the regional associations had into the selection. It makes me wonder if Mr. Allan is a ‘compromise’ appointment to quieten dissent. It makes me wonder if he was actually the first choice of the panel. It makes me wonder if this appointment is just part of the same old SFA ‘Magic Roundabout’ routine. It makes me wonder if there is something not quite ‘right’ in Scottish refereeing that an outside candidate would have seen & addressed.

    Still, according to the press release, the CEO got all his boxes ticked with this appointment. Good for you, Ian. Are you sure that your boxes were the correct ones for ongoing development of refereeing standards in Scotland? Was there a box designated ‘Honest mistakes & how to ignore them’? I hope that Mr. Allan oversees a sea-change, but history indicates a jaundiced view should be taken of the prospects of any change at all.

    There is, of course, an ‘up-side’ for the SFA in this appointment; no relocation fees required as the successful candidate is local. Funny that!’


    ‘The biggest takeaway from Allan’s appointment is that it appears that the tail is wagging the dog; the tail being the referees & the dog being the SFA. It’s an insider, steady hand on the tiller, don’t rock the boat, wan o’ oor ain appointment par excellence, but not what the Scottish game needs.

    The passing of John Fleming gave the SFA an opportunity; the chance to replace him with a new man or woman, a new strategy, even a new structure. Frankly, as has been evidenced by their handling of several other contentious events in recent history, I think they didn’t have the bottle (or professionalism) to do so.’
    So it has proved: Mr. Allan has been in post for 21 months & what has improved? What tangible, visible-to-the-fans changes has he implemented? On any measure, are Scottish referees performing better (domestically, in European club competitions or in international matches) than under the late John Fleming?

    We’re still months (years?) away from implementation of VAR; in fact, we don’t know what kind of VAR we’ll get in Scotland. Will it be the ‘full-fat’ EPL type or some ‘semi-skimmed’ version that’s a testament to the SFA’s exceptionalism (& tight-fistedness)? There’s a ‘summit’ tomorrow. I look forward to seeing Maxie (if it doesn’t interfere with his regular Friday 5-a-side, of course – priorities!) & Crawfie doing the rounds of the media to explain what’s they’re planning to do going forward.

  5. Are we truly getting the best possible Referees? How do we know, because the SFA recruitment process has somehow escaped the diversity and inclusion officer quoted in the media today regarding the work required to eradicate racism.

    There can be no doubt that the grade 1 appointments system remains a glass ceiling that many people will never break through. Whether people think Referees are biased or not (and I certainly hope they’re not) it is clear that nepotism is rife in who makes it and who doesn’t. Also, if the SFA are now accepting we need VAR, then surely it is time to accept that Referees should not be officiating in games involving the club they support. There should be no leeway on this because other countries don’t allow it, yet in Scotland it is standard practice. It’s not right and never can be right. If the system is so overloaded with Referees who support one club that it would cause a problem, then get Referees from other countries until the situation is corrected.

  6. Since VAR is entirely on screen the officials could be based anywhere. There are no travel or hotel expenses needed so referees from any part of the world could be used with no presumption of bias towards any team. It would cost no more to have say a Spanish adjudicator rather than a Scottish one.
    In all the debates re the leanings towards and the cheating by one club the biggest problem is that the rest of the clubs accept what is going on. Until such times they join together and protest things will continue as they are no matter what claims and arguments sites like this put forward.
    That’s not to say we should stop but it’s a terrible situation where all these presumably intelligent directors accept the status quo. Does the “Blue Pound” really mean so much to them?

  7. Ballyargus 7th October 2021 At 17:21

    I am more than willing to give VAR a chance. However, I note many dissenters on social media saying if the VAR refs are those who are part of the close knit cabal which is Scottish Refereeing, and which circles the wagons no matter how atrocious the Referee has been, then will it change much? I’d like to think it would, but I go back to my previous post. Referees should have zero input in games where the team they support is involved. We already have faceless disciplinary committees who sometimes issue a video review verdict which leaves most of us bewildered. We never get to know who they are. Would we know who the VAR refs are? Also, there may be an opportunity for retired Referees to retrain as VAR Referees. You know, the ones who sometimes do the after dinner circuit bragging about not giving certain decisions they know fine well they should have. Would some of these people actually be allowed to come back into the system? No way should that be allowed.

  8. Sergio Biscuits 7th October 2021 At 14:21
    ‘..a symptom of the mediocrity that the governing bodies who run our game are quite happy to settle for. I’d include our clubs in that too.’

    I still can’t get over the fact that the Board and members of the SPFL are so mediocre as to countenance a ‘review’ of the operations of the SPFL by 5 self-appointed ‘reviewers ( 4 of them American) on their own initiative!

    Are the Board so sunk in the sense of failure and inadequacy occasioned by their cowardly dishonesty in permitting a rank, rotten, sporting lie to remain at the very heart of our Sport that they have lost all regard for themselves as any kind of leaders?

  9. @JC – to a answer the question you pose, yes they are.
    @UTH – full transparency is required. In England we know before kickoff who the VAR reviewer is. It doesn’t avoid controversy- see comments from Southampton manager last weekend- but it gives transparency and accountability.
    I genuinely believe that Scottish football is now stuck between a rock and a hard place, specifically: how do you market the best wee small league in the world if the refereeing standards are so poor that the league becomes a parody of itself? But if you improve the refereeing standards towards impartiality what does that mean for any clubs that base their business model on continued success/dominance?

  10. wokingcelt 8th October 2021 At 00:01

    For me the biggest problem in Scotland has always been a desperation by the SFA and the media to portray our Referees as being beyond reproach because of the elephant in the room that sees Referees officiating for the team they support, several times a season and in very important games. Any fair minded person can see this is unacceptable, and you only have to look at other nations who take steps to avoid such a scenario as evidence that it is unacceptable. It doesn’t mean Scottish Referees are corrupt per se, and it doesn’t even mean there is any deliberate bias. However, neither does it mean that bias is impossible, cognitive bias in particular.

    Having listened to the SFA and the SMSM over the decades you would believe that generations of Scottish Referees are super humans, free of natural human traits, the best officials around. None of that is true. To quote an old phrase ‘methinks they doth protest too much’.

    We all think our clubs are hard done by, and that’s where our bias as fans comes in. Sometimes in the cold light of day you can sit there and see it’s not always the case. However, to take one of the most infamous cases involving my club, a Referee who was by any standard having an utterly appalling game became a hero because some utter idiotic clown of a person chose to throw a coin at him which drew blood. This scandalous act somehow became a reason to say he had a great game, and a reason to say forevermore he was a brilliant Referee, despite several high profile incidents which suggested otherwise. He then went on to influence Scottish Refereeing on retirement, ensuring only his favourites progressed, including his own son who has proven himself less than capable as a Referee which is the kindest thing I could say. The defiant media attitude towards that man sums up why we desperately need change. Personally I am not prepared to accept that just because one club’s followers believe him to be biased against their club, that it automatically means it is impossible for that to have been the case. I’m not saying it was the case because I don’t know, but if we want to be seen as being beyond reproach then attitudes must change, and we must accept that a perception of bias is a very bad thing.

  11. ‘upthehoops 7th October 2021 At 18:37

    …Would we know who the VAR refs are? Also, there may be an opportunity for retired Referees to retrain as VAR Referees. You know, the ones who sometimes do the after dinner circuit bragging about not giving certain decisions they know fine well they should have. Would some of these people actually be allowed to come back into the system? No way should that be allowed.’
    Yes, we would know who the VAR team for each specific match is comprised of. They’d be listed in the same fashion as the current officiating team are. For example, here’s the officials for tomorrow’s Scotland Israel match –

    Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL)
    Assistant Referee 1: Pawel Sokolnicki (POL)
    Assistant Referee 2: Tomasz Listkiewicz (POL)
    Fourth Official: Tomasz Musial (POL)
    Video Assistant Referee: Tomasz Kwiatkowski (POL)
    Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Marcin Borkowski (POL)
    Referee Assessor: Pascal Garibian (FRA)
    As to your second point re retired refs coming back: I understand that FIFA & UEFA insist that VAR officials must be active referees of a suitable grading for the match involved & who meet the current standards of their home football associations regarding age limits, fitness levels & medical requirements.

    Unless the SFA is going to go against the grain, there won’t be VAR paydays for the Old Boys’ Club…

  12. Jingso.Jimsie 8th October 2021 At 10:45

    ‘…They’d be listed in the same fashion as the current officiating team are. For example, here’s the officials for tomorrow’s Scotland Israel match –’
    On a loosely related point, Jingo.Jimsie, I have a recollection that at one time the 3 officials at any UEFA competition match were drawn from different countries. Did I imagine that?

    If that was the case, it made sense to change that arrangement in so far as communication between the three officials would be better if they all spoke the same language!

    Can anyone remember , or did I imagine ?
    And if it was not a figment of my imagination, when did the change to ‘same country’ officials come about?

  13. Does anyone not see the irony in Mike Ashley selling Newcastle for a significant sum. Just think what might have been if the Rangers had held on to the board members in place when Ashley was around, close to breaking even, and if still in place, the golden chalice for Ranger fans, the potential of unheard sums if Rangers could have been part of that sale. Possible European domination could have been on the cards with super star after super star arriving at Ibrox. Oh, and no one sided merchandise deals as completed by the new (King) board. The biggest kick in the teeth could be SG leaving to manage Newcastle, even though Ashley is gone. Instead the fans can look back on years of huge losses ( with another year’s report yet to be tabled), one title, no league cups and no Scottish cups. Yes they did well in the changing of the board.

  14. vernallen 8th October 2021 At 22:53
    ‘..The biggest kick in the teeth could be SG leaving to manage Newcastle,
    Well, any guy who bought into the nonsense of the Big Lie has to be suspect!
    And ,IF the Saudis at Newcastle were to come calling, yer man Gerrard will be off like a shot, without a doubt!

    Especially if the call were to come just as the RIFC plc accounts were to be submitted to Companies House, and SG realised what a useless job he had as a manager who can’t buy the players he needs and wants .
    And who could blame him? [Well, I would: for having bought into the biggest sporting lie there has ever been in Scottish Football!]

  15. How can you improve on perfection? SFA statement on scottish referees by SFA spokesperson 2021.
    What do you mean this statement has not been put out yet?
    Ok give it another day or two.

  16. Cluster One 9th October 2021 @ 10:13hrs –

    Classic SFA, though.

    It’s typical that the man fronting this is Howard Webb. His mishandling of the 2010 World Cup Final showed the need for video assistance for the on-field official…

  17. Corrupt official 9th October 2021 At 13:21
    ‘.. £3.4m awarded to a deid club that ripped off all and sundry,’
    Well, it’s more money for HMRC which means us, the taxpayers, who were so ripped off by a knight of the realm: who, in my opinion, should have been metaphorically crucified by the 5 million worldwide supporters of RFC of 1872 for killing their club.

    While ,of course ,those in Football Governance who created the Big Lie should have been (metaphorically) hanged, drawn and quartered for their BETRAYAL OF THEIR OFFICE as Guardians of Scottish Football.

    Their sin is blacker even than the kind of sin that any individual, vainglorious, hubristic individual cheat on the personal make may be guilty of: we kind of expect that millionaire types will try to find any kind of way to become millionaires!
    What we don’t expect is that a sport’s Governance body will try to create a myth in order to hide the unpleasant truth’
    Even less do we expect the SMSM to become propagandists for untruth.
    They can never be forgiven.
    And they know how base they would be in the eyes of the two journalists who have just won the Nobel prize!

  18. John Clark 9th October 2021 At 23:14

    Well, it’s more money for HMRC which means us, the taxpayers, who were so ripped off by a knight of the realm: who, in my opinion, should have been metaphorically crucified by the 5 million worldwide supporters of RFC of 1872 for killing their club.


    A Knight of the Realm who is still revered by the Scottish Sporting Media. A Knight of the Realm who was in cahoots with the bank who tried to put Celtic out of business for a debt of £6M, while allowing Rangers a debt of £80M. A Knight of the Realm who put in place the biggest ever illegal tax scam in UK football history. All of the success achieved when he ruled at Ibrox is still revered by the Scottish Sporting Media, despite the very obvious advantages the institutional bias of a Scottish owned bank and an illegal tax avoidance scheme brought him.

    A Knight of the Realm who is still a Knight of the Realm. This is Scotland, the best wee country in the world apparently.

  19. upthehoops 9th October 2021 At 23:32
    ‘..A Knight of the Realm who is still a Knight of the Realm’
    And disgracefully so.
    There is nothing more sure than the fact that the ‘honours’ system is even more corrupt than Scottish Football governance, if notions of integrity and honour are meant to be attributes of ‘knights’

  20. John Clark 9th October 2021 At 23:14

    Corrupt official 9th October 2021 At 13:21
    ‘.. £3.4m awarded to a deid club that ripped off all and sundry,’

    Well, it’s more money for HMRC which means us, the taxpayers, who were so ripped off by a knight of the realm

        Not really John, as the circa £24m damages payout was obviously from public funds.  By my reckoning tax-payers are £20.6m down on the deal.
          How much of the £3.4m gravegoods, (after BDO costs are settled), actually finds its way to the creditors is yet to be announced.

  21. Corrupt official 10th October 2021 At 11:30
    ‘..Not really John, as the circa £24m damages payout was obviously from public funds. By my reckoning tax-payers are £20.6m down on the deal.’
    Aye, but to be fair, RFC of 1872 died because they owed us taxpayers many tens of millions of pounds of tax:
    it was not RFC of 1872 that brought a prosecution that was so fecked up as to result in the public purse having to pay out enormous sums in damages!

    The really interesting questions are, I think, how the feck-up came about and why?

    Was there any genuine attempt to prosecute? or was the prosecution sabotaged?

    I followed the court proceedings as often and as best as I could.

    I was not at all impressed by the way the Prosecution made an ar.e of itself even in the framing, and re-framing, of the bloody indictments!

    And as for investigating police officers seizing documents that they were not legally allowed to seize?
    I shake my head in wonderment. Wouldn’t police officers KNOW that that would bugger up any prosecution?

    One idly speculates: could buggering-up have been the intention? I think that that is a legitimate question asked with an open mind.
    The next question would be: And if so, whose needs were being served?
    Oh! Where is the ICIJ when you need it?
    Just to get right in there and find objective Truth.

  22. Real Rangers did indeed blooter the tax pocket John, and as a result were put into liquidation. Potless and ceasing to exist, there was nothing could be done with them. The party was over for them as far as the law was concerned..
    However the aftermath of corruption continued into new Rangers via Sevco 5088 and/or Sevco Scotland. If, as is widely suspected, certain players were acting in cahoots, successful guilty charges would only have one outcome. The undoing of the asset sale by dint of Sevco being a criminal construct……No new Rangers and 50,000 old Rangers fans baying for Minty’s blood.
    I take your point about the framing and re-framing of charges John. Particularly from the original conspiracy charges brought against all of the main players.
    It is my opinion that this re-framing was pivotal, and served one main purpose…..Namely to re-apportion blame, but to do so in such a way that deconstructing the asset sale would not necessarily be the obvious next step that would naturally follow a proven conspiracy.
    At any cost, a situation of “no Rangers”, was verbotten, and it was an instruction from somewhere on high.
    A series of trials followed, carefully framed, so as not to uncover the shallow, unmarked/re-named grave now rotting in liquidation.
    Charlie Chuckles wasn’t shy in letting them know he knew where the body was buried when he bought his basket of assets……Legal farce after farce followed.
    To “do” one, would have meant to do them all, but they stood united. They all knew what Charlie knew but kept stumpff……..That doesn’t mean they were not prepared to sing like canaries.
    I doubt it was a bluff. If they were going down, then so was Sevco Scotland/5088, but regardless, it was never going to be called.
    In my view, conspiracy charges were the appropriate charges to pursue, and the unwinding of the criminal construct, (if charges were successful), the natural concluding proceedings.
    At least we can be thankful that our referees are honest, but unfortunately, just as incompetent as our polis and QC’s eh.
    The maist incompetent wee country in the wurld.

  23. Corrupt Official 11 oct 02:04
    Chuckles knew.
    Looking back at Oct 12. 2012 I see chuckles knew there would no long er be an SPL. When he said rangers would never return to the SPL while he was in charge, would there be an SPL by the time they get there (or words to that effect) Did he know about reconstruction before it was voted on in 2013 i believe?

  24. Cluster One 13th October 2021 At 12:31

    Corrupt Official 11 oct 02:04
    Chuckles knew.
    Looking back at Oct 12. 2012 I see chuckles knew there would no long er be an SPL.

    I only have the vaguest recollection of the statement C1, so I am reluctant to hazard a guess. His MO was usually playing to the gallery while issuing some sort of thinly veiled threat of worm-can opening. I doubt he was hinting at his own premature departure, as he also stated he would be hanging around for the CL tune on the Ibrox tannoy system
    Whether he was aware that David Longmuir was to receive a bung, (and a mechanism was required to transfer the funding for it), or a re-drafting of league rules was in the offing would merely be speculation on my part. To my knowledge, nobody was aware of any other viable reason for the restructure.
    Oct 2012 was just approaching the fraudulent IPO period, so the notion of one league authority, as opposed to two, may have looked better in the blurb. (Charlie was ever the salesman)
    As far as I can fathom, SPL clubs overwhelmingly voted "No to Newco", (albeit, some with a fan-forced hand),and no other vote was balloted to overthrow it. It may have had the potential to be problematic when the time to skip across the two different authorities (via promotion), came. Technically, if the SPL was still in existence, then, without a re-ballot, so was the result of the vote.
    Sorry for the rather vague reply, but I am curious as to the importance you attach to his comments.

  25. Corrupt official 13th October 2021 At 14:12
    ‘..Technically, if the SPL was still in existence, then, without a re-ballot, so was the result of the vote…’
    I doubt if many of us thought that a fix could seriously have been considered.

    In those early days I was prepared accept that the new club ((any new club) could apply to buy a share in either of the two companies of professional football clubs that existed, the SPL and SFL.

    I was prepared even to accept that a particular new applicant might be given precedence over any prior applicant for the bottom-most place in the bottom-most league; but only as a new club starting from scratch (which unquestionably as a matter of law, SevcoScotland/TRFC was)

    When I read things like this item below I suspected that the ‘fix ‘would be in and the Big lie created that ‘Rangers’ had not died as a football club but had merely changed hands (even though, like many liars, the liars never quite got their story internally consistent!)
    The sheer effrontery of that Lie was, is, breath-taking. And the fact that the lie underlies the launch of RIFC plc is a damning indictment, in my view, of the Finance regulatory bodies.

    From International Business Times
    “Rangers voted in to Scottish Division Three
    By Alfred Joyner
    July 13, 2012 12:09 BST

    “Newco Rangers will play next season in division 3 after the 30 clubs in the Scottish Football League (SFL) voted on where to place them in the table.

    A majority of clubs voted to send Charles Green’s newco Rangers into the third division, despite the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and the Scottish Premier League (SPL) offering an overhaul of the league structure if Rangers were placed in division one instead.

    The clubs met at Hampden to decide on the fate of the club after they were refused admission into the SPL.

    Twenty-five out of the 30 teams voted for Rangers to start in the third division.

    SFL chief executive David Longmuir said: “This has been a very important day for Scottish football.

    “The member clubs have voted to wilingly accept Rangers into the SFL. The only acceptable position was to accept the newco in division 3 from the start of 2012/2013.

    “This has been one of the most difficult decisions to make for all concerned.”

    The decision could have catastrophic financial consequences on the state of Scottish football, with FA chief executive Stewart Regan saying the move would lead to a “slow, lingering death” of the game.

    Former first minister Henry McLeish said before the vote that sending Rangers into the first division would be a “fit and proper punishment” and would benefit the SFL as a whole.

    He said: “In the last season, 28% of all the people going through the turnstiles in Scotland were because of Rangers.

    “If you add Celtic figures into that, 60% of all the fan base in Scotland is the Old Firm.”

    Dunfermline, Elgin City, Peterhead, Arbroath, Alloa Athletic, Berwick Rangers, Annan Athletic, East Fife and Clyde all said in the days before the meeting they plan to vote the Ibrox club into the bottom tier.

    Only Second Division club Stenhousemuir publicly announced their decision to vote for Rangers in the second tier.

    Clyde football club have expressed concerns the decision may still be overturned by the SFL and by SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster and Rangers allow play in division 1 next season:

    A statement on the club’s site said: “Neil Doncaster told the SFL clubs that the SPL would not allow Rangers to join the third division as the loss of £16m would not be countenanced.

    “He is also on record as having said that a 16-team league would cost £20m, therefore we can hardly have confidence that the focus on finance will allow these proposals to come to life.

    “Given that the SPL and SFA have signalled a clear intention to act against any decision that might result in Sevco Scotland Ltd being admitted to the third division.

    “We can expect that, no matter what the SFL clubs decide, Sevco Scotland will not be playing in the third division in the coming season.”

    Dunfermline and Dundee are due to learn on Monday who will replace the Ibrox club in the top flight.”

  26. John Clark 13th October 2021 At 17:25

    Corrupt official 13th October 2021 At 14:12
    ‘..Technically, if the SPL was still in existence, then, without a re-ballot, so was the result of the vote…’
    I doubt if many of us thought that a fix could seriously have been considered.

    Therein lies the hub of the fix John. A football club called "Rangers" were not in existence at the time of the debut match against Brechin. "Club 12" was the club entered in the draw as. A game which took place using a number of players "borrowed" from the original Rangers registered playing squad. .
    Sevco Scotland was granted SFA membership, and Sevco Scotland were awarded a playing license. Several days after the Brechin Debut, Sevco Scotland changed their name to The Rangers Football Club.
    The following season Big Fat Salary claimed to have no idea why "Trialists" were only permitted in the opening round of the Ramsden cup.....Trialists who would not have been available to him for selection the previous season, without the necessary release papers and rule amendments.
    It is all adequately documented, but still the lie perpetuates.
    When the First minister pleads for clemency for an entity dodging taxes, of which he has a clear responsibility to collect, I would suggest it is not a sport that has the problem, but a nation.
    Who jails the jailers?

  27. I did not know that there was such an organisation as Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL)the members of which are the FA, the The FA premier League, and the English Football League. It’s the body that provides referees for ten different levels of football, apparently. And pays them.
    In a judgment made public today, HMRC has won an appeal against parts of the decisions made by the First tier Tax tribunal and the Upper Tier Tax Tribunal.
    The basic question seems to have been whether PGMOL should whip off Tax and N.I conts from the fees they pay to referees.
    The Court of Appeal has not decided the matter but has remitted the case to the First Tier Tribunal to reconsider .
    This is the last para of the judgment
    “133.For these reasons, I would allow HMRC’s appeal and dismiss PGMOL’s
    Respondent’s Notice. The FTT and the UT each erred in law in their approaches to
    the question of mutuality of obligation in the individual contracts, and the FTT erred
    in law in its approach to the question of control in the individual contracts. It is not
    necessary for me to reach a view about the overarching contracts. If the other
    members of this Court agree with those conclusions, my provisional view, subject to
    any submissions which the parties may wish to make about disposal, is that the appeal should be remitted to the FTT for the FTT to consider, on the basis of its original findings of fact, whether there were sufficient mutuality of obligation and control in the individual contracts for those contracts to be contracts of employment. I do not consider that it would be appropriate for this Court to make those assessments, which are assessments best made by a specialist fact-finding tribunal, not an appellate Court.”
    The other two judges agreed.
    Case details are:
    Neutral Citation Number: [2021] EWCA Civ 1370
    Case No: A3/2020/1392
    The Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery) Chamber
    (The Honourable Mr Justice Zacaroli and Judge Thomas Scott)
    Royal Courts of Justice
    Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
    Date: 17/09/202

    Does anyone know how our referees are ’employed’? Are their fees taxable?

  28. 79 days until the next transfer window opens. Are the lights burning brightly into the wee hours as possible sales are discussed. Are the phones lines burning up chasing potential buyers for members of this star studded team. Is it not time for the media to start pushing rumors about departures from Ibrox for untold sums. Is the media chasing what is actually going on or sitting back waiting to be spoon fed the story Ibrox wants circulated. Are they asking about the latest financials. Can they see the opportunity in front of them.

  29. John Clark 13th October 2021 @ 22:19hrs –

    I think that Scottish referees are basically self-employed contractors who require to be members of a suitable trade association to be considered for ‘work’. (There’s other criteria as well: fitness, age etc., etc..)

    I suppose that their match fees are paid gross & it’s up to the individual to deal with tax & NI from what is, essentially, a part-time side-gig.

    Incidentally, I wonder if refs pay towards the SFA/UEFA/FIFA training camps they attend? Do the respective FAs pick up any/some/all of the tab for these?
    As an aside, I note that Jermaine Defoe was unable to attend court yesterday due to ‘COVID isolation’.

    You have to wonder if there’s more to the story.

  30. vernallen 13th October 2021 @ 22:52hrs –

    The perfect scenario for RIFC is that Gerrard goes to NUFC in the next few days & TRFC get enough compo for him & his coaching team to keep the lights on until January. Derek McInnes is available to step in if young Murty declines to cover the big job.

    Then, come the transfer window, Gerrard drops £100m or so on signing several Govan Galacticos. I’m sure that Mr. Park & Mr. Robertson would still think that TRFC would romp the league without needing to sign too many replacements.

    It’s unlikely that’ll happen, though…

  31. John Clark 13th October 2021 At 22:19

    Does anyone know how our referees are ’employed’? Are their fees taxable?


    I know a Grade 1 Assistant and they are paid directly by the SFA and tax is deducted at source is my understanding. If they are in the higher PAYE bracket they will pay 41% on all Referee earnings.

  32. @JJ – stranger things have happened. Wasn’t it Jean-Alain Boumsong who had a short stay in Glasgow before a move to Newcastle for £8m – signed by a certain G. Souness and subsequently rated as the worst ever January buy…

  33. upthehoops 14th October 2021 At 15:46
    ‘..I know a Grade 1 Assistant and they are paid directly by the SFA and tax is deducted at source is my understanding.’

    Thank you, uth.
    I suppose, when I think about it, if they had had any kind of questionable arrangement before the SDM method of tax evasion became known, the SFA would surely have quickly re-adjusted: deceitful they may be, but totally stupid they are not!
    Maybe their English oounterparts are in for a shock!

  34. wokingcelt 14th October 2021 At 17:15
    ‘… signed by a certain G. Souness..’
    I was minded to have another look at Souness’s EBT, but I got diverted when I came across this item written in the when the BBC had resect for truthful reporting:

    “Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys
    BBC Scotland Investigates2012

    As this proud footballing giant stands on the brink of extinction, BBC Scotland Investigates the inside story of the scandal which brought Rangers FC to its knees. This is a programme based on dozens of secret emails, letters and documents which uncover the truth behind the tax scheme which threatens the club’s very existence, and reveals what went on behind the scenes in the run up to Craig Whyte’s infamous takeover. From the day Sir David Murray took up the reigns at Ibrox, through the nine-in-a-row Championship years to the ignominy of owner Craig Whyte’s reign and the plunge into administration, this programme charts the descent from glory into chaos of one of Scotland’s great institutions. Along the way, investigative reporter Mark Daly goes in search of answers to the questions every Scottish football fan is asking, and attempts to confront those who are responsible for the Ibrox club’s plight..”
    I’ve never understood why Pacific Quay meekly did not have the guts and integrity to resist the orders from the BBC Trust to accepted the nonsense from their London masters that they should refer to the ‘company’ as distinct from the ‘club’.

    There were powerful people involved in supporting the lie that RFC 1872 died as a football club every bit as ignominiously as any liquidated football club when it could not pay its debts: debts occasioned not by misfortune or unavoidable market conditions, but by cheating HMRC (and lying about it to the SFA and SPL)

    And if BBC people kow-tow to ‘powerful people’, what’s the BBC other than untrustworthy itself? little better than an old ‘eastern bloc’ state-controlled propaganda machine?

  35. My post of 19.31 today: you will have noticed (I hope) my careless writing
    I meant ( obviously!) to write :
    ‘There were powerful people involved in supporting the lie that RFC of 1872 did not die as a football club every bit as ignominiously as any liquidated football club’
    ( That’s what happens when you’re interrupted in your flow of thought, press the send button and don’t have another look while there is time to edit)

  36. Who among us can forget this:
    This blog will provide details on Rangers FC’s appeals against tax bills which the club has received for underpayment of tax going back to 2001. The case centres round what HMRC believes is the illegal use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) to avoid paying PAYE and National Insurance Contributions on payments made to players and members of the board of directors.
    My motivation to write is born out of the wilful ignorance of the Scottish media on this story. While they reprint unbelievable PR fiction related to Rangers as news, Scotland’s Fourth Estate has gone to great efforts to ignore the tax story…”
    Thus did the ‘Rangerstaxcase’ guy begin his superb blog that, as truth and fact based journalism ,cannot be faulted; and in so doing alerted us all to the dirty wee reluctance of sports journalists in the SMSM even to ask questions of the tax-evading board of RFC of 1872, let alone seriously challenge it.
    I have no idea who he is, but I hope I may have had, unbeknownst to me at the time, the honour and privilege of having shaken his hand.

    I mention this because I was sent on a wee nostalgia trip this evening after chatting on Skype with my son in Oz and his daughter (who was born round about the time of that RTC blog)

    As it happens, this very minute I have a wee quarter gill within arm’s reach as I write, and I raise it now to RTC with deepest thanks to him for the service he provided in exposing the lies and deceit at the heart of Scottish Football.
    Here’s to RTC!

  37. I continue to be confused by Barry Ferguson’s profession. Is he a full time football manager, or a part time journalist, or is it vice versa, a full time journalist, and a part time football manager. Based on recent reports in the DR I suspect the latter and managing a football team just gets in the way. I’m sure the new owners of Newcastle got a chuckle out of the DR’s headline, “Ferguson sets Newcastle straight” regarding SG and the Newcastle job. They probably got into the five “w’s” of journalism trying to find out who he is. Meanwhile the directors of Alloa must be doing the same as they try to determine what their manager actually does to earn his pay cheque.

  38. ‘upthehoops 14th October 2021 At 15:46

    I know a Grade 1 Assistant and they are paid directly by the SFA and tax is deducted at source is my understanding…’
    Happy to be put right!


  39. vernallen 15th October 2021 At 01:24
    ‘..Is he a full time football manager, or a part time journalist, ..’
    The records of the Accountant in Bankruptcy show that the occupation of a Barry Ferguson (d.o.b. 02/02/1978) whose date of Discharge from bankruptcy was 21/07/2018, was given as “Columnist”.


    UEL 2021/22: AC Sparta Praha v Rangers FC
    Last updated 10/15/2021 15:30
    In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector was appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding potential discriminatory incidents which allegedly occurred during the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League group stage match between AC Sparta Praha and Rangers FC played on 30 September 2021.

    The investigation has now concluded that there was insufficient evidence of racism or discriminatory conduct at the match to warrant the opening of disciplinary proceedings against AC Sparta Praha.’
    But, but, but…

  41. John Clark –15th October 2021 — 17:22

    Thanks for the update, If his abilities as a columnist are reflective as his abilities as a football manager, heaven help the Alloa team. He spends so much time living in the Ranger’s past and on games with Celtic and Europe there can’t be much time left to plan training, game strategy, and recruitment plans.

  42. I see a club* who pretend to be another club* have brought out a new top to pretend to be 140 years older than they actually are while pretending to be “here first” despite the historical fact that Queen’s Park were “here” in Glasgow 5 years earlier and Kilmarnock, Stranraer and Dumbarton were also in existence here in Scotland before the club* they pretend to be was even dreamt of . To add insult to inaccuracy they have given the video the background tune of a song their fans regularly sing and are prosecuted for due to the racist lyrics they attach to it and are pretending it’s another song with the same tune but different lyrics that the vast majority couldn’t tell you what the lyrics are. Just another chapter in the game of let’s pretend that has been going on for a decade now.

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