By Hugobaws 07/11/2017
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” George Orwell.
There are very few people employed by Scotland’s Sports Media that engage in journalism. Since David Murray’s ‘succulent lamb’ days we get lots of PR that favours a Club from Govan, and the current PR campaign to poach another competing club’s Manager is nothing short of embarrassing. It’s also no surprise either that TRFC and its Board took the rather well-worn path of releasing ‘bad news’ late on a Friday night, when the Markets are closed, and our journalists are looking the other way.
The TRFC Year End Accounts have been dissected and laid bare by the Blogosphere since Saturday and don’t make pleasant reading. It’s obvious to anyone that the Club are once more riding roughshod over any semblance of UEFA FFP. It’s equally obvious to even the untrained eye that they are trading whilst (technically) insolvent, living hand to mouth on soft loans from Directors and an offshore trust that their Chairman is ‘interested’ in. His Trust, New Oasis Asset Ltd (NOAL) we are told, will prop up the ‘ethereal entity’ for the next two years, but he has no control over the Trust and no money by his own QC’s admission.
That’s news shurely? Worthy of a wee dig, just a little morsel of interest?
Not if you follow the Scottish MSM.
Offshore Trusts of course are all the rage right now, and the news that Her Maj has money invested offshore in the interests of ‘tax efficiency’ will cause a hearty guffaw in the east end of Glasgow. It’s no surprise that David Murray introduced EBT’s to the Govan Club as a way of hiring players they could otherwise not have afforded, what better role model of tax efficiency than the Monarch?
Of course, the 59 (published) recipients of EBT’s at Ayebroke will be dealt with rather more harshly when HMRC comes calling (Her Maj will just refuse to investigate herself or send herself a Tax Bill) in the months to come. Many were foreign players and are possibly out of the reach of the Tax Authorities, others are hiding behind insolvency. Bob Malcolm has taken the unusual step of buying an Ice Cream van and driving around Easterhouse in the hope that no one will think of looking for him there.
However, a bugbear of ordinary fans is that many are accepted as part of the Media coverage of Scottish football, as if having played for Rangers* or cheating on your tax somehow conveys a level of knowledge of football matters that is beyond the ordinary punter. The taxpayer unwittingly funded the Masterton/Murray largesse, so it’s only mildly ironic that we can now tune into a taxpayer funded BBC Sportsound/Sportscene to be told by a tax cheat why we need a strong Rangers*.
Graeme Sounoff, himself an EBT recipient while managing another Club has even suggested that Scottish Football will die if they are not back, big and strong and winning everything. In the interests of selling his book (or is it boak) he is regurgitating the Stewart Regan ‘Armageddon’ spiel.
Of course, Mr Sounoff may have caused the whole edifice to crumble.
At the height of the offshore scramble, Jean Alain Boumsong, an out of contract player joined Alex (£1.7m) McLeish’s Rangers* for free; in time to be weighed in for a £600k EBT. He lasted 6 months before joining Sounoff’s Newcastle mid-season for £8m. The subsequent investigation into this deal may go down in history as the one that brought down the Club, triggering investigations outside of Scotland that couldn’t be controlled by the usual agnivores.
Football fans will notice that there are certain reflexes ‘hard wired’ into ex Oldco pundits. Like some weird Pavlovian experiment, the TV/Radio host rings a bell and the pundits salivate before proclaiming that Scottish Football “needs a strong Rangers” * or that they should be “back where they belong”. Fans of Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts and others must be sick of being ignored just so that the MSM can beat the drum for the Govan Club. Sadly, the acquiescence of people like Stewart Milne, Ann Budge and Leanne Dempster will stunt their own club’s growth in the interests of the Govan £.