Murray has to live with his EBT decision

MUCH has been written, spoken and debated since the news of Rangers' successful appeal over their infamous 'Big Tax Case' became public knowledge last Tuesday afternoon.

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David Murray said there was no winners in 'Big Tax Case' verdict
David Murray said there was no winners in 'Big Tax Case' verdict

But five words uttered by Sir David Murray ring absolutely true and stand out above all else – there have been no winners.

How can you feel like a winner when the institution that is Rangers Football Club has been ripped apart and is now trying, slowly but surely, to climb off the floor and begin a long journey back to the high echelons it used to occupy?

Murray's battered legacy escaped further damage when the lengthy First Tier Tribunal went in favour of his group who administered the scheme over the guts of 10 years.

Had it gone the other way, it would have been another savage blow to his standing in the eyes of the club's support who once idolised him, given that he had already made the fatal mistake of putting the club in the hands of Craig Whyte, allowing him to wreak his own financial havoc over those ill-fated nine months in charge at Ibrox.

If Murray started Rangers on a dangerous track, there is no doubt Whyte was the train driver who just hit the gas and rammed them head-first into a dark tunnel through his shameful decision to not pay routine PAYE and NI bills, and mortgage off future season ticket sales to buy the club to start with.

Murray's response to the outcome was as you would expect, and fully understandable.

Any discussion with him on the topic over the past two-and-a-half years was filled with confidence that the use of EBTs would be vindicated.

Murray, quite correctly, was right to point out that these were legitimate, legal schemes that many businesses used until they were banned by the government a couple of years back, and his legal and expert advice had always been that the Tribunal would find in their favour.

Deep down, though, he must forever rue the day he was ever enticed towards these three letters that will forever be etched in the downfall of the club.

This decision can be tracked back to the period just after Dick Advocaat's arrival. Murray had already indulged the Dutchman in the first two summers of his managerial stint with more than £60million to spend in the transfer market.

Murray loved Rangers, wanted them to be the best. There is no way he would ever have taken any decision to purposely cause damage to the club. But he was not adverse to risks in his desire to furnish the team with top players.

As he pursued the European dream, and eyed the stars he felt could take Rangers to another level, these schemes landed on his desk.

Many clubs felt they were high-risk and steered clear, and in hindsight Murray must surely now wish he had never gone anywhere near them.

Not because he was doing anything dodgy, as so many claimed when they threw all sorts of mud at him and the club in what amounted to a frenzied attack with facts trampled over in the stampede to sink another boot into Rangers – those accusations were answered when he was cleared last week.

But the use of EBTs made Rangers unsellable.

Murray strongly argued that point when this newspaper used those headlines as the full extent of HMRC's pursuit became public knowledge in April, 2010.

Deep down, he knew it was absolutely true.

Had the Big Tax Case not been hanging over Rangers there were several groups, local and foreign, who would have stepped in and taken the club off Murray's hands.

The bank, Lloyds, would not have been so keen to get rid of what they view Rangers to be, a hot potato, with the full extent of their part in the ill-fated sale to Whyte surely something that must now be looked at very closely.

There would surely have been no Whyte, there would have been no Ticketus and, ultimately, there would have been no fall into administration and then liquidation.

Rangers' fall from grace can be traced back to the decision to enter into the EBT arrangement; that is undeniable.

And that is something Murray will have to live with.

That's why he didn't feel like a winner the other day.

Not when he sees what he built trying to rise from the rubble.

Finance

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