THE EMPLOYEE BENEFIT TRUSTS used by Glasgow Rangers FC did not constitute “financial doping”, according to the Ibrox club’s former chairman Alastair Johnston.
He rejected claims the club gained an unfair sporting advantage by paying players using the controversial tax scheme, and maintained the same players would have been signed by the club anyway, reports STV.
It is believed that, between 1993 and 2003, Rangers paid its players through the EBTs, which work by providing employees non-repayable, interest-free loans.
“Our opponents maintain, illogically, that without the use of EBTs, Rangers would have been unable to afford the quality of players that they fielded and thus gained an advantage over other clubs against which they competed,” Johnston said, in a statement released through the Rangers Supporters Trust.
He added that former owner Sir David Murray, who was involved in setting up the EBTs as part of “efforts to organise the business in a way to mitigate taxation”, was “totally legitimate and acceptable under all tenets of the law” and the club “would have signed and paid for these very same players whether or not EBT schemes were in effect”.
A tax tribunal is yet to reach a verdict on whether EBTs constitute tax avoidance, while the Scottish Premier League is conducting an investigation into whether the arrangement breached its rules.
The club was liquidated after the taxman vetoed a company voluntary agreement (CVA) to save the stricken club in June.
Options open to the SPL include stripping the club of its titles, while it could face a bill from HM Revenue & Customs of as much as £24m.
Introduced in 2013 to encourage R&D investment, the scheme allows UK businesses to pay only 10% corporation tax on profits derived from any UK or certain EU patents
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