• SPL

Rangers to retain titles following probe

ESPN staff
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Rangers will not lose any of their five Scottish Premier League crowns © PA Photos
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Rangers will not be stripped of any of their league titles following an investigation into alleged undisclosed payments to players, but the 'oldco' club have been fined £250,000 for financial irregularities.

The Scottish Premier League set up an inquiry in response to the Employee Benefit Trusts instigated by former Rangers chairman Sir David Murray and in use between 2000 and 2011.

SPL rules specify that all payments to players relating to football activity must be stated in contracts registered with the league.

Rangers, who had to re-launch as a newco in Scotland's Third Division this season, had called for the probe - ordered on March 5 last year, before the liquidation of the original club - to be halted, warning Gers fans may boycott away games if the most severe punishments were implemented.

However, the independent three-man commission, which began hearing evidence on January 29, will not deprive the club of any of the five SPL titles won during that period as it found the club "did not gain any unfair competitive advantage", instead hitting the original company with a £250,000 fine.

The commission's statement found that the financial arrangements were not disclosed.

It read: "Although the payments in this case were not themselves irregular and were not in breach of SPL or SFA Rules, the scale and extent of the proven contraventions of the disclosure rules require a substantial penalty to be imposed.

"Rangers FC did not gain any unfair competitive advantage from the contraventions of the SPL rules in failing to make proper disclosure of the side-letter arrangements, nor did the non-disclosure have the effect that any of the registered players were ineligible to play, and for this and other reasons no sporting sanction or penalty should be imposed upon Rangers FC.

"In all the circumstances the commission has imposed a fine of £250,000 on oldco."

The EBT scheme was run by a company belonging to Murray. Murray International Holdings won, in principle, an appeal against a tax bill arising from the EBT, with most of the payments ruled to have constituted loans.

HM Revenue and Customs appealed against that decision.

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