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EBT review: Celtic release correspondence with Scottish FA

The club said an independent review was essential for Scottish football to find "closure".

Dispute: Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell wrote to the Scottish FA.
Dispute: Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell wrote to the Scottish FA. SNS Group

Celtic have made public a series of letters between the club and the Scottish FA discussing the need for an independent review of how Scottish football handled Rangers' use of Employee Benefit Trusts.

The Scottish FA wrote to all member clubs this week to advise them that they had rejected an offer to join the SPFL in setting up an independent review of both bodies' handling of the situation. Celtic released a statement on Saturday heavily criticising the decision and also released correspondence dating back to July showing the club's repeated calls for a wide-ranging review.

The letters exchanged between Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell and Scottish FA counterpart Stewart Regan began on July 25, with Lawwell noting the outcome of the Big Tax Case at the Supreme Court, which found in favour of HMRC.

Celtic also referenced the decision of the SPL's commission which investigated Rangers' use of EBTs, information disclosed during the trial of former Rangers owner Craig Whyte and the Scottish FA's statement on the Big Tax Case.

"Events have festered over six years, creating distrust and a disconnect between supporters, clubs and governing bodies"
Peter Lawwell

Lawwell expressed surprise that the Scottish FA did not intend to take further action. He said that the events had "festered over six years, creating distrust and a disconnect between supporters, clubs and governing bodies" and that Scottish football needed an independent review to provide "closure" and to restore faith in the game's governing bodies.

The letter urged the Scottish FA to join the SPFL in establishing an independent review and said that a narrow focus on disciplinary charges was "missing the point".

Regan replied on August 18, having discussed the matter with the Scottish FA board. The chief executive said that the board believed an independent commission was "unlikely to obtain any more satisfactory closure than currently exists".

Regan said that legal advice taken by the governing body had said that there was "limited chance" of success in any disciplinary proceedings regarding the Big Tax Case. He acknowledged that evidence from the Craig Whyte trial may apply to the findings of the SPL commission carried out by Lord Nimmo Smith but said that was a matter for the league.

He also revealed that the Scottish FA compliance officer would be reviewing the governing body's decision to issue Rangers with a licence to play in European football in 2011.

The letter informed Celtic that the Scottish FA board considered "all the salient issues" to have been addressed. It agreed that events "led to a lack of trust among many of the stakeholders in the game in Scotland" but pointed out changes to Scottish FA procedures and the structure of the organisation in recent years.

"The Scottish FA board considers that all the salient issues have been addressed"
Stewart Regan

Celtic's reply to the letter came on August 21 and reiterated their position. Lawwell said that recent developments meant that a wide review was still the best route to achieve closure and "did not consider that Scottish football, including supporters, will accept a position where that information is not reviewed bu those responsible for governance in Scottish football".

He addressed the legal advice that disciplinary action may not have any success but stated again that "this misses the point" and that a review could allow lessons to be learned. He requested that the Scottish FA reconsider their decision and also agreed to the correspondence being made public.

Regan replied on September 4. He said that the Scottish FA board had discussed the matter again and that it had not "been taken lightly" bu that the decision had not changed.

He said that the "reality" of the situation was that the Big Tax Case verdict at the Supreme Court "signalled closure for many involved in the game". Regan added that "It is hard to believe that a 'wide review', no matter how well intentioned and how wide-ranging, could ever bring closure in the minds of every Scottish football fan and every stakeholder".

"It is hard to believe that a 'wide review', no matter how well intentioned and how wide-ranging, could every bring closure in the minds of every Scottish football fan and every stakeholder"
Stewart Regan

Celtic's reply on September 7 again expressed their disappointment at the governing body's stance, adding that the request from the SPFL for an independent review was on the behalf of "all 42 professional clubs.

The letter said that expecting "closure" to be achieved for everyone was to set a false barrier and that "The purpose of any review is not to satisfy everyone but to establish facts and learn lessons".

Lawwell said that the Scottish FA decision "will inevitably be interpreted as a failure in transparency, accountability and leadership".

He went on to say that Celtic had not been "satisfied" at any stage on the matter of Rangers' UEFA licence in 2011 and had raised concerns repeatedly, along with Celtic shareholders.

Saying that the decision to have the compliance officer review events in light of new information was "only proper" but "What we find incomprehensible is why you refuse to apply the same principle to all the other new information which has emerged within the same period".

"What we find incomprehensible is why you refuse to apply the same principle to all the other new information which has emerged within the same period"
Peter Lawwell

Following the news that the Scottish FA had written to all clubs informing them of the decision, Celtic released a statement publicly criticising the governing body and released this correspondence.

The Scottish FA has yet to make any public comment.

https://stv.tv/sport/football/1397405-celtic-criticise-sfa-for-rejecting-independent-review/ | default

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