(Reuters) – Former champions Rangers will not be stripped of any of their titles after being investigated for undisclosed payments to players and staff from 2000-11, the Scottish Premier League (SPL) said on Thursday.
However, the company (Oldco) that formerly ran the Glasgow club and went into liquidation last year has been fined 250,000 pounds ($378,400).
The fine was imposed on Oldco and will not have any impact on the club or the company currently in charge, Rangers said on their website (www.rangers.co.uk).
It would therefore seem that the fine is highly unlikely to be paid.
The investigation by an independent commission looked into an offshore employee benefits trust (EBT) operated by Rangers that was used to make payments to players and staff in the form of tax-free loans.
"Those side-letter arrangements were required to be disclosed under the rules of the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football Association as forming part of the players’ financial entitlement and as agreements providing for payments to be received by the players," the commission’s ruling said.
"Oldco through its senior management decided that such side-letter arrangements should not be disclosed to the football authorities."
The commission, however, found Rangers did not gain an unfair competitive advantage from the arrangement.
Rangers, who won the SPL title five times while the EBT was running, have had to relaunch from the fourth tier of the Scottish game this season after collapsing with huge debts.
"It is a matter of fact that people within the SPL wanted me, at first, to surrender titles as part of a deal to enable Rangers to play again as a member of the SFA (Scottish FA)," the club’s chief executive Charles Green said in a statement.
"I rejected and resisted that suggestion and today’s decision vindicates the position of the board and the supporters.
"This issue could have and should have been dealt with by the board of the SPL rather than embarking on an unnecessarily grand and expensive process. At the end of the day I am left with the impression this has been much ado about very little and a great waste of energy, time and money," added Green.
"I think I speak for all Rangers fans in saying now, enough is enough. I have said before and will say again it is time everyone moved on."
Rangers are 20 points clear at the top of the fourth tier.
($1 = 0.6608 British pounds)
(Reporting by Alison Wildey in London; editing by Toby Davis)
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