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Jan 29, 2013

Commission begins Rangers investigation

The independent commission appointed to investigate undisclosed payments made by Rangers to players between 2000 and 2001 has begun hearing evidence.

The panel was convened after a Scottish Premier League investigation, which began before the old Rangers were liquidated and Charles Green's newco established last summer.

If it finds that the Glasgow club broke rules - alleged breaches that are "complicated and serious", according to SPL chief Neil Doncaster - Rangers could be stripped of titles won during that period.

The SPL charge against Rangers is related to rules which say that all payments to players for football activities must be stipulated in contracts registered with them.

But the Glasgow giants, now playing in Scottish Division Three after their restart as a newco, have called for the investigation to be scrapped and say their fans could refuse to attend any away games, depriving other clubs of revenue, if titles are stripped.

They have refused to co-operate with or recognise the investigation.

Doncaster stressed that the panel must be allowed to do its job, adding: "There were allegations that a number of SPL rules were broken over a number of years.

"Those allegations are complicated and are serious. It's for an independent commission to take forward these complex issues and decide whether any SPL rules were in fact broken and, if indeed they were, to decide on any sanction.

"But it's an independent process, and I'm not going to predict when there might be an outcome."

The investigation focuses on arrangements made by an Employee Benefit Trust scheme run by a company belonging to former Rangers owner Sir David 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 have appealed against that decision.

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