Anxious former Rangers stars could be spared from financial ruin after the tax man agreed to write off about £70million of employee benefit trust cash.
The Daily Record can today reveal that a huge cast of Ibrox old boys have been told by HMRC that tens of millions of pounds worth of outstanding penalties and interest accrued on their controversial payment scheme have been cut as part of an agreement with liquidators BDO.
It has been claimed the authorities helped tip the club into the financial meltdown of 2012 by inflating the potential bill for the use of the offshore trust scheme by as much as £50million – creating a liability so crippling that it scared away all potential new owners with the exception of the catastrophic Craig Whyte.
Conflicting claims insist HMRC have made no such admission and have only agreed to adjust their numbers to help smooth through the legal process which began more than four years ago when oldco Rangers went under.
But the news should come as a welcome relief to the long list of EBT recipients who have been told they must only now stump up enough to cover the money the Supreme Court ruled should have been paid in income tax.
It was believed the list – made up of former players, coaches, managers and directors – were being chased for close to £100million.
Now that sum has come down to about £24million.
Former Rangers chairman Sir David Murray championed the EBT scheme between 2001 and 2009, paying out £47.6million to staff, players and himself.
Critics say it gave the club a massive advantage over rivals by enabling them to sign players they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford.
Murray rolled the scheme out across the club – from big-name stars such as former captain Barry Ferguson and all-time record £12million signing Tore Andre Flo to managers Dick Advocaat and Alex McLeish.
Murray also received payments to the value of more than £6million, which means he owes £3million in tax.
The taxman started looking into Rangers’ EBTs in 2010, while Murray was looking to sell his controlling interest in the club.
In 2012, new owner Whyte took Rangers into administration after failing to pay a separate £9million in PAYE and National Insurance.