A colleague of mine in the NUJ who works in PR was explaining some of the basic rules of his craft to me.
“When you are trying to kill a story you must avoid being tied down on something specific, a fact or a detail that will give it another lease of life for a reporter who is digging.”
Stewart Regan of the SFA has had a little local difficulty recently when he received a letter with 1200 signatories asking him for some facts about the granting of a UEFA licence to Rangers this season.
The SFA chief has tried to put out the flames by tweeting that the bill had not crystallised and that it was perfectly ok to grant a UEFA licence to Rangers.
There are two ways that a bill from HMRC crystallises.
(1) The recipient of the assessment agrees with HMRC that they do indeed owe that amount.
(2) A First Tier Tax Tribunal finds in HMRC’s favour.
There are various ways that the taxpayer can agree with HMRC. I have reason to believe that this bill crystallised over a number of communications between HMRC staff and senior personnel at Rangers FC.
It is of course this “wee tax bill” of £2.8million that led to Sheriff Officers being at Ibrox last August that is at dispute here.
The key question in this story is “when did that tax bill crystallise?”
If it was before March 31st 2011 then the SFA should not have granted Rangers a licence to play in UEFA controlled competitions for season 2011/2012.
If Stewart Regan is certain that the bill had crystallised AFTER March 31st 2011 and he knows WHEN that happened then all he has to do is publish that date.
He could even Tweet it…
However that course of action might present him with a problem if my sources at Edmiston drive (the ones who told me that the Sheriff’s men were on the way) have a different recollection of events.
The date of the crystallisation of the “wee tax bill” is the key detail.
However, that sort of detail is exactly what my PR colleague was warning against if you want to story to go away.
I don’t know if it will be a leaked document or a pesky email that will break this story, but this reporter hasn’t put his spade down.