MARK McGHEE took a mischievous dig at Rangers last night by claiming he feels “hard done-by” after finishing third in the league to an Ibrox side rewarding players through controversial Employee Benefit Trusts during his first spell as manager of Motherwell.
The Scotland assistant manager made the unprompted remarks, which he later appeared to backtrack from, whilst discussing the pressures that he is currently under at Fir Park to ensure the club remain clear of the relegation zone of the Ladbrokes Premiership.
“That is the pressure on everyone, other than Celtic, probably, regardless of what anyone might do on any given day or in any given season,” he said.
“When I was here (first time), we finished third and we probably should have been second, given what we’ve learned since about Rangers and their methods.
“I feel as though we might have finished second, never mind third, but the rest of us are trying to stay up. In our position at the moment, that’s the only thing we can think about.”
Pushed on just how strongly he feels about that 2007-08 campaign, in which his side finished 26 points behind Rangers, McGhee went on to detail how he missed out on a contractual benefit through coming third rather than second.
He then claimed he was being somewhat flippant and insisted he would now like to have the Ibrox club back in the top flight.
“At the end of the day, it’s straightforward,” he said. “We get bonuses and I get a better bonus in my contract for finishing second than I do for finishing third.
“That season, I only got the bonus for finishing third and I feel hard done by. I also wish that Rangers were back in the league right now and that we were playing them on Saturday.
“I don’t have any problems with them. I’m only being a wee bit facetious.”
Darren O’Dea, the former Celtic player, stated last week that Rangers should be stripped of trophies won between 2001 and 2010 following a Court of Session ruling which stated that wages paid through EBT trusts should have been regarded as taxable earnings.
Celtic, themselves, issued a statement pointing out that they remain surprised over the ruling by a 2013 commission chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith that Rangers gained no competitive sporting advantage over the course of using those payment vehicles.
Dave King, the Rangers chairman, apologised for the use of EBTs back in 2012 before releasing a thunderous statement last week, making it clear that he will not tolerate the retrospective removal of trophies won, but the issue is showing no signs of going away.
McGhee was asked if he feels a degree of frustration as a result of being aware of the millions of pounds were being paid to players and staff through EBTs at that time.
“I think we would all love to do that,” he said. “I would love to be doing it now, but it is not the way we can work.”