Neil Doncaster, the Chef Executive of the Scottish Premier League, has talked of the way in which a new club formed after the liquidation of Rangers FC PLC (in administration) could be admitted to the top league.
But to do so would fundamentally alter the nature of Scottish football– and should be opposed by all who value sporting integrity.
Doncaster was quoted as saying he was “baffled” that no one could understand that a Newco and a CVA are in fact pretty much the same thing.
Now, I’m pretty sure that Neil Doncaster knows exactly why a company achieving a CVA – an agreement with its creditors – is not at all the same as a company being liquidated and an entirely new and separate company being formed to buy its assets. He has had legal training after all.
No, this is all an attempt to get around the squaring the circle argument I’ve mentioned several times. A new company has to look new enough to avoid getting landed with the old debts, but at the same time it must appear old enough to retain the history and the honours of Rangers, such as they are.
A totally new club would have no difficulty avoiding any debts or penalties. Why would it be liable for anything to do with a totally different company? But then how could it avoid starting at the bottom of the league structure like all other new clubs?
There is simply no process in place by which a brand new club can join the SPL. Read the rules. Read the football licensing policies. It can’t happen.
On the other hand, if it is argued that this new club deserves a place in the SPL by right, as it is really Rangers in new clothes, how can it walk away from the debts that have been run up?
Doncaster’s solution to this issue seems to be that the new club could be allowed into the SPL if it agrees to some entry conditions. These would not be penalties for the past, you understand – that was all a different club. They would be the price that the new club must pay for being allowed to join the SPL.
What he means in reality is that a new club could be allowed to buy its way into the SPL.
If the new club agrees to, perhaps, a lesser share of revenue and maybe some points deductions over a couple of seasons it could skip the queue of established football clubs that would love to join the SPL. It could avoid the whole tedious gaining promotion business and simply purchase a place in the top division.
Now at this point we more to a franchise model rather than a sporting pyramid one.
In the same manner as so called “expansion” teams in the NFL can buy their way into the league when additional places are created, this new football club could, we are told, simply agree an entry fee and then play in the SPL.
But such a process would fundamentally change the nature of our game. No longer would the top division be made up of the twelve clubs that had earned a right to be there on the basis of their football results. No, it would include a side that was there simply because it was willing to pay the entrance price.
Now introducing such a system would logically lead us to a number of questions.
Could Dundee, or indeed anyone else that fancies it, decide to make a bid to replace another SPL club? What about non league teams? If one of them managed to get itself a rich patron, could it then make an offer? Would the SPL place be up for auction to the highest bidder?
Or would this proposed route exist for one new club and one new club only? In which case the game also changes fundamentally – but in a very different way.
This summer Scottish football will stand at a cusp. A point in history where the future direction of the game will be decided. There are two competing forces in conflict here: sporting integrity and money. And those who run our game must make a choice.
Does our game become one where places in the SPL can be bought and sold?
Or does it reject the new club and set its stall out as a game with sporting integrity at its core?