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Archive for June, 2012

Hopefully the cryptic title of this blog will lead you to a question: what is the connection between a former football club, a possible future football club and a lizard?

The answer is an obscure one: former US Vice President Elbridge Gerry.

Let me explain. Back in 1812 Gerry was Governor of Massachusetts. He signed a bill into law that redrew the map of electoral districts to suit his own party, taking no account of natural boundaries. The shape of the new Essex County was such a strange one that it was likened to a salamander. No one is quite sure who coined the term, but the Boston Gazette was first to publish a story calling it the Gerry-mander.

The term gerrymander is now in common usage for any attempt to rig a system by changing the structures or rules purely to suit yourself or your side.

And that brings us nicely to Scottish football. But first a quick recap.

We know that Craig Whyte’s Rangers FC PLC (in administration) will not be playing football ever again.

We know that Charles Green’s Sevco 5088 Ltd now owns Ibrox and may soon employ some footballers, or at least Lee McCulloch. And perhaps any other employees of the former Rangers who cannot see that their careers would surely be better served elsewhere.

And we know that Sevco would like to become a football team.

So the initial plan was that Sevco would simply inherit the former Rangers’ Scottish Premier League share and place, and hope that no one noticed any difference. But such a share transfer has to be put to a vote, and so new rules were quickly voted through to allow an entirely new team to apply for an SPL place.

Now it looks like this first attempt at gerrymandering will fail.

The new rules state that 8 clubs must vote in favour of Sevco. Already though statements have been released by the boards of Hearts and Dundee United explaining that they will vote against. They believe that preserving the sporting integrity of our game is much more important than Sevco. Celtic and Hibs have also come to the same conclusion while Motherwell, Aberdeen and St Johnstone are also thought likely to vote against.

This leaves Sevco dead in the water. So the SPL would then need to bring in a team from the Scottish Football League to become its Club 12. And the knock on effect would be a vacancy in the bottom division of the SFL, which the new club Sevco could then apply to fill. In competition with any other club that applied of course.

The rules of football simply don’t allow any other conclusion. The separate structures of the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League offer no other solutions to the apparent problem of where the new club could be fitted in. This is only a problem to those who feel it merits some special attention, of course.

So now here comes the second, and much bigger, attempt at gerrymandering. Never mind playing around with the rules. Let’s just restructure the whole of Scottish football so that a higher place can be found for Sevco.

No, this isn’t another scare story. Like RFC into administration, RFC into liquidation and Sevco to lose the SPL vote this really is happening. Once more it is intended that the fix will be in.

Newspaper reports tell us that the leaders of Scottish football’s various governing bodies spent six hours debating a possible more towards a united league structure. In the interim however, this would mean starting next season with two SPL divisions and two SFL divisions. And so a new club would be required to make up the numbers in SPL2.

In other words, the game would be gerrymandered to allow Sevco to join in the second tier rather than the fourth tier of the game.

Now I actually agree that merging the two league bodies into one is the correct way to go. Henry McLeish recommended this in his far reaching report into the future of Scottish football – in December 2010. And we haven’t heard anything of the idea since, so why now?

Reconstruction should be done in a considered and careful manner over a period of time, not rushed through in some half assed attempt to have a halfway house in place as soon as possible – and all purely for the benefit of a team that doesn’t actually exist yet.

I’ve been arguing throughout the saga of Rangers’ long death that there is only one place a new club can be allowed to join the league structures, and that’s at the bottom. Precedent supports this: every other new club has come into the fourth tier. Not one has started its footballing life anywhere else. And basic fairness would indicate that a brand new club should not get any preference over the existing ones in the game.

The next big question therefore is this: if it is wrong for the new club Sevco to join the top division of Scottish football, what is the case for its joining in the second tier?

The other eleven clubs in the top flight of the game are making clear that they will take a stand. They will put sporting integrity, where the only way to advance is by winning football matches, first. They will resist attempts to buy a place or to bully others into conceding one.

So why should clubs lower down the footballing structure take a different view?

The argument, it seems, is a financial one. The game, we are told, needs Sevco and its supposed economic power. If it takes a wholesale restructuring of football to achieve this, we are all just supposed to accept that it is worth it.

It’s the same argument that was intended to compel SPL clubs to let Sevco join. And they saw straight through it – so why should SFL clubs not do exactly the same?

Bear in mind that it is now late June. The 2012/ 13 season is due to kick off in just a few weeks. Is it feasible that a new structure can be created, the relevant votes taken and won, and Sevco admitted so quickly? And that’s before we take into account any legal fallout that may still affect Sevco from the whole Rangers saga. Not to mention the outstanding disciplinary processes that have been paused. There is a great deal still to happen.

It is becoming more and more likely that the possibility of Sevco not having a league to play in come the start of next season is increasing on a daily basis.

Quite where that would leave owner Charles Green and his investors is anyone’s guess.

 

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500 Not Out!

It’s a more than a couple of years now since I started up a blog. Inflicting your thoughts on the world in this manner is a relatively new phenomenon but as everyone else seemed to be doing it, I thought I may as well join in. And I kept going.

So welcome to blog number 500!

In the past 499 blogs I’ve covered many of my favourite subjects: sports and music, politics and mental health issues. And the surprising thing is that people like you regularly read what I have to say.

In total, WordPress’s excellent stats facility tells me that my articles have been read about 119,000 times in total. That’s an average of around 240 reads per article. And it seems that around 140 people will read an article on my blog every day. 5,000 per month us about average at the moment.

Of course the numbers vary daily depending on what I write about. And readership understandably dropped during the three months or so that I was ill and didn’t write anything at all.

In recent times my blogs on the demise of the former Rangers Football Club PLC in administration) have proven to be particularly popular, with several achieving over 1,000 views in a day. I guess bad news really does sell – particularly amongst those who don’t see it as bad news!

My blog has been viewed in 99 different countries to date. Not surprisingly the UK, the USA and Ireland are topping the list, but for some reason I also seem to have regular readers in Iceland, Thailand and India. And I’ve even managed to reach Vietnam and China, which is nice.

As well as those who follow my blog and receive notice of new posts directly (and thanks to you all!), a large number of visitors come from Facebook and Twitter, and many come from other sites that have links in place permanently or who take a particular liking to an individual article.

Celtic sites are high on the list of referrers – Celtic Quick News, Celtic News Now, Kerrydale Street and Celtic Minded among them. But there are political sites there too – Lallands Peat Warrior, Newsnet Scotland and Scottish Round Up have all sent people to my blog.

Thousands also find my writing through search engines. WordPress helpfully lists all of the terms used in these searches, and while many are the obvious footballing and musical ones, there are some strange searches in there too.

Some relate directly to particular blogs I’ve written. How much pocket money to give children seems to be a common search, as do various republican and anti-royalist terms. Some interesting combinations used include “coalition, Thatcherite” and “MPs, convictions”.

I’ve written a fair bit about bipolar disorder and so quite a few folk find my sites by googling celebrities’ names in connection to the condition. Johnny Cash comes up quite often, and I’ve often wondered myself. But the one that surprised me most was “Is John Major bipolar”? Now if you can think of anyone less likely to suffer from extreme mood swings then let me know!

On a sad note, the individual article that has been viewed the most times is one I wrote when I lost a good friend, Steve Reynolds or Pablophanque as many knew him. That’s a tribute to how many people marked his passing and still miss the man.

So, 500 blogs and still going strong. Who would have thought it? I’ll keep writing as long as folk keep reading – I’m never short of something to say! With Scottish football in a turbulent state and a referendum campaign just starting I won’t be short of subjects.

My thanks to everyone who has read my blog. I know the totals are probably small in comparison to those that some other sites get these days, but it’s kind of gratifying to know that my articles have been read almost 120,000 times in total!

 

 

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After the group stages of Euro 2012 we have lost both of the host countries as well as Holland and many people’s dark horses Russia – but there is no outstanding favourite to win the tournament. Many of the top teams have made it through to the knock out stages, along with a former winner who know how to win as an underdog in Greece. But while there have been a few decent games the tournament has not really taken off as yet.

Group A started well for Russia, who looked very good in beating the Czechs 4-1. Who would have thought at that stage that the team to go through from the pair would be the Czech Republic? But for the Russians, a draw with Poland and then defeat to Greece in a game they dominated without scoring sent them home. Poland also found themselves going out after two draws and a defeat. The unfancied Greeks once more made their way through to the knock out stages in dour style with four points from nine.

In Group B, the Germans came through with three wins, although were not at their fluent best. The other favourites in the section Holland imploded, beaten in all three matches and losing out in the final decider to Portugal. Outsiders Denmark came close but ultimately failed to qualify.

Group C saw Spain top the table as expected, although they were well below their normal scintillating form. Italy edged out Croatia for the second spot, while the Irish failed to win a game and finished pointless. But their fans will surely win any awards going for their tremendous support of their side.

England managed to win Group D playing exactly as expected: difficult to beat but with little flair. A draw against France and victories over Sweden and Ukraine saw them comfortably through. France will join them in the quarter finals despite defeat against Sweden. The high point for the Ukrainian co-hosts was a win over Sweden with two goals from national hero Andriy Shevchenko.

In the race to become top scorer there are three players who scored three times in the opening three games: Mario Gomes of Germany and two players who are already on the way home, Alan Dzagoev of Russia and Mario Mandzukic of Croatia. Several players have two goals, including Fernando Torres and Cesc Frabregas of Spain.

So now we move from group play to knock out football. Portugal and the Czech Republic clash in the first match, with the Portuguese probably slight favourites and I think they will have enough class to make it through.

Germany take on Greece in a clash that will be interesting given the economic background in Europe at the moment. On the field I expect Germany to be as dominant as they are in financial terms, and the Greek FA will save on any further hotel bills.

Spain will play France in the third match. France have not looked great, while Spain, as many thought they might, have lacked a cutting edge. Still, when you play with six midfielders and no strikers, what do you expect? Spain should win this one, and will hopefully rediscover the flair that often makes them such a fine team to watch.

And finally England will play Italy. Two well organised sides, strong in defence. It has a draw, extra time and probably penalties written all over it. Neither team has excited so far and I can see this one being a rather dull affair. And I have a feeling that England might just steal it.

So that would give a final four of Spain v Portugal and Germany v England. Now those would be games to savour – although I stand by my pre tournament prediction of a Spain v Germany final.

Knock out football can sometimes free teams up after the permutations of the group stage, and I hope that we see more attacking football in the latter part of the tournament.

Still, it keeps us football fans busy during June when there’s not a lot else happening, doesn’t it?

 

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On July 4 2012 the members of the Scottish Premier League will decide whether Charles Green’s Sevco 5088 Ltd (trading as The Rangers Football Club) can join Scotland’s top football division.

Should eight or more of the twelve current members (I’ll come back to that one) vote in favour, football in Scotland will cease to be a purely sporting endeavour. For the first time ever a club will have been admitted to the top division for reasons other than its results on the football pitch.

Put very simply, financial considerations will have won over sporting integrity.

The story of how we have reached this stage is long and complicated. There have been many players in the drama that led to the death of Rangers Football Club PLC (in administration) as a football club. Throughout this saga football fans have learned to use the language of business rather than of sport. CVAs and administration are now discussed as routinely as the relevance of the 4-4-2 formation in the modern game.

So where do we stand right now?

Firstly, we should note that Rangers is not yet dead. On life support perhaps, but still breathing. The club is still technically in administration, as the liquidation process has yet to begin. Only once that is completed will the club be wound up.

We should note that a whole host of investigations and hearings into the conduct of Rangers remain in progress. The Big Tax Case, the SPL inquiry into payments to players outwith their submitted contracts, the Appelate Tribunal which has yet to reconvene to reconsider its decision to impose a transfer ban and so on.

But for now Rangers remains alive as a legal entity. And it is still a member of the Scottish Premier League. Bizarrely, this former football club, which has sold off its stadium and its training ground, whose players will surely soon be transferred to another club or walk away as free agents, remains an SPL member. That means it will be allowed to vote on its successor.

Now my view is that this is crazy.

Rangers is no longer a football club and is surely no longer eligible for SPL membership. Why would it wish to give away its SPL share unless it had no intention of ever playing football again? And so the SPL should now remove its membership, leaving the 11 clubs that will play in the league next season to decide who Club 12 should be.

Charles Green’s Sevco 5088 is a new company that wants to run a new club. It now owns Ibrox and Murray Park, and may soon inherit some football players.  It is not Rangers, whatever it might decide to call itself. That’s why it needs the SPL’s permission for a share transfer before it can join. After all, there was no transfer vote when ownership of the former Rangers changed from David Murray’s company to Craig Whyte’s company, was there?

But every other new club that has ever come into the SPL has done so by footballing means. It has earned its place on the football field by winning promotion from the First Division. That’s the established way of doing things. So why then should some sort of special case be made for Sevco 5088?

Now I’ve used the phrase ‘squaring the circle’ several times in past discussions. And that is exactly what is being attempted here.

Because the only argument that Sevoc 5088 has made for SPL membership is that it is really a “reincarnated Rangers”. And it believes that gives it the right to a place at the top table because of its inherited history and its future financial clout.

But ask Mr Green if his “reincarnated Rangers” is liable for debts and the misdeeds of the old Rangers, and I’m sure he will tell you that you cannot punish a new company for the actions of an old and legally separate one.

Now I believe that the latter position is correct. Sevco 5088 Ltd is new and is not Rangers. And so it should attempt to follow the route into Scottish football that every other new club has – starting from the bottom rather than the top.

There is, quite simply, no sporting argument for a new club to join the SPL. But is there a financial one? Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston stated in May that, “clubs are mindful of a sporting integrity aspect but the commercial benefits may outweigh that.”

Now at the time he was talking about a Bill Miller owned Rangers rather than a Charles Green owned Sevco 5088, but I’m sure that he and other SPL chairmen are making similar calculations right now.

For other SPL clubs, life is tough. Arguably it would have been easier had they not being trying to compete against a club that didn’t pay tax, but that’s in the past. Looking forward, SPL chairmen have to find a way to balance the books to ensure that their clubs don’t end up in the same financial mess as the former Rangers.

So, if we assume that the new Sevco would attract the majority of the old Rangers fan base, other clubs could expect good home gates against them. More than a match against an alternative Club 12 (Dundee or Dunfermline)? Certainly. Although Dundee United could expect healthy attendances for a derby match.

Would there be an impact on TV money? We don’t know for definite, but it would be reasonable to assume that broadcasters would look to renegotiate. If their viewing figures go down then payments to Scottish football could be expected to go down too.

So our SPL chairman could expect a drop in ticket money and a drop in tv money if they vote against Sevco 5088’s application.

But, on the other hand, being seen to support this exceptional entry to the league could have an impact too. Many football fans have stated that they would not attend matches in a league where sporting integrity means nothing. So that has to be factored into the equation.

And there are potential gains in a league without Sevco 5088 too. If we assume that this new club would have the money invested to attract high quality players, then the chances of footballing success would be high. Would clubs that might expect to be in a relegation battle next season not rather have a smaller club in the league instead? One that they had more chance of finishing above?

For some clubs this would mean a greater chance of staying in the SPL and reaping greater financial rewards for years to come. For others it would mean higher final league placings and therefore more prize money. One additional club each year would gain entry to European competitions, meaning great financial reward. And their chances of good cup runs would be increased too.

All of this means the potential for greater success on the park. And successful teams always attract greater attendances that unsuccessful ones.

So there are potentially great financial gains for our SPL chairmen to consider as well as the losses.

When it comes to the vote on 4 July the future of Scottish football will be decided. In an ideal world sporting integrity would be the only consideration and all clubs would vote against the parachuting in of a new club.

But if they do let financial considerations influence their vote, and in reality we know that most will, then there is still a clear case that a no vote would be in their clubs’ best interests.

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“HMRC has taken the view that the public interest will be better served with the liquidation of The Rangers Football Club plc”

These are the words from a statement by Paul Clark of Duff and Phelps, one of the administrators of Rangers FC PLC (in administration) that spelled the end for the Ibrox club. The widely expected news that the tax authorities would vote against Charles Green’s plan to exit administration through a CVA proposal meant there was nowhere left to go.

Liquidators from accountancy firm BDO will now be appointed to wind up the company after selling off its assets, with a brief of collecting as much money for the many creditors of the club as possible.

Now I was going to try to write a simple factual piece on what to many of us has, for a long time, been the inevitable end to the Rangers story. But I just can’t do it. I have to say it just once:

I told you this would happen!

Way back on 3rd January 2012 in a blog about the year ahead I wrote,” Ally McCoist could go down in history as not only an unsuccessful Rangers manager, but also as the last Rangers manager.”

And on 2nd February 2012, just before the club went into administration. I said, “Rangers Football Club is a dead man walking, just waiting to be put out of its misery.”

So please allow me a moment of gloating now that the death knell has finally sounded. Now that liquidation has been shown to be a reality and not a fantasy. Now that I and other crazy Celtic fans have been shown to be absolutely on the money.

Thank you. So let’s move on. But before looking to the next steps, there is one more part of Paul Clark’s statement that should be considered.

“HMRC consider that the decision will enable a liquidator to instigate a wider investigation into all of the financial affairs and management of the club in recent years and to bring to task those they believe are responsible for its collapse.”

So we now know that not only is Rangers finished but that there will be a full investigation into the gross mismanagement over many years that got it into the state it is right now. And if I was a former Director or senior official of the club I would be very worried right now. I would be expecting some tough questions to be coming my way sometime soon.

In fact, I would not rule out this investigation resulting in criminal proceedings for at least some of those previously involved in running Rangers.

But back to footballing matters.

As expected, a new company is waiting in the wings ready to start a new football club. It currently goes by the name of Sevco 5088. But that will change.

Charles Green believes that this company will now purchase the assets of Rangers FC PLC as the liquidation process unfolds. His new club will then own Ibrox Stadium and (the likely to be renamed) Murray Park. It will apply to the Scottish Premier League to take over Rangers’ SPL place. It all sounds simple.

But there may be a few legal flies in Mr Green’s ointment. The liquidators BDO will probably decide that they can get a better deal for creditors through an open sale of assets than the £5.5M that Green has agreed with Duff and Phelps. The Blue Knights might come back into the picture with an attempt to establish a new club. Craig Whyte may still believe that his charge over the assets should come into play. Director Dave King believes he has some claim too. And Ticketus might also have a part to play.

I believe that a lot of lawyers will make an awful lot of money before this mess is finally resolved.

And there is a great deal more still to unfold in this story. The biggest problem that Mr Green, or indeed anyone else who wants to run a new club, faces is time. It has so much to sort out before it could play football: all of the legal issues, all of the various investigations into contracts and EBTs which will inform a vote on SPL admission, the funding issues, finding new players and all other matter would have to be sorted out quickly.

But one thing is very clear. Rangers FC will cease to exist.

As the BBC put it: “The Rangers Football Club PLC is a public limited company registered in Scotland (company number: SC004276) and was incorporated on 27 May 1899. When the current company is officially liquidated, all of its corporate business history will come to an end.”

Any new club formed will be exactly that: a new entity that will start from scratch with no history and no pedigree. Whether that new club could manage to secure a place in one of Scotland’s football leagues remains to be seen.

But that’s a subject for another day.

 

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It is only a couple of weeks since the Yes Scotland campaign was launched, but the umbrella organisation running the campaign for Scottish independence is already in trouble.

The Scottish Greens have walked away from the grouping, citing the SNP’s reluctance to work with other parties in any meaningful way. Green co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP said, “We can’t just be there to wave the flag for someone else’s campaign. We’re either involved in shaping it or we’re not.”

At the rather shambolic launch of Yes Scotland it was promoted as a broad based campaign for independence run by a number of political parties. But the reality of the fledgling organisation appears to be rather different.

There is no Executive Committee or Steering Group in place to manage the campaign or to make decisions on its direction. The company established to run the group, Yes Scotland Ltd., has a single director, who is an SNP lawyer. Its money comes from the SNP. And day to day operations seem to be under the control of two of Alex Salmond’s former political advisers, Jennifer Dempsie and Stephen Noon, along with Angus Robertson, leader of the SNP’s Westminster group.

The only other party now involved in the campaign is the Scottish Socialists, who also appear to be being sidelined by the SNP.

It is, of course, still early in the campaign, with a referendum not likely to take place until 2014. But that begs the question of why there was such a rush to launch Yes Scotland without taking time to put the appropriate structures in place first.

SNP campaign manager Angus Robertson dismissed the issue. “We in the SNP have been working well with the Greens and others as the Yes Scotland campaign gears up. This will be progressing in the weeks and months ahead as we go from strength to strength,” he told the Sunday Herald.

I’m sure many people will be watching closely to see whether the Yes Scotland campaign really is as inclusive as it has been portrayed, or whether the SNP will continue to run it in its own fashion.

And this all comes after the Yes Scotland website proudly displayed as a list of its supporters anyone who had followed the campaign on Facebook or Twitter – including the Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives. A climb down soon followed.

Another gaffe came from Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy Leader of the SNP, who provoked something of a storm on a BBC debate. Sturgeon claimed that an independent Scotland would have the right to nominate a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. This assertion turned out to be nothing more than a vague hope, and has not been agreed by anyone. It was not raised by Sturgeon as a possibility or a negotiating point, but rather as something that would certainly happen, leaving the SNP open to the charge of making it up as they go along.

And yet another interesting issue was flagged up last week during BBC’s Question Time by Alan Cumming. The actor, who spoke at the Yes Scotland launch, stated that Scots would still fly the Union Flag after independence, a position backed on the programme by Alex Neil, the SNP Cabinet minister.

Now, as any school pupil will tell you, the Union Flag is the flag of the United Kingdom and is an amalgam of the flags of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. So it would seem to be logical to infer that should a country withdraw from the United Kingdom it could not use that country’s flag.

How then can it possibly be argued that an independent Scotland could use the Union Flag?

Now in itself this issue is a minor one. There are many far more important questions that the SNP have yet to answer about life in their proposed independent Scotland. But it does expose a growing trend to try to minimise the impact that independence would have – as if they are not confident about being able to win the argument for radical change.

An independent Scotland, we are told, would be ruled by the Queen. It would use the pound sterling as its currency. It would automatically be a member of the European Union. It would retain some sort of “social union” with the other countries of the UK, whatever that means. It would show television programmes like EastEnders and Coronation Street. And now it would use the Union Flag too.

It makes you wonder what the point of independence really is if so little would actually change.

In fact the SNP’s argument is steadily becoming closer to one for a devo max type solution, where the Scottish Parliament has tax raising and spending powers, yet the country remains as part of the United Kingdom.

Could this mean that the SNP actually wants to have a fall back position on the referendum ballot paper in case it cannot win the argument for full independence? Or even that the gradualists within the party would be quite happy to see one more step taken towards independence now rather than risk a defeat that would put their cause back by a generation at least?

With such a long time to go until we are allowed to vote on Scotland’s future there are sure to be many twists and turns during a lengthy referendum campaign. Every word and every policy statement will be poured over as the two sides argue over each point.

But for now it is clear that the pro independence side will have to up its game considerably if it can ever hope to persuade a majority of voters to back it come referendum day.

 

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I’ve written a great deal about the various financial and legal troubles of Rangers FC PLC (in administration) recently. But I have to say I’m now getting bored with the slow death of the club, and wish that someone would just finish the job and get it over and done with, once and for all.

The next few weeks will be crucial, and with a bit of luck will bring it all to a climax, as a number of financial and legal matters are likely to come to a head during June.

Financially, the administration saga has now reached the stage of a CVA being offered to the many creditors. This farce, where no confirmed amount is actually being offered, can only end one way: in rejection. What creditor is going to vote in favour of a proposal with so many holes in it? With so many TBCs where figures should be? Where the sum they would actually receive – after a number of specified delays – would be 9% of the debt owed at the absolute maximum, and in all likelihood much less?

No, the CVA proposal will be rejected. The club will then be liquidated. But unfortunately that isn’t the end of the story.

Remember phoenixing? Newcos and transfer of assets? That will be the next chapter in a story that has more twists than the latest Swedish noir novel.

Charles Green is the next in a long line to make it to the front of the queue. We’ve had Whyte and the Blue Knights, and now it’s Green’s turn. He is either the saviour of the club or another chancer who sees the chance of a quick buck depending on your view. And he hopes he can get his hands on all of the assets of the dying club for just £5.5M.

Yes, that’s the same assets that were routinely valued at over £100M back in the days when Rangers used to produce annual accounts.

These assets (Ibrox, Murray Park and some land around the stadium) are basically only of any use to someone who wants to run a football team. Green’s plan therefore is much like others before him: ditch the debt, start a new club and persuade the SPL to give it the place that used to belong to the old club.

Now that might all work in financial terms. And he could just win the support of the eight clubs required under recently agreed changes to the SPL’s rules. But this is where the legal issues come into play.

The fall out from the club’s recent court action against the SFA will be twofold. Firstly, the Pyrrhic victory that resulted in the original twelve month transfer ban being ruled by Lord Glennie as outside the powers of the SFA’s independent disciplinary process could well lead to a more severe punishment being imposed. And secondly there is likely to be an additional punishment for breaking one of world football’s basic rules: taking a disciplinary matter to the civil courts in the first place.

It was initially thought that a reconvened Appeal Tribunal under Lord Carloway would meet fairly quickly. But as either side has the right of appeal against Lord Glennie’s decision (to reclaim is apparently the Scots law term), it is likely to be a couple of weeks yet.

This meeting will not discuss whether Rangers are guilty of the original charge of bringing the game into disrepute by failing to pay taxes. It will simply decide whether a new punishment should be put in place of the transfer ban.

There are few options available to Lord Carloway and his two colleagues. To reduce the punishment would be perverse and would be seen by the footballing authorities at home and at European and world level to reward the court action. An increase in punishment is the most likely outcome – and this can only mean the expulsion of Rangers from football entirely or a period of suspension.

My view is that a time limited suspension will be the outcome, probably for one season. A suspension for a period other than a full season raises far too many questions about league structures to make it a sensible proposition.

But where would this leave Green’s plans? A club that has been suspended cannot pass its membership to a newco, can it? Surely other SPL clubs would not buy an argument that only the oldco should be punished leaving the newco to play on?

It has been noticeable that other clubs have turned against Rangers since the court action against the SFA. The chairmen of both St Mirren and Inverness have made public statements condemning the club and others must be thinking along the same lines. So it could be that the rejection of a newco comes because of the club’s own actions. That’s a nice irony.

And even of this doesn’t happen, the SFA must also punish the club for breaking rules by taking court action. That’s a whole new disciplinary process.

Then there’s the matter of Employee Benefit Trusts. The result of the so called Big Tax Case appeal is still awaited. But no one expects the club to win and exactly when the result will eventually be announced seems to be the only uncertainty. In financial terms it is almost irrelevant whether an extra £70M or £90M is added to a debt that will never be paid.

But the case leads us to another ongoing legal matter. Solicitors Harper MacLoed, acting on behalf of the SPL, have been investigating for some time now whether payments made to Rangers’ players through EBTs breached football’s registration rules. In brief, these state that all payments made to footballers must be detailed in a contract lodged with the authorities. Payments made over and above this contact, through an EBT for example, would breach the rules.

It appears that administrators Duff and Phelps were rather remiss at supplying the SPL’s solicitors with information, and delays mean that the investigation will not report for some time. If a case is found, and it is hard to believe that it won’t be, a disciplinary hearing will then be arranged.

What would the appropriate penalty for a club found guilty of many years of illegal payments? Surely such a severe infraction of the rules, one which was carried out for in excess of ten years and involved over 50 players, could only result in expulsion from the game?

Taking financial and legal matters together, the key issue now for Rangers FC PLC (in administration) is one of timing. Could all of these matters possibly be resolved in a manner that allows the club to continue to compete in Scotland’s top flight come next season? Frankly I doubt it.

But another irony presents itself. If there were to be no Rangers, old or new, in Scottish football next season then there is the time to kill it off entirely and instead build a genuinely new club. One that does not have the toxic history of the Ibrox club, its years of sectarian employment policies and rioting fans, and that’s even before all of the current financial shenanigans.

A brand new club, starting afresh, properly constituted and managed. Now that could be a solution to this sorry mess that is truly in the best interests of Scottish football.

 

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