From the Scottish Court Website for Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday 23rd November 2011 – Scroll down to number 26 on the Small Claims Preliminary Hearings and you will find the following –
Fyfe Ireland LLP – v – The Rangers FC Group Fyfe Ireland SA3147/11
This is a Small Claim. The sum sued for can be up to a maximum of £3,000. It is a comedown from the claim of over £1 million lodged by Martin Bain, and the smaller one for several hundred thousand pounds by Donald McIntyre.
Fyfe Ireland is a blue chip Scottish law firm. It carries out all sorts of legal work, but is best known in the commercial, property and corporate fields. Few bills in that area come to such a low figure as £3,000!
The Defender here, unless the Sheriff Court has made a mistake, is NOT the football club, but instead the “parent company” which was incorporated for the purchase of Rangers FC from the Murray Group, and which was formerly called “Wavetower”. Rangers FC Group is Mr Whyte’s company, and has nothing to do with the former management at Ibrox.
Mr Whyte has publicly said that all the bills from the old regime were being looked at prior to payment, thus leading to court actions by Levy & McRae and Capita Trustee Services Limited. This is not one of those. This is a bill for services rendered to Mr Whyte’s company.
I would be astonished if the case actually called on Wednesday. These court lists are made up when the court actions are warranted. Many of the cases on the list will have already resolved by the time the case is scheduled to call, and if so, the case probably would not trouble the court at all.
Procedurally, if Rangers FC Group wanted to defend the action, then they would have needed to lodge a response with the Sheriff Clerk by Wednesday 16th November at the latest. If not, and if there has not been an agreement to settle the case, Fyfe Ireland would obtain a decree against Rangers FC Group.
Bearing in mind that this company is incorporated in England, and apart from owning Rangers FC, probably has no assets in Scotland, enforcement of a decree might be a problem. There are procedures for registering Scottish decrees to enforce them in England but they can be time-consuming. In addition, if Rangers FC is the only “asset” owned by the former Wavetower, then is it actually worth anything!
It is perfectly possible that there is a legitimate dispute about the amount of the bill, or indeed if there is any liability at all. If so, the world (or at least the part of the world in the Small Claims court at Edinburgh on Wednesday) will hear it.
On the other hand, is this simply yet another situation where Mr Whyte, who has already commented, to Tom English in the Scotland on Sunday, that he has lost count of the court actions, simply has taken things to the wire and beyond to avoid paying a debt?
Coming after Ally McCoist was quoted in the newspapers at the weekend saying that Rangers did not need to sell players in the January transfer window, and indeed might be able to bring in new players, it seems incongruous that the parent company has delayed paying a bill which amounts to less than one day’s salary for Allan McGregor!