The Rangers Charity Foundation (RCF), established in 2002, has since then a proud record of helping many charitable causes.
The charity’s own website details many of these admirable activities.
The Scottish Charity Register entry for the RCF records the object and purposes of the charity.
Its object is as follows:-
“The Trustees shall hold the Trust Fund and the income of it to pay and apply the same to or for the benefit of or in furtherance of such purposes, objects or institutions charitable in law and in such proportions and manner as the Trustees shall think fit. In exercising their discretion in terms of this Clause the Trustees shall give primary consideration to the wishes of those persons who gift or lend funds to the Foundation but this proviso shall impose no binding obligation on the Trustees.”
According to the RCF website, the Trustees are Craig Whyte, Martin Bain, John Greig and Jacqueline Gourlay. The website may not be up to date. Mr Bain is of course suing Rangers for breach of contract caused by Mr Whyte’s ill-guarded public comments. Mr Greig resigned as a Director of the football club, complaining about a lack of involvement and transparency. Any meetings of the Trustees might have had just a touch of an unpleasant atmosphere, although I am sure the professionals round the table would put personal differences aside for the goals of the charity.
These issues have not stopped the RCF continuing to support its purposes, which are, as recorded in the Register and on the RCF website:-
- Prevention or Relief of Poverty
- Advancement of Education
- Advancement of Health
- Advancement of Citizenship or Community Development
- Promotion of Equality and Diversity
- Relief of Those in Need By Reason of Age, Ill Health, Disability, Financial Hardship or Other Disadvantage
Over the last seven years, the RCF’s income has totalled in excess of £1.9 million, much of which has gone out to support a whole range of worthy and deserving projects, both in the local area surrounding Ibrox, and wider afield too.
As the RCF website records:-
“The Rangers Charity Foundation (Scottish Charity Number SC033287) exists to bring Club, supporters, staff and players together in a unique way to help make the world of difference to thousands of lives through a range of charitable work. Being a champion of charitable giving is our goal, and since our creation in 2002 we have donated over £910,000 in cash awards and over £1,423,000 of in-kind support to hundreds of groups and individuals, making a combined total of over £2.3 million.”
For this season the RCF’s focus is as follows:-
“For Season 2011/12 the Rangers Charity Foundation worked with Community Partner Erskine, National Charity Partner The Prostate Cancer Charity and International Partner, UNICEF to deliver significant projects that provide a lasting legacy and make a real difference where support is needed most. For the Foundation, working with each organisation to really understand and support their key aims and objectives is as important as fundraising and handing over a cheque at the end of the relationship.”
The Rangers Charity Foundation is a very good thing, which has done many good works.The charity, whilst clearly being very closely linked to the football club is a distinct and separate entity.
Even amidst the troubles at Rangers FC, the RCF continues, and a glamour friendly match had been arranged to take place on 30th March at Ibrox between the Rangers Legends and the AC Milan Glorie.
“THE RANGERS CHARITY FOUNDATION can confirm that Paul Gascoigne will pull on a light blue jersey again to face AC Milan Glorie at Ibrox Stadium…But Gazza’s decision to pull on his boots again is a massive coup for the Rangers Charity Foundation and the AC Milan Foundation as both will benefit from the funds raised from the Legends game and dinner…Adult tickets cost £10 each, with concession / children’s tickets costing £5 each.”
The header on that piece is as shown below.
The RCF page with that story on it has the following picture. You can see what has disappeared, as is made clear in the text.
This states as follows (extracts only):-
“Rangers Football Club has confirmed the glamour legends friendly with AC Milan Glorie at Ibrox Stadium on Friday 30 March 2012 will go ahead with revenue from the match being split between the Club, the Rangers Charity Foundation and the AC Milan Foundation.
The Rangers Charity Foundation has offered to forego the majority of its share of the proceeds following the crucial support the charity has received from the Club over the last 10 years and funds raised will help secure the future of the Rangers, which is vital at this time.
Tickets go on sale to season ticket holders from Tuesday, 28 February with a public sale the following Monday and can be purchased on-line by clicking here. Tickets are priced £12 for adults, £8 for concessions and £6 for children…
Rangers Manager Ally McCoist commented: “It is a tremendous gesture by the Rangers Charity Foundation to forego the majority of the proceeds of the legends match to benefit the Club…”
Connal Cochrane, Manager of the Rangers Charity Foundation, said: “The Club and the Rangers fans have been tremendous to the Foundation over the last 10 years and now it is our turn to stand alongside them and Step Up For Rangers.
“The Rangers Charity Foundation suggested the Club should now benefit from the match and we were delighted that the AC Milan Foundation agreed.
“The Foundation has received unparalleled support from Rangers over the last 10 years and many thousands of lives have been improved in Scotland and beyond because of the Club’s support for our work.”
Legendary Manager Walter Smith commented: “The most important thing about the game is it will bring in money for the Club, the Rangers Charity Foundation and the AC Milan Foundation…
Paul Clark, joint administrator at Duff & Phelps, said: “The fans have been absolutely tremendous and we are encouraged by their reaction to the Club’s current situation.
“It goes without saying, it is absolutely vital to the administration process that fans continue to support the Club directly by coming to Ibrox. Right now, it is quite simple – income generated now will help secure the future of Rangers.”
(All emphases added)
Now I may be wrong, but it looks to me as if the RCF has decided to give a lot of money back to Rangers – “the majority of the proceeds” being the phrase used.
That looks to be very admirable, but is, I think, unlawful.
Let’s go back to the Object of the Trust. It is to use funds “for the benefit of or in furtherance of such purposes, objects or institutions charitable in law”. (Emphases added)
Is it a matter deemed by law to be charitable to give the proceeds of a charity match to a commercial organisation as, effectively, a donation!
I do not think that the RCF is acting in accordance with its purposes, unless a very broad brush is applied as regards “Relief of Those in Need By Reason of … Financial Hardship”.
There is no doubt from all of the quotes above that, effectively, this match has now turned into a fundraiser for Rangers Football Club PLC (In Administration).
I am not surprised that Messrs McCoist and Smith are singing the praises of the match, and the idea that this will assist Rangers. After all, they are not experts in the rules of charities, I suspect.
However, the fact that both the manager of RCF and the joint administrator are in favour seems to me to be rather odd. Surely both of them would have the requisite knowledge, or at worst access to advice.
It is also of interest how the RCF Trustees arrived at their decision to change the purpose of the funds collected at this game.
One assumes that the effect of this decision is to reduce the sums payable to the three charitable partners of RCF for this season – Erskine Hospital, The Prostate Cancer Charity and UNESCO.
It is for others to argue the morality of a charity, even one as closely connected to Rangers as RCF, deciding to donate some of its funds to assist a private business which is in administration, caused by years of over spending, alleged financial mismanagement, and facing an enormous tax bill, as a result of what may well be ruled an illegal tax reduction scheme.
As far as the legality of the move goes, it seems entirely wrong (a) that the Trustees of RCF have decided to do this and (b) that the administrator is welcoming the move.
One wonders of the administrators have already told RCF that the charge for using Ibrox for the game has increased. When first announced, tickets were to be £10 for adults and £5 for children and concessions. Now they are stated to be £12 for adults, £8 for concessions and £6 for children.
It may well be that the previous rates would have resulted in a loss for Rangers in staging the game for RCF, and therefore an increase in the ticket price is justified to avoid the administrators incurring net debt, but on top of that to be sharing in the proceeds?
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) publishes guidance for Trustees, as they are the people liable for failures to follow the rules.
That guidance states, at page 11:-
“Charity trustees should carry out their duties in accordance with the specific terms of their
charity’s constitution or governing document. The constitution or governing document will set out
the aims of the charity and the powers it has to act, and will include provisions for how the
charity is to be run.
Charity trustees must ensure that:
• all the activities of the charity fall within the objects, aims or purposes as stated in the
constitution or governing document of the charity
• the charity adheres to the terms of its constitution or governing document
• the charity’s assets are only used for the charitable purposes set out in the constitution or governing document”
At page 25 the guidance states that:-
“If there is evidence of misconduct, OSCR has a statutory duty to act, and will do so according to the principles of good regulatory practice. Quite what happens will depend on the seriousness of the circumstances. OSCR will be proportionate in its approach and offer, where appropriate, compliance support to charity trustees who have difficulties with understanding or fulfilling their obligations.”
It can be a criminal offence for a Trustee to act inappropriately as regards their legal duties.
I am sure that the Trustees of RCF have simply been caught up by the desire to help the body which, after public support, has been its main source of funds since it was founded. The problem is that it appears very suspicious, even if M<r Whyte had no hand in the decision, that the charity of which he is Chairman has agreed to make over a substantial sum, not to a charity but to the business owned 85% by one of Mr Whyte’s companies, and which is presently in administration!
One hopes that no one feels the need to report the matter to the OSCR. Especially where the mistake will have come about through a genuine desire to help Rangers .