A blog post in which I question what Mr Regan had to say about the appeal, and in which I wonder if he may have, through inadvertence, compromised the SFA’s role as an appellate body. Plus discussion regarding Boycott.
Things move fast with the Rangers story. Today Mr Regan issued a statement in relation to the disciplinary findings against Mr Whyte and Rangers. I have added some comments which are in bold.
Stewart Regan, Scottish FA Chief Executive: “In light of last night’s outcome from the Judicial Panel Tribunal, it is important to clarify the process through which such cases are heard.
“The Judicial Panel Tribunal is an independent body made up of three members appointed from a list of more than 100.
“The implementation of the Judicial Panel process was approved unanimously by all member clubs at last year’s Annual General Meeting to bring efficiency, transparency and independence to the execution of football rules.
“The Scottish FA acted on the advice of our members to implement a robust disciplinary system that reflected the demands of the modern game.
“The sanctions imposed by the Judicial Panel Tribunal last night are subject to appeal. As the Scottish FA is the appellate body, it is inappropriate to discuss the findings of this particular Tribunal at this stage. “
All good stuff so far. One can’t fault any of it. And Mr Regan is quite right to say that, as the SFA is the appellate body, he can’t say any more about this case.
“I can fully understand the fear and frustration felt by all Rangers fans throughout the most difficult period in the club’s history.
Wait a minute – why is he talking about the fear and frustration felt by Rangers fans. Is he not heading toward talking about the tribunal? I am sure le will move on to something else.
“The Scottish FA has a responsibility to all its members and must implement its rules without fear or favour.
“It was entirely right that the original inquiry into Rangers FC and Craig Whyte was conducted independently and chaired by the Right Honourable Lord Nimmo Smith. These findings were presented to the Judicial Panel Tribunal, who returned their verdict last night.
That is ok. He is back on the rails. I thought he would say something that might compromise the appeal process, but I think he stopped in time. The last thing he needs is for the SFA to be accused by Rangers or Mr Whyte of having made up its mind prior to the appeal, or to have fettered its discretion.
“We have noted the comments of Craig Whyte, which merely reaffirm his failure to accept any responsibility for the condition the club currently finds itself in. Suffice to say, he has been selective in his use of facts. We attended a meeting at the request of Ali Russell and provided no assurances to Mr Whyte in respect of his status as a director of the club.
“Indeed, we have documented evidence of our raising concern over Mr Whyte’s business practices to Collyer Bristow, from October last year until the week prior to the club entering administration. Since then, I have been involved in regular discussions with the club, the administrators, Duff and Phelps, and various interested parties, along with the Board, to provide guidance, support and information. Clearly, we are responsible for governing the game and have initiated, through an Independent Inquiry, parallel disciplinary proceedings.
Mr Regan, you said you would not talk about this Tribunal! Now you are regaling us with evidence in the case. What if Mr Whyte chooses, despite all appearances to the contrary, to appeal? Your comments suggest a certain closed mindedness as regards Mr Whyte. Even though he has clearly annoyed you, you should not make that clear!
In addition, if he had passed the matter to solicitors, then is it Mr Whyte’s fault if they delay in replying? Might that be a question for an appeal? Could you have been a bit unwise Mr Regan in mentioning this at all?
“It is important the Scottish FA, as the governing body, works in association with the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League to reinvigorate the national sport.
“Rangers have been part of the fabric of Scottish football’s history and are integral to its future prosperity.
Mr Regan. Your Association is, I believe, the appellate body for this Tribunal. It is also the body which decides on membership of itself. If a newco arises from the ashes of Rangers, the SFA needs to decide if it should be admitted. Finally, if the SPL investigation into illegal payments and dual contracts ever finishes, as you have said, the SFA acts as an appellate body.
Standing that one of the penalties open to the SFA for punishment of Rangers is expulsion from Scottish football, is it wise to make comments about the team being integral to the future prosperity of Scottish football?
An impartial observer might view that as a determination by the Chief Executive of the SFA that Rangers’ importance to the future financial prosperity of Scottish football was more important than their expulsion, depending on the outcome of the remaining disciplinary matters.
I am sure you did not intend to fetter your discretion and that of the SFA in that way. Presumably you have been misquoted by the SFA website.
“The Scottish FA must act with integrity and with the best interests of the game at heart. It is with this in mind that we await any appeal from the club.”
Both the SFA Judicial Panel Protocol, the founding principles of which are below, and the Memorandum of Association make clear that, along with integrity and the interests of Scottish football, the SFA is obliged to follow and apply the rules, and to deal fairly with breaches thereof.
Perhaps it might have been wiser to stay quiet for a few days?
I suspect you might view this as unfair criticism, especially at the same time as you are being accused by Rangers fans of conspiring to destroy Rangers and all it stands for.
You might feel that you cannot win – you are accused of exhibiting bias towards Rangers and against it at the same time. The problem is that opinions in Scottish football are so polarised that “if you are not with us, you are against us”, seems to be the motto.
As a man with connections to Yorkshire cricket, you might find the situation here reminiscent of the various troubles Yorkshire CCC experienced in the 1970’s and 1980’s over the role of Geoffrey Boycott. There was no middle ground with Mr Boycott, and the same applies in Scotland when it comes to Rangers. (For the avoidance of doubt, I have always been a huge fan of Mr Boycott).
Finally, bearing in mind some of the threats being voiced by Rangers fans, I probably should not mention the word “boycott”!
Posted by Paul McConville
Addendum – From the SFA Judicial Panel Protocol
2. Founding Principles
2.1 The “Founding Principles” in this Section 2 shall underlie the interpretation and application of this Protocol. In the event of a conflict between a particular provision of the Protocol and the Founding Principles, the particular provision of the Protocol will prevail.
2.2 Principle 1 – Economic and expeditious justice.
The objective of the Protocol is to secure the Determination of disciplinary proceedings arising in respect of Association Football and that decisions are made economically and expeditiously in a fair manner. Tribunals appointed from the Judicial Panel may impose reasonable procedural requirements on Parties to ensure that matters are dealt with economically and expeditiously.
2.3 Principle 2 – Decision making in a civil and footballing context.
Whilst adhering to the general principles of fairness, and where appropriate, with consideration of underlying principles of law, those submitting to this Protocol acknowledge that these provisions relate to the Determination of matters arising from any breach of the Articles and/or the Disciplinary Rules, which govern the operation of Association Football in Scotland in a civil context, and that Tribunals may make appropriate Determinations in that civil and footballing context.