Some Comments on Lord Carloway’s Decision to Uphold the Rangers Signing Embargo

 

The SFA Appeal Panel sat yesterday (Wednesday) and issued its decision last night. The summary can be found here on the SFA website.

 

Once I saw the Judicial Panel verdict, ably crafted by Gary Allan QC, I thought that the prospects of appeal which I had first entertained seemed very slim indeed. Mr Allan’s decision, written as Chairman on behalf of the Panel, was, it seemed to me, legally watertight, and the only real decisions for the Panel had been (1) whether to reject Rangers “appeal to equity” (otherwise known as the ‘come on Gary, gie’s a brekk’ argument) and (2) having found Rangers guilty, what penalty to impose.

 

That view was bolstered by the restrictive terms of the permissible grounds of appeal.

The SFA Judicial Panel Protocol states, at paragraph 12.7:-

 

“Permitted Grounds of Appeal

 

12.7 Subject to Paragraphs 12.5 and 15.7, findings on fact at first instance shall be final and an appeal shall only be permitted on one or more of the following grounds:

 

12.7.1 The tribunal failed to give the Appellant a fair hearing;

 

12.7.2 The tribunal acted outwith its powers;

 

12.7.3 The tribunal issued a Determination which it could not properly have issued on the facts of the case;

 

12.7.4 The sanction(s) imposed by the tribunal was excessive or inappropriate.”

 

Under paragraph 15.6:-

 

Additional powers of Appellate Tribunals

 

15.6.1 The Appellate Tribunal shall have the power to:

 

15.6.1.1 Affirm the decision of the appealed tribunal;

 

15.6.1.2 Uphold the appeal by setting aside the Determination appealed against and quashing any sanction imposed;

 

15.6.1.3 Uphold the appeal in part by setting aside part only of the Determination appealed against;

 

15.6.1.4 Substitute for the Determination appealed against a Determination to find the Appellant to have breached an alternative Disciplinary Rule;

 

15.6.1.5 Order a lesser or an increased sanction to that imposed by the appealed tribunal;

 

15.6.1.6 Refer the case or any part of it back to the tribunal concerned, or to a freshly constituted tribunal;

 

15.6.1.7 Where it conducts a re-hearing, to re-Determine the Case afresh; and/or

 

15.6.1.8 Take any step which, in the exercise of its discretion, the Appellate Tribunal considers it would be appropriate to take in order to deal justly with the case in question.”

 

 

Therefore the Appeal Tribunal, sitting under the Chairmanship of Lord Carloway, had very limited grounds for granting an appeal, but, if it decided to uphold an appeal, wide powers to deal with the matter.

 

The permissible grounds of appeal limited the arguments against the “guilty” verdict. Such an apepal against conviction can only be on the grounds that the appellant did not get a fair hearing, that the tribunal acted ultra vires, or that the verdict was one it could not properly have issued. The last means that only if no reasonable tribunal could have arrived at the same verdict could it have been overturned.

 

The appeal against sentence was more straight forward – arguing that the sanction was excessive or inappropriate.

 

Richard Keen QC, one of the most eminent counsel in Scotland, was instructed by Rangers. He will have given great consideration to what tack to take. However even a man of his expertise was always going to have problems standing Mr Allan’s detailed and thorough analysis.

 

The official Rangers website seemed far more confident, stating on Tuesday:-

“Mr Richard Keen QC has been hired to fight the Ibrox club’s corner after a Judicial Panel took the highly punitive action for “bringing the game into disrepute” at a hearing last month.

The main thrust for reaching this decision was over the non-payment of PAYE and VAT. They judged that although Craig Whyte made this decision, other directors should have known and done something about it.

Rangers put forward a compelling case that Craig Whyte was acting alone and Mr Keen will be reinforcing this view over the appeals process which could last two or three days.”

Whose line was it that a “compelling” case had been put forward – Mr Allan’s judgement does not suggest so. Did Mr Keen sit down with Lindsay Herron to discuss the matter? I suspect not.

 

——————————-

 

I note that a full decision will be issued but I will comment on each of the summary paragraphs as follows.

 

 

1. It was competent for Disciplinary Tribunal to impose the additional sanction of prohibiting registrations of any new players of 18 years or older for a period of 12 months.

 

This suggests an argument that there was no power for the Tribunal to impose such a penalty. However the Articles of Association and Judicial Panel Protocol make clear that the Panel hearing a case has discretion to come up with a penalty which is not specifically mentioned, as long as it does not exceed the maximum. The maximum penalty for a “disrepute” charge is expulsion from the SFA. A lesser penalty by way of a restriction on player registration is clearly intra vires.

 

2. The Disciplinary Tribunal was correct to determine that the conduct involved – especially the deliberate non-payment of very large sums, estimated in excess of £13m of tax in the form of PAYE, NIC and VAT – was attributable to the club as a member of the Scottish FA.

Standing the concession by Rangers that, following Tesco v Nattrass, in law Rangers was responsible for the actings of Mr Whyte, there seemed little prospect of this argument succeeding. This was the point on which the plea to equity was tendered. As I pointed out Rangers, although not complicit as Mr Whyte was, benefited from the withholding of tax. Indeed if not for the £13 million withheld by him, Rangers would have run out of money possibly last year! If the £13 million had been sitting in a bank ready to be handed over to HMRC, then one confirmation that had been done, I suspect Rangers might have been admonished on that charge. However the money was spent on players and the club’s running costs, and no matter what arrangement is arrived at regarding Rangers’ assets, it is clear that HMRC will not recover all of the £13 million, never mind a penny of the Big Tax Case.

Reference by Lord Carloway to “deliberate” non-payment of “very large sums” is not good from Rangers point of view.

 

3. The Disciplinary Tribunal was correct also in holding that the maximum fine available for this breach was £100,000, and on its own was inadequate as a punishment for this misconduct. It was therefore correct to select an additional sanction.

The maximum fine for this charge was £100,000. The Appeal Panel accepts that the maximum fine was insufficient. (A fine of £100,000 for not paying £13 million does seem out of all proportion.) Therefore an additional penalty was needed.

 

4. The sanctions available included expulsion from participation in the game and termination or suspension of membership of the Scottish FA, which would have had a similar effect. The Appellate Tribunal observes that serious consideration was given by the disciplinary tribunal to imposing one of these sanctions, which would have had obvious consequences for the survival of the club. The Disciplinary Tribunal rejected these as too severe and this Appellate Tribunal agrees with that conclusion.

The Appeal Tribunal agreed that expulsion, termination or suspension would have had a similar effect, and as such would in this case have been excessive. However it is noteworthy that the Tribunal clearly gave thought to the severity of the penalty, and as to whether the ultimate sanction was appropriate. The fact that those “terminal “ effects were seriously considered shows how close to being shut down Rangers was.

 

5. Although the Appellate Tribunal has listened carefully to the representations from Rangers FC about the practical effects of the additional sanction, it has concluded that this sanction was proportionate to the breach, dissuasive to others and effective in the context of serious misconduct, bringing the game into disrepute. In particular, the Appellate Tribunal recognises that the Disciplinary Tribunal decision does not affect Rangers’ ability to extend the contracts of existing professional players, including those whose contracts will expire at the end of this season and including also those currently on loan to other clubs. The Appellate Tribunal observes that Rangers FC have over 40 professional players in this category.

The Appeal Tribunal at least got to hear submissions from Rangers regarding sentence! The Judicial Panel had not been made aware of Rangers’ financial circumstances. Clearly Mr Keen QC made an argument to the effect that the penalty itself could be fatal to the club.

 

That has been comprehensively rejected.

 

The Tribunal pointed put that the sanction, serious though it was, was proportionate, a deterrent and a punishment. Some coverage seemed to omit the fact that it was a penalty for wrongdoing and not some arbitrary decision.

 

The offence was heinous and therefore the sanction needed to mark this was severe too.

 

In any event, as the Tribunal noted, Rangers can re-sign existing players and get back loanees. As the summary drolly notes, Rangers have over 40 professional players in the relevant categories.

 

I suspect no other team in Scotland, other than Celtic, has over 40 professionals available for selection. Therefore the penalty is not as draconian as has been made out, but it is intended to be a stiff and severe punishment.

 

 

 

Therefore, the Appellate Tribunal affirms the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal.

 

 

—————————————————–

 

I will write some more about reaction to the decision and what can happen from here soon.

Posted by Paul McConville

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66 Comments

Filed under Football Governance, Rangers, SFA

66 responses to “Some Comments on Lord Carloway’s Decision to Uphold the Rangers Signing Embargo

  1. CE

    Cheers Paul, quick work!

  2. Bob McKay

    No european football for Celtic or Motherwell next season then.
    No bumper sky deal for a league championship decided today by Colin Sutherland who mistakes Rangers fans banter as racism. Impartial? Of course….

    • Bob, dae yersel a favour an git edjucated. Ye really have tae rid yersel o’ this bubblin hate ye have and get real. RFC are cheats and should get the max punishment goin. The best is yet tae come pair soul!

      • deekbhoy

        Bob

        You need to take the blinkers off.

        Fact: It was rangers football club that did not pay what is was due
        Fact: Their actions gained an unfair advantage over other clubs
        Fact : One of the sanctions could and should have been expulsion or suspension from the SFA (and by default the SPL)
        Fact : Rangers got off lightly
        Fact: Under the Companies Act 2006 directors of companies are individually and severally responsible.
        Fact : There was little grounds for appeal and ‘it wisnae us a big boy did it and ran away’ may work in the playground but is no defence.

        Both yourself and other rangers (ia) fans need to face the facts and man up on this. Rangers( ia) has brought this on it self by its actions no-one else. If they had lived within your means,paid their taxes and what was due to others then they would not be in this position.

        Blaming everyone else is the realm of those that cannot face up to what they have done. There has been little contrition on show and any little sympathy has long since evaporated by the actions and utterances of those associated with the club in recent weeks.

        Who knows what the future may bring perhaps a rejuvenated rangers after a spell in the lower leagues may again bring some credit Scottish Football.

        If the BTC shows additional actions that broke the rules and gained further unfair advantage then the correct punishment should be expulsion from the league sine die. Regardless of the consequence to the rest of Scottish Football. Integrity has no price and it only takes good men to do nothing for evil to succeed.

      • Den

        Deekbhoy,

        You have saId it better than I could hope to.

  3. Rangers fans do appear a mite hung up on the wrong people being punished. Whether its the fans themselves, for the offences of the club, or the club for the actions of that lone gunman in the book depository, they are at least consistent in their lack of perspicacity.

    What I find truly revealing is their ability to play both the victim card, whilst asserting that they ARE the establiment (WATP) at the same time. The word bipolar springs to mind.

    Many people, more decent than I, look too kindly on RFC(IA), and are happy for this pariah of an organisation to remain in the Scottish leagues. Given what has transpired, I happily admit that I want that club to expire. By all means accept that enough former RFC people will coalesce around a new club, and may even gain access to the Govan Golden Jubilee Football park, as they surely will. I say give them a fair hearing, when they apply to join the SFA, through the normal channels.

    After all, if sport isn’t about fairness and honest endeavour, then it cannot be considered sport at all.

  4. Richboy

    Another great analysis Paul, can’t wait to hear the rest.

    Having trolled through many of the less savoury blogs today, I find the ignorance of supposed commited football fans very surprising. It appears that to become a “commited” football fan you are simply required to read the Headline and first paragraph of any football story. As we know from the standards of the Scottish press, with some exceptions, this is not adequate (although reading the entire article in some rags is more likely to give you less of the truth than if you hadn’t read the article in the first place).

    The number of fans calling for this committee to be “named and shamed” is ridiculous. Where have they been this last week since the SFA discarded a process, voted and agreed on by all 93 clubs, simply to appease Rangers fans and Ally McCoist.

    The number of posts incorrectly stating the actual process that occurred was wrong, or the tribunals powers were more limited, has been staggering. The most common complaint is that the panel was full of “Rangers Haters” who had it in for them. This does not take into account the fact that the panel are professionals whose very careers and integrity depends on their treating this case in the same way they would treat any other.

    On the other side the unabated joy being screamed by those of a Green persuasion is only stoking the fires.

    Worst of all though is the level of sectarian bile that always emanates from this section of Scottish society when a decision goes against them.

    What saddens me most is that they see life through the love of their club and hatred of the other and, unfortunately, suppose that everyone else is the same as them.

    • GiGi

      The reactions of the Folly Folly brigade remind me of the KKK.
      “We’ll show them what good God fearing christianity means..” as 50 of them, dressed as ghosts beat the crap out of some poor black guy.

      It is entirely the same mentality at work.
      It never occurs to them that the directors of their beloved club have broken just about every rule in the book and a I don’t doubt, some laws too.

      Just step back and look at the evidence guys. When you see the evidence, as often posted on this very site, who does it point towards?

    • Carntyne

      I’m of the green persuasion, and have experienced deep ongoing joy at the travails of Rangers, but I deeply resent the accusation of ‘screaming.’

      I give off a warm rosy glow at the moment, which I don’t see changing anytime soon.

  5. They should have been expelled. They got off lightly first time round. They had the chance to study the 63 pages of the initial report and take its findings to heart. Instead, by having the arrogance to dispute those findings, they have only demonstrated that they are incapable of recognising their wrongdoing and are utterly beyond redemption.

    • They say they’ll seek a judicial review.

      If judicial review sent the case back to the SFA tribunal, agreeing the sanction was not in their remit, they tribunal might then expel Rangers. Would Richard Keen QC want that on his CV?

      • Hugh Jarse

        The sanction was quite clearly within their remit as explained in this article. Lord Carloway is an extremely experienced judge , one of the most senior in Scotland, and his judgement is pretty unequivocal on this matter – as was the original ruling for that matter..

        By all means appeal, seek a judicial review, but don’t expect a different outcome!

      • Marching on Together

        The courts are historically reluctant to enter into disputes of what are private bodies, unless there is clear evidence that the rules were broken. Wide discretion is given by the courts to such private bodies, even those with a semi-public function, in exercising their discretion.

        If Rangers want to spend more money they don’t have enriching more lawyers, then fine. Don’t expect any sympathy when they lose yet again.

  6. jinky67

    Henry..the vast majority of RFC fans won’t read the findings…either of them. They will rely on barrack room lawyers on internet forums (today equivalent of pubs & clubs) and respout anything they hear that paints RFC in the light of being wronged.

    I read the findings on Fri night (I was sober in a hotel room alone!) as I like to be aware of the arguments but couldn’t believe that members of sports comment panels/ journalists hadn’t read them when it is obvious its the only subject in Scottish football!

    They’re getting paid to make comment but don’t do background info….shocking.

    • Littlerabbits

      Never mind the panels & journos not reading it, Ally McCoist hadn’t even glanced at it – there’s a quote from him in the DR where he says “I haven’t had time to read the findings, and I’m sure later I will take in the bullet points, but I totally disagree with the judgement and the penalties handed out.”

  7. Billsy Billsy

    paul,

    A balanced and dispasionate view as ever.

    What puzzles me is the role of D&P in appealling the decision process. It is widely reported that Rangers FC appealed, and McCoist has been a willing figurehead and mouthpiece, the reality however is that D&P are rangers for all intent and purpose.

    It always appeared a longshot that the appeal would succeed, it would be interesting to hear from D&P how they elected to back a slim chance of success versus a not inconsiderable cost. It might appear to outsiders like myself that Rangers with D&P at the helm are currently behaving in a similar fashion to when Whyte was running the show i.e. spending money they haven’t got with complete disregard for stakeholders or other interested parties.

    It struck me as an interesting counterpoint that Clintons Cards (7 days into administration) announced yesterday 2800 job losses, sounds like the administrators are getting stuck in to reduce liabilities and preserve what is viable i.e. doing their job, not just talking about it.

  8. I read this morning that they want to take the appeal further, that (and I quote from what they are reported by the BBC as saying)

    “The decision by the appellate tribunal to uphold the sanction, namely the suspension of registration of players for one year, is not competent in the view of the club and its legal advisers,”

    “Such a sanction was not available to the tribunal and should not have been imposed and it is the intention of the club to challenge the determination.”

    Would they have preferred another sanction that was clearly available, expulsion from the league (The maximum penalty for a “disrepute” charge)? No, they want people to be nice to them. And, think of the poor creditors, they winnae get as much if you … they wouldn’t be in this situation if you had behaved properly in the first place. What penalty would you like? I can see it now. All SFA Tribunals determine punishments based on what the club thinks is a ‘nice’ penalty. “Ally’s nae allowed to buy any sweeties for a month”, perhaps?

    • Angus

      I’ve been thinking about D&P’s claims that they only wanted “clarity and finality”. What better clear and final decision than “right, that’s enough, close the doors”. Are they trying to push someone to close Rangers down so they don’t have the blood on their own hands?

  9. Ferguspuskas

    ……..and so the clamour to stand on the head of a drowning man goes on………..the issue boils down to fairness of punishment as regards the club – as opposed to the two culpable owners. As usual those commenting have partisan views and wish Rangers hammered for reasons unattached to the facts – but it is truly pathetic to watch the SFA in all its forms squirming to appease the hordes whilst saving Rangers in order to bolster the coffers of the member clubs. Sickening. The above is a typical legal establishment analysis that is truly detached from views on a fair and reasonable outcome.

    • Hugh Jarse

      So what’s fair Fergus? Rangers pay a few pence in the pound to the creditors, get off scot free for over a decade of cheating and then carry n regardless? You are the one that is truly detached.

      • Ferguspuskas

        Again you miss the point – the club can’t culpable for the actions of single autocratic owners – the solution would be to ensure that clubs are run as clubs by members such that they cannot be run at the whim of one individual for their egotistical benefits – but that leaves out the possibility of investment to make clubs successful – particularly outwith our own parochial boundaries. And lets be honest the current system leaves a club open to asset stripping very easily – the SFA should get some competent individuals and set about a proper constitution – in ADVANCE of such issues arising.

      • Hugh Jarse

        No Fergus you miss the point which is that the legal entity that is the Club is culpable for the actions of its directors and employees. This is the law of the land. They broke it and they must face the consequences. If in addition some of those individuals face further charges then all the better.

      • Hugh Jarse

        I am also taken by the irony that Rangers are so willing to deny HER MAJESTY’S Revenue and Customs their rightful due.

        Not very Loyal is it 😉

      • deekbhoy

        Fergus you are missing the point.

        Yes they are responsible in their duties and responsibilities as the directors of the club.

        Even if were to accept your point and ignore the club as being the legal entity and that all the directors have duties and responsibilities to that entity that they neglected. The two individuals were the majority shareholders and as such were the club.
        The financial doping that they undertook as far as I am aware was not for their personal benefit but was for the benefit of the club. It was the club who gained unfair advantage by this cheating. Therefore the club has to accept the penalty.

        Of course there may be allegations that the owners (and directors) in some instances acted unlawful or illegally and if that is the case then they may very well be pursued personally.

    • FergusPuskas –
      The club benefited from its owners’ conduct for a considerable period of time and the club’s supporters, acting as individuals, did not object when things were apparently going well for the club.

      Criticism of the club’s owner was met with scorn and defiance on the part of the supporters of the club (acting as individuals) and those same supporters (acting as individuals) stood four-square behind the club’s boycott of the BBC in the aftermath of the Mark Daly documentary which warned the club’s supporters about the actions of an individual called Craig Whyte.

      If the club had paid its taxes it would have run out of money long before the season finished. The club would then have been unable to fulfil its fixtures. The club would have been expelled from the league there and then. Instead, the club continued until the end of the season, regularly fielding players whose transfer fees had not been paid by the club.

      More than two hundred and seventy individual creditors will never receive the money which is owed to them by the club. Meanwhile, the supporters of the club (acting as individuals) have indulged themselves in declarations of undying loyalty to this same club. Tens of thousands of supporters (acting as individuals) have protested against the implementation of the rules of the SFA and the SFL. The manager of the club has condemned the findings of an independent tribunal, chaired by one of the most eminent legal authorities in the land. The club’s official spokesmen have issued not one single word of apology or remorse for the damage which the club has done to the reputation of Scottish football.

      The club’s supporters rejoiced exceedingly with great joy when the club was sitting fifteen points clear at the top of the table last November (because of the actions of individuals). The club basked in the satisfaction of winning the season’s first encounter against Celtic in a victory which was secured through the actions of individuals.

      The club finished as league runners-up (because of the actions of individuals) which means that the club is in line to receive far more prize money than any other club (apart from the champions.) The differential between the prize money for second and third place is a seven-figure sum and yet the club is complaining about a fine of £160,000. The club is still behind with its transfer fee payments for several of its players and yet the club whinges about not being allowed to add even more acquisitions to its squad of forty players.

      Are you beginning to see why the club deserves to be punished?

      • Ferguspuskas

        well thanks for the lengthy diatribe Henry – that must be a load off……….. The basic point is professional football clubs are not run along the same lines as your local bowls club or golf club – invariably they are operated as proprietary clubs – owned and operated by one individual – as is the case down south with Abramovich etc. Do you really think those clubs are not run on autocratic lines? The club at no point benefited from the period of ownership by Craig Whyte. As for the period under Murray we are led to believe that the approach to the tax issues that was followed was pursued on legal advice – and the outcome is still awaited. We could go on at length about this and the funding of major clubs – but if anyone believes that an individual other than the owner takes the decisions at the big clubs – Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd, Man City etc they are deluding themselves – it is a legal fiction to believe the “club” exists as the “legal driver” of decisions taken in the same way as the owner. On another point – this issue aside – I have said that Scottish Football is dying a death for some time now. Without Rangers and / or Celtic we’d be no better than the Irish League. If we take one out of the equation the league will be SO tedious that no one will take an interest. So by all means all you “bloodthirsty” anti-Rangers brigade – throw them out of the league – see what happens. Of course the SFA (and the vast majority of individual clubs) would never do that – as they hypocritically want to keep them for the revenue they generate. Is this the type of morality all the Rangers citics are espousing?

      • Marching on Together

        Ferguspuskas

        Re proprietary clubs, from HMRC website: “Where the club is a proprietary club, that is the ownership of the club rests other than with the general membership, the profit earned from providing goods or services to its members is not exempt from tax”.

        If the individual owners of Rangers are not satisfied with the concept and responsibilities and liabilities of company law in the UK, then it is open to them to trade as an individual or as an unincorporated association, with unlimited liability to all the creditors of that business for the owner or committee. But no, Rangers, like every other senior football club in the UK operates under the guise of a company. So Rangers accepts what goes with those benefits i.e. the separation of liability in most cases of the directors/promoters of the company as individuals for liability for the company’s debts. What that means is that the actions of the directors bind the company, no matter what, in respect of third parties (except for specific defined circumstances, irrelevant to the case at hand).

        “The club at no point benefited from the period of ownership by Craig Whyte.” My arse. As Henry Clarson pointed out, Rangers would have been in administration months before they were, if not for the £13 million withheld from the tax-man, and used to pay all those Rangers players, in order to complete the season, and finish in second, with all the prize money benefits that entails.

        “we are led to believe that the approach to the tax issues that was followed was pursued on legal advice” If advice was obtained it was not followed in the execution of the scheme, thus making the EBT scheme as actually implemented unlawful.

        Simple question for you. Do you admit that Rangers in whatever guise have done ANYTHING wrong?

        • Ferguspuskas

          Nice of you to introduce your “arse” into the proceedings. How precisely would Rangers have fared any worse had they been in administration earlier? I despair of this whole issue in dealing with those such as yourself not being able to see the wood for the trees due to your need to express bile in the direction of Rangers Football Club.

      • The kind of morality which I am espousing is this.
        Rangers should be thrown out of the league because that is exactly what they deserve.
        If that changes Scottish football, so much the better.
        Scottish football needs to change.

        The “period under Murray” was an entire generation. A lifetime for many. Not a blip, not a temporary aberration, not a passing phase. It was near enough a quarter of a century of institutionalised, corporate misgovernance; rank, rotten and now discredited.
        If you are willing to be “led to believe” Murray’s feeble rationale about the tax issue ( I could ask you which particular tax issue, given that there is an abundance of irregularities to choose from) then that’s your prerogative. Wiser analysts see it for what it was – a scam, inadequately concealed behind a pathetic fig leaf of legal justification.

        Having created a financial basket case, hurtling towards perdition, Murray then had the cheek to spend years demanding millions of pounds from prospective buyers of his stake in the club. Lloyds finally forced him to sell to a known charlatan in the hope that the bank could cut its losses through Craig Whyte’s mastery of the black arts of financial chicanery.

        Rangers continued to trade long after they should have been declared dead. Lloyds were on the brink of pulling the trigger over a year ago. Whyte’s appearance led to a stay of execution but Rangers remain on death row. Deservedly so.

        They have ended up where they are through their own devices.
        Through their determination to disregard the norms of accountability and responsibility which are integral components of good character;
        through their own inability to see past their delusions of superiority; through their refusal to objectively examine the arguments of their critics; through their insatiable lust for lording it over everybody else at any price;
        through their bottomless ignorance of what constitutes honesty and fairness;
        and through their arrogant belief that they were too big, too important, too powerful to be held to account for their wrongdoing.

        As dombhoy writes elsewhere on this page, to unanimous approval – Hell mend them. The rest of us will gladly look forward to a new start for Scottish football, free from the baleful influence of the most corrupt club ever to have infected British football. Regardless of the standard of skill on display, if it’s honest and fair it will be a long overdue breath of fresh air and a welcome change.

        Oh, and I’m not interested in bowling clubs unless there is a bowling club which has cost the country hundreds of millions of pounds in tax evasion and debt default.

      • Marching on Together

        Ferguspuskas

        You just don’t accept that Rangers, and those controlling it, have done anything wrong do you?

        As for what difference being in administration months earlier would have made, D&P would have had to make far greater cuts in the playing and non-playing staff in order to try to get to the end of the season without going into liquidation, meaning a lower quality team being sent out, and a lower league placing, and the actual descent into liquidation would have happened during the season instead of sometime in June.

        If you think I have shown any bile for Rangers per se in my posts, then you are seriously deluded. What I have shown bile for is cheating and those who show a flagrant disregard for the rules.

        • Ferguspuskas

          I’ll try one last time. Firstly – there would have been no serious difference to the effects of an earlier timing of the administration – ok Rangers might have finished lower and lost a few bob in league income as a result – but they were not going into Europe anyway so the additional ‘sanctions” would have been minimal. Secondly and again as regards the wrong-doing – clearly Whyte did wrong – and he was dealt with as a separate entity by the SFA (which is curious since all participants are apparently the “errant club”). But as for anyone else attached to the club – who else was culpable? The other inconsequential directors? The playing staff? The manager? The cleaners? The cook? As I have tried to indicate ad nauseum the clubs nowadays are run principally by individuals who put the money in (the whole £1 in the case of Whyte) – they take the big decisions – no one else. That situation principally results from the fact that money rules football nowadays – no money no success (certainly no European success as we will see with Motherwell next year) and maybe no football team. The price that is paid is that clubs are no longer run as clubs in the sense we would normally comprehend – they are not bowling clubs. tennis clubs, golf clubs etc. The clubs are run by American families, Russian oligarchs etc. It would be nice if some objectivity could be introduced to this “discussion” – my view simply would be if you can attribute with certainty any wrong-doing fair enough – but in my view the wrong-doing was done by the “sole owners” of the football club rather than some notion of the club as a separate entity – and yes I know all about the “book law” on that issue!

      • Marching on Together

        FergusPuskas

        I will also try one last time for those who don’t get it. Firstly as regard consequences for Rangers going into admin earlier, finishing lower down the league and receiving less prize money might not be deemed significant to you, but to the creditors of Rangers and the possibility of getting even less cash out of the administration, it is significant. Going onto liquidation mid season would have seen Rangers thrown out of the SPL – you might not deem that significant, but others would have done. Rangers have had the benefit of the millions owed in tax and NI, this avoiding having to pay interest on bank borrowing to run the club (hundreds of thousands of pounds over the period).

        Secondly, there is no such concept in Scotland as the “club” you go on about. “Club” is no more than a colloquialism, shorthand for football club. Senior football clubs have not been run as unincorporated associations, with committees and members such as bowling clubs or golf clubs, in Scotland since the 19th century. Senior football clubs are all limited liability companies, with the duties and obligations that go with that, because of the money involved. It is irrelevant that one person might be the controlling interest – many many small companies are just like that.

        There is no such thing as an “inconsequential director” – you are a director or you are not, and if you are you have the full range of responsibilities which goes with being a director, chief amongst which is to “satisfy themselves that financial information is accurate and that financial controls and systems of risk management are robust and defensible” (from the Higgs Report on corporate governance, 2003). McClelland and Greig cannot wriggle out of it and blame Whyte. They have as much responsibility as he does. If they were not being given enough information to do their job, then they should have blown the whistle. McClelland and Greig and the other directors since May 2011 have a legal liability to the shareholders of Rangers for their failures, and if I were them I would be consulting my lawyers. However, that is between Rangers shareholders and them, and does not excuse the fact that so far as the rest of the world is concerned, they and Whyte are together the management of Rangers, the limited liability company, and the company pays the penalty for their actions.

        As for Whyte being dealt with separately by the SFA, the penalties imposed on him were largely for him as an individual failing to appear at the tribunal hearings and disregarding calls to appear without good reason.

      • Marching on Together

        Keep on with your denial about Rangers’ wrongdoing. Be happy with your deluded thoughts.

      • Den

        It may not seem fair that a Company is punished for the deeds of one man or a bunch of men. It is well established in Law though. Get used to it the Law isn’t going to change anytime soon to allow the ‘bad boy done it………’ defence.

        If Rangers are to survive they and their fans are going to have to accept the reality of the situation. They were the big team, they had the money, prestige and the press. Everyone else but Celtic were cowed by them. Now they are penniless and are being hawked around by D&P and the only people who are interested are Rangers minded folk who either don’t have the money or are unwilling to part with it and sharks who want to get it on the cheap and strip the assets.

        Unfortunately for Rangers the SFA have had some professionalism foisted on them and administered a fairly light punishment but a devastating report.

        Rangers fought back in the normal way and this time the SFA didn’t blink.

        Things have changed !

        The SFA have read the mood and know that they cannot allow themselves to be intimidated, their panels have legal representation and can withstand scrutiny.

        The other clubs are now sensing that even if Rangers are saved that they are:

        a. Not the power they once were and therefore will need to compromise.

        b. Going to try to carry on as before and inflict this madness on the SPL next year.

        So Rangers need to accept the reality of the situation, sort themselves out, get a team ready for next season and after behaving themselves ask for a dispensation to sign a couple of players due to a player shortage. Folk will listen.

        Alternatively they can keep acting like they are and the rest will say go to hell.

        As for hateful thoughts. I have never liked Rangers, don’t hate them though, I am not what you would call ‘Celtic minded’.

        My interest in this is mainly watching a classic business case study in how businesses with everything gong for them still end up on the scapheap, and watching it live.

        • Ferguspuskas

          I’m afraid the fact that you and others can’t stand Rangers is transparently obvious and colours any notion of objectivity. I’m fully aware of the law on the matter (which is an ass – as it is on many things) – I’m referring to actual culpability of anyone other than the true owners. No wonder Rangers fans react with threats of boycotts given the bile that is directed to the “club”. Unless someone can advise otherwise, no one other than the individual owners have been ‘proven’ guilty of anything other than supporting their team – which in the eyes of most correspondents on here is a heinous enough crime. Far better of course to have teams like Celtic that disrespect authority and question every decision taken against them. In some ways it may be best that Rangers do go to the wall – it may be the only way for most people to see that Scottish Football will also die a death without them. There are none so blind as those that will not see………….

      • Marching on Together

        FergusPuskas

        “Far better of course to have teams like Celtic that disrespect authority and question every decision taken against them” You mean like the reaction of Rangers, its manager and its fans in response to the SFA panel decision against them, or the appeal against the tribunal?

        “no one other than the individual owners have been ‘proven’ guilty of anything other than supporting their team” You clearly have not read the 63 page report of the SFA disciplinary panel, as it sets out in detail the wrong-doing of various Rangers personnel there. Acts of omission are as culpable as acts of commission.

        Most people don’t hate Rangers – what many people hate is the refusal by Rangers, its directors, its personnel, its fans, and its lapdogs in the media to admit that they have ever done anything wrong. Why should get Rangers alone get to break the rules and get off with it? The fact that you and others can’t stand truth and justice is transparently obvious and colours any notion of objectivity.

  10. When a referee takes a decision to send a player off the park because of the actions of one man, it penalises the team and the supporters who want to see a fair game. But, that player and everyone else knows the rules and consequences of his actions before the match. David Murray, Craig Whyte et al, knew what the consequences for their cheating tax dodging actions would be …and were still prepared to try and cheat their way to ”success”.
    Hell mend them!

  11. Niall Walker

    Good morning all,

    Well it seems the embargo is here to stay, and it will test the loyalty of all Rangers fans next season.Rangers will sell most of their high earners regardless and raise 6-8 million, this will leave them a squad of 34-35 players. and they still should come second. The 6-8 millon will cover any losses from the inevitable drop in attendance figures and it should not affect the long term commercial viablity of Rangers.

    Rangers fans main benefit from EBTs was to watch a top class unaffordable team, their punishment is one year of watching a rank rotten affordable team, its not too bad a price to pay.

    Even the most optimistic fan or new owner must have figured in at least one torturous season for their multitude of sins.

    The SFA if they are clever will ban Rangers from Europe next year as a punishment for the EBTs, they won’t win the league anyway and I believe there is only 1 CL place next year. In effect you are banning them from the Europa league.

    • Hugh Jarse

      “their punishment is one year of watching a rank rotten affordable team, its not too bad a price to pay.”

      If that is indeed the extent of the punishment then Rangers should consider themselves extremely lucky.

      One suspects that we are far from done at this point!

    • Carntyne

      Still come second?

      They have to be in the SPL to come second.

      Although there was a possibility previously that the SPL might engineer a way to allow a newco back into the league, with every passing day and each new revelation this looks like a forlorn hope.

      The dialogue now is, will Rangers play in ANY league next season never mind the SPL.

      • Marching on Together

        New SPL rule, slipped in at the same time as the “no relegation for the Old Firm” rule. In order to preserve the sporting and financial integrity of Scottish football, neither Rangers or Celtic are ever allowed to finish lower than second.

    • deekbhoy

      Niall

      I believe the SFA were only looking at the Whyte era in this matter.

      The EBT issue is a matter for the SPL and we are awaiting the result of that investigation (which may be in turn waiting for the FTT to return it’s verdict).

      I am sure the new owners would be very satisfied with the exiting penalties covering that investigation as well. However I would expect any penalties from the SPL to be in line with ‘match fixing’ and expulsion should be the correct penalty.

      I am sure the new owners have taken that to account as well and that is why there will be a new company formed to avoid this.

    • Den

      Niall,

      You seem to be accepting the inevitable, most of the Rangers fans and the club will need to be as pragmatic to help Rangers survive never mind get back to their former status.

      Year one: probably true that if Rangers can hold together and field a team without the current top players they will come second, though those who are next in line may opt for pastures new for a low fee or for nothing if their contracts expire this year, get injured, or lose form. maybe slip one or two places.

      So one year to return to the top could be optimistic. This will test the loyalty of the Rangers fans still further with possibly no players bringing in transfer fees and signing targets less sure of a European shop window.

      Year two, attendances low team maturing well and comfortable in top six. Next year could be the breakthough.

      Year three, bugger this we are ordinary after all ! Tired of this game !

      “Multitude of sins” Spot on.

      “The SFA if they are clever will ban Rangers from Europe next year as a punishment for the EBTs”

      I accept that you meant the year after next, as next year they are not eligible.

      Why is it so clever for the SFA to ban them for one year of competition? It is only clever if you are trying to play along with Rangers and if you read my other posts you will know that I believe that the SFA have grown a bit tired of this insolvent problem child and in any Rangers may not qualify for Europe for many years as I outlined above.

      One of the threats to Rangers hapens tomorrow at Hampden. If you have been in Edinburgh recently you will have seen the effect. just being there means a lot to the fans, a real chance of winning means more.

      In summary. Keep taking the medicine. Rangers now need help, go the extra mile and dump the arrogance, emerge after one to four years as a contender.

  12. “The SFA if they are clever will ban Rangers from Europe next year as a punishment for the EBTs, they won’t win the league anyway and I believe there is only 1 CL place next year. In effect you are banning them from the Europa league.”

    Why should they ban Rangers from Europe next year? Aren’t they already not allowed to play in Europe next year? They were unable to meet Uefa’s 31 March accounts deadline and will – as a consequence of THAT – not play in Europe next season.

    Rangers: A wis telt that because a hidna done ma homework, a wisna gettin oot for a wik.
    SFA; Well, because you cheated in the exam, you’re not getting to go to the park the day after tomorrow.

    • Niall Walker

      Good afternoon David,

      Rangers are banned from Europe this year and I am suggesting another one year ban on top of this, apologise for my lack of clarity.

      • Littlerabbits

        I’d think if you come very close to escaping expulsion from Scottish football for what is effectively cheating for one season, then a further one year ban from Europe (which you have just pointed out would be a sham since they are unlikely to qualify anyway) for 10(?) years of cheating would seem a little ‘light’.

  13. Carntyne

    Why was this appeal lodged (sic) in the first place.

    Surely Gary Allan advised his client that a successful outcome was highly unlikely and therefore a waste of money.

    Not for Gary…obviously.

  14. ocuilte

    Perhaps an explanation for the continued failure to understand the non separation of company and board – If you are run down by a car it the driver that’s to blame, not the car!

  15. Ken

    The outrage from the support (formal groups & individual) while misplaced and without merit is at least somewhat comprehensible, with passions overcoming logic – although these parties need to take a calm look in the light of new day, stop crying ‘poor me’ and recognize the unfair dvantage they gained even in this situation.
    (I loved the “‘come on Gary, gie’s a brekk’ argument” defence)
    The defiance from the club’s custodians however, is remarkable in refusal to accept what is, in the face of things, actually pretty light let-off (in my view).
    Consider that the club itself prospered by the actions to withhold payments (already collected from employees in the form of PAYE & NIC and from others in the form of VAT) from HMRC – recognize this is not simply money they did not have, but already deducted/received and put to use in a wholly different application – and effectively utilized that money to fund additional players. Where would Rangers have finsihed without Aluko’s goals? Or without Lee Wallace or Dorin Goian whose fees go unpaid? Or had Jelavic been sold in the summer instead of the winter window, in attempt to address the negative cash-flow issue such that they COULD pay their debts?
    The SFA panel clearly recognized that there were other Directors (especially Smith & Russell – how could they NOT know?) who had an obligation to understand & indeed report the issues.
    Those factors had a direct bearing on the prize money received for finishing second. The 10 point deduction for Administration in actuality had no real consequence because of the already established gap in points to the third place team. However, how much closer might that have been without those players in question? So although Motherwell gained access to the Champions League Qualifiers, consider the effect the bonus of the additional prize money might have for them?

    The outrage that they are being ‘punished’ by having to bear some consequences which simply restrict their ability to sign MORE players for the next 12 months is quite beyond credibility.

  16. Young Bhoys Berne

    Threats to go to CAS etc a la Sion…. I wonder just how much knowledge
    some “learned” people actually have of Swiss football ? A famous club in Switzerland ,Neuchatel Xamax, had a new owner whose wealth was off the radar and who avoided paying tax etc …. the parallels are striking I think. Detention in prison , albeit brief, followed for some executives. That would never happen here would it ? See for
    yourself……http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/sport/Game_over_as_Neuchatel_Xamax_declared_bankrupt.html?cid=32013702

  17. Steveo

    Guys all very valid comments as I have posted elsewhere back in 1995 Fergus & Celtic were fined £100,000 for tapping up the bold TB from Killie. 18 years on they get a paltry £160,000 fine for numerous rule breakings!!

    The one downside of these shenanigans is that since 14 Feb I haven’t finishd reading one book, trips to the gym have become less & less and my working day is generally filled with 2 or 3 hours of work & the rest poppin onto blogs like this & RTC, CQN etcetc!!!

    Hopefully their demise will happen sometime soon or the gerz (IA) players wont be the only ones lookin for a new job!!!

    • Al ross

      Steveo is right I’m doing 2 packs of Pringles a day on the back of all this. Has NHS Scotland considered the health implications of all this ?

    • Den

      I share your pain and weight loss.

      This is a crash course in business and Finance, and a short way to divorce.

      Fascinating stuff though.

  18. Pingback: Statements from Rangers Regarding the Failed Appeal re Transfer Embargo | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

  19. Greg72

    Incidentally (!), and the creditors’ position is?

    • Marching on Together

      I suspect that using funds in the hands of the administrators to pay for any further appeal, which would not affect the price obtained for the sale of the club or the payment to the creditors (unless there is a secret clause in the agreement with Green & Co obliging D&P to do so), would be challengeable by any creditor.

    • Den

      Oh them !

      You would expect that someone would be responsible for looking after their best interests wouldn’t you !

      Unfortunately the outlook for the creditors is dire.

  20. Den

    Better than any TV soap … ‘Noisy Neigbours’ anyone ??

  21. Brian Jeffrey

    I see that Rangers have launched a request or a Judicial Review at The Court Of Session
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-18211947
    I understood that it was contrary to FIFA and UEFA rules for any member club to take a fellow member club or Association to a National Court. Recourse must be through the relevant Association procedures with the Court Of Arbitration in Sport being the ultimate independent tribunal if required.
    Are Rangers not liable to serious sanction by FIFA and/or UEFA just for bringing this case in the way the have?

  22. Brian Jeffrey

    Further to my last. From the FIFA website, their statutes 62 – 66 (as ratified in August 2011) refer to this topic and are explicit in their terms prohibiting clubs from recourse to ordinary courts of law placing specific obliogations on national associations to ensure that they insert clauses into their statutes and regulations to ensure that member clubs comply. The Court for Arbitration For Sport is recognised as the tribunal to resolve disputes.

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