I was thinking that the meeting to decide the SPL’s future is only a few days away.
I tried to look at the issue as dispassionately as I could, not sure I succeeded but it was interesting to try.
Is this meeting to decide the criteria for allowing a common or garden Newco into the SPL or for allowing Newco Rangers into the SPL? Naturally all of the debate is regarding Rangers but will any decisions apply equally to clubs which find themselves in the same position.
The SPL do not seem to have adequate rules or guidance for such a situation. Given the number of Football clubs going into administration and coming back as a Newco in the UK you would have expected that they would.
Doncaster and Johnson would seem to be in the pro Newco camp. They are playing the Public Relations game to get their argument across.
Both men have shifted the debate to the sanctions for joining the SPL as a Newco. An important question but not the first I would consider.
The first question is how does a Newco apply to the SPL and what are the basic qualification criteria.
I would expect that, should there be a vacancy in the SPL, promotion from the SFL would be the first consideration: failing that, there should be an open application process where existing Football clubs and any Newcos can apply for membership.
Then there are the joining fees (I will consider sanctions later). Membership of the SPL is a valuable asset and applicants to any club or association expect to pay some sort of joining fee and/ or serve a probationary period where some membership benefits are restricted. If they can’t pay then they are probably not good candidates, if they won’t pay they can’t join.
The application and joining fees should apply to anyone not qualifying for the SPL from the SFL regardless of who they are.
The SPL therefore should have an open process for application for membership and requirement to provide proof of ability to run a football team to SPL standard which will abide by the regulations of the body and the Law of the land
Now the question of sanctions.
It is anomalous to consider sanctions against a Newco on applying for membership. The disciplinary procedures of SPL and SFA should be used to investigate and determine sanctions: the Newco should however be subject to the sanctions imposed on the old club and agree to accept any new sanctions imposed by the footballing bodies in relation to events at the old club occurring prior to their membership of the SPL. It may be argued that this is punishing the Newco for offences relating to a separate Company. However if you ignore the relationship to the old company, Newco would not even get to the application stage, lacking any footballing pedigree. What part of the track record of the old company do you take into account or ignore? Therefore a Newco could bring forward sanctions from the club it is replacing and forming a Newco would not be an easy way to avoid taking your punishment.
Of course the whole debate has been caused by the Rangers situation, but rules shouldn’t be made up to suit an individual member but for all without fear or favour
Digressing a bit. A neutral observer of Scottish football would see that Rangers are an important part of it, they have a large fan base bringing in a lot of money and Old firm games are clearly important in TV deals. They number a lot of prominent people in their fan base and quite clearly the media fill a lot of column inches with Rangers related stories. Quite a number of Rangers players and administrators have played top roles in the games ruling bodies (and continue to). From a commercial point of view the loss of Rangers will have an effect that cannot be ignored.
It stands to reason that people running the game are going to be less sanguine about excluding Rangers from the Scottish game than opposition fans. Excluding them would cause a lot of upheaval and most people in Governing bodies want to avoid that.
Back on track.
It seems inevitable that there will be a Newco applying to take the place of Rangers. Even should there be a CVA it is likely that a new company will be formed to take the football side forward leaving the old Company with the financial and legal issues to sort out.
In summary. SPL should have rules regarding Newcos already or should get them in place ASAP. In principle they need to ask themselves whether they favour Newco or not and if so what are the criteria to apply and the implications of these rules for future behaviour. They must discourage clubs from living beyond their means breaking the association rules and then using the Newco route as a way to avoid their obligations.
There is no Newco applying yet so there is still time, but not a lot though.
Written by Den