What Might Happen to Rangers at the Re-Heard Appellate Tribunal?

In which I attempt to answer the question of what Lord Carloway’s Appellate Tribunal will decide about an additional sanction on Rangers. In the process of reaching a conclusion on this, I consider the following.

What did the Judicial Panel think of the gravity of Rangers’ offence?

What options are open to the Appellate Tribunal?

Why I do not think ejection from the Scottish Cup is either competent or appropriate.

What effect would suspension, expulsion or termination have on Rangers.

What could Mr Green do, in the event of any of the above three penalties being imposed?

Can Rangers agree a shorter Signing Ban with the SFA?

What will happen?

If unhappy with the decision can Rangers appeal further, whether to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, or to the Court of Session?

And I conclude with a foray into Shakespearean adaptation!

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I was idly leafing through my copy of Shakespeare, as I do once every ten years or so, and happened upon the Merchant of Venice. It struck me that there are certain whimsical similarities between the story of the Merchant and his desire to follow the precise wording of his contract, ignoring the spirit thereof, and the fate which then befalls him for his adherence to the letter, and the situation pertaining to Rangers after their undoubted success in persuading Lord Glennie to overturn the signing ban imposed by the AT chaired by Lord Carloway.

Rather than inflict my adaptation of the Bard’s work at the top of the piece, I have put it at the end. Feel free to read it, or not, as you think fit. I like it, but then I adapted it!

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Now, after that brief theatrical interlude, we are back to the dense legal stuff.To recap, Rangers succeeded, through the sterling efforts of Richard Keen, QC, in persuading Lord Glennie to quash the signing ban imposed, and to refer the matter of the additional sanction, over and above the maximum fine for breach of Rule 66 (bringing the game into disrepute) back before the AT.

How Did the Judicial Panel View the Offence?

Lord Carloway and his colleagues have to decide what, if any, further penalty should be imposed on Rangers for what was described by the original Judicial Panel (JP) under the chairmanship of Gary Allan QC as follows:-

On any view the matters involved in this case are as serious offences against the ordinary standards of corporate governance as one could imagine. The Tribunal attempted in its exercise of fixing these matters on the scale of offences to identify a more serious offence than those on the complaints, and concluded that only match fixing in its various forms might be a more serious breach. It had no hesitation in concluding that the breaches struck at the heart of good corporate governance and social and financial probity and responsibility. They brought the game into serious disrepute. As such, they required to be regarded as at the top of the scale of seriousness.

In the case of the non-payment of tax (which was possibly by the smallest margin the most serious breach) the massive extent of the failure and the intentional and calculated manner in which it was carried out aggravated the breach even further.

 

The failings as regards disclosure of a director’s disqualification struck at fair dealing and the protection of the public from persons who had a history of corporate misbehaviour.”

 

What Are the Options for the Appellate Tribunal?

 

The JP considered the penalties open to them additional to the fine, which are, standing Lord Glennie’s decision, as follows.

 

Ejection from the Scottish Cup

Suspension

Expulsion

Termination of Membership

 

The JP felt that, over and above the fine the signing ban was the right solution. As they said:-

 

“Having regard to its view on the undoubted gravity of the breaches, the Tribunal considered whether it should terminate Rangers FC membership of the Scottish FA and concluded that punishment was too severe. It considered whether suspension of membership was a less serious but an appropriately severe punishment, but concluded that too was too severe.

 

“The Tribunal was dealing with a football club at the top of Scottish football who had a history of signing top flight players, who, logic demanded, commanded commensurate salaries. It appeared to the Tribunal that in a case such as this the punishment should relate in some meaningful way to the unpaid taxes arising from high wages and salaries amongst certain players. It appeared to the Tribunal that a temporary prohibition on registering any new players during a period of twelve months was a suitable, relevant and proportionate sanction. The Tribunal was of the view that whilst the sanction was severe it was not excessive… The registration prohibition struck a balance which was relevant to the mischief and proportionate to the breach.

 

“The Tribunal considered that it was not entitled to have regard to any speculation as to the effect of the registration prohibition on any other football club, or any competition or contractual matter. Such considerations fell outwith the scope of the Judicial Panel Protocol.”

 

Lord Carloway’s AT considered the matter and although the full decision of the AT was before Lord Glennie, the SFA only released a summary by the AT. However, this also addressed the issue of severity of the punishment.

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 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.”

Lord Glennie, in his decision on the Judicial Review, noted the following:-

“in the present case the Tribunal thought that the conduct merited the maximum sanction and that is not challenged in this court.”

He also quoted the AT’s full decision as follows:-

“Although the AT agreed with the JP that termination, suspension of membership would have been excessive, it made that assessment in the context of the availability of competent lesser sanctions such as the one actually imposed. Were that option not to have been available, suspension might have had to be considered appropriate for such serious misconduct which has brought the game into disrepute.”

Lord Glennie went on to say:-

“The fact that I find the imposition of the additional sanctions to be ultra vires does not necessarily mean that the petitioners will escape to a lighter and ineffective punishment. That is entirely a matter for the Appeal Tribunal and not for this court.”

So we are left with a position where the fine imposed is the maximum, but clearly far below what the AT and JP thought appropriate. Lord Glennie commented that Rangers did not argue that the sanction should be less than the maximum, simply that the signing ban was ultra vires.

Therefore the AT can do the following.

1                     Impose no additional penalty. That would, to be frank, seem an abdication of responsibility standing the comments already made. It would result in Rangers being huge beneficiaries of a flaw in the rules. Frankly, if the JP considered the matter as serious as anything except match-fixing, to escape with a fine EQUIVALENT TO ONE DAY’S RUNNING COSTS when laid against offences including non-payment of almost £14 million tax, would itself bring the game into disrepute.

 

 

2                     “Eject” Rangers from the Scottish Cup. At first sight this might seem a halfway house. It was not really considered as a penalty, perhaps because the offence was not related to the Scottish Cup! Here is where Rangers start to be afflicted by the Merchant of Venice scenario, I submit. I will detail the problems below.

 

 

3                     Suspension, Expulsion from participation in the Game or Termination of Membership. Commented on below.

 

What is the Problem with “Ejection” From the Scottish Cup?

Normally “ejection” from the Scottish Cup comes when a team wins a match, but plays an ineligible player, or otherwise breaks the rules. In those circumstances the team is eliminated from the competition, and is replaced by the team it defeated.

However, the Scottish Cup has not started for season 2012-2013. How can a team be “ejected” from something which has not commenced? Interestingly there are various rules, such as Rule 313, which specify that a team can be “ejected” from the Scottish Cup, or “suspended” from it. Taking the Rangers approach of focussing on the letter of the law, rather than the spirit, I suggest that it would not be competent to remove Rangers from the Scottish Cup, when it has not yet started. That would in fact be a  suspension, rather than an ejection. Rule 66, which prescribed the penalties for a disrepute “conviction” does not include reference to suspension from the Scottish Cup, only ejection. Accordingly, on that reading, the AT cannot suspend Rangers from the next Scottish Cup.

In any event, and standing the comments by the JP and AT about the seriousness of the offences, would elimination from the Scottish Cup for one season be a suitable and proportionate penalty? As a team can go out of the Cup in the first round in which it competes, then the penalty is a variable one. Teams are “ejected” from the Scottish Cup for gaining an unfair advantage by playing an ineligible player, which can be as a result of an administrative oversight. Would that be a suitable punishment for theundoubted gravity of the breaches”? I would suggest not.

On the strict “letter of the law”, Rangers cannot be “ejected” from the Cup before they are in it. And even if they could, it is not a “proportionate” penalty.

So What Effect Would Suspension Have?

Here the Articles and JPP are not very clear. There are lots of references to each of the sanctions, but nothing that makes precisely clear the differences on a practical basis.

A plain reading would suggest that suspension is a temporary penalty; expulsion from participation in the game a more permanent sanction; and termination the coup de grace.

It is not clear to me how the SFA and SPL would deal with a suspension. Can a team be suspended for a period less than a season? If so, what happens to the team’s games scheduled for that period? Are they all postponed or are they awarded to the opposing team? A six-month suspension leading to the forfeit of all matches in that period might well guarantee relegation. Under Article 98.2 a team which is suspended cannot play matches.

If suspension meant forfeiting matches, then it could only be fair to other teams to ensure that each competitor got a “free win” over Rangers. But some would be home games and some away. How can a suspension of a team, other than a token one of one or two weeks, equivalent to a bad snowfall really,  work if for less than one year? And if suspension is for a year, does that mean that, for example, the SPL would have 11 teams next season, or would it be brought up to full capacity, with two teams to go down at the end of the season so as to allow Rangers back in once suspension served? In reality the suspension for a year would be fatal to the club. With no income it would require huge investment to keep the playing squad together.

So What Effect Would Expulsion Have?

It is not entirely clear to me how a team can be “expelled” and remain in existence. If expulsion is for a specified period, then how is that different from suspension? It would leave the team stranded even more securely in limbo that it is at present. Effectively any suspension or expulsion would sound the death knell for oldco Rangers.

So What Effect Would Termination Have?

As with the above penalties, this would spell the end of Rangers, or at least of oldco Rangers.

What Options Does Mr Green Have?

Mr Green’s agreement with Duff and Phelps obliges him, we are told, to buy the assets of Rangers, lock, stock and barrel for £5.5 million if his CVA is not accepted. This is the newco solution.

Mr Doncaster of the SPL has said that he would look for a newco to accept any penalties imposed upon the oldco as a condition of membership.

Let’s imagine Rangers Football Club is suspended from Scottish football for one year. (Similar considerations apply to an expulsion or termination). A decision which prevents Rangers appearing in all the regular competitions entitles Mr Green to drop his £8.5 million CVA plan, and instead revert to newco and asset purchase. Will he and his backers want to pay £5.5 million to take over a team and ground which cannot be used for football for a year? We are told that the deal is binding and therefore, even if oldco is suspended etc, Mr Green cannot renege on the agreement.

In those circumstances, what players would agree to be transferred over to the new team under the TUPE regulations? Instead players would leave for nothing, as they would be entitled to do. Mr Green would be left with the fixed assets.

He would then have, as I see it, the following choices.

1                     Challenge the suspension legally, either at the Court of Session or at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (I will deal with this later).

2                     Insist that his newco was NOT Rangers and seek to have his newco admitted directly into the SPL, or as a fall back the SFL, for the coming season in the place of the now defunct oldco, but without any penalty connected to oldco.

3                     Accept the penalty and sit out football for a year (I see no way he would do that).

4                     Look to take advantage of the assets he would own by, for example, leasing Ibrox and Murray Park to a New Rangers owned and run by someone else, perhaps a return for the Blue Knights, Brian Kennedy, Bill Ng, or a new saviour.

It is legally correct to say that a newco cannot be held liable or responsible for the mis-deeds of the oldco. However, the SPL and SFA can set conditions for admission where the proposed new member is looking to “inherit” the history of the oldco. They can be told that, if they wish to be treated as oldco for the good parts of the history, they must also accept the bad. If Mr Green announced that Rangers newco was not connected with oldco; that it was a brand new team starting from scratch in 2012 and that its history dated back only to the formation of Sevco 5088 Ltd this year, then the football authorities would have trouble I think insisting on oldco penalties being imposed as conditions of entry. Mr Green could justify this to the Rangers support by saying that the amputation of the history was necessary for the patient to survive. As Rangers fans are rightly proud of the roll of honour of trophies won, that could be a too bitter pill for many to swallow.

Therefore, option 2 above involves dumping the “baggage” to allow a newco in, and I suspect that they would get in in such a new form (although time is running very short now). They could face a challenge from Dunfermline or Dundee, depending on whether or not the SPL share held by Dunfermline has yet changed hands.

Indeed a prospective entrant to the SFL could challenge this on the basis that newco Rangers ought not to be able to slip straight back to the SPL table, without at least queuing up outside for an audition first!

Option 4 is intriguing, I think. It combines elements of 2, but in a way that might be more palatable to the support. I suspect that a Blue Knights led consortium would still be the favoured option for many Rangers fans, especially if t had the backing of Rangers stalwarts like John Greig, Ally McCoist, Walter Smith et al. If Mr Green buys the assets for £5.5 million, then could he make money on this as an investment by leasing these assets out to a New Rangers? In this scenario, the Blue Knights would not be funding payments to creditors by way of a CVA, or even buying the club and assets. They would be able to use their finds to set up a debt-free football club, able to play and train at the existing locations.

Mr Green’s business history does not suggest he is necessarily at Ibrox for the long haul. Buying the assets and easing them to a newco Rangers, led by the greats of the past, might be sufficient for Mr Green to make a safe return on his investment, and might, in the absence of any alternative, prove to be sufficient to sweeten the pill of losing the history for the Rangers fans. In any event, many will still cling to the history, no matter what the record books go on to say.

Solutions 2 and 4 also render the SPL undeclared payments investigation redundant, as indeed it would any sanction for oldco going to the Court of Session.

As long as there is a valid lease agreement in place, a team can play at a ground it does not own. Might we see Mr Green in the Director’s Box next season as landlord of the club, rather than owner? It would definitely make life more straightforward for him!

Can Rangers Agree to Accept a Shorter Registration Ban?

It was suggested in the Daily Record yesterday that Mr Green was offering the SFA a way out of its predicament by suggesting that Rangers would agree to a six-month registration ban. Of course this would, in effect, only be a three-month penalty, as the transfer window closes at the end of August anyway.

Can a plea-bargain, or more correctly a sentence bargain be struck?

There are two issues here. First of all, if Rangers volunteered to accept a registration ban, then this could be imposed. The fact that it is not in the JPP as interpreted by Lord Glennie is irrelevant. This would not be an imposition of a penalty, but instead an agreement between two consenting parties. If Rangers accepted it, and then asked a court to overturn it, they would be treated as “personally barred” from making such a challenge. Such a penalty, if agreed, would not be against public policy, morals or the laws of the land, and therefore a court would not interfere with it, if agreed by the parties.

In theory, if Rangers sought to agree this with the SFA prior to the AT sitting, the SFA could, as a condition for dropping the case against Rangers, agree this penalty.

However, having gone to all the time, trouble and expense of setting up the Judicial Panel and compiling the JPP, it would seem inappropriate for the SFA to take the matter of punishment away from the body recognised under its rules for determining the issue. It would be especially galling to be told by Rangers that they were willing to accept a penalty, albeit reduced, which they went to court, at the SFA’s expense, to have quashed!

The simplest route by far is for the SFA to let the AT take its course.

At the AT hearing, Rangers could suggest willingness to accept such a penalty i.e. a six month signing ban. However, I would not expect the AT to go back down that road. If, for example, Rangers said they would accept a six-month ban, they would, I assume, make clear that any attempt to extend it beyond that period would be taken back to court. It would be entirely inappropriate for the guilty party (and let us not forget that this is punishment for wrongdoing) to seek to impose conditions on the sanction imposed.

This is where we come back to the Merchant of Venice.

What Will Happen?

When Lord Carloway’s panel sits down to decide on matters, the issues are simple but the solution is not.

Rangers stand condemned in the most graphic terms of serious offences against corporate governance, and of bringing the game into disrepute by various of its actions. The financial penalty imposed is the maximum allowed, but is wholly inadequate if left as the sole measure of the SFA’s disapproval of Rangers’ conduct.

The JP and AT agreed that suspension, termination and expulsion were all too severe, in light of other penalties which they thought they had available them.

However, the alternative penalty of a signing ban has been removed from the table, as a result of Rangers looking to the strict application of the rules. The AT therefore can decide to impose no additional penalty; or can suspend, terminate or expel Rangers.

It looks, in those circumstances, as if the AT must impose a penalty already stated to be too sever, although that was qualified as indicated above. Rangers, in attempting to extract its “pound of flesh” from the SFA, finds itself facing extinction.

In addition, if Rangers approach to the AT is to plead that even a suspension might lead to the end of the club, then Lord Carloway and his colleagues can point out legitimately that, if they had not appealed the signing ban, this issue would have been over!

It is not quite the same as the person convicted of killing his parents pleading for clemency as he is an orphan, but it is not that far away either!

I therefore would expect the AT to impose a suspension when it next meets to consider the matter.

Can Rangers Appeal the Tribunal’s Verdict Again if Dis-satisfied?

Under the JPP and Articles, the answer is no. The decision of the AT is stated to be final.

If, following upon a decision, Rangers wanted to appeal, it could ask the SFA to agree to send the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If both parties agree, then a case can be referred there. However, as one of the purposes of the creation of the JPP, JP and AT was to keep these matters self-contained in Scotland, by providing a robust appeals structure, it might seem odd for the SFA to agree to do so. Mr O’Neill QC, in appearing for the SFA before Lord Glennie, argued that the court had no jurisdiction and that any appeal should go to CAS.

It therefore appears that, despite what the rules say, the SFA would agree to the matter being referred to CAS on the question of any additional sanction imposed.

This causes another problem. Whilst CAS attempts to deal with cases as quickly as it can, it has a huge workload. Any full decision would take months, if not years. If the decision was a suspension, it is likely that CAS would order that it be stayed pending the appeal being decided. After all, if in 18 months time CAS decided that the penalty was too severe, but the suspension had been served, it is hard to see how that would be made up for.

Natural justice and fairness require that, in connection with a penalty of this nature, the sanction not be applied till the appeal is decided. The SFA would know that, if Rangers appeal to CAS, and the SFA agrees to the case going there, the penalty would not be served now. If the SFA refused to agree a referral to CAS however, what then?

Can Rangers Go Back to the Court of Session?

There are two scenarios where they could approach the Court of Session again, I think.

Rangers could apply for a further Judicial Review of the sanction imposed, if they believe it to be procedurally inept, or unreasonable. If, for example, the AT imposed a new penalty not on the list, then Rangers would be back at court immediately, and rightly so. However, I do not expect that to happen.

Can Rangers seek a Judicial Review on the ground that the sanction is excessive? For example, could it rely on the comments that suspension etc were too severe and that this has tied the AT’s hands?

I would see two problems with that. First of all, that would be a clear case of asking a civil court to interfere with a footballing decision, which is not appreciated by either FIFA or UEFA. Rangers could argue, and if pressed I suspect will argue, that the error made by the JP and AT initially rendered the decision about the additional sanction not actually a decision. A decision made in jurisdictional error is not a decision. Therefore, as Rangers asked Lord Glennie to confirm that the purported decision was not in fact one in accordance with the rules, there was no decision to appeal, and the Courts were not interfering with football business.

An appeal on the sentence itself, if accepted as intra vires would stamp on the football authorities’ collective toes. If a judge considered that the sanction was so unreasonable that no reasonable Appeal Tribunal could have arrived at it, then the court could over-turn it. That is unlikely, I submit.

The better argument, in the event of a suspension etc (although I still think doomed to fail) is that the AT has tied its hands by what it said before about excessive penalties. Lord Glennie though commented that this was said to be the case in light of the AT’s view that they had a middle ground “maximum” penalty to impose, as in law they did not.

A better argument is that the SFA, if they refuse to allow the case to go to CAS, notwithstanding the terms of its own JPP, are acting unfairly and irrationally. If they were willing to argue, the submission goes, that the Court had no jurisdiction, and that the Articles required that the club appealed to CAS, then how can the SFA refuse to allow the case to go to CAS? Such an application would not therefore be to ask the Court to overturn the sanction imposed, but instead to overturn the SFA decision not to refer any appeal to CAS, based primarily on the SFA’s submission in the original Judicial Review (if that makes sense!)

Of course, if suspended, Rangers might consider that they have nothing to lose, and a challenge, even if risking UEFA or FIFA sanctions, is the only hope for survival.

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The section below, is an adapted version of the climactic scene from the Merchant of Venice, with the cast as follows:-

Duff & Phelps NOT (edit) as the Merchant but as Shylock;

Stewart Regan in a dual role as Antonio (who IS the Merchant), who faces death on the terms of the bond and as Gratiano, midfielder for Juventus;

Lord Glennie as Portia, the wise judge;

Lord Carloway as Portia, when the tables are turned on the villain of the piece;

Neil Doncaster as Bassanio, anxious to resolve the matter in any way he can to avoid bloodshed.

The scene is set. Duff & Phelps stand in the Court of Session before Lord Glennie, holding the words of the Judicial Panel Protocol up to Stewart Regan, and demanding he fulfil them to the letter.

Duff and Phelps

My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,
The penalty and forfeit of my bond.

 

Lord Glennie

It must not be; there is no power in Scotland
Can alter a decree established:
‘Twill be recorded for a precedent,
And many an error by the same example
Will rush into the state: it cannot be.

 

Duff and Phelps

A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!
O wise young judge, how I do honour thee!

 

Lord Glennie

Why, this bond is forfeit;
And lawfully by this these two may claim
A pound of flesh, to be by them cut off
Nearest the Chief Executive’s heart. Be merciful:
Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.

 

Duff and Phelps

When it is paid according to the tenor.
It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
You know the law, your exposition
Hath been most sound: we charge you by the law,
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
Proceed to judgment: by our souls we swear
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter us: we stay here on our bond.

 

Stewart Regan

Most heartily I do beseech the court
To give the judgment.

 

Lord Glennie

Why then, thus it is:
You must prepare your bosom for the knife.

 

Duff and Phelps

O noble judge! O excellent young man!

 

Lord Glennie

For the intent and purpose of the law
Hath full relation to the penalty,
Which here appeareth due upon the bond.

 

Duff and Phelps

‘Tis very true: O wise and upright judge!
How much more elder art thou than thy looks!

 

Lord Glennie

Have by some surgeon, you guys, on your charge,
To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.

 

Duff and Phelps

Is it so nominated in the bond?

 

Lord Glennie

It is not so express’d: but what of that?
‘Twere good you do so much for charity.

 

Duff and Phelps

We cannot find it; ’tis not in the bond.

 

Lord Glennie

A pound of that same Chief Exec’s flesh is thine:
The court awards it, and the law doth give it.

 

Duff and Phelps

Most rightful judge!

 

Lord Glennie

And you must cut this flesh from off his breast:
The law allows it, and the court awards it.

 

Duff and Phelps

Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare!

 

Lord Glennie, metamorphosing into Lord Carloway

Tarry a little; there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh:’
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of SFA blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of UEFA, confiscate
Unto the state of Platini.

 

Stewart Regan

O upright judge! Mark, youse: O learned judge!

 

Duff and Phelps

Is that the law?

 

Lord Carloway

Thyself shalt see the act:
For, as thou urgest justice, be assured
Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest.

 

Stewart Regan

O learned judge! Mark, youse: a learned judge!

 

Duff and Phelps

I take this offer, then; pay the bond thrice
And let the SFA go.

 

Neil Doncaster

Here is the money.

 

Lord Carloway 

Soft!
Those two shall have all justice; soft! no haste:
They shall have nothing but the penalty.

 

Stewart Regan

O youse! an upright judge, a learned judge!

 

Lord Carloway

Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more
But just a pound of flesh: if thou cut’st more
Or less than a just pound, be it but so much
As makes it light or heavy in the substance,
Or the division of the twentieth part
Of one poor scruple, nay, if the scale do turn
But in the estimation of a hair,
Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.

 

Stewart Regan

A second Daniel, a Daniel, you!
Now, infidel, I have you on the hip.

 

Lord Carloway

Why doth you two pause? take thy forfeiture.

 

Duff and Phelps

Give us our principal, and let us go.

 

Neil Doncaster

I have it ready for thee; here it is.

 

Lord Carloway

They hath refused it in the open court:
They shall have merely justice and the bond.

 

Stewart Regan

A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel!
I thank thee, youse, for teaching me that word.

 

Duff and Phelps

Shall we not have barely our principal?

 

Lord Carloway

Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture,
To be so taken at thy peril, you two.

 

Duff and Phelps

Why, then the devil give him good of it!
We’ll stay no longer question.

 

Lord Carloway

Tarry, you too:
The law hath yet another hold on you.
It is enacted in the laws of FIFA and UEFA,
If it be proved against a club
That by direct or indirect attempts
It approacheth the courts of the land,
The party ‘gainst the which he doth contrive
Shall seize one half his goods; the other half
Comes to the privy coffer of Hector;
And the offender’s future lies in the mercy
Of the SFA Judicial Panel, ‘gainst all other voice.
In which predicament, I say, thou stand’st;
For it appears, by manifest proceeding,
That indirectly and directly too
Thou hast contrived against the very job
Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr’d
The danger formerly by me rehearsed.
Down therefore and beg mercy…

 

(Exeunt omnes, pursued by a bear)

 

(Which is of course a stage direction from “A Winter’s Tale”)

 

With apologies to Mr Shakespeare, and with, of course, no resemblance intended between the characters above and any persons living or dead.

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Posted by Paul McConville

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38 Comments

Filed under Charles Green, Football, Football Governance, Rangers, SFA

38 responses to “What Might Happen to Rangers at the Re-Heard Appellate Tribunal?

  1. Albert

    Wonderful!

  2. Billy R

    I think a suspension is workable if it is only for home games and it is for a full round of matches. If 10 matches is the maximum allowed then everyone apart from Celtic can get a 3-0 and the Celtic game goes ahead as usual. That would keep the tv companies happy and would stop teams other than celtic arguing that another got an advantage. It would mean adjusting ther schedule so that all these games were at the start.

    • So 10 teams would get a free 3 points and one doesn’t? Hardly equitable is it?

    • Billy,

      I suspect that Celtic, and Celtic fans, would wonder why they were the only team not getting a free three points. And do you mean Rangers home games, so that Rangers lose 10 or 11 of them, with associated gate money, or home games for the other teams, in which case all the other teams lose out financially!

      • Billy

        Paul, i was meaning rangers home games and mentioned that at the start of my point. If they can change the rules so the original sanction can be applied, I’d prefer that option, but just looking at an option where they get sufficient punishment.

    • William Fraser

      That’s not right. Everybody will be awarded a 3-0 and Celtic will nob them 6-0. It has to be the same penalty for everyone unless Celtic draw or lose to the Canutes

      • Billy

        Brian, not saying it’s a perfect solution, but I read a piece last night suggesting 10 games is the max suspension available using this route. If it was put together in a way that this is what will happen if you don’t issue a public acceptance of the original decision, hopefully they would back down and get say a scottish cup ban for 3 years for taking it to court on top of the 1 year ban

    • Carntyne

      Ha! You just don’t get it Billy, do you?

  3. Brian Jeffrey

    Can this whole sorry mess not be sorted at next week’s AGM if the SFA pass an emergency motion to provide to a Judicial Panel the powers which it was believed, prior to Lord Glennie’s ruling, that they had all along, namely the power to apply “any other sanction deemed appropriate” in accordance with rule 95 of their Articles Of Association? If such a motion was passed and given immediate effect such that it may be applied to all live disciplinary proceedings not yet concluded it would both address the very narrow point of law to which Lord Glennie referred and restore the authority of the SFA and allow the AT to simply reaffirm their previous ruling.

    • Brian,

      I suspect that doing so would lead to a further challenge on the basis that this was, pardon the pun, moving the goalposts.

      The courts have decided what happened was ultra vires and sent it back for decision. Why should the SFA bust a gut to do something which I suspect would be more helpful to Rangers than leaving it to be dealt with under Lord Glennie’s interpretation?

      • Brian Jeffrey

        The attraction as I see it for the SFA is primarily that it restores their authority. It also provides them with a confidence that their rules are henceforth in law, what they had previously erroneously believed them to be, lawful and applicable. The restoration of the initial ruling will go a long way to placating UEFA & FIFA.

        As for further challenge… I don’t see that as a realistic prospect. Mr Green is reportedly very angry with D&P for inviting FIFA’s wrath already, I don’t see him sanctioning more of the same but perhaps more importantly the moving of the goalposts as proposed actually provides the AT with a less severe option than the one which would otherwise be more likely and that must be to RFC’s advantage. It gives RFC the option to complain about the goalposts being moved, play the victim for their supporters but take it on the chin anyway thereby avoiding suspension and claiming that they have done so to prevent the sorry mess dragging on and all for the good of the game.

      • Gopaul

        A jest!!!,,,!,,

        Touché good one Paul, move the goalposts….. Ho ho ho Xmas is early this year……what next own goal, game of two halves, it’s going down to penalties 🙂

      • TheBlackKnight TBK

        Shirley reserving the right for the SFA to govern is at the heart of Scottish football rules? These are extraordinary times requiring extraordinary measures. I think that is a fine suggestion. Extraordinary meeting to determine extraordinary introduction of ‘softer’ high end punishment other than expulsion or suspension would be reasonable?

        Extraordinary 🙂

  4. I think a period of suspension is the most likely outcome. How long for and exactly what that would mean for football is a difficult one – but I;m sure our ace administrators could come up with something …

    Suspension for a year, the liquidation of RFC PLC (ia) and the formation of a genuinely new club starting its life like any other new club and seeking entry to the SFL would be just perfect.

  5. mickd

    Isn’t it expensive to take the case to CAS?

  6. I never thought to cross swords with Paul McConville but if I read your post correctly (suggesting parallels between the Administration and Shylock) you must have been flicking through your Shakespeare very idly indeed. The Merchant of Venice is not Shylock but Antonio.

  7. Sean Michael

    I do enjoy a bit of Shakespeare. Nice analogy Paul. Doff of the cap to thee.

  8. Paul McGinty

    Whilst I don’t want to appear ‘picky’ is Antonio not ‘A Merchant of Venice’, whereas Shylock is ‘A Rich Jew’ – I too have just perused my complete works of Shakespeare after a nagging doubt of the ‘Cast’. That apart an enjoyable and good read.

  9. Paul McGinty

    Remind me to read all replies before posting 🙂

  10. degough

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practise to deceive!”
    I know its not Shakespeare but it seems appropriate.

    It would seem to me that the Panel will suspend Rangers for one season.
    What will Green do then? Will he jump ship or continue with his newco idea?

    If they are eventually liquidated and there is no newco Rangers team, would the fans not simply start supporting a different team? St Mirren for example?

    There will surely be more twists and turns to the saga.

    Fun to read your blog as always Paul.

  11. Excellent blog as usual.

  12. buckfastswallier

    fantastic.

  13. John Kerr

    Thanks Paul: just after 6:00am here in Arizona and that was a stimulating and humorous read to start off the day.

  14. Callum

    Would it not be more likely that the case would be referred back to the original panel, thus leaving Rangers with the same appeals procedure available as previous.

  15. “Any other sanction deemed appropriate”
    Is this not a cover all for whatever sanction the SFA may choose to impose? I can only assume that Lord Glennie, eminent though he may be, failed to consider this point. In order to satisfy him that consideration was given to his judgement, however, I would suggest that the signing ban be reduced to 9 months under auspices of the cover all phrase (above).

    In this scenario Rangers are given the opportunity to accept the changed sanction and thus avoid suspension or withdrawal of their license since if they chose to further appeal then the SFA would have no option but to invoke the more severe penalties open to them.

    This gives Rangers the opportunity to backtrack and the SFA the ability to apply, in essence, the same penalty as before ie a ban covering two transfer windows.

    • Brian Jeffrey

      My understanding is that Lord Glennie did consider the point but excluded it on the basis that rule which introduces it, rule 95 of the Articles of Association was not engaged by the specifics of this particular process and could not therefore be applied. I think that is probably because, at least in Lord Glennie’s view, of a poor drafting of the rules in question. My suggestion is that the SFA rectify that perceived error and thereafter proceed as accords

  16. The malevolent hand of cowardly forces

    It may be quite appealling to the SFA if the SPL were to expedite their enquiry into the EBT allegations and come up with findings/sanctions that render the SFA sanctions irrelevant.

  17. Shyster, Flywheel & Shyster

    I wonder if all the suits at the SFA were too busy involved with the national team’s trip to the USA to properly brief Mr O’Neill QC on the “Any other sanction deemed appropriate”.

    Flywheel

  18. Dhougal

    Fanfeckntastic old chap

  19. Dave

    Paul – you mentioned that you were unsure how a suspension or expulsion would work.
    My understanding of a suspension is that after the period of suspension has lapsed, the club are automatically re-admitted to the game. The difficulty with this is the unplayed game every weekend. Easily remedied by ensuring it’s either a full season or exactly half a season so rfc miss a home and away game against everyone.
    I don’t think this would be such a logistical nightmare and could probably be managed quite easily
    An expulsion would be similar to suspension except the club would be required to apply to re-join. Application may or may not be accepted. May also be required to join at the bottom (Div 3) and find their level.

    I have also considered the “ejection” scenario you explained above and came to the same conclusion……how can they be “ejected” if they’re not in it because it’s not started.

    Personally I think a 1 season suspension would be sufficient. But I fear that the tribunal may “chicken out” and the cup “ejection” may be given as a punishment despite your observations that the cup punishment is often given for minor indiscretions and administration errors

  20. Smiling Death

    If RFC, oldco or newco, were suspended or expelled from the SFA, they could presumably seek membership of another association, is that right? Not sure who would have them, but perhaps a year in the Juniors would allow them to keep the operation afloat, or could they try to affiliate to the English FA?

    • Wook

      I’m pretty sure I read FIFA say somewhere that Rangers joining an association elsewhere would be out of the question. They could always join the juniors though, that would be good craic. And indeed, potentially it opens up a new question: if a non-SFA club (i.e. an SJFA club) wins the Scottish Cup, do they still get into Europe?

  21. To be or not to be that is the question…for the SFA / SPL… whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune or to take up arms against a sea of COMMERCIAL troubles…at Ibrox… and by opposing end… that shower of toxic waste they call Rangers F.C*.
    Either way it is a farce – so SFA and SPL do the right thing NOW and have no regrets in decades to come.

  22. Gilbert Little

    Confused
    I don’t understand how Mr Green can buy the assets without the consent of Mr Whyte if the newco option arises

  23. Ken

    An interesting thought occurred as I considered what options the panel may have with respect to re-addressing the penalties:
    Regarding suspension – is there any reason why this could not be applied retroactively? i.e. say for the latter 1/2 of season 11-12?
    This would remove 34 points from their total amassed, (by my calculation) affecting their SPL prize money accordingly.
    Or even the entire season, which would result in relegation instead of Dunfermline? And again the prize money being redistributed accordingly across the entire league, with exception of Celtic of course, as winners.
    The latter might actually be an ‘acceptable’ punishment – Rangers would actually get off ‘pretty light’, being able to continue to play next season (whether in Newco or Oldco form) in the 1st Division.
    Would that retroactive suspension meet ‘the letter of the law’ in terms of punishments available under the article?
    It might actually be the most fitting punishment anyway, given that their offense (non-payment of taxes during this particular season) undoubtedly affected their resulting league position anyway. i.e. they deliberately used money required for payment of taxes to pay for their playing operations thus gaining unfair sprorting advantage over their competitors who operated under their required financial obligations.
    Of course the ‘dual contract’ outcome may bring even stauncher penalties to bear ………….

  24. “What Might Happen to Rangers at the Re-Heard Appellate Tribunal?”

    They’ll get gubbed.

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