Rangers and History. It’s Very Simple and Neil Doncaster Has the Answer

The issue of history looms large in the minds of football fans at all times, but especially now, as “Rangers” face the possibility losing their great heritage and list of trophies and competitions won, should the team re-emerge as a newco.

There are legal arguments about the history attaching to the corporate entity, which can become complicated when thinking about teams that existed, like Rangers, before the limited company in which it existed was formed. Teams, especially in England, have gone through corporate re-structuring in insolvency, and have come out as a new company but the same team.

I have looked myself through the SPL and SFA Rules and Regulations to see if they help. At one stage the issue of the “SPL Share” seemed to provide an answer, until it was pointed out that, every year, one share at least changes hands. For example, the share held by Dunfermline this season just past has been, or will be, transferred to Ross County, but the history does not go with the share.

Airdrie United, which took over Clydebank, officially has Clydebank’s history. However, Airdrie fans believe that Airdrie United is a continuation of the old Airdrieonians, and for all that we Albion Rovers fans point out that they are not, we actually still think of them as the “Diamonds” of old.

The history lies in the hearts of the fans.

AFC Wimbledon and the MK Dons provides an interesting example. Wimbledon FC had a move to Milton Keynes approved in 2002. This caused a lot of upset in the London Borough of Merton, where they had played. Campaigns were started to get them back or to replace them. AFC Wimbledon started up at the bottom rung of the football ladder.

MK Dons kept the history, against competition from AFC Wimbledon, until in 2007 it agreed to hand over its trophies and medals, not to AFC Wimbledon but to Merton Borough. However MK Dons now only claim to have been formed early this century and have given up their claim to the FA Cup in 1988. AFC Wimbledon claim that now. In light of the MK Dons repudiating its “history” it would seem incongruous at best for any fans to claim a history the club itself had rejected.

As the Wimbledon Independent Supporters’ Association wrote to the FA in 2003 “The identity of a football club is implicitly bound up in its community… The next step must, logically, be for the club to take the name of its new conurbation, and consign the name of Wimbledon FC to history, just as Meadowbank Thistle was consigned to history when Livingston was born. The Brooklyn Dodgers had the good grace to expunge references to where they originated and rename themselves the Los Angeles Dodgers and that good grace would be welcomed in this instance.”

In the same manner therefore, a “Rangers” playing at Ibrox would be considered by the fans to be the continuation of the previous “franchise”.

Mr Doncaster said what is key to this in an interview with the Scotsman last month.

The vital sentence came in response to a question about the ongoing SPL investigation into illegal (under football rules) payments/dual contracts. He said:-

 “You would expect the football club to take with it responsibility for anything that emerged from that investigation”.

There, in a nutshell is the answer to the problem of “history”.

Whilst legally newco cannot be held responsible for oldco’s debts and legal wrongs, the SFA and SPL are clubs which can choose whom to admit as members. They can set their own conditions.

The position Mr Doncaster, and one would assume Mr Regan, would be moving towards would be based on a simple question to whoever runs “Rangers”.

If newco Rangers wants the good parts of oldco, such as the history, it has to accept the bad parts, such as the penalties for bringing the game into disrepute and any penalty for the illegal payments/dual contracts inquiry.

If newco wants to be treated as a new entity, with no penalty for what happened to oldco, it would have to divest itself of its history. If it wanted to keep the history, then it pays the penalties for wrong-doing.

Whilst I am sure that many fans would maintain the history, it would come against a backcloth of the club itself acknowledging it was in fact a new entity, or at best a cousin to the oldco.

A business decision would be a no-brainer. In return for avoiding penalties that could include suspension from the League, just accept that you are a new company? In any field other than sport, that choice would take 1 second (on a slow day). But history matters, and fear of alienating some loyal fans might provoke the owner of newco into formal acceptance of any penalties, as long as this enables the new business plan still to work.

Whatever happens, subject to the possibility that past titles won during the operation of the alleged illegal payments might be stripped, the football record books will show that Rangers won many prizes, culminating in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972. They will remain whatever happens to Rangers. For example, Renton, St Bernard’s, Vale of Leven and Third Lanark Rifle Volunteers/Third Lanark all remain listed as winners of the Scottish Cup.

The issue is not whether Rangers “loses” its history; it is whether newco Rangers agrees to keep it.


Posted by Paul McConville


Filed under Administration, Football, Football Governance, Rangers, SPL

21 responses to “Rangers and History. It’s Very Simple and Neil Doncaster Has the Answer

  1. iamtheperson

    If, in the future, there will be a team in blue, called Rangers, playing football at Ibrox, in front of the same fans, I feel it would be extremely petty to deny that they are a continuation of the same Rangers.

    I would agree that this, as you say, needs to include ALL of the history; the good AND the bad; the successes AND the failures.

    This may well mean that they will have to accept losing some of the honours recently won by illegal means, but to deny them–if they accept the bad parts of their history as well–their fairly won titles, cups and other achievements would be unfair, unsporting, petty sophistry.

  2. TonyD

    HMRC yesterday confirmed that the Oldco is responsible for the EBT claim (should the appeal go against them) and the Newco starts afresh without liability.

    Now, they either man-up and accept their debts and pay the piper whilst retaining their history OR escape their debts and start afresh with a completely clean slate in the 3rd div and consign their titles to the history books. They simply cannot have it both ways and choose some sort of selective hybrid.

    I recently came across a new Rangers website called The Rangers Standard. (RS)The contributors made some very good points on their club moving forward. A welcome contrast to the triumphalist, self-publicised, pseudo-superiority complex that a lot of their following have adopted over the years especially during the recent turmoil.

    I hope the RS sentiments are sincere, and if so adopted and embraced wholesale in the future and the old sectarian cancer (and everything it has come to represent) can finally be extinguished. Its 2012. Time to move on.

  3. Alick Mackay

    No, TonyD, think there are two separate issues – commercial debts and sporting penalties. The newco has effectively nothing to do with the commercial debts – HMRC (and presumably others) will be reduced to litigation against former oldco directors to try to get more back than the pennies in the pound figures being kicked around at the moment. However, to be allowed to take over oldco’s SPL share, newco is dependent on being invited by the SPL clubs. Think the logic therefore demands that the conditions set by the SPL clubs include newco accepting all existing sporting penalties formerly applied to oldco, including whatever replaces the SFA transfer ban, and any subsequent sporting penalties relating to oldco’s activities. That’s assuming that the newco does indeed claim (as Green’s and D&P’s statements yesterday did) that the newco is a continuation of the football club.

    Interesting side question is the grey area of football debts – e.g., transfer monies owed to Hearts, Rapid Vienna, etc.

  4. Timmy7

    ‘The history lies in the hearts of the fans’

    No Paul, those are memories.

    History is in books and, as we all know, it is written by the victors

  5. mick

    lets not forget that there history is to be done when the sfa deal with the double contracts a feel the rangers fans have been badly let done with there suits and feel that murry not whyte should stand trial also he pocketed 6 mil as reported on the bbc show also how can ogilvie still keep his post uefa and fifa have to do there own report and findings so that every1 knows the truth

  6. mick

    new co should mean no history thats what happened to leeds

  7. mick

    for rangers fans to feel some justice out of this the police should move in and charge the suits who scammed the fans or at least question them weres the law in all this ?also with police action this might deter further wrong doing in the future by other suits at other clubs also it would let the little man in the street feel business is audited under criminal law its not just rangers fans that are now left feel parinoid about business but the whole of scotland we have to send a message to people who cheat and steal that its not on

  8. mick

    after all the goings on a think civil law should be abolished when it comes to business and criminal law applyed maybe this would make bussiness people more likely to do the desent thing civil law is ok for familys and minor disputes not for million £ bussiness

  9. G81

    Sorry to be pedantic, but Airdrie no longer own Clybank FC’s history. When the Bankies were resurrected, the Supporters Trust asked Airdrie for use of the Clydebank club crest. Airdrie agreed as they had no use for it. This led to the club history also being transferred by mutual agreement. The club site lists Tommy Coyne, Frank Mcdougall and Jim Fallon on its all time player list for instance.


  10. Jason

    Great update Paul, will the appellate tribunal decision (bound to be severe) sit outwith whatever Green and the SPL members agree to? Or will this tribunal now be deffered until the SPL agree on what to do with the Newco and could their decisions render the tribunal redundant? With everything that is POTENTIALLY hanging over Rangers right now – if i was Green i would take the “lose history, stay in league” option and i’m sure that his investors would be saying the same. Surely they must realise that there is no way to escape severe penalties, but as you say incurring the wrath of the fans (easily done these days) is a nightmare scenario for him. He is now in a lose/lose situation and his gamble has failed. We will now see just how thick Charles Green’s skin is. A year is a long time in politics.

  11. NumbNuts

    I’m not getting this. The way this reads, its as if its purely down to some bartering in a darkened, smoke-filled room to determine whether ‘history’ will be retained or not. To my mind, the NewCo either has or has not bought assets from OldCo that include history of the football club. There should be no dubiety about that; it should be clear.

    I would have to assume that since there is bartering anticipated then that would imply that NewCo have bought the history. Therefore the next title will not be the first. The question is more about do they want to ditch it rather than assume all follow-on penalties. Is that a fair assessment?

  12. Pingback: Why Rangers FC Continues, Even In Newco, and Why This is No Use to CEO Green | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

  13. ianadams

    Rangers football club has been bought by a new company that’s all that has happened history included. It’s up to the sfa to allow the clubs licence to be given to the newco. If its granted then rangers football club are still up and running. It’s up to the SPL members to keep them in there league and even if they say no and they go to the 3rd division (which I think they should) they are still rangers football club est 1873. And that’s exactly how it is. If they are not allowed to transfer there licence then there is no point in keeping the club going there for the new company will start a new team.

  14. hoppy007

    Right, so say the assets were available on ebay, and I was in charge of pub team athletic, I had enough cash to buy the assets up for sale so I did and now pub team athletic are now the rangers football club and I’ve won all these league titles, cups, european cup etc.? And how many games has The Rangers football club played?… zero

    It would be good to rack up loads of debt, do the different clubs & businesses out of their cash, keep the stadium, the players & the history and just play on under a slightly different name as if nothing ever happened. I hear fans saying they’ve been punished enough. What about the group of people that are up to £130M out of pocket? Is £100k fine and 3 years out of Europe a balance?

  15. J McCubbin

    This may be simplistic but surely when Rangers are liquidated they cease to be that entity, therfore League titles,cups ,must remain with that liquidated entity.The newco are exactly that, a new entity and must start with new name, club badge ,and build thier own history.

  16. Steven thomas

    I am a celtic fan so what u lot are saying is if a fan or some one that owns the history of a club then they can own that piece of the clubs history and put them back into a club or what do the fans own the oldco what is happening to our football in scotland my head is numb.

  17. Frank

    So if Celtic decided to sell their European Cup triumph the new owners would be able to say “we won the European Cup” .. i don’t think so, if i bought a Pyramid does that make me Egyptian ?? no, this point of Rangers History is so boring, Rangers fans will never admit they have lost their history, all other SPL fans will never accept Newco has any history, thank goodness FIFA have finally taken the lead and set the record straight,


    I think this clearly makes the point that Rangers have no history and are a new entity, my advice for all you bears with sore heads is just accept it and support your new team, no point crying over lost history.,,,,

  18. Pingback: As We Await the Nimmo Smith Decision, My Reasons For Saying “Rangers FC” Is NOT a New Club | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

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