The SFL and their Approach to Clubs in Chaos – A Guest Post by Matt

Matt, one of my readers, has been kind enough to post a piece for the blog. He makes a simple, but so far much overlooked point about the different treatment meted out by the SFL to troubled teams.


Rangers Football Club (or Sevco Scotland or whatever you want to call them) are in crisis. In Charles Green they have a Chief Executive who refuses to reveal the identity of his backers, refuses to explain how he intends to fund the club as it negotiates its way through a crisis, and seems to be having great difficulty securing a banking facility to take payments for season tickets.

There are various different warring factions within their support, their top players have been leaving in droves, and friendlies involving them have been cancelled as clubs in England and France are not confident that Rangers can actually fulfil a fixture. The club is in a total mess.

In June 2008, Gretna F.C. were relegated from the First Division to the Third Division by the SFL, due to doubts over whether the club – which was in administration at the time – would be able to fulfil its fixtures. In August 2009, Livingston suffered the same fate, despite a new consortium having taken over the club. Again, they were relegated to protect the commercial interests of the SFL in light of the uncertainty that still surrounded the club, even after it had been rescued from oblivion.

Given the amount of uncertainty currently surrounding Rangers FC (so much uncertainty, indeed, that many will question whether “Rangers FC” can be legitimately referred to as such) I think it is fair to assume that, were Rangers currently a First Division club, and were the SFL a fair body which treats all clubs equally, they would be relegated to the Third Division to protect the upper regions of Scottish Football from this toxic doubt.

Of course it would be very controversial if the SFL were to take such action against such a well-supported club. How fortunate it is then, that Rangers are NOT currently members of the First Division, or indeed of the SPL. The SFL then needs to take no action, they can just sit back and invite applications from non-league clubs (and newly formed clubs) to join the Third Division and fill the gap which has opened up. This is not only the safest option, the simplest option, and the most popular with the fans, it is also the only option technically available to them if they stick to their own rules.

But hang on a minute! What’s this I hear? The SFL has decided to actually fast-track this new club called Rangers into the First Division? Not only are they going to bypass the admission process (I’m sure Spartans won’t mind), they are also going to instantly promote them two divisions! Is this because the SFL have changed their mind about clubs in chaos? Have they decided that, if they must have a club who cannot guarantee they will see out the season, they would rather put them in the First Division where their collapse would cause the most damage? Indeed, have they decided that they must, in fact, have such a club? Are they so keen to take such a massive and pointless risk that they will tear up the rulebook, and risk alienating a huge portion of their fanbase?

Apparently, the answer is yes.


Posted by Matt


Filed under Charles Green, Football, Football Governance, Guest Posts, Rangers, SFL

46 responses to “The SFL and their Approach to Clubs in Chaos – A Guest Post by Matt

  1. Paul Cochrane

    The rules are dead, long live the new rules!

    • mick

      great piece of writting matt,the sfl spl sfa are shifting the goal posts to keep the sevco dream alive because there wanting to milk the old hun cash cow its dead and this cloning of sevco the sheep has the whole counrty in a up roar weres the punishment for ebts going to civil court its a desperate attempt by the sporting wings handshake mob to keep control they are in a panic at the massive uproar its a non starter

      • mick

        the bullied is now the bully,all the diddy teams are standing by each other and saying no the little teams smell change and they want to control it not the 3 stooges at hampden running it ,no one wants sevco am loving it huns no league,this week will see a larger number saying no then it will die of death and they will try 2 division that will be a week of headlines to and no entry then 3 rd then tesco time

    • mick

      billy no league pmsl

  2. Al1888

    Interesting to note if Livingston would follow through on thier ‘threat’ of legal action against the league. I believe they do have a case to persue, and as the Scottish court has recently slapped the wrists of the SFA for the transfer ban ruling, one would assume that they would rule in the same manner…

    • Timerocket

      Most Brits think that Italian football is probably corrupt but it would be wise to remember that even they come down hard on top flight clubs following misdemeanours, be they financial (Napoli & Fiorentina)or attempts to pervert the course of matches(Juventus) . Napoli went down 2 divisions to Serie C (a league in which many teams have small grounds and small crowds) and Fiorentina and Juventus to Serie B. It would be a great pity if the SFL were to follow the lead of the English leagues who relegated the likes of Swindon ,Port Vale and Peterborough but only fined Manchester United…………….All other clubs should stick to their guns and INSISTthat the only way in for the newco is by starting at the bottom.

      • michaeljamesroy

        You are mistaken about Fiorentina. They went into judicially controlled administration in June 2002 after racking up an extraordinary amount of debt and suffering relegation. This form of bankruptcy in Italy automatically meant that the club was refused a place in Serie B for the 2002–03 season, and as a result effectively ceased to exist.

        The club was promptly re-established under new ownership in August 2002 as Associazione Calcio Fiorentina e Florentia Viola (note the change in name!) and was admitted into Serie C2, the fourth tier of Italian football. The next season the club won its Serie C2 group relatively easily, which would normally have led to a promotion to Serie C1. However, a bit if chicanery meant that the number of teams in Serie B was increased from 20 to 24 and Fiorentina were able to skip C1 for “sporting merits.”

        Then, in 2003 the club were able to ‘buy back’ the rights to use the Fiorentina name, history, badge, shirt design, and so on.

        A true case of a club being able to redeem itself and be reborn after spending some time in the lower leagues. Undoubtedly they were helped to get back to a level of prominence but there is probably several lessons (and precedents!) to draw from this example.

  3. Joseph

    As I stated in another blog yesterday INTEGRITY must be the in word. If not the Game is dead. A fair crack of the whip to all. No deals. And this comes from a number of Rangers friends of mine! This plan to blackmail other clubs into submission is just that … blackmail! And that is a crime against all decent-living people. Rangers should start again, learn the lessons of their past sins and get on with it. Even I would admire them for this. I also call upon all those involved in this sham plan to resign. They are not fit and proper persons!

  4. Douglas Coupar

    Gretna were relegated because their stadium wasn’t SFL compliant.

  5. riw1

    It is clear the ire of supporters is now directed at the Scottish Football authorities. Their overwhelming & compelling number want the existing rules applied fairly, without favour or gerrymandering. This ill advised document shocks with it’s threats, blackmail & shallow bribe. If anything was designed to ensure Rangers successors will not participate next season in Scottish professional football, this document fulfils that requirement. While I believe It is fair that rules must reflect the circumstances of a time. A little bending to incorporate a bigger picture is reasonable. A cataclysmic scythe is not.

    I’m mindful of the many customers of the former Rangers who wish a new shop to spend their money in. Once they sort themselves out, the opportunity exists for a new Rangers to build for the future, not the past. There is dignity to be gained by helping 29 other clubs in the rebuilding process. As Rangers successors work through the leagues, much attention will be focused & with it, the much adorned profits…

    The wider & more important issue of reforms are essential & these can be achieved, easily, without this deal with the devil.

  6. Den

    Good article Matt.

    “Have they decided that, if they must have a club who cannot guarantee they will see out the season, they would rather put them in the First Division where their collapse would cause the most damage? ”

    Summs up the stupidity of the situation.

    Scottish Football is as corrupt as it comes.

  7. mick

    regan longmuir doncaster must stand aside and stop shifting the goal post to suit sevco its bring more laughter on our country its a joke and so are they weres the ebt results ogilvie brown envolope weather seal brian kennedy halve a million deal with sfa these men know when the dust settles there out the door and its sweeping changes will happen its not the league that needs resuffled its these 3men need but out our game

  8. mick

    regan longmuir and doncaster are not customer focused its time they were sacked scotlands likes service with a smile ,not hush hush secret meetings and pals act ,

    • Pensionerbhoy

      I take it you never needed to get a job in the 40s, 50s, 60s etc., Mick? Then, when you mentioned your school, the smiles soon disappeared and there were plenty of ‘pals’ at ‘secret meetings’ where everything was hush, hush and anti-Catholic, I am afraid.

  9. JimBhoy

    Chaps, I think the SFL document is the equivalent to RFC taking their appeal to the court of sessions. It was that event, in my opinion that caused the snowballing effect amongst fans of every club in Scotland to say ‘enough is enough!’. Not only had Rangers commited the most heinous sporting crime of the century but they thought they could teflon shoulder that off and any punishment therein because it had worked like that in the past with the ‘Peepul!’. The 3 stooges at Hampden are now seen as guilty by association and rightly so. They are not fit and proper and have clearly shown that through the imbalance of fairness they have shown to date.

    I vote for the 3 stooges, D&P and Charlie Green in the big brother house, that I would watch.Maybe throw in Bomber Brown for Rant-value..!

    To all fans, register on the UEFA website and email them with your complaint in the way this whole affair is being handled. We want these guys out we want newly elected officials with the necessary level of business acumen and experience as well as a sporting interest without bias. Ogilvie GTF also. The officials of the game in Scotland under one efficient organisation should be voted in and/or out ever 3 years or by a special appeal by member clubs (backed by the fans voice) so we don’t get into this farcical situation again.

    The club with no name should NOT get an option of any league this year, that would actually do them a favour. If the corrupt dark forces get their way and they get shoe-horned to Div1, I think it just prolongs the agony. They can shut down 3 stands every home game, sponsors will walk not wanting an association with the toxic club and it would be another administration event before Xmas… What will we think of the 3 stooges when that happens.

    I didn’t even mention the dual contracts thing..!

    • Charlie Oscar

      What about the club with NO opinion ?
      They have a support riding on the sporting integrity bandwagon but privately will be doing as much as they think they can get away with to ensure Rangers remain as close as possible.
      They´d prefer the Gers to stay in the SPL to preserve the 11/1 voting structure.

      Thought´s ?

      • michaeljamesroy

        No, I think you’re wrong. Having an opinion and choosing not to share it are two distinct things. They have done exactly the right thing by keeping their own counsel. Anyone who reacts in real time to such a volatile situation – especially when people’s lives could (unfortunately) be at stake through twisting the most carefully worded statement into a declaration of war – is very foolish indeed.

        CFC are monitoring the situation carefully and undertaking continual cost/benefit analyses. When the benefits of saying something outweighs the cost (and to this point there is still considerable benefit in saying nothing as I explained) they will then make a statement. The landscape will have to be MUCH clearer before they do so, otherwise it’s just reacting to the chaos and potentially making it worse.

  10. p groom

    first it was rangers had to be allowed back in to spl and would have been despite the overwhelming protests from all over, but it took the other clubs votes against to scupper that idea. you might think sfl would have taken note but no here we go again to shoehorn them in to div1. if that doesnt work, try div 2 and then finally div 3 which is what most right thinking people said should happen anyway. I suspect the hand of mr salmon is still active. rules? taxes? they are for little people (and little clubs) as leona helmsley once said.

  11. JimBhoy

    I hear Jim Davidson is putting in a bid for the club with no name. Snooker-loopy nuts if you ask me. Apparently he has heard of Whyte, Green, Blue (knights), Brown, Knows the business is being black-balled by all other fan sets. He hears the rulers of Scottish football are shirking their responsibility, being Yellow and none of the so called Rangers legends are willing to raise a PINKy to help get the establishment club out of the mire… Potty if you ask me, Davidson is hoping to pocket a fortune and cushion the club into Scottish top flight football, chalking off the past wrongdoings of the old toxic club. Cue all other bad jokes. Makes me baulk..

    • Matt

      It’ll be a tough job to get Rangers out of the red….

      • JimBhoy

        You know i actually had that to add and forgot as I made that nonsence up 🙂 Thanks and just let me add that this whole thing is a total balls up… The SFA/SPL/SFL are well and truly snookered, no a leg to stand on…

      • michaeljamesroy

        Groan! Next we’ll have someone on claiming they were framed…

  12. SPL/SFL/SFA…..How do they justify the current policy?
    Scottish Football…………..THE TIME FOR CHANGE IS NOW.

    As we all undoubtedly know and understand the SFA/SFL/SPL all without exception have a blue haze influencing their collective, “judgement”. This is not paraniod thoughts, its undeniable truth based on fact. Even today the SFA/exRFC have an ongoing conflict of interest.

    This Scottish Football and now is the time for change.
    The issue before both bodies is a simple one;

    SFL Finances; If the SFL proposal is accepted or enforced where newco are admitted to the 1st Div, then how much will it cost them in court and potential settlement fees when Livingston and Spartans if not the admin/liqudators of Gretna all sue SFL? Would it wipe out any financial benefit with the introduction of newco? I suggest yes and more so. Have they considered this or do they think that they can as they have in the past just bully everyone into accepting their edicts?

    They need to understand that if newco are admitted fairly to Div 3, and we can assume that current RFC would provide a better business case to the league than Spartans, (no insult intended to Spartans), due in the main to the fact that they have, as we are lead to believe, more funding, better facitlities, playing staff even with the players left and better commercial potential. Therefore the financial benefits are to all clubs in Div 3 and progressively through assuming Newco acheive successive promotions. If they fail to gain promotion the relative Div will benefit all the more.

    SPL 1/2 or whatever..
    Yes there will be a limited inpact on the financials of the clubs left in SPL where the 2 home games a year they have an almost full ground due to the travelling fans.

    There are 3 elements worth consdiering here where additional finace will work its way into the clubs “loosing out”

    1. the clubs now entering the 2nd place for qualification into champions/europa leagues have the potential for additional revenue here. Also the current commercial businesses supporting these clubs can be squeezed for additional revenue as the exposure is to a far greater audience. New commercial opportunities also present themselves.

    2. Due to the greater competition and bigger potential prizes, the clubs should conceivably attract bigger crowds for ALL their home games. By adding 1000-1500 on each of the average home gates for a season replaces the “lost income” from RFC attending 2 matches. Look, for example, at the relegation play off between Hibs and Dunfermline last season. Why does it take this game to bring both sets of fans out and pack the ground? If they turned up every home game then perhaps their clubs would not be in that position in the first place. Scottish cup games will not be affected.

    3. (I write this with a fair amount of tongue in cheek) If the status quo remains where home fans still do not attend when either Celtic or Rangers play then an easy way to increase revenue is to allow the travelling Celtic fans more tickets. They do travel and are nearly always over subscribed and looking for tickets, as a travelling fan I am accutely aware of this. Kilmarnock was a prime example last season where despite losing the game they probably sold more “pies” in one day then the whole of last season not to mention the ticket sales. Another 2-3000 tickets available to CFC travelling fans will reduce any loss from RFC and fill the empty home grounds.

    The only people that potenially loose out financially would be Newco. Some would argue that that is fair and just. They will however soon recover I am sure.

    Credibility; SFL pushing this through this proposal will result in a never seen before revolt of all league team supporters as far as can be gauged through websites and media channels. Therefore unforseen losses of income and potential ruination of multiple clubs in all leagues. This all equals the slow and sure demise of Scottish football. Are the SFL prepared to oversee Scottish footballs demise over one team that has absolutely no legal or moral standing currently?? The SFL have surely not factored any of this into their, “proposal”.

    RFC still has questions to be answered and penalties to face.

    The AT still has to decide what to do on the current issue that RFC was found guilty of and has not appealed. They still have to answer to the EBT scheme. There are more financial and legal and maybe even criminal matters under investigation still to be brought.

    If SFL/SPL/SFA enforce, as they have intimated, and RFC accept these penalties under newco set up, as confirmed by Green, then how do they manage the situation, which I have no doubt will arise, of Newco being penalised by either further financial penalties, (that it cannot accomodate or afford in current business plans), or suspension, elimination or points deduction, players transfer embargo etc?

    If the SFL has sought to move heaven and hell to place it in the league of their choice then 3-6 months later the same club faces expulsion from that league where does the leagues credibility lie??

    Surely they have no idea of the outcome and subsequent penalties that would be handed down?

    My suggestion is simple and within the rules and regs, allow Newco to apply to SFA and SFL for a place in 3rd Division. Past lies with the past and they start anew, newco. Then the club and its followers can start to hold its head up and prove that they can operate a successful club without cheating or undue influence from authorities being given.

    The SFL WILL benefit both in credibility and financially from this senario.

    The game in general will benefit as more people will watch a more competative league and hopefully the impact will be generally good for all of Scottish football.

    Seperately I support the changes being made to the league structures but not when they are being rushed through to accomodate one club, this still has no registered or legal standing in Scottish football to date.

    The application of newco still has not been made in full……………beggars belief they do not as yet have the information required to support their application after meeting with the SFA for the last 6 weeks at least in public.

    The leagues should be fairer and if this means that CFC have to concede their “power and influence” through voting rights and financial loss then in my opinion they should. They may lose some revenue to other clubs but in doing so they have a greater ability to replace this revenue.

    They can and should be able to negotiate individual TV/Media deals outside of the current sky/espn deals. They did last year in the Europa league so no reason why not again, it is only SPL/SFA restrictions that prevent teams from striking own club deals. For the good of all divisions finances need to be spread more equally however the fans of these “smaller” clubs also need to get off their collective backsides and go and watch their teams.

    Observations by Michael Kemp

  13. Manwitwoheids

    If all true football supporters are (understandably) appalled at the prospect of Sevco-Rangers-1690-plc being given a free ticket into SFL First Division, here’s a suggestion – vote with your bum. That’s right, just sit on it and don’t attend any match at which they play – and don’t watch them on the TV either! If enough people do that and revenue plummets, SFL might just do a rethink. Mind you maybe SFL don’t do thinks, let alone rethinks. On a lighter note, will Sevco etc. etc. have a new away strip, maybe called a “walking away strip” or don’t they do that?

  14. mick

    it looks to me as if scotland is saying no to rangers and all its drama

  15. mick

    billy no league pmsl lol haha billy no league your being passed round leagues like a scud book in barlinnie lol pmsl haha

  16. Ernesider

    According to one of the below on a Daily Record podcast I listened to today, you are all 12 year old kids clacking away on your parents computers in the attic to the light of a 20 watt bulb.

    “Daily Record’s Jim Traynor, Keith Jackson, Hugh Keevins and Craig Swan sit down to debate what options are left for the Ibrox club”

    • Charlie Oscar

      Was it not 14 year olds/ 40 watts ?

      Perhaps you worked at the turnstiles in a past life.

      • mick

        oscar your scum making that comment fuck off else were creep

      • Charlie Oscar

        To explain to hard of thinking Mick,
        It has nothing to do with peados, it´s a reference to the turnstile controversy where it is widely reported that Celtic counted the paying customers on the low side
        Hence the 14/40 became 12/20.

        Get it now or do you need pictures ?

    • why waste your lifes time listening to these muppets, they re all lapdogs with no teeth

  17. Charlie Oscar

    Everyone is entitled to their (interested) opinion as are the clubs involved.

    Celtic, the club who don´t like to speak officially on issues so use the likes of CQN and Barcabhoy to spread the line that they´re full of sporting integrity.
    It goes down well with the support as it supports the stance that has been used to build momentum for their campaign.

    Thing is though, Celtic FC PLC don´t really think this way and for that reason won´t comment directly on the matter.
    CFC will be looking for a solution that keeps Rangers as close to the SPL as possible.

    I trust that those who have occupied the moral highground for the last few months will be suitably disgusted.

  18. mick

    billy no league

  19. k

    Hi Paul, referring to an earlier post, soap your questions will be answered next week, who was the Yorkshire actor seen leaving asda Govan with their face tripping them on the day Mr Greens cva was rejected? Emmerdale anyone.

  20. Robert

    The Gretna situation was different in that at the end of the season all of club’s employees, including players, were made redundant.

    • Matt

      I never claimed that the Gretna situation was the same as the Rangers situation. It is different in half a hundred ways. The one similarity though is that Gretna in June 2008, and “Rangers” in the present day, were/are clubs who were/are surrounded by a great deal of uncertainty.

      I think you have somewhat missed the point I was making. I was pointing out that the SFL has, in the past, relegated clubs to protect its more lucrative leagues from being adversely affected by the chaos surrounding those clubs. Given the potential for all sorts of legal challenges which could delay the start of the season, and given the possibility that “Rangers” could well hit more financial problems causing them to collapse before the season is finished, one might expect the SFL to do everything in its power to keep “Rangers” away from the First Division.

      Instead it is doing everything in its power (and perhaps a number of things which are not really in its power) to do the exact opposite.

    • JimBhoy

      One could argue that D&P should have taken the same course of action in Feb and let the higher earners go. Alternatively worked with the high earners and their representatives to line up a transfer for them, kicking in as soon as the window opened. Either way Rangers would have had some income through sales of players and/or a much lesser wage bill from march. In 3.5 months D&P must have had some inclination that a CVA was not gonna happen, it only needed a phone call to ticketus or an HMRC rep. Very naive also to think liquidation would not mean an end to players’ contracts.

  21. jim

    Can anyone answer these questions for me. If Rangers had not cheated or cheated, ( I cannot think of any other words to describe their actions), and had just simply been rotten, and relegated, would measures have been put in place? If they take their place in a lower division and have no team and do not gain the promotion “the peeple” speak of, will measures be put in place? What lengths will the establisment go go to ensure that Scotland has that utopian institution, A Strong Rangers, the one they tell us we need?

  22. Ernesider

    Just to make clear why I made my previous post. I can’t stress too much how highly I rate this blog and check for updates every day. I was bringing to peoples attention an attempt by a media outlet, which along with most others has failed to bring the full truth to public notice, to demean what is going on here and elsewhere. The Rangers Tax Case blog deserves particular praise.

    • Charlie Oscar

      Media always have an agenda and that includes the RTC blog.

      The blog was very good at the investigative side of things up until the turn of the year when it became a slightly upmarket Celtic forum with an occasional incisive piece.
      This has coincided with RTC himself losing a degree of interest in it.

  23. Ernesider

    Yes Pensionerbhoy I remember well.

    On a visit to Belfast
    I went into a bar one Saturday evening in the late sixties to listen to the football results. When the Scottish Cup results were read out a complete silence descended on the pub. My first reaction was not euphoria, but to get out of that bar as quickly and quietly as I could.

  24. David C MacKenzie

    From Alex Thomson on Twitter tonight
    alex thomson ‏@alextomo

    #c4news tomorrow story on interests, conflicts, Campbell Ogilvie, Donald Findlay and Jim Ballantyne – Airdrie, Cowdenbeath, Hearts – and RFC

    Looks like a blog entry as well.

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