So today is the day. The SPL members meet at Ibrox to vote on the application by Duff & Phelps to register the transfer of the SPL share formerly owned by Rangers Football Club PLC (RFC PLC) to Sevco Scotland Ltd.
That is what, from the limited coverage of what the vote actually is, the issue for today seems to be.
As I mentioned before, I think that the present shareholder, acting through the administrators, Duff & Phelps, is eligible to vote. It will be interesting to hear if in fact Mr Green of Sevco attends the meeting as proxy for RFC PLC. This would entitle him not just to make his presentation in an effort to persuade seven other members to vote for the transfer to be completed, but to be present in the discussions throughout.
It might be easier for other members to reject the Rangers application if the man who hopes to run the new “Rangers” was not sitting in the room all the way through.
It is possible that another member could object to there being a vote by RFC PLC. That would be decided by the Chairman of the meeting and, if there are any other SPL members wavering on their decisions to vote against the proposal, it might have a bolstering effect as eight others would need to support the motion out of eleven, rather than seven others, as at present (on the assumption that RFC PLC will vote in favour).
The absence of any speculation about this suggests that no one will make an issue of this, but as the rules say that a member is only “entitled” to hold a share whilst the owner and operator of a football club, and now RFC PLC is neither, it is no longer entitled to use the share.
There has been discussion about the possibility of RFC PLC dropping the application, on the basis that it seems doomed to fail and during the course of the meeting, the attitude of the members will be clear. However I do not think that would happen. For PR purposes Mr Green and his Sevco group need to have the application refused, rather than letting it fall. On that basis he cannot be accused by fans of Rangers as conniving in the failure. A defeat on a vote will identify those who may be perceived by some of the Ibrox faithful as “the guilty men”.
It struck me as analogous to the end of the First World War. Germany, on the brink of collapse, socially, economically and militarily, chose to surrender rather than have the Allied armies sweep across Germany itself causing further untold death, misery and destruction. It was a vital piece of self-preservation.
However, it allowed the growth of the myth that Germany had not in fact been defeated and became known as “The Stab in the Back”. Germany would have won the war, ran the theory, if not for the craven politicians surrendering. This myth was one of many factors which powered the rise of the Nazi Party.
(For the avoidance of doubt, I am NOT comparing Rangers to Germany, the Nazis or warmongers. There is an analogy which is relevant, but no such comparison should be drawn. Neither is this a veiled reference to “Huns”. Thank you.)
If RFC PLC withdrew the application then there would be some amongst the Rangers supporters, I suggest, who would perceive Mr Green as surrendering and therefore being complicit in whatever happens to their team. Better to go down with all guns blazing, metaphorically. Death, or rather a place in SFL3, with honour!
As of just now the SPL website still lists ”Rangers Football Club” as a member. Will that change later today, depending on the vote? In addition, the website refers to Rangers Football Club as being established in 1872. So, as far as the SPL goes, at least up to today, the club still exists.
The BBC has reported that last night there were conference calls amongst “worried” SPL chairmen. Are these the same un-named chairmen with whom Mr Green has met over the last few days?
One peril the other members face is that, having publicly declared a position, it becomes very difficult to change stance. If chairmen think that some apocalyptic financial presentation today, for example, justifies them voting in favour having announced an intent to refuse the application, they would need to be prepared for a backlash from their own customers. Scottish football fans seem united in the view that Sevco Rangers should not play in the SPL in the coming season, and the prevalent opinion is that SFL3 is the place for them. In addition, there is the possibility that a shareholder of any team which looks to change stance could seek legal redress for doing so, on the basis that the directors were failing in their duty to the shareholders of the club. Whilst such an application would probably be unsuccessful, it could tie the hands of a club which intended to change its position, pending a legal determination. More chaos!
Should the members of the SPL who have clearly and publicly made their views clear now change, that would, I suggest, be even more harmful to Scottish football than the loss of “Rangers”.
If it looked as if matters were going that way, I suspect that the vote would be delayed to allow the wavering members to return to their clubs and then mount a spin campaign to explain why they were changing tack. I suspect it would not work, but they would need to try it.
Alternatively, the SPL members, in an effort to avoid being left like Brutus over Caesar, with the blooded knife in the hand, could delay a vote and leave it up to the SFA to decide what to do about membership. If the SFA refuse to grant membership to Sevco Scotland Ltd, then the problem for the SPL is solved. That though would cause even more chaos and delay, and would lead to a serious risk that the Scottish football season does not get underway as scheduled.
So today will be very interesting, as every day in this saga seems to be.
Will RFC PLC insist on a vote?
Will any SPL members feel that they should consider changing their stance?
If so, would Mr Green agree to a delay in the vote, if he thought it advantageous?
Can the SPL, by delaying the vote, put the ball firmly in the SFA’s court, leaving Mr Regan’s organisation to determine the fate of “Rangers”?
What would any delay do to the SFL vote scheduled for next week?
I suspect that this story still has a considerable way to run.
All eyes now turn to Hampden and we await the metaphorical white or grey smoke from within the meeting.
Posted by Paul McConville