In which I look at the public comments by David Longmuir on the issue of new members of the SFL, and the different process being followed three months after his declaration.
In addition, I wonder if the SFL has carried out any checks on the financial stability of Sevco Scotland Ltd.
I reproduce the text of the Notice of Meeting at the foot of this post, along with the relevant Rules.
What Procedure Must the SFL Follow?
The Rules do not specify a procedure other than the basic application process mentioned therein. The Rules do not require there to be an open competition for admission.
However, David Longmuir, Chief Executive of the SFL described in the Daily Record in April the process for replacing Gretna and how this might be replicated for “Rangers”.
“If Rangers or anyone else applied for entry into the SFL they would have to go through the same process as Annan, Spartans FC, Preston Athletic and Cove Rangers did four years ago. They would have to put a proposal to us on why they should be allowed in and then hope they were voted in by the SFL clubs.
“… anything that brought excitement and freshness to the SFL would be something I’m interested in.
“It would be the same process, given any set of circumstances. When Annan were welcomed in the process took a couple of months during the close season. In the past we’ve had to assess the likes of Annan, Cove and Preston on the basis of ground criteria, facilities and financial stability. So checks have to be done, which would obviously be a bit different if Rangers were involved.
“Currently, the SFL don’t have a vacancy. The issue Rangers are facing is an SPL matter because they’re a top-flight club. If things change we would follow a tried and tested process, which we’ve always done. If a vacancy arose in the SFL, for whatever reason, we would open up an application process for clubs. We did the same when Gretna went into liquidation.
“A vacancy was opened up in the Third Division and we went through an application process, which allowed a new club to join. The 29 member clubs of the SFL would be asked to vote on who they wished to bring in to the Third Division.
“It’s based on a lot of criteria and the last time it was Annan Athletic who were successful. So of course it is possible for Rangers to play in the Third Division. They only need to look at recent history to see how the process works.”
Funny how things can change!
The implication of Mr Longmuir’s statement is that an open application process would take place. Does anyone know if the SFL has invited applications from anyone else? Indeed, have any other teams filled in their form and lodged their application fee?
What checks have been done about “financial stability” on Sevco Scotland Ltd? As Mr Longmuir said “So checks have to be done, which would obviously be a bit different if Rangers were involved.”
Of course whilst “Rangers” is involved, Rangers is not. What checks have been done therefore by the SFL into the financial stability of Sevco Scotland Ltd? As Mr Longmuir said, these must be done.
In addition, if he has now altered his position regarding the procedure to be followed, this could lead to action from an aggrieved party who had been given a “legitimate expectation” that the same procedures as before would have been followed. Spartans or Cove Rangers off to the Court of Session maybe? As Mr Longmuir described in April, the SFL would open up “an application process for clubs” as happened when Gretna failed.
I have not seen any explanation by Mr Longmuir or the SFL as to why the procedures and processes mentioned by him in April have not been followed.
The absence of any justification for this change might be an attempt not to offer an explanation, as any explanation might provide a basis for a legal challenge. However, the absence of an explanation might itself found a case!
As with the issues of voting rights referred to in my last post, here too is an area where court action following the vote is clearly a significant possibility.
The words of the CEO in a newspaper do not change the rules, however they can be assessed by a court in determining if the regulatory body, in this case the SFL, has acted in a reasonable and fair manner, and if any departure from previous procedures and processes is justified.
Subject: SFL Special General Meeting – Friday, 13th July, 2012
Dear Sir or Madam,
NOTICE OF SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING – SCOTTISH FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Notice is hereby given that a Special General Meeting of The Scottish Football League will be held within the Bell/Baird Suite on the fifth floor of Hampden Park, Glasgow on Friday, 13th July, 2012 at 11.00 a.m. for the purpose of considering and, if thought fit, approving the following proposals:-
(i) That the Scottish Football League Members agree to admit Sevco Scotland Limited as an Associate Member and agrees to permit Rangers F.C. to play in the League during Season 2012/13.
(ii) That the Scottish Football League Members direct the Board of Management of The Scottish Football League (the “Board”) to provide that Rangers F.C. shall play in the Third Division of the Scottish Football League during Season 2012/13 unless the Board shall have to its satisfaction negotiated and reached agreement with The Scottish Premier League and The Scottish Football Association on a series of measures which the Board shall consider to be in the best interests of the game, how it is structured, how it is governed and how it is financed, whereupon the Board shall be authorised to provide that Rangers F.C. shall play in the First Division of the Scottish Football League during Season 2012/13.
(iii) That the Scottish Football League Members in terms of Rule 12 approve the resignation of either Dundee F.C. or Dunfermline Athletic F.C., whichever shall be admitted to join the Scottish Premier League for Season 2012/13, such resignation to take effect as at the date of admission of such club to the Scottish Premier League, notwithstanding that the requisite notice under Rule 12 shall not have been given. Details of the series of measures referred to at (ii) above shall be made available to the Members in advance of the meeting and an opportunity for full discussion of those measures will be given prior to the proposals being put to the meeting.
In accordance with the terms of SFL Rule 53, your club must send one representative to this meeting and I would be most grateful if you could advise me of the name of your representative by return.
A buffet lunch will be served at the conclusion of the meeting.
David A. Longmuir
Chief Executive, SFL.
Where are the Rules which govern this situation? They are contained in the Constitution of the SFL.
Under Rule 7, Sevco Scotland Ltd has applied for Associate Membership of the SFL.
The decision on that is part (i) of the motion before the meeting.
Rule 9 states:-
“The League in general meeting may upon such terms and conditions as it may think fit admit any club as an Associate Member or Member of the League and may expel any Member or Associate Member or terminate such membership or may accept the retirement of any Associate Member or Member, but subject always to Rule 126 (Reversion of Transfer of Registration Rights). Upon admission as a Member or Associate Member, the club so admitted shall become bound by and be subject to these Rules and any other Rules or Bye-Laws made by the League for the time being in force.”
Rule 53 deals with General Meetings:-
“53.1 Each Member and Associate Member must send one representative, who must be an Official, to all general meetings (and to all other meetings by whatever name called) of the Members of the League.
53.2 All representatives of Member Clubs must exercise their vote on all matters which fall to be decided at general meetings. Any Member Club whose representative fails to comply with this Rule shall be dealt with by the Board as a disciplinary matter in such way as the Board thinks proper.
53.3 Each Member Club, acting by its representative, shall have one vote on all matters for decision at meetings of the League.”
Rule 56 deals with voting:-
“56.1 A resolution put to the vote of a general meeting must be decided on a poll conducted by secret ballot in accordance with these Rules.
56.2 Associate Members shall not be entitled to vote.”
Rule 58 deals with Amendments to Resolutions:-
“58.1 A resolution to be proposed at a general meeting may be amended by a resolution if:
58.1.1 written notice of the proposed amendment is given to the Chief Executive by a person entitled to vote at the general meeting at which it is to be proposed not less than 48 hours before the meeting is to take place; and
58.1.2 the proposed amendment does not, in the reasonable opinion of the Chairman of the meeting, materially alter the scope of the resolution.
58.2 If the Chairman of the meeting acting in good faith wrongly decides that an amendment to a resolution is out of order, the Chairman’s error does not invalidate the vote on that resolution.
58.3 An amendment to a resolution shall be put to the meeting first and if carried, the meeting shall then vote on the resolution as so amended.”