In which I take a closer look at the resolution before the meeting on Friday. It looks as if the SFL members are being sold a pig in a poke, except they have not even been shown the poke, never mind the pig!
A cynic would say that the resolution is designed for one purpose only – to allow “Rangers FC” into SFL1. However, even if passed, it seems to leave loose ends flapping about, as well as an almost impossible task for the three ruling bodies to reach agreement – impossible due to the time available and also the small matter of the rules and constitutions of the relevant bodies!
What About the Proposals Themselves?
At first sight the proposals seem designed to railroad (as it has been described) the SFL teams into admitting Sevco Scotland Ltd to SFL1.
However, I think that the notice must be read as having three separate matters on which the members can vote.
The preamble to the proposals refers to them as plural. If it mentioned “proposal” then it might be seen as one portmanteau resolution to be accepted or refused, but the reference to “proposals” suggests differently.
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.
A simple majority of votes cast in secret ballot is needed to approve this motion. If granted, then Sevco Scotland Ltd becomes a member of the SFL and must, within 14 days, apply for membership of the SFA. It is understood that that application has already been made.
If SFA membership is refused, then the SFL membership is withdrawn, even if that happens mid-season.
Bearing in mind time constraints, when does the SFA think it can decide on the Sevco Scotland application, following an SFL decision on 13th July?
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.
Let’s break this wodge of legalese down.
This only comes into play if part (i) succeeds.
If so, “Rangers FC” will play in SFL3 unless certain conditions are met.
Those conditions can be broken down as follows:-
1 that the SFL Board will have to its satisfaction
2 negotiated and agreed
3 with the SPL and SFA a series of measures which the Board consider to be
4 in the best interests of the game
5 how it is structured
6 how it is governed and
7 how it is financed.
If, and only if the SFL Board considers that all of the above have been achieved, shall “Rangers FC” play in SFL1.
The decision is therefore taken out of the hands of the SFL members, but only if the SFL members agree to that taking place, by a simple majority.
The resolution does not, as far as I read it, require the SFL Board to have reached such agreement on all of the matters mentioned by the meeting on 13th July. What Part (ii) seems to be doing is giving the Board authority to conduct such negotiations for the restructuring of Scottish football and, as soon as the SFL Board is satisfied, at that point the white smoke goes up, and “Rangers FC” is admitted to SFL1. Therefore we could be left, following Friday’s meeting, with the SFL producing two fixture lists, one with “Rangers FC” in SFL1 and one with them in SFL3.
The admission of “Rangers FC” to the SFL in terms of Part (i) should allow the Ramsdens Cup draw to crystallise, perhaps being re-drawn, and for the Scottish League Cup to be drawn as well.
But until the SFL Board is satisfied, then it is unknown if “Rangers FC” would be in SFL1 or SFL3.
If “Rangers FC” is to play in SFL1 this season, then that means that the three bodies involved have to reach agreement within just over a fortnight, at the longest. That might not mean that the new structures have to be in place for season 2012-2013. After all, all the bodies have their own procedures for amending their Rules or Constitutions. And these are not powers delegated, nor indeed delegable, to the Boards.
We could therefore have a situation where “Rangers FC” is admitted to the existing SFL1, with “agreement” in place, subject to approval by the members of the SPL, SFA and SFL, that the new structures do not come into effect until season 2013-2014.
The resolution, for the purposes of admitting “Rangers FC”, does not require the SFL members to approve the new structures, governance etc. Indeed, should the SFL, SFA and SPL reach an agreement on new funding, structures and governance, but this is later rejected by the members of each or all of these bodies.
If therefore the “selling point” for the SFL is that some “New Deal” to its members’ advantage is to be agreed, and thus the SFL will permit the admission to SFL1 of “Rangers FC” there is in fact no guarantee that any such arrangement will be binding. To take a silly example, but reductio ad absurdum works here, should the SPL and SFA propose that, to facilitate the entry of “Rangers FC” to SFL1, each member of the SFL would receive a one off payment of £1 million at the end of season 2012-2013, as a result of the SPL issuing £30 million new shares of £1 each to its members, then the three bodies might all agree that. However, it would not be a decision that could be agreed without the consent of the SPL members, in this instance, and therefore, if they rejected the “agreement” which had been reached, what happens then?
I do not imagine that the SFL members would then vote “Rangers FC” out of SFL1 and into SFL3 mid-season!
Put simply, the deal on offer to the SFL members seems to be akin to Jack selling the cow in the fairy tale for some magic beans, except (a) the beans are not magic and (b) there is no guarantee that, having sold the cow, he will get the beans anyway!
Looking again at the fact that the Resolution seems to envisage a full re-structuring of Scottish football, all to be achieved in under three weeks, I fail to see how anyone can seriously view this as possible, and anything created in such haste is likely to end, at best, in recriminations, and at worst in litigation and disintegration.
The McLeish Report has sat in Hampden gathering dust since 2010. Suddenly it is dusted off and has the mantle of Holy Writ. I’m sorry. This stinks.
In addition there is another problem, on the basis that the structural changes envisaged would require changes to the Rules.
“74. ALTERATION OF RULES
These Rules may be altered or augmented by the Members in general meeting of which notice of amendment has been duly given provided that not less than two-thirds (66%) of Members shall vote in favour of the resolution for amendment.
77. NOTICE FOR RULE CHANGES
77.1 Written notice of any proposed alteration or addition to these Rules must be given to the Chief Executive not later than 31 March in any year, unless the proposers shall have sufficient support to require the calling of a general meeting pursuant to Rule 48 (Members’ Powers to Require Board to Call General Meeting).
77.2 Such notice shall not be required where the proposed alteration or addition is proposed by the Board, but intimation of any such proposed change shall be given in accordance with Rule 78 (Intimation of Proposed Rule Changes).
78. INTIMATION OF PROPOSED RULE CHANGES
All proposed alterations or additions to the Rules shall be intimated to Members not less than fourteen (14) clear days before the general meeting at which they are to be considered.
79. CONDITION TO ALTERATION OF RULE 5
No addition to or alteration or suspension of Rule 5 (Constitution of the League) shall take effect before the expiry of 12 calendar months from the date of passing of the necessary resolution.”
The problems are that to change the Rules at least twenty of the thirty members must vote in favour. In addition, notice of proposed rule changes, where proposed by the Board, as is going to be the position here, must be given to the members at least fourteen days before the meeting. Therefore the meeting on 13th July cannot pass any vote to change the Rules of the SFL.
Rule 79 then comes into play. As you see, it requires that a change to the Constitution of the League cannot take effect for at least twelve months from the passing of the resolution.
All of which makes it very hard to see how any change in league structure can come into play for this season, at least on the highly technical basis that the rules do not permit it!
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.
Under Rule 12 the following applies:-
“No Member shall resign, retire or otherwise cease to be a member of the League unless it shall have given not less than two full seasons prior written notice so to do, unless with the approval of not less than two-thirds (66%) of the votes cast at a general meeting of the League.”
Therefore the members of the SFL will vote on whether to allow the successful team, Dundee or Dunfermline, to resign early and then to enter the SPL. The vote will give advance sanction for early resignation for the relevant team. Of course the affected team will remain a member till at least the vote, and therefore can vote for itself. There is no conflict of interest there.
A two-thirds vote in favour is needed – twenty votes for.
Normally one would not expect there to be any difficulty with this motion. However it provides the members with a final fail safe if they feel they are being forced to take steps they do not want to take.
Possible Voting Outcomes
As I said above, I take it that the three proposals are to be voted on in sequence and individually. The fact however that the last sentence of part (iii) refers to the information relative to part (ii) might suggest that the drafter intends it to be one motion.
In that case, the problem is that different parts require different majorities!
Part (i) needs only a simple majority of votes cast.
Part (ii), if seen as an attempt to change the rules, would require a 66% vote in favour but if not, and on the basis that a later meeting is needed to approve the changes, a simple majority will suffice.
Part (iii) requires a 66% positive vote.
If all one resolution, and say 18 voted in favour, the resolution would fall! In addition there would not then be a vacancy or potential vacancy in the SFL for “Rangers FC” to slot into.
If treated separately, then the Board could win one or two parts and lose a third.
If the members support “Rangers FC” becoming a member, but reject part (ii) does that mean that the new team goes into SFL3 anyway? That would be implied, but the framing of the resolution leaves that in doubt, in the event that part (ii) is rejected.
It would be ironic if, as a result of the pressure being applied to the teams, or that they think is being applied, the vote on part (i) went against “Rangers FC”!
It is all a dreadful mess, isn’t it!
Scottish football careers from one crash to another. Here we now go, facing up to the SFL teams feeling bullied and battered into submission (some of them anyway).
Stewart Regan’s statements about social unrest and the decline and fall of civilisation have all been part of the campaign by the leaders of Scottish football, in apparent conflict with their members (their employers) to save a “Rangers FC” by putting it into SFL1, or SPL2, in opposition to the wishes of almost every football fan, including those of Rangers!
Will the SFL teams, or a least those permitted to vote, cave into to the pressures?
Even if they do, will the SFL or SFA face action, from members, from disappointed applicants or from FIFA or UEFA? I will look at that in the next post.
Posted by Paul McConville
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.
The Rules 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.”