The SFL’s Rules? Ignored in “Exceptional Circumstances” – Guest Post by Hugh

I recently wrote to the SFL regarding the draw for the First Round of the Scottish League Cup.

I pointed out that the Format rules (as published on their website) state that the First Round draw will comprise of the 30 lowest teams of the SFL and SPL as at the end of the preceding season (i.e. the 30 then SFL teams). Thus Ross County should have been included in the draw and not ‘The Rangers FC’. I did acknowledge that this would cause an imbalance with only Eleven SPL clubs joining in later rounds due to Rangers’ absence, unless the Format rules were changed.

The reply I received confirmed (verbatim) ” I am sure you will agree that the circumstances which have seen this come about have been exceptional and that, accordingly, the rules, as you have stated, have not been implemented to the letter due to these exceptional circumstances.”

The fact is that the rules have not been changed, but rather an ad hoc decision has been made by “someone”. There was certainly no publication of any kind of vote being taken, either by Clubs or a Board.

Now, it may be irrelevant to the Clubs concerned, with one or two smaller Clubs getting a pay-day against Rangers in earlier Rounds, and depending on whether Ross County would have preferred to skip a Round or get some extra income from participating in it, given that they finished the strongest SFL team.

My point is that, when there have been so many arguments about Rules during the Rangers issue, the Football Authorities must be careful to abide by them or change them by democratic consent, not make them up as they go along.

The Golden Rule is that there are no Golden Rules” (George Bernard Shaw).

Posted by Hugh McVey


Filed under Football, Football Governance, Guest Posts, SFL

34 responses to “The SFL’s Rules? Ignored in “Exceptional Circumstances” – Guest Post by Hugh

  1. josephmcgrath112001809

    Who was it who said”Rules are made to be broken”? Couldn’t be the SFL could it?

  2. josephmcgrath112001809

    Mind you – a precedent has been set – the rules do not apply!

  3. Slugger O'Toole

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodies ?

  4. mick

    well said hugh there making it up as the go along its total goal post shifting double standards ,they have bowed to fan threats they shold have expelled them ,sevco are not in div3 on merit its via the handshake

  5. charliedon

    The question is, where does all this end? If Sevco Rangers need a goal to get them promoted, does the referee just give them a penalty for an infringement anywhere on the field? It’s only a rule, after all, that the infringement should be in the box, and these would be exceptional circumstances……

  6. MidCalderan

    The rules are; there are none but here’s one we made earlier.

  7. “To every rule there is an exception – and an idiot ready to demonstrate it”

  8. Gobsmacked

    After the banking fiasco it was declared that we would have to rewrite the Economics books. One astute Economist pointed out that we didn’t have to rewrite them we just had to read them. Similarly the SFA will come to rue the day they decided to play pick’n’mix with the rulebook. They have tainted their authority and it does beg the question as to how they can demand full obeyance of a rule book they didn’t respect. They have no shame and now no authority.

    • Frank Galvin

      It is particularly galling when one considers that other clubs were fined and expelled from competitions for the purely accidental breaching of rules. The golden rule seems to be ‘do whatever you can to help ‘The’ Rangers.

  9. Hugh McVey

    @josephmcgrath112001809 – Joe, you need to get a shorter name. I’m burned out already just typing that in. Indeed, precedents have been set.
    @Slugger O’Toole – Correct – Who watches over the guardians?
    Quis, Quid, Ubi, Quibus Auxilus, Cur, Quomodo, Quando? Quo Iure?
    How’s your mate Bill Tracy from Dover doing?

    The simplest Rulebook in the World is the Woman’s Rulebook which consists of only 2 Rules which never need amending :-
    Rule 1 – I am always right.
    Rule 2 – When I am wrong, Rule 1 applies.

  10. james

    @charliedon .. that’s only fair, after all that’s exactly what the gers have gotten away with in the SPL for years. Div3 are about to get their eyes opened !

  11. Brian Jeffrey

    Talking about rules… Can anyone confirm the position in relation to the transfer embargo which The New Rangers have “agreed to”. If it starts on 1st Sept 2012 and runs for a year it will end on 31st August 2013 which happens to be a Saturday. Is it not common practice that the governing associations let the window extend till the close of business on the following Monday , notionally at least, to allow for the processing of transfers conducted on the Saturday (this not being a routine working day)? That being the case The New Rangers will be able to spend the transfer window teeing up deals which they will seek to ratify on Sunday 1st September 2013 and have the SFA process them before close of play on Monday 2 Sept 2013 thereby flouting the obvious intent of the initial embargo that they are banned for two transfer windows.

    • ecojon

      @Brian Jeffrey

      The only thing I would take issue with you on is the phrase ‘flouting the obvious intent of the initial embargo’. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least that the ‘window’ was precisely engineered to Rangers’ advantage while giving the semblance of a restrictive embargo which the MSM would never spot or if they did would turn a blind eye to.

      As to ignoring the rule book this has happened all the way through this affair and is a disgraceful contempt towards Scottish Football by its despotic rulers who have now been truly exposed perhaps for the first time through the actions of the ‘internet bampots’.

      This swamp needs to be cleared!

      • ADM

        @Brian Jeffrey, @ecojon

        Think the SFA are clean on this one. This question came up when the date was first announced and the SFA issued a clarification (via Twitter, from memory) to say that the window will close on the 31st so the embargo will be for two windows.

      • Brian Jeffrey

        If they did, then I missed it. Hope you’re right though. Thanks or the update

      • Brian Jeffrey

        @ADM I just checked the SFA website. They did indeed issue a statement seeking to clarify the position regarding the Appellate Panel process. The clarification confirms that the embargo will by agreement finish on 31 August 2013. The crucial point at issue is that because the 31 st August 2013 falls on a Saturday the transfer window for Summer 2013 is likely to be extended until the close of business on the following Monday 2 September. This is ostensibly because the SFA offices would not routinely be open on a Saturday and transfers completed on the Saturday ,being within the transfer window, would not otherwise be registered by the deadline. That 2 day extension of the transfer window will however give Rangers 2 days a two day transfer window during which they can register new players. They will therefore be able to tee up their targets and get them to sign on the Sunday or Monday and have it all processed by close of business on the Monday. This all means that they will be able to sign new players next summer. The only way to avoid that outcome is for the SFA to ensure their offices are open on the Saturday to register business conducted that day or to alter the terms of the agreement

      • ADM

        @Brian Jeffrey

        No, that’s not the clarification I was talking about. If you go to their Twitter record (, there are tweets from the evening of July 20th (date of the original announcement) where they say (in response to the point you raised) that “Registrations dept operates on Saturdays, so window closes Saturday 31 August”

    • Brian Jeffrey

      @ADM Thanks again. I have checked your referral… it couldn’t be clearer. The Registrations Dept are open on Saturdays and transfer window closes on Saturday 31st August.

      • Janny

        That’s irrelevant. Rangers can still bring free agents in next summer and sign them before 1st September (it’s a registration embargo so they won’t be able to play unless as a trialist, which SFL rules allow) and then register them on the 1st of September…

    • Grabthegrass

      The only time I recall the window being extended was when it fell on a public holiday. At least if it is a Saturday it should prevent the ridiculous spectacle sky sports news make of it as football will be bring played. Rules sometimes need to be adjusted to suit events, ask we ask is that these adjustments are open and in line with the previous overall policies.

  12. charliedon

    How right you are! In fact, in some 40+ years of watching Scottish football I’ve seen the former Rangers get many, many very dodgy penalties and other decisions in their favour. But in all that time, I honestly cannot recall EVER witnessing a debatable penalty being awarded against them. An astonishing statistic!

  13. ADM

    To be fair, I’m not sure there was a route through here that did follow all the rules, simply because the framers of the rules never envisaged the events of this summer. Certainly true that, if the authorities had got their act together, this could and should all have been sorted out in time but, having let it all drift on, they’ve painted themselves into a corner. I suppose my view is that, if the rules were never written to deal with the situation you find yourself in, then some kind of workaround is inevitable. Having said that, a bit more open-ness (maybe even, who knows, some kind of democratic process involving the members) in determining the workarounds would be a good thing.

    On the specific point of the League Cup, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume the intent of the rules as written was that the teams in SFL 1-3 go into the first round draw and the SPL teams join later. The central questions are whether Rangers should have been offered a place in SFL3 and whether they should be granted SFA membership. If the answer to those is yes, then fiddling around with the draw of the League Cup so that they take one of the SFL places feels like probably the right answer. Of course, that sentence does start with an “IF”.

    • ecojon


      I think you’ve hit it on the head – you can never ever draft a rule-book to cover every eventuality. So when the unexpected happens you’ve got to use what you have and create a work-around but it should always be compatible with at least the spirit of the existing rules.

      And there has got to be some kind of ‘democracy’ applied – there has been plenty of time to arrange a meeting. Of course perhaps there has been a tele-conference or whatever – it would be par for the course for that to have happened and a case of the officials shooting themself in the foot by not making it public.

      • Brian Jeffrey

        Nothing happened this summer that was not covered by the rule book. The powers that be chose not to apply the rules because the deemed Rangers to be too big to fail, to the extent that we came to the absurd position where the transgressor of the rules was in negotiation with the governing bodies about the nature of the investigations and punishments they would accept. It is a shameful farce!

  14. iain

    Give up
    It’s over

  15. when is sevco stadium getting refurbished,because its full of asbestos thinking of ones health

    • ecojon

      @thomas mccarthy

      Not sure refurbished is the word I would use but sooooooooooooon!

      Ah it’s demolition I was looking for.

  16. ecojon

    Well it certainly doesn’t seem to be over by a long chalk.
    Rangers: SPL appoint commission to investigate payments

    The Scottish Premier League have appointed an independent commission to rule on Rangers’ alleged use of employee benefits trusts from 2000-11.

    Now doubt bigotry of other clubs as well as the SFA and SPL towards Rangers will be blamed for this decision. Now whether that is religious bigotry appears to have become a moot point in the last few days among Rangers supporters. As a west of Scotland Scot I know that ‘bigotry’ means religious bigotry as do the Rangers support.

    If we want to get all technical about it: The origin of the word bigot and bigoterie (bigotry) in English dates back to at least 1598, via Middle French, and started with the sense of “religious hypocrite”.

    The state of mind of a bigot, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”.

    Bigotry may be based on real or perceived characteristics, including age, disability, dissension from popular opinions, economic status, ethnicity, gender identity, language, nationality, personal habits, political alignment, race, region, religious or spiritual belief, sex, or sexual orientation. Bigotry is sometimes developed into an ideology or world view.

    Well we’ve certainly come across the world domination view previously but if Rangers supporters believes that Charlie Bhoy wasn’t meaning ‘religious bigotry’ could they perhaps pick a ‘bigotry’ from the list that better desribes what he was saying.

    I love this one btw: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. described bigotry in the following quotation: “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract.”

    Apparently tunnel vision and the application of a blue filter has no appreciable effect as the mind and eye of a bigot is miniscule with no contraction left 🙂

  17. Hugh McVey

    Quis, Quid, Ubi, Quibus Auxilus, Cur, Quomodo, Quando ? Quo Iure?
    (Who, What, Where, With What, Why, How, When? [and most importantly]
    By What Law?)

  18. ecojon

    @Hugh McVey

    I’m sitting here with flashbacks of being at school chanting Latin 🙂

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