What are the Rules of the Rangers FC/SPL Disciplinary Commission?

The SPL issued the following press release today:-

The Scottish Premier League today announced that it has appointed an independent Commission to inquire into alleged EBT payments and arrangements made by Rangers in relation to players during the period from 2000 until 2011.

The Commission will determine whether during that period in relation to alleged EBT payments and arrangements for players, Rangers was in breach of the relevant SPL Rules.

In the event that the independent Commission decides that such breach or breaches occurred the independent Commission will have powers to determine what sanctions, if any, are appropriate.”

As promised proceedings have commenced prior to the start of the SPL season, although not prior to Rangers FC’s season.

What happens now?

At the foot of the post you will see I have reproduced the section from the SPL rulebook which deals with matters such as this. You can find it online here.

First of all the matter can be investigated by the SPL Board or by a Commission appointed by the Board.

It has the power of inquiry inter alia into “any suspected or alleged breach of or failure to fulfill the Rules by any Club … and every Club and Club Official and Player shall be liable to and shall afford every assistance to the … Commission, as may be requested or required of it or him.”

The Commission has the power to determine whether or not the rules have been breached, and can exercise specific powers “as it shall think appropriate”.

The commission has the power to require the attendance of what is called in the Parliamentary context “persons and papers”. Failure to co-operate would amount to a further breach of the rules by the miscreant.

The Panel is a “taxi rank” of people willing to sit on the Commission. The Board members of the SPL are entitled to be members of the Panel, but I suspect they would not be on the Commission to be fixed here. There is a requirement for the Panel to have legally qualified members on it to be able to act as chairman of the Commission.

The Commission must have at least three members. Any decision of a majority of them, subject to the rights of appeal, is final and binding. The SPL Board will appoint one of the Commission members to be the chairman of the Commission. The chairman must be independent of the parties involved. There is no need in a case like this for the chairman to be legally qualified, but I am sure that they will be.

If the Commission decides that there has been a breach of the rules, then it has a comprehensive shopping list of penalties and disposals available to it. Unlike the SFA Judicial Panel Protocol which detailed specific penalties for specific offences, and this restricted what the SFA Panel could do, as Lord Glennie decided, here the list is not allocated to individual offences.

The following is a list of the nineteen different penalties open to the Commission:-

1 warning as to future conduct;

2 reprimand;

3 a fine;

4 annul the result of an Official Match;

5 order that an Official Match be replayed;

6 impose a deduction of points;

7 award an Official Match (with such deemed score as it thinks appropriate) to a Club;

8 order the playing of an Official Match or Matches behind closed doors;

9 order the closure of all or part of a Stadium for such period and for such purposes as it thinks appropriate;

10 order the playing of an Official Match or Matches at such Stadium as it thinks appropriate;

11 subject to Rule G6.3, order that a Club be expelled from the League;

12 withdraw or withhold the award of a title or award;

13 order any Club, Club Official or Player to pay compensation to any Club, Player, person or party;

14 order any Club, Club Official or Player to comply with any obligation or direction;

15 cancel or refuse the Registration of any Player Registered or attempted to be Registered;

16 order that a Club concerned be debarred from Registering Players for such period as it thinks appropriate;

17 order that any person, persons or group of persons be prohibited from attending at such Official Match or Matches and for such period as it thinks appropriate;

18 make such other direction, sanction or disposal, not expressly provided for in these Rules, as it shall think appropriate; and/or

19 make such order as to expenses, including the expenses of the Board and/or, as the case may be, Commission and/or other party, as it thinks appropriate.

Should the Commission decide therefore that there has been a breach of the rules regarding payments to players and player registrations, then the various penalties which have been the subject of speculation are open to it.

The Commission can annul the results of matches and award them to the innocent team with whatever score it deems fit. It can order expulsion from the League, which I will discuss further below. It can withdraw titles. It can impose a player registration embargo. It can make any order it thinks appropriate, even of not expressly provided for in the rules.

This gives the Commission carte blanche, subject to the right of appeal I will mention, and subject to “reasonableness” to impose whatever sanction it finds “appropriate”. As the Rangers FC has accepted the right of the SPL to investigate the matter (kind of them, wasn’t it) the existing company owned by Mr Green’s investors could end up suffering penalties.

The rules also allow any combination of sanctions to be applied.

Expulsion requires a vote of the members at a General Meeting. However the Rangers FC will not be expelled from the SPL, for the simple reason it is not in it!

The Commission is not required to make its decision public. However I suspect in this case it will.

There is a right of appeal to the SFA which would convene its Appellate Tribunal to hear such an appeal.

Rangers FC is entitled to legal representation at the Commission hearing. Hopefully there will be none of the previous nonsense about “naming names” on the Commission. After all Rangers FC will be present and represented in the room when the case is proceeding!

Conclusion

The SPL has found that there is a prima facie case. This seems to be based on documentary evidence provided belatedly by Duff and Phelps.  It is not impossible for that preliminary assessment to be wrong, however it seems hard to see what the defense could be.

The intention is to have the matter proceed as soon as possible. That suggests that, sooner rather than later, the Commission will decide on a penalty.

If the Commission finds that players were improperly registered for years as a result of a “tax reduction” scheme, then it seems hard to see how that does not result in wholesale re-writing of the records.

We shall see

Posted by Paul McConville

SECTION G: INQUIRIES, COMMISSIONS, ADJUDICATIONS AND APPEALS

Power of Inquiry and Determination

G1.1 The Board and, where appointed by the Board, a Commission, shall have the power of inquiry into all financial, contractual and other arrangements within, between and/or amongst Clubs and Players and all matters concerning compliance with the Financial Disclosure Requirements and into all matters constituting or pertaining to any suspected or alleged breach of or failure to fulfill the Rules by any Club, Club Official and/or Player or any matter considered by the Board or, where appointed by the Board, a Commission, to be relevant to an Adjudication or an Appeal and every Club and Club Official and Player shall be liable to and shall afford every assistance to the Board or, as the case may be Commission, as may be requested or required of it or him.

G1.2 Subject to Rules G1.3 and G1.4, the Board and, where appointed by the Board, a Commission, shall (i) have the power of determination as to whether there has been a breach of and/or failure to fulfil the Rules and in Adjudications and Appeals; and (ii) may exercise such of the powers set out in Rules G6.1 and G6.2 as it shall think appropriate.

G1.3 In the case of an alleged breach of and/or failure to fulfil Rules H7.5 and/or H7.6, only a Commission shall have the power of determination as to whether there has been a breach of and/or failure to fulfil those Rules and only a Commission following such a determination may exercise the powers set out in Rules G6.1 and G6.2.

G1.4 Where the Board determines to bring disciplinary proceedings alleging a breach of and/or failure to fulfil Rules H7.5 and/or H7.6 the Board shall appoint a Commission to determine whether there has been a breach of and/or failure to fulfil Rules H7.5 and/or H7.6 and to exercise such of the powers set out in Rules G6.1 and G6.2 as the Commission shall think appropriate.

NB Rules H7.5 and H7.6 read as follows:-

H7.5 The Home Club in any Official Match must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, (i) good order and security; (ii) that policies and procedures have been adopted and are implemented to prevent incidents of Unacceptable Conduct; and

(iii) that any incidents of Unacceptable Conduct are effectively dealt with, all at its Stadium on the occasion of an Official Match

H7.6 Each Club must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that its Players, officials, supporters and any person exercising a function for or connected with the Club do not engage in Unacceptable Conduct at a Stadium on the occasion of an Official Match.

G1.5 The Board and, where appointed by the Board, a Commission, may require the attendance of any Club Official, Player and/or other person at any meeting of the Board or a Commission and/or the production to the Board or a Commission of any books, letters and other documents or records whatsoever and howsoever kept relating to or concerning any matter in relation to which the Board, and where appointed by the Board, a Commission, have the power of enquiry or determination in terms of Rules G1.1 and G1.2 respectively.

The Panel

G2.1 The Board shall from time to time establish and maintain the Panel of such persons as it may consider appropriate to appoint to be a member of a Commission.

G2.2 The Panel:-

G2.2.1 may include members of the Board; and,

G2.2.2 shall include legally qualified persons whom the Board may appoint to sit as a chairman of a Commission.

Commissions

G3 Any matter, in respect of which the Board has the power of enquiry in terms of Rule G1.1and/or determination in terms of Rule G1.2, may be dealt with, where appointed by the Board, by a Commission

G4 A Commission shall comprise not less than three members of the Panel and any decision of a majority of them, subject to the rights of appeal in Rules G8, G9 and G10, shall be final and binding. Where the Board appoints a Commission it shall also appoint one of the Commission members to be the chairman of the Commission. The chairman of the Commission must be independent of the parties involved. In the case of a matter concerning Unacceptable Conduct or an allegation of same, the chairman of the Commission must be an advocate or solicitor of not less than 10 years standing.

Rules of Procedure

G5.1 The Board may from time to time approve Rules of Procedure governing the conduct of proceedings prior to, of and before the Board or a Commission.

G5.2 Every Commission, Club, Club Official and Player shall comply with any Rules of Procedure approved by the Board.

G5.3 Rules of Procedure shall be deemed to be additions to these Rules and to which Rules A7.1 and A7.2 shall apply.

Powers of the Board and Commissions

G6.1 Upon determining that a breach of or failure to fulfil the Rules has been established, the Board or, as the case may be, a Commission may:-

G6.1.1 give a warning as to future conduct;

G6.1.2 give a reprimand;

G6.1.3 impose a fine;

G6.1.4 annul the result of an Official Match;

G6.1.5 order that an Official Match be replayed;

G6.1.6 impose a deduction of points;

G6.1.7 award an Official Match (with such deemed score as it thinks appropriate) to a Club;

G6.1.8 order the playing of an Official Match or Matches behind closed doors;

G6.1.9 order the closure of all or part of a Stadium for such period and for such purposes as it thinks appropriate;

G6.1.10 order the playing of an Official Match or Matches at such Stadium as it thinks appropriate;

G6.1.11 subject to Rule G6.3, order that a Club be expelled from the League;

G6.1.12 withdraw or withhold the award of a title or award;

G6.1.13 order any Club, Club Official or Player to pay compensation to any Club, Player, person or party;

G6.1.14 order any Club, Club Official or Player to comply with any obligation or direction;

G6.1.15 cancel or refuse the Registration of any Player Registered or attempted to be Registered;

G6.1.16 order that a Club concerned be debarred from Registering Players for such period as it thinks appropriate;

G6.1.17 order that any person, persons or group of persons be prohibited from attending at such Official Match or Matches and for such period as it thinks appropriate;

G6.1.18 make such other direction, sanction or disposal, not expressly provided for in these Rules, as it shall think appropriate; and/or

G6.1.19 make such order as to expenses, including the expenses of the Board and/or, as the case may be, Commission and/or other party, as it thinks appropriate.

G6.2 When imposing a direction, sanction or disposal the Board or, as the case may be a Commission, may apply such number and combination of the directions, sanctions and/or disposals provide for in Rule G.1 as it thinks appropriate, may make such provision for time to comply with any one or more of same as it thinks appropriate, may defer for such period or until such event as it shall think appropriate the decision on or imposition of a sanction or sanctions and shall be entitled to suspend the effect of any such direction, sanction or disposal for such period and/or on such conditions as it thinks appropriate.

G6.3 The expulsion of a Club from the League shall not take effect unless and until it is sanctioned by a resolution passed at a General Meeting of the Company in accordance with the requisite majority specified in the Articles of Association.

G6.4 In the case of an Adjudication or an Appeal, the Board or, as the case may be, a Commission, may exercise any of the powers in Rules G6.1.13, G6.1.14, G6.1.18 and/or G6.1.19 as it shall think appropriate in order to deal justly with the matter before it for determination.

Decisions

G7.1 The Board or a Commission determining that there has been a breach of or failure to fulfill the Rules, imposing any penalty on any Club, Club Official or Player, or when determining an Adjudication or Appeal shall inform in writing each party of any such determination as soon as is reasonably practicable thereafter.

G7.2 The Board may determine what, if any, publicity is to be given to a decision of the Board or a Commission.

G7.3 Decisions of the Board or a Commission when or in connection with determining a matter in terms of Rule D1.2 shall, subject to any right of appeal to the SFA, be final and binding on the parties and the provisions of section 3(1) of the Administration of Justice (Scotland) Act 1972 shall not apply to any such determination.

Appeal to the SFA

G8 Any Club or person who or which is the subject of an adverse determination by the Board or a Commission may, unless the Rules expressly state otherwise and provided the SFA Articles provide for a right of appeal to the SFA, appeal against such determination in accordance with the SFA Articles.

G9 The procedures for lodging an appeal with the SFA and the powers of the SFA in relation to such appeals shall be as set out in the SFA Articles.

G10 Where a right of appeal is validly exercised to the SFA the Board or, as the case may be, a Commission, shall provide the appellant and the SFA with written reasons for the decision appealed against

Representation

G11 A Club, Club Official or Player appearing before the Board or a Commission may be represented by a solicitor or counsel or by such other representative as it or he may determine.

The Board

G12 In this Section G of the Rules reference to the Board includes reference to any committee of the Board or person or persons exercising any delegated authority of the Board, whether in terms of the Articles of Association or otherwise, and/or appointed by the Board to discharge any function of the Board.

Advice

G13 The Board and, where appointed by the Board, a Commission, may seek and obtain such legal and/or other advice and assistance as the Board or Commission shall consider appropriate in relation to or concerning any matter in which the Board or a Commission has the power of enquiry in terms of Rule G1.1and/or determination in terms of Rule G1.2 and Rule G1.3.

 

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37 Comments

Filed under Football Governance, Rangers, SPL

37 responses to “What are the Rules of the Rangers FC/SPL Disciplinary Commission?

  1. michaeljamesroy

    Paul, grateful if you could clarify:

    This Commission more or less has carte blanche to decide what punishment fits the crime here, from a veritable buffet of options.

    However, if RFC (and I can safely call them that now I guess) decide to appeal any ruling by this Commission then the SFA’s Appellate Tribunal will be convened to rule.

    However the AT presumably has less room than the sanctions mentioned above, or the punishment that was handed down, which was later overturned for being ultra vires, which looks pretty darn similar to number 16 (a punishment which was later reinstated, after a fashion, as we know) WOULD have been within the ambit of this Commission to hand down.

    Is this an inconsistency?

    Any idea why an appellate body would have less scope than such a Commission? Surely it should have MORE room to make the punishment fit the crime, not less…?

    Or am I being too thick/naive to think there would be some kind of logic going on here in all this…

    • Michael has a very valid point here. The ‘OPINION OF LORD GLENNIE’ (29/05/12) hinged on the SFA Tribunals not having the specific sanction of barring registration of players in the ‘tariff table’ (Annex A to the Disciplinary Rules). I agree with that determination on that point of law.

      Although a different matter this time (EBTs), a SFA-appointed Commission has a range of 19 sanctions/combinations (as Paul McConville has listed) which are not tied to a tariff table. Should, however, Rangers appeal any decision by the Commission to a SFA Appelate Tribunal, it would appear that they (SFA AT) will again be tied to the tariff table. Thus the wheels of justice will keep turning.

      • Brian Jeffrey

        @michaeljamesroy @Hugh McVey I think you may misunderstand the position. The SFA appellate panel will require to apply their minds, as did Lord Glennie, to the range of sanctions available to the original tribunal and not the sanctions which would otherwise be available to the appellate panel. The sanctions available to a SFA Judicial Panel are not relevant in this instance because the tribunal hearing the case is not a SFA Judicial Panel. It is akin to asserting that Lord Glennie could not for instance have imposed an unlimited fine on RFC or imprisoned the directors in the embargo appeal simply because as a High Court judge such punishments are within the range of options open to him. He was limited to consideration of the options available to the original panel and not what might otherwise be available to him.

  2. Project Walliams

    Paul,
    While there appears to be a regular Smörgåsbord of punishments open to the Panel should T’rangers be found in breach of regulations, on analysis the options open to the Panel will be limited:

    4; 5; 6; 7; 8; arguably can only be affected if the breach is uncovered within the same football season that it occurs – we are well past that date. It also brings in a possible scenario of the victim clubs who suffered because of the breach that might encourage them to seek financial loss suffered as a result of the breach. eg deduct enough points and another team can justifiably claim first, second place prize money
    9; 10; 11; 14; 15; 16; 17 arguably can only be affected if Rangers are still members of the SPL – assuming they have handed over their share before the findings are made, they would not be members and not expected to become members again for a number of years.
    3; 13; 19 are doubtful if any fine or expense can be collected, it will either be added to oldco creditor list or sevco could refuse accepting that footballing debt to the SPL and the leverage SPL would have over them is very limited given they are a long way away from SPL return.
    That leaves 1; 2; 12 & 18.
    18 it would be very surprising for the SPL to go down this route and ‘invent’ new punishments given the mess made of the SFA appellate panel’s attempt to do this previously. Rangers have appealed before, and got away with it. There is a real risk they would do the same. The SFA would not want UEFA leaning on them again.
    12 Yes they could – but no they won’t. Without the EBT decision, the act of ‘clever’ bookkeeping to ‘fairly’ avoid tax will be explained as the technicality why rangers could not fully register their players. It will be excused as a loophole that needs to be closed.
    So let us expect a Reprimand (2) and a warning as to future conduct (1).

    • Richboy

      My understanding is that this has more to do with “second contracts” than EBTs. I don’t think the SPL are qualified to make any assessment of tax loopholes but must stand firm against any serious deviation of their financial reporting rules.

      I think they will apply 6 and 7 (deduction of points, awarding game to innocent team) then go straight to 12 (withdrawal of titles). Titles stripped, Ally on the front page of every redtop in Scotland, civil unrest, the end of Scotland as we know it.

    • merciatic

      “T’ Rangers.” Excellent!

  3. Correction to my post – should have read “SPL-appointed Commission”.

  4. @Project Walliams. While I agree that some potential sanctions would be impracticable to effect (e.g. 5 – order that an Official Match be replayed), I am unaware of any ‘statute of limitations’ (within same season) that apply here. I have seen comments regarding this in relation to Cup competitions but can find no ruling that would debar retrospective action in a League situation. I’m sure that, if such action was not permitted, lawyers for Rangers would have comforted Ally by now to save him protesting about taking away titles. Feel free to correct me on the above, folks.

  5. Althetim

    Paul, which Rangers FC will be legally represented at the Commission hearing?

    1) The Rangers Football Club Ltd
    Company No. SC425159
    Status: Active
    Date of Incorporation: 29/05/2012
    or
    2) RFC 2012 PLC
    Company No. SC004276
    Status: In Administration
    Date of Incorporation: 27/05/1899

    1) has never played in the SPL therefore cannot have breached any SPL rules. This Commission surely can’t concern it.
    2) has allegedly played improperly registered players in the SPL prior to becoming insolvent. This Commission might well concern it but in its terminal state, it is beyond the effects of sanctions.

    It is common knowledge that 1) is attempting to blur the distinction between it and 2) for commercial reasons but clearly it is a separate entity and would surely challenge any sanctions (it doesn’t like) imposed on it by the governing body of an organisation to which it has never belonged.

    Huge fudge in the offing, in my opinion. The sanctions (if any) are likely to take the form of a reprimand and /or warning as to future conduct which will affect neither 1) nor 2) and that will be the end of the matter.

    • Althetim – I agree, up to a point. I think the outcome will be the stripping of titles from the club that won them, and the records changed. But they should also apply further financial and other sanctions, as if RFC(IA) was still in full operation – that way, they’d in effect force TRFC/newco to publicly state they are not the same club.

      Also, wouldn’t Coco McCoist, as a recipient of the EBT scheme – or even instigator in respect of using it to lure players to Ibrox as manager of RFC(IA) – be liable to sanctions? After all, the tribunal’s scope, as I read it, covers not just the club but players and officials (ie, not just directors).

      • Althetim

        Kenny, I hope you’re right but after last Fridays cowardly announcement, I have been stripped of what little faith I had in Scottish footballs’ governing bodies.

    • ecojon

      @Althetim

      I think you have to remember that 2) bought the history of 1) as a business asset.

      Also Green has repeatedly publicly announced that the history is unbroken.

      Therefore, perhaps I’m being simplistic, but if the history of 1) is altered in any way by legitimate means then so too is the history of 2)

      • Althetim

        ecojon

        That’s the bit I can’t get my head around. How can Sevco have bought the history of RFC(IA) as a business asset? The history comprises of achievements, failures and whatever else made RFC(IA) what it was and is not a tangible asset as far as I can see. RFC(IA)s’ history has nothing to do with company number SC425159. When RFC(IA), defined as the entity owned by its shareholders died, it’s history ended. History cannot be claimed by another company, the very notion is ridiculous. It’s not transferable. Of course Charlie boy would like fans of RFC(IA) to believe otherwise, as to admit the truth would be commercial suicide for TRFC.

        The only way the history of RFC(IA) would be applicable to TRFC is if RFC(IA) was bought as a going concern. It wasn’t.

        Or am I missing something?

  6. ADM

    Thanks again to Paul for the work in laying this all out so clearly.

    Four thoughts on this:

    1. I think G6.1.18 is important and may well be used. It was precisely the absence of such a catch-all enabling clause in the relevant section of the SFA rule book that led to Lord Glennie ruling the transfer embargo ultra vires.

    2. Not sure I buy the concept that the AT, being an SFA body, would be more constrained. The constraints arise from the rules, not from the home organisation of the tribunal and, if an AT were convened in this case, it would be judging the appeal in terms of the SPL rule book, with the full range of punishments.

    3. So what would be appropriate punishments if Rangers were found guilty? I think the first step is straightforward – some of the discussion to date has been highly inflammatory (yes, Mr McCoist, that would be you), but I think the rules and their application are quite simple:
    – If Rangers had dual contracts for players with the second contract not revealed to the SPL, then those players were incorrectly registered
    – If those players were incorrectly registered, they were ineligible to play in any Official Match
    – The consequences of fielding ineligible players are well established at all levels of football. The result is annulled (G6.1.4) and awarded to the opposition (G6.1.7) (typically 3-0)
    – So every match in which Rangers fielded players on dual contracts should be awarded to the opposition by 3-0. If Rangers are found guilty of dual contracts, I can see no way to avoid that conclusion
    – When the record books are corrected for these results, it will presumably lead to the withdrawal of titles under G6.1.12. This again is a simple, automatic consequence of the logic of the situation

    4. So far, so simple. But so far this is no more punishment than that seen in many seasons when smaller clubs get thrown out of the Scottish Cup for fielding a player ineligible only because of some administrative error. (The scale of punishment is greater – speculation talks of 5 SPL titles and a range of cups – simply because the offence was repeated in so many matches.). Shouldn’t there be a greater punishment since, if Rangers are found guilty, it will be of an offence they committed entirely deliberately and persistently over a period of years? Natural justice might suggest yes. Or at least “yes but”. The club is already, due principally (arguably entirely) to its own spectacular financial mismanagement), sufficiently hobbled to cast doubt on its ability to survive in senior football. Although others will disagree, I think the SFA’s independent commission should refrain from punishment that ensure Rangers leave senior football or indeed cease to exist altogether. I am therefore attracted by the notion of punishments that can be imposed concurrently, as is sometimes seen in criminal cases. As @Project Walliams has said, fines are not a good idea, given Rangers’ financial condition; and as Paul has said Rangers can’t be expelled from the SPL since they’re not in it. So my suggestion would be, using G6.1.18, to ban Rangers from the SPL for 3 years. I think this is a neat solution, since it doesn’t inherently put Rangers in a worse position than they are already but does put on the record Scottish football’s verdict on their behaviour. It would also have the advantage of killing off all the noise about Rangers getting back to the SPL sooner by gerrymandering the needed reconstruction of Scottish football.

    (Takes step back and waits to be pelted by missiles from all sides.)

    • Project Walliams

      Not withstanding your points well made, I am doubtful that the SPL would want the panel to use 1.4 and 1.7 as this might open the door to other clubs seeking prizemoney back from the SPL (not rangers) should the points adjustment change their final league standing. Under this scenario, given that the return of prizemoney from rangers is highly unlikely, the SPL would be financially penalising itself. Clause 1.12 makes more sense in tackling this problem for the SPL as it removes the titles without reference to the other clubs involved. But removing titles is a penalty I don’t think the football authorities have any taste for / courage for implementing.
      My separate concern with the EBT issue is that some clever lawyer might try to argue on behalf of rangers that it was the implementation of the EBT mechanism that created the Dual Contract mechanism and that it was this that prevented them from fully declaring the financial position on players registered – not that they were deliberately witholding information. And that while the decision on the legality of the EBT mechanism as employed by rangers remains open, this position is stronger to argue.
      Regarding clause 1.18, just my opinion, but I think sevco or D&P or the Fighting Fund would appeal any new punitive punishment to the CofS again as what else would they have to lose.

      • ecojon

        @Project Walliams

        Would just raise a small issue on Rangers finances. They appear to be spending money like water on new signings and are intending shortly to launch a £30 million floatation. So I think the financial question is possibly more open-ended than at first seems.

        I think you will understand I play Devil’s Advocate a bit 🙂

    • Junior27

      ADM,

      I see the logic of your suggestion and it does allow a punishment (albeit meaningless) to be applied.

      Was it not the case that one of the (I think) Turkish teams recently punished by UEFA was told that they were banned from European competition for the next three years in which they qualify? I prefer this notion simply because it clearly signals the seriousness of the offences committed.

  7. Stuart

    Mandatory 0-3 defeats are routinely imposed when clubs fall foul of the player registration regulations on an occasional basis, but it rarely if ever seems to happen when a sizeable club breaks the registration rules for an extended period.

    I am thinking particularly of the West Ham scandal in 2007 when Carlos Teves and Javier Mascherano’s contracts were deemed to have fallen foul of the third party ownership rules. West Ham were involved in the relegation struggle at the time and rival fans were confident that the rules required a string of mandatory 0-3 defeats to be imposed that would effectively relegate the Hammers to their rivals’ potential benefits. Final result? A record £5.5m fine, but no points deductions!

    Of course, given the doubts about TRFC’s ability to fund the club to the end of the season, a fine of that magnitude could effectively end the game for Rangers and I am sure the SPL wouldn’t want to do that.

  8. michaeljamesroy

    No, I think D+D learned their lesson with the Court of Session but an appeal to the AT is almost guaranteed.

    I still can’t understand why this Commission has the power to prevent registration of players for a while as a punishment and yet when the AT decided to employ such a (new) punishment this was not within the range of available sanctions. What makes this potential AT different from the last one? Fully appreciate that they will be assessing the validity of the punishment handed down by the Commission but they have to be careful if they decide to set this aside and employ an alternative punishment that it IS available to them or D+D WILL be tempted to go back to the CoS despite what I said at the start.

    The EBT issue is almost a red herring in my opinion. It gave rise to the Dual Contract position but it’s the employment of dual contracts that’s the issue and how they arose is almost irrelevant. It’s the equivalent of the dog eating the homework.

    • Tyke Bhoy

      What makes this one different is that the previous appeal tribunal was considering an appeal against an SFA panel decision that was under SFA disciplinary measures. In this case it is an SPL panel and SPL disciplinary measures that may be appealed against. I would think that should it go to appeal the appeal panel then the appeal panel would have 3 choices.

      1 Decide that there was no case to answer and dismiss the SPL panel’s findings and sanctions.
      2 Decide that there was a case to answer, the SPL panel found appropriately and the sanctions imposed were appropriate.
      3 Decide that there was a case to answer but that the sanctions were inappropriate and then probably refer it back to the SPL panel with a recommendation of the appropriate sanction(s).

      Of course this is my opinion only

  9. ecojon

    On a more serious note than just looking at the rules some sections of the Rangers support are organising a petition to the SPL demanding that the identities of the committee are revealed.

    Interestingly, they make the point that on this occasion the demand can’t be left to McCoist – oh really!

    I have said that I thought that Rangers going to SFL3 and working their way back through footballing achievements would give decent supporters a possibly once in a lifetime chance to reclaim their club.

    The more I see on the Darkside recenetly the more I think we are heading back to the Dark Ages and it will take resolve for the support of other clubs to keep the heid and for Footballings Authorities to crack down on anything that smacks of bigotry.

  10. p groom

    all the attention on punishment for ebts ( if/when found proven ) is the stripping of titles ( I/we will never accept etc etc) but it must be a cast-iron certainty that a hefty fine will also be imposed. ( plus payment of unpaid tax as well ? ). however whats the betting that under the usual special treatment rules for rangers, spl will give them the choice of paying up or giving up titles? green of course will jump at the latter leaving ally gobsmacked.

    • cmh64

      I think the thing that will make the difference this time is that, if proven, this won’t only be relevant to matches played in Scotland. It will also be relevant to matches played in Europe and will have affected teams outside the control of the SFA. They won’t be able to ride roughshod over the rules quite so easily. UEFA will definitely be paying attention.

  11. Dave

    When Ben Johnson ran 9.79 seconds for the 100m in 1988 he was subsequently found to be using performance enhancing drugs. Cheating. An unfair advantage. Very like an EBT if you will.
    His punishment?
    Well of course he was stripped of the title, the world record and disgraced. But that wasn’t his punishment. That was only the result of having the unfair advantage. His punishment was to be banned from competing for two years.
    So given that the SPL have decided there is a prima facie case to answer there’s a better than average chance that RFC will be found guilty of illegally paying players and having had an unfair advantage over all other clubs.
    If RFC are simply stripped of titles then they’re effectively getting away with the crime. A bit like a burglar being made to hand back the TV he stole, with no further action against him. But unlike Ben Johnson who was stripped of unfairly obtained titles then punished with a suspension from competition. In RFC’s case, if they’re stripped of titles then I will be very surprised if there is anything further. In effect a let off….again.

    Richboy……..they RFC operated their EBT was to use dual contracts. They are effectively one in the same with two rules broken in one foul swoop.
    They have failed to register the income from the EBT (which breaks the SPL rule) and in not declaring that income have also broken tax rules.
    HMRC are considering RFC’s appeal on the tax side, while the commission are to investigate the contractual side.
    If anyone knows better (or can explain it better) then please correct me.

  12. philip spicer

    Something I dont understand but maybe someone can enlighten me.. If RFC are found guilty of playing Incorrectly registered players and all Matches are declared Null and Void and points deducted.. Then weren’t RFC relegated from the SPL from the 1st season they operated EBT’s in if they Lost all those Matches 3-0.. Maybe that’s why the Scottish Football Bodies have taken so long sorting this out.. just a thought but maybe I don’t understand the whole Situation..

    • Althetim

      I made a similar point on the RTC blog a couple of weeks ago. If Rangers had been relegated in cheating season one, cheating season two and subsequent seasons would have looked entirely different. I think someone referred to it as the “butterfly effect”.

  13. iain

    When Ben Johnson ran 9.79 seconds for the 100m in 1988 he was subsequently found to be using performance enhancing drugs. Cheating. An unfair advantage. Very like an EBT if you will

    Not really anything like an EBT…but there you go.

    • Dave

      Iain……EBT gave RFC unfair advntage over every other club because they massively reduced the tax they paid and could increase salaries and transfer fees for players as a result of reduced tax.
      Ben Johnson took a drug that enabled him to run faster than he would normally be able to, so had an unfair advantage over those who weren’t using drugs.

      Can you explain why the two are not similar?

      • Stuart

        Dave, Technically, Rangers’ use of EBTs was more akin to financial gamesmanship than to cheating. There is no SPL rule against using them….. as long as the payments are properly declared to the SPL. If Rangers had found a way to declare them they probably would have infringed no SPL regulation. Of course that would have made it easy for HMRC to prove what was going on. That is the circle that Rangers couldn’t square.

        There is no SPL rule against spending more money than you have, and certainly wasn’t 10 to 12 years ago. But there is a natural consequence. You tend to end up going into administration and/or getting liquidated. Going into administration does carry SPL penalties and Rangers have been hit by them.

  14. /me places tonuge firmly into cheek

    Surely the best option for Scottish Football as a whole is :
    “5 order that an Official Match be replayed”

    We get loads of extra matches to fill the coffers of loads of clubs, perhaps sell them all as a seperate TV bundle even? Plus the argument of “it was them der players on dat der feild wat did it” would be completley satisfied by the new results.

    /me removes tonuge from cheek

    The big con here is that everyone is still talking about EBT’s which so far are completly inconsequential as they have not added to any real debt of the dead rangers and that this committee should not be looking at them at all. The commision should be looking at the failure to register players correctly.

    • Dave

      Stuart
      I appreciate that EBTs are not illegal. It’s also not gamesmanship if rules are broken. In this case they appear to have been broken by not declaring the payments to players. Since this breaches rules it’s more than gamesmanship – it’s cheating.

      Edimonster – see my post above regarding EBTs…….they are the dual contracts. Two rules broken with one scheme.Having said that, RFC could be guilty of improper registration of players but in the clear as far as the FTT is concerned. And vice versa.

      • Stuart

        Dave, I fully agree, but your original post compared EBTs rather than undeclared payments with Ben Johnson’s drugs. That’s the difference I was trying to make.

        • Dave

          In RFC’s case, the EBT;s are undeclared payments though.

          If used correctly, EBTs are fine and legal. Tax man also satisfied.
          However, if used incorrectly in the way it appears RFC used them, then EBT’s break both SPL rules and tax rules.

          If I didn’t make that clear in my first post then it was badly worded 🙂

  15. I stand corrected by Brian Jeffrey’s post re. the remit of a SFA Appelate Tribunal in the event of an appeal by Rangers against any sanction issued by a SPL Commission i.e. only to consider the ORIGINAL sanctions available to the Commission (not sanctions available to the SFA), and also his comparison with the remit of Lord Glennie.

    Like Paul, I think I was half asleep when I posted.

  16. Andy B

    I dont understand this discussion of EBT’s. The use of EBT’s is NOT being investigated so any comparison to drugs cheats etc is totally irrelevent. EBT’s were declared by RFC.
    The issue is dual contracts and whether they existed. A completely different matter.

  17. Marching on Together

    I would be hugely impressed if RFC are ordered to replay every game in which they cheated, with the same Rangers players playing as played in the original, and they have until the end of the year to do it.

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