Giovanni De Stefano is an interesting character. He has acted as lawyer for a large number of famous and infamous names. His own legal history has been the subject of dispute and he presently awaits trial next year on fraud charges, to which he has tendered not guilty pleas.
So to he has been extensively involved with football, owning or attempting to buy shares in a number of football teams in Italy, England and Scotland. Indeed he spent five months as a director of Dundee FC as it careered to insolvency in 2003-2004.
Recently he has become a figure of encouragement to some fans of the Rangers Football Club. He has, apparently, acquired shares in Rangers Football Club PLC (in administration) which is now officially RFC 2012 PLC (in administration).
He has written to Duff and Phelps, the administrators of RFC claiming that a massive fraud has been carried out at Ibrox. He has offered to buy the remaining assets, if any exist, of RFC 2012 PLC.
He also claims that Rangers are entitled to play in the English Premier League and also the English Football League.
He has also promised repeatedly to reveal “the secret” of who now owns Ibrox stadium.
The big reveal came today on Twitter.
In his tweet here he stated:-
“IBROX SEARCH very very very ODD to say the least”
He included a printout of the Search which can be seen below. Click on it for an expanded view.
It seems to be Mr Di Stefano’s view that this document shows that RFC 2012 PLC still owns the ground, along with Scottish and Newcastle Breweries.
“Scottish and Newcastle Breweries PLC changed name to Heineken UK Ltd on 23 November 2009 so de jure seems Heineken and RFC PLC own all the stands and surrounding area as per the Land Registry drawing whilst the actual PLAYING FIELD remains uncertain BECAUSE when Scottish and Newcastle Breweries PLC were taken over the Land Registry were NOT notified of any changes. Now that was in 2009 and there are TIME limits in place when dealing with land…seems they were NOT respected so a good lawyer in Scotland in theory could argue RFC PLC is SOLE title holder of ALL”
If Mr Di Stefano had discovered that no one knew who owned the pitch at Ibrox, and that the “stands and surrounding area” were owned jointly by Heineken and RFC 2012 PLC, but that Heineken had lost its title to the land as the Land Register had not been notified, this would be a big story.
However, and with due respect to Mr Di Stefano’s skills and experience in court, he has perhaps never dealt with a Scottish conveyancing transaction, and thus not had to look at a Scottish Land Certificate.
The big problem for Mr Di Stefano’s theory is that title number GLA82306 is not the title for the whole of the Ibrox complex. Instead it is the title for an “office suite on the second floor of Argyle House”. Argyle House is an office building on the Ibrox site, forming part of the Govan Stand.
This title relates to a lease running from 1 June 1990 to 15 May 2015, and registered in the Land Register on 25th June 1991, between Rangers Football Club PLC, the landlord and Scottish and Newcastle Breweries Ltd, the tenant. The brewers leased office space in Argyle House for 25 years at a rent of £69,000 per annum, subject to rent reviews.
This title sheet therefore relates only to the interest of Scottish and Newcastle in their lease of the office. It is nothing to do with the Land Certificate which gave Rangers Football Club PLC its title to the office, and nothing to do with the playing field. They are covered under their own Land Certificates.
Based upon this document, of course it would not be possible to say who owns the playing field. However, there will be other documents which make that clear.
In any event Duff and Phelps made it clear that Sevco Scotland Ltd (now the Rangers Football Club Ltd) bought all of the assets and business of the PLC. As such an application has already been made for the title to be registered in the name of the new owner.
Is the document Mr Di Stefano produced “odd”? No.
Does it tell us anything about who owns the playing field at Ibrox, or indeed who owns anything else there? No.
Does it tell us that Heineken/Scottish and Newcastle are joint owners, or would be if they had simply told the Land Register that there had been a change of company name? No.
This document relates to one part of the Ibrox complex, an office on the second floor of Argyle House.
Perhaps Mr Di Stefano could take up the services of a good conveyancer to help him in his analyses. I could suggest the number of Harper Macleod, who are more than capable of explaining this all to him clearly.
Will Mr Di Stefano uncover anything of value? Perfectly possible, but at least with the title issue he seems to be barking up the wrong tree.
Posted by Paul McConville