Charles Green’s statement earlier in the week where he declared less than full confidence in the integrity of the SPL Independent Commission process continues to reverberate round the halls of Scottish football.
I have a post analysing it all, but Mr Green was kind enough to produce so much material that the post is turning into War and Peace! I therefore wanted to focus on one issue covered in his statement – the question of the SPL titles.
As regular readers will know, I am firmly of the belief that it suits Mr Green for all of the clamour regarding possible sanctions for alleged rule breaches to be in connection with title stripping.
Even though the SPL Independent Commission has eighteen possible sanctions to impose, individually or in combination, in the event of guilt, the entire focus seems to be on the title question.
As I have said before, such a penalty would not cost Mr Green and his allies a penny, and would in fact unite the Rangers fans more firmly behind him. I do not mean to suggest that Mr Green’s ire regarding the perceived treat is spurious. However I believe that he is, in goalkeeping parlance, showing the penalty taker one side of the goal in the hope that is where the shot goes.
A financial penalty, or a determination that the Rangers FC be suspended from Scottish football, for example, would be far more damaging for his investors. If people keep talking about the stripping of titles in the way they are, it will establish it as the “Verdun” of the football authorities v Rangers dispute. Mr Green has taken on the Marshal Petain role, and is proclaiming “Ils ne passeront pas!” Perhaps that could be taken as a loose French version of “No surrender” or “We don’t do walking away”?
What did Mr Green say about the titles in his statement?
“Despite this, the SPL now see the new owners of the company, and the new company itself, which owns all the assets of Rangers FC – including SPL championship titles – as fair game for punishment for matters that have nothing to do with us at all.
“To make it crystal clear, the new owners purchased all the business and assets of Rangers, including titles and trophies.
“Any attempt to undermine or diminish the value of those assets will be met with the stiffest resistance, including legal recourse.”
I think we can break this down into its constituent parts.
1 Mr Green states that the SPL championship titles are now “fair game” as a punishment.
2 This would be an attack on the NEW COMPANY which owns all the assets of Rangers FC.
3 The new owners PURCHASED the titles and trophies.
4 Mr Green will go to the courts if the value of those assets, being the whole business and assets of Rangers FC, inclosing trophies and titles, is undermined or diminished.
Let’s get this clear – Mr Green is telling us that his company bought the titles and trophies. He did not say that they had “bought Rangers” but that they bought “all the business and assets of Rangers, including titles and trophies.”
If you buy an asset, does that mean it is yours no matter what happens? Of course not! There are many ways in which assets owned by people are removed from them as a result of legal processes. Sometimes this might be because the asset is derived from proceeds of crime. It could be that the property remains burdened, for example by outstanding car finance on a vehicle which the seller unaccountably failed to mention, and which you did not check up when you bought it.
Property might be confiscated, such as a car used in a second or subsequent drink driving case. Or a court may order that property be handed over to meet a legal obligation, such as from one spouse to another in divorce, of from a debtor to a Trustee in sequestration.
The precise mechanism of removing titles and whether the Commission can do so is for another day.
As regards the titles themselves, just because Sevco (which I use to refer to Mr Green’s company) bought all of the assets, that cannot give them a greater right to them than the seller.
If Rangers FC (oldco), who actually won the titles, had not sold them, then they could have been stripped of them. No one could have had a reasonable doubt about the rights of the SPL to do so.
Mr Green is therefore arguing, I think, that the fact Sevco bought the titles means that they cannot be affected by any action against the entity which actually won the prizes!
That seems to be to be a rather novel, to put it politely, legal argument!
Posted by Paul McConville