SFA v Charles Green – Round 2 – and Why Mr Green Should Be Cleared

The following emanated from Hampden today.

The Compliance Officer has issued the following Notice of Complaint:

Alleged Party in Breach: Charles Green (Rangers)
Date: On or around 12th September 2012
Disciplinary Rule(s) allegedly breached:

(1) Disciplinary Rule 66 (Bringing the game into disrepute by calling into question the integrity of the Commission, chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith and appointed by the Scottish Premier League Limited (“SPL”) to examine alleged breaches of the SPL’s Rules regarding the use by Rangers PLC and Rangers FC of Employee Benefit Trusts to pay players, by suggesting in a media interview that the outcome and sanction of said Commission had been pre-determined by the SPL.)

(2) Disciplinary Rule 71 (Not acting in the best interests of football by calling into question the integrity of the Commission, chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith and appointed by the Scottish Premier League Limited (“SPL”) to examine alleged breaches of the SPL’s Rules regarding the use by Rangers PLC and Rangers FC of Employee Benefit Trusts to pay players, by suggesting in a media interview that the outcome and sanction of said Commission had been pre-determined by the SPL.)

Principal Hearing Date: Thursday, 4th October 2012

Mr Green has until Monday, 24th September 2012 to respond to the Notice of Complaint.

Rule 66: No recognised football body, club, official, Team Official or other member of Team Staff, player, referee, or other person under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall bring the game into disrepute.

Rule 71: A recognised football body, club, official, Team Official, other member of Team Staff, player or other person under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall, at all times, act in the best interests of Association Football. Furthermore, such person or body shall not act in any manner which is improper or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour.

——————————————————–

Mr Green was not prepared to let the ink dry on the Notice of Complaint, issuing the following response:-

RANGERS Chief Executive Charles Green said: “We made very clear in the statement that we made that we have never questioned the integrity of the panel. That is beyond reproach.
“What I do have an issue with is the fact that the SPL has relentlessly been pursuing a fixed and predetermined agenda on EBTs from the moment they realised that they would not be able to get Rangers back into the SPL without a fan revolt.

“Until that moment the SPL were looking to trade SPL status for an admission of guilt on EBTs and a sanction of stripped titles. We couldn’t and didn’t give them that.

“You need look no further than the initial draft of the five-way agreement.

“There is reference in that to EBTs and the outcome was stripping titles but if I make a statement that the SPL is pursuing a predetermined outcome then I’m bringing the game into disrepute.

“From the moment that SPL status for Rangers was off the agenda we‘ve been heading for stripped titles

“What I’m doing is using free speech to tell the fans exactly what has happened and I am now on disrepute charges for matters of fact.

“The words that seem to have upset the SFA so much are that “the SPL appoint the jury, set the outcome and set the punishment before the trial” – those things are true and I stand by them.

“Whether or not the Commission works to that agenda remains to be seen but let’s be clear there was a predetermined outcome.

“If their Chief Executive and lawyers were drafting agreements that contained definitions of titles that would be stripped in late June/early July long before a Commission was even thought about, how can anyone say they are not pursuing an agenda and a predetermined outcome?

“I would ask the SFA and the SPL to release the first draft of the five-way agreement put together by their lawyers to reveal all of the sanctions. Stripping of titles was definitely within that document.

“In terms of this commission, if the SPL agenda prevails then Rangers will be found guilty and being found guilty we will lose five titles.

“If I’m wrong then it will be a different outcome.

“What I said before is that this commission is not independent because the SPL have set it up. Saying that they are not independent is not saying that they are not impartial.

“That’s what I have an issue with and I will make these points when I go to see the SFA – not unless I’m in jail before then because there will no doubt be 50 odd charges by then.

“We want to focus on what’s happening at the club in terms of filling the stadium, going to Annan and filling the town – they are the good things.

“But all people want to do is keep chasing Rangers and to chase us to the grave – and we are not going there.”

——————————————————–

I wrote about Mr Green’s statement when he issued it, and I wondered if he might be called back to Hampden. In fact, as we see from the date, whilst the statement on the Rangers website was posted on 10th September, the complaint alleges the offence took place on or about the 12th September. Therefore, by implication, the complaint does not relate at all to the terms of the statement published in the Rangers website on 10th September. As I comment below that seems to be astonishing. That is not, for the avoidance of doubt, to say that he ought to be punished for what he said in the statement, but rather that there seem to be so very many targets for a “disrepute” charge that is mind-boggling why the statement is not part of a complaint.

Secondly, I see that Mr Green is the subject of the complaint. When he was last there it was in the company of Mr McCoist, who had been personally summoned. Whilst Mr Green’s own words were also subject to proceedings, he was not summoned personally but instead Rangers FC was tried and punished with a censure for failing to control Mr Green.

Today’s complaint however is against Mr Green personally, and not the club. Mr Green appears therefore as a first offender! His last “conviction” ought not to be taken account of, as he personally has not been subject of SFA discipline. The guilty party from the last hearing was Rangers – but they are not party to these proceedings. Bearing in mind that the terms of the statement published on the official Rangers website, it seems strange that the approach today is different from the last time.

A cynic might think that this is a way of avoiding treating this as a second “conviction”. I don’t think such “cynical” explanations are necessary, although I cannot work out why there was a different approach.

Thirdly, the complaint alleges two rule breaches, of Rules 66 and 71. But it appears that the same acts are alleged to have breached both rules. If convicted (and I use the word “convicted” as shorthand for a finding by the Judicial Panel that there has been a breach of the rules) he will be guilty of breaching two rules at the same time and with the same words. One wonders if it is possible to bring the game and disrepute but NOT to act against the interest of football, or vice-versa. The offences seem to go hand in hand.

Fourthly, the charge seems rather narrowly framed if viewed in context of the full 10th September statement by Mr Green. In the piece I wrote about Mr Green’s statement I extracted various comments which seemed to me potentially to break the rules.

These “edited highlights” were:-

“The SPL’s silence on these issues is deafening … the Commission is not independent of the SPL … They (the SPL) did absolutely nothing … the breathtaking hypocrisy of the SPL in this whole saga … a full blown inquisition … it beggars belief that an authority which can be heavily involved in these discussions to the point that the Chief Executive Neil Doncaster repeatedly stated he was not interested in stripping titles from Rangers can lurch from that position … we believe the SPL have been hypocritical … There are powerful representatives from Clubs within the SPL – not all of them by any means – who appear hell bent on inflicting as much damage on Rangers as possible … It is lamentable that the Board and executive of the organisation have not been able to deal with this appropriately. We do not hold every SPL club in the same regard. Several clubs were placed in an invidious position and we believe their interests were not best served by those in more powerful positions … Once again I would thank our supporters for their patience and tolerance. They have been asked to take it on the chin time and again and we stand united in saying: No more.”

Despite having a great deal to choose from though, the charge seems to relate only to these words:-

“Although the SPL goes to great lengths to emphasise the independence of its Commission, the Commission is not independent of the SPL. It has been appointed by the SPL. It follows SPL rules and its process is managed by SPL staff. I don’t question the impartiality of the individual panel members but whatever decision they reach is a decision of the SPL.”

The implication, as I have said, of the charge relating to a media interview on 12th September is that the 10th September statement is fine. I would expect Mr Green’s lawyer at the hearing to make that point vigorously. What makes the media interview more objectionable than the website statement? In addition, whilst a media interview can lead to a slip of the tongue, or comments in the heat of the moment, a statement published on the team’s official website is pre-meditated.

Bearing in mind how often Mr Green stated that he was not alleging that the Commission members were partial, but that he was not satisfied that the process was sufficiently independent of the SPL, I suspect that it could be difficult to “convict” him on the stated charge.

Indeed, the phrasing of it would appear to suggest that it was the implied criticism of the process, rather than the express which is objectionable.

Mr Green is, I suspect, already in receipt of such positive views from his own advisers. How else to explain his statement tonight, quoted above?

It would be either a very brave, a very wise, or a very confident man who, when facing a charge alleging impugning integrity by stating that there was a pre-determined outcome to the process then says:-

“Whether or not the Commission works to that agenda remains to be seen but let’s be clear there was a predetermined outcome.

“If their Chief Executive and lawyers were drafting agreements that contained definitions of titles that would be stripped in late June/early July long before a Commission was even thought about, how can anyone say they are not pursuing an agenda and a predetermined outcome?”

If he has been summoned to answer a charge for saying the very same thing before, then it follows that, to be consistent, he should receive a further summons in relation to his repetition of the comments in answer to the original charge!

As regards the independence of the Commission, I think he is being a trifle disingenuous when he says:-

“What I said before is that this commission is not independent because the SPL have set it up. Saying that they are not independent is not saying that they are not impartial.”

How would he suggest that the SPL deals with disciplinary matters like this? To whom should a case be referred? The Independent Commission process is a vast improvement on previous methods of football discipline where committees of the ruling body sat in judgement. Here we have a panel of three independent and highly qualified “judges”.

Mr Green’s statements are very carefully worded to give him his way out.

We all know what he means even though he has not actually said what we know he means! (If you know what I mean!)

What we have in his statement tonight is a continuation of what is, as I have said before, a masterful PR campaign appealing to his core support, on the basis that they keep the turnstiles clicking, and again emphasises that the stripping of titles BOUGHT by his company is the worst fate that can befall them.

I think his PR spin on this is masterful, as the stripping of titles would be a great result financially for his company – as it would cost him no money. However fines and bans from promotion and the like would affect the value of the company, which is extraordinarily important in the rush to the Stock Market.

His comments tonight end as follows:-

“That’s what I have an issue with and I will make these points when I go to see the SFA – not unless I’m in jail before then because there will no doubt be 50 odd charges by then.

“We want to focus on what’s happening at the club in terms of filling the stadium, going to Annan and filling the town – they are the good things.

“But all people want to do is keep chasing Rangers and to chase us to the grave – and we are not going there.”

Short of shouting “No Surrender”, he could not make his message any clearer, and the Rangers supporters will lap this up – it is like ambrosia to them. After the Murray and Whyte years when one of the criticisms was that Rangers front men were not upfront enough, Mr Green has endeared himself to the support by taking up their arguments against what is perceived as SPL and SFA victimisation.

Conclusion

As far as the statement tonight is concerned, I find it impossible to see how the SFA can avoid issuing another Notice of Complaint, as Mr Green has effectively repeated what has brought him to the Compliance Officer’s attention.

I remain very surprised that the statement on the Rangers website was not subject to such proceedings, and I see this being advanced in his defence at the hearing.

The framing of the charge itself seems to me to give Mr Green excellent chances of emerging with his name clear. In view of what should be the “open and shut” nature of the case against him, the drafting seems to offer him a way in to the clear. If, despite the apparent conclusive nature of the case, he is cleared then it will be far grader to take new proceedings against him.

And, apart from one factor to be addressed in another post, I suspect Mr Green really is unconcerned by whatever action the SFA take – he will appear as a martyr if convicted, and as a victim of an SFA vendetta if acquitted.

Mr Green has also now made mention on a number of occasions about regular appearances at Hampden for disciplinary matters. I think this too is a deliberate strategy on his part, and it seems to be working perfectly so far.

Posted by Paul McConville

Advertisements

213 Comments

Filed under Charles Green, Football Governance, Rangers, SFA

213 responses to “SFA v Charles Green – Round 2 – and Why Mr Green Should Be Cleared

  1. ecojon

    @jedi01

    Paul is always very generous of space for guest posts and perhaps you might like to submit one on a matter close to your heart as there is no doubt this post has become very tired.

    • Mick

      There’s lots up for debate although cams throw the whole debate of track with his Mackril out the water tantrums

    • EJ, I gave you a tick, for this post, it is tiring, it has long since past the original Paul post, when I posted it had got to a three way tag match not worthy of the old WWF, at least we knew that was fun.
      I like our community here, I switch on my lappi at 05.50 each day to see what I missed, I then watch Suzanne Reid till I remember I need to engage my noggin before 08.00.
      I cannot partake during worklife hours 😦 but at 16.30 “ahm back.

      Close to my heart here is always CFC, there you go in case anyone wondered. Pauls topic posts are the reason I can offer further WIDESPREAD opinions and create further debate beyond this realm,all because of the subject but mainly the comments from you and Cam, and everone else however frequent, it only takes one little spark.
      I gave my opinion on Cam a few days ago, he was OK with that.
      I gave n opinion on Mick about the PIEGATE scandal, then I alluded that Mick did a cut and paste job, but he then produced some good stuff when he followed up on his original plaudits, and gave us some unique investigative “internet bampottery”, well done Mick.
      However, Micks video’s have never been watched by me. I dont know I what I may see. Irishness stuff is not for me, yet I wont ‘support’ Scotland unless against perhaps another country, and ironiclly, I could have played for Ireland.
      I always looked forward to you and many other contributers, but today, you went tonto IMHO,
      EJ, Mick, having looked back earlier from the top, see how the tide turned against you, the normally many ticks, were soon to become even stevens.

      I dont think there is a guest post in the near future from me, but ALL readers, lets get out there, the truth is dangerous and worth it.

  2. Cregganduff

    One way or another the Ranger’s contingent have reduced this thread to a shambles. The fact that a few brainless twits, one of whom keeps making silly juvenile posts and others who keep asking the same questions that have been answered ad nauseum, have achieved this, must reflect on those who consider themselves serious posters.

    Instead of making sensible comments on Paul’s original subject, most people seem to be trading insults with these twits. If they had any brains, I might suspect that this was their original purpose.

    Was it Woody Allen said
    Never argue with a fool, they will lower you to their level and then beat you with experience.

    • ecojon

      @ Cregganduff

      You are totally correct in what you say and I will return to ignoring the drivel that is spouted as there is no attempt to actually debate but just to lay traps. I have never ever seen one of them actually submit a guest post and at the end of the day that says it all.

      They feed on negativity not creativity and I will return to my series on past business dealings as that is something that is appreciated by thinking Bears and others who are open to at least listening to points of view from different sources and advancing reasoned arguments without sloganising..

      Those with the closed minds want to retain the current order and are resistant to change as the potential loss of power frightens them. However ’nuff said – back to doing something interesting like reading Nimmo 🙂

    • iain

      It was actually your very own Mick who brought up and started the conversation on the Sellick banner shame.
      But don’t let mere facts get in the way.

      Essentially what you want is for the site to go back to a reserve of purely Sellick posters plus a select few fans of other clubs who also hate Rangers so you can “debate” (agree with each other and slap each other on the back with thumbs up) all day long on how terrible Rangers are and how Green is taking their fans for a mug etc. etc. without anyone disagreeing.

  3. Robert

    Getting back to Paul’s original topic, would the SFA Compliance Officer, in issuing the Notice of Complaint against Charles Green for breaching Rules 66 and 71, not have been better to have used the wording “by calling into question the integrity of the SPL” rather than “by calling into question the integrity of the Commission”?

  4. ecojon

    @Robert

    Seems a long time ago I replied to you on an associated issue before we all got blown off course 🙂 I think it is important to remember that the Commission is independent of the SPL and it is the Commission that has to take the decision which Green has already claimed has been pre-decided. So it’s the integrity of the Commission IMHO that is being called into question. I do believe that is the major mistake Green has made.

    Even if the SPL was biased against Rangers – and I don’t think there is a shred of credible evidence to support this – this does not prove that the Commission is and I repeat that the Commission is totally independent of the SPL in the decision it reaches based on its judgement of the evidence and the law as it stands.

    The other thing is that they declined to attend the EBT pre-hearing and argue their case so I don’t reckon it’s very strong and when you read the findings from the first couple of days looks as though the Commission has the legal authority to proceed to a hearing on the actual evidence as it intends in November.

    Then it is basically down to what evidence will be presented to the Commission and as we – or should I say I – don’t know what the evidence will actually consist of it’s impossible to know what the Commission decision will actually be.

    If Green again decides not to attend then I reckon Rangers will effectively lose any real chance of a successful appeal as a court will be asking why they didn’t take the opportunity to present their case to the Commission, If they do present their case they at least could argue that the Commission, if it finds against them, erred in law but they lose a lot of firepower by burying their head in the sand.

    It may well be that Rangers will mount a legal challenge at this stage but again that seems to me to be weakened by refusing to take part. Defiance from Green might be sweet music to his fans ears but I think at the law Courts in Edinburgh it will strike a discordant note and be a position which is hard to defend withour digging a deeper hole.

    So the hearing involving the integrity of the Commission in October is going to be important to see what Green does especially as he hasn’t actually challenged the integrity of Nimmo in a formal complaint prior to the EBT pre-hearings although some kind of wooly letter appears to have been presented by his lawyer which didn’t amount to a row of beans.

    So is it the other two members of the Commission that are biased? If so Green will need to produce evidence against them to prove his case. The fundamental error I believe is that Green has believed the whispers in his ear from a faction of supporters at Ibrox and opened his mouth and let his belly rumble and now he has no evidence to back-up his claims. If he has no evidence he really should be hammered because of the position of power he holds at Ibrox and the trouble his nonsense could cause.

  5. Den

    Hopefully this blog can get back on track.

    There has been a very interesting phase where Charles Green and his team have gone from being as welcome as whatever you may call it, to being the only show in town and the last bastion against the hordes.

    The anti Celtic and anti Catholic sentiment has reached a new level.

    This REALLY does distract from the problems that Rangers have; as it galvanises the faithfull to close ranks and resist all attacks.

    It is good (maybe great) PR but it does no good in the long term (even medium term). I can see how some people may gain in the short term.

    In my experience people like Craig Whyte and associates have been feeding on small businesses with impunity because they remain under the Radar. Rangers were an institution run by a businessman who pushed the boundaries and delivered the club to the sharks. This is probably the highest profile case of what I would call “asset strippng” in Scotland; maybe legalised theft explains it better. The important fact is that they have picked on an institution this time; not an small business.

    I hope that at the end of this episode that more people examine their beliefs and maybe question them a bit more and that the Government tighten up Corporate Law to stop the abuse that allows employees, and savers to be exploited and conned by ‘Fly by night charlatans’.

  6. George

    At long last, comments on the blog and consequences, not the bull excrement between Old Firm supporters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s