Charles Green’s battle with the SPL and SFA continues. He has released a statement today which manages (almost) to contain at least one error in every single one of its eighteen paragraphs.
Either he is stupid, which he is not, or he has decided to continue to appeal to his core support, trotting out the lines he has repeated a number of times already, and ignoring almost everything said by the Commission, except for one point he grossly misinterprets!
I suspect that the reaction of Rangers fans to this statement would be almost 100% positive.
I wonder if, next time Mr Green appears to answer questions, someone of the press corps will ask him to explain or justify anything in this statement?
Maybe someone will ask him about his statement about the SPL ignoring his lawyers, which was contradicted by the Commission?
Maybe someone will ask why the lawyer for oldco and newco had said he was turning up, and pulled out at the last day?
CHARLES GREEN, Rangers’ Chief Executive, issued the following statement today: (My comments are in Bold.)
He said: “Lord Nimmo Smith, chairman of the Commission set up by the SPL, has highlighted an extremely important issue in his recent judgement regarding the Commission.
It is not Lord Nimmo Smith’s Opinion. It is that of the three member Commission which he chairs.
“Lord Nimmo Smith has said that Rangers FC is a recognisable entity which continued in existence notwithstanding the change in ownership.
No he did not. The Opinion stated:-
“In common speech a Club is treated as a recognisable entity which is capable of being owned and operated, and which continues in existence despite its transfer to another owner and operator. In legal terms, it appears to us to be no different from any other undertaking which is capable of being carried on, bought and sold.”
This is a general statement, based upon the terms of the SPL rules and articles. The Uefa Fair Play Rules, for example, define a “club” as being a legal entity. Under those rules therefore Rangers FC would NOT be the club.
However the Nimmo Smith Commission is dealing with the jurisdiction of the SPL over Rangers and as such the SPL rules apply.
“He also stated that Rangers FC, the club, includes its owner and operator. The Commission has in effect ruled that Rangers and its history did not die on 14 June despite numerous reports to the contrary.
SPL Rule I1 includes the definition of a “club” which is stated to be “an association football club, other than a Candidate Club, which is, for the time being, eligible to participate in the League and, except where the context otherwise requires, includes the owner and operator of such club”.
Does this mean that the club includes the owner and operator, as if Russian dolls? No. It means that the rules applicable to a club also apply to the owner and operator too, unless the context otherwise requires.
The Commission did not make any ruling about “history” as it was not part of its remit, but the implication of the decision is that “Rangers FC” continues, as it would if sold on to a new boss every year from now till doomsday. However, that is the case only under the Commission’s interpretation of SPL rules, and does not consider the ambiguities caused by the different definitions of a club by the SFA, the SFL, UEFA and FIFA.
He also fails to mention the submission made to the Commission by oldco, whose lawyer, of course, is also the representative of newco.
That is quoted as follows:-
“Paragraphs 2 and 6 of the list of preliminary issues advance essentially the same argument, which is that ON 14 JUNE 2012, WHEN THE BUSINESS AND ASSETS OF OLDCO WERE PURCHASED AND TRANSFERRED TO NEWCO, RANGERS FC CEASED TO BE A CLUB as defined in the Rules, and is accordingly not subject to the jurisdiction of the SPL, and thus of this Commission, in relation to any breach or breaches of the Rules committed in the period prior to that date. The SPL disputes that Rangers FC ceased to be a Club on 14 June 2012, and argues that the relevant date is 3 August 2012.”
The SPL disputed this. It did not agree that Rangers FC ceased to be a club on 14th June, but instead on 3rd August. The argument was not about whether or nor Rangers FC continued – rather it was about when it ceased.
It is ironic that the lawyer for oldco, who is also the lawyer for newco, was arguing that Rangers FC ceased as a club on 14th June when newco maintain it has not stopped.
It strikes me as similar in nature to the apocryphal lawyer who, defending his client on a charge of serious assault, told the jury that his client had an alibi, but if that was not accepted, he had been acting in self defence…
“This means that Rangers FC and its owner, i.e. me and my consortium, remained a member of the SPL even after the change of ownership.
No. No. No. No.
Membership of the SPL is conferred by owning a share in the SPL. The SPL share, valued at £1, was “sold” by the administrators to Sevco Scotland Ltd. However, before the transfer of the share could be completed, it was necessary for the SPL members to agree to the transfer. They did not. Therefore the transfer of the share could not be completed, and it reverted to the administrators. Presumably they repaid Sevco the £1 purchase price.
If ownership of the share had been transferred, then Sevco would have owned a share in the SPL allowing their team, Rangers, to play in the SPL.
As the Commission said:- “A Club cannot, lacking legal personality, enter into a contract by itself.” Accordingly a Club cannot own anything, such as a share in the SPL.
And important though Mr Green is, he is not the owner of “Rangers”. His company is.
“The bemusing part is that no-one at the SPL or SFA appeared to realise that. The SPL made the club (including its owner and operator) reapply to be a member of a league that the Commission says it was in already.
No the Commission did not say that. Show me where the Commission did. I wonder if anyone will ask Mr Green to explain that?
The Commission said:- “Oldco was one of the founding members of the SPL, and remained a member until 3 August 2012 when the members of the SPL approved the registration of a transfer of its share in the SPL to The Dundee Football Club Limited.”
I do not think that the shuffling of identities leads Mr Green to suggest that newco IS oldco – if so I am sure there would be many interested creditors!
“If the Commission is right then the change of ownership was frankly irrelevant to SPL status. Nevertheless we duly applied and that application was rejected.
No it is not. Sevco did not apply for membership of the SPL. Sevco applied to have registration of the transfer of the SPL share from oldco to newco approved. No approval – no transfer. That is what happened.
“We were also informed by the SFA that Rangers FC had never in its long existence been a member. That really left us scratching our heads because pride of place in the Boardroom at Ibrox is a framed and mounted certificate of membership signed by Jim Farry confirming that “Rangers FC is a full member of the Scottish Football Association”.
One issue which I had sought to raise with Mr Regan of the SFA, but without reply, was what name the SFA had for the member playing at Ibrox. This seems to suggest that the membership name was that of the club. The SFA membership was one of the assets sold by the administrators to Sevco.
What the SFA decided to do was to approve the transfer of membership.
If Joe Bloggs has repeatedly been blackballed by the Auchenshuggle Golf Club on numerous occasions for his habit of landing a helicopter on the 18th green, he cannot get round that by buying the membership of John Doe. The organisation would need to approve the transfer.
If Rangers FC was always a member, then why did Sevco agree to buy the membership?
“So taking the Commission’s reasoning and our newly acquired framed membership certificate you would have thought, not unreasonably, that Rangers FC and its owners were in the Scottish Football family.
Does that mean that if I had bought the certificate, I would be a member of the SFA? The owners of Rangers FC needed to be admitted to the club. There was no right to this membership.
The Commission’s conclusions have been misrepresented by Mr Green, and they have nothing to do with the SFA either.
“You would have thought wrong. No we were told. We needed to apply for oldco’s membership! The SFA didn’t officially recognise Lord Nimmo Smith’s recognisable entity.
No Mr Green. Sevco bought the SFA membership. The SFA required to approve that transfer. What is so hard about that?
“That recognisable entity, Rangers FC, then re-appeared suddenly when the SFA demanded that we pay oldco’s debts despite there being no legal obligation to do so.
Let’s remember what the SFL decided. It admitted Sevco Scotland Ltd to the SFL and permitted its team, Rangers FC, to play in SFL3. As far as the “demand” to pay debts is concerned, it is simply the case that the SFA wanted to impose this as a condition of the membership transfer. Sevco could have declined after all.
No one has seriously suggested that there is a legal obligation to pay oldco’s debts. What the SFA were suggesting was that there was a moral or footballing obligation to do so.
“The SPL then wanted Rangers FC and its new owners to admit guilt in relation to EBT breaches that had never been framed and accept five stripped titles.
The SPL investigation has been running for a considerable time. The reason why no proceedings had been commenced was that the SPL said that they were waiting for the legal structure of Rangers to be clarified. The suggestion by Mr Green is that in the middle of the ,meeting the issue of dual contracts and EBTs arose for the very first time. It was as if Messrs Regan and Doncaster ran down a list of crimes such as the kidnapping of Shergar and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, and picked one at random to lay at Rangers door.
Instead Sevco was applying for membership of the SFA to be transferred to it. There was an ongoing investigation where the SPL had already determined there was a prima facie case to answer. The suggestion was made that this issue could be dealt with by an agreement to accept guilt on the part of the club, and to penalise the club by removing past honours.
Mr Green could never have agreed to that, of course, without alienating his core fan base. Equally the SFA and SPL clearly felt that they could not go into a football season without Rangers there at all. Messrs Regan and Doncaster blinked and allowed Rangers in without Mr Green’s Sevco accepting Rangers FC’s guilt.
“Rangers FC suddenly vanished again when UEFA informed the SFA that Rangers FC were due in excess of 300,000 euros for player participation in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, the SFA have refused to confirm that the monies are due to Rangers FC despite obligations placed on them from UEFA that these monies should be distributed to member clubs.
We can go back to the Nimmo Smith Commission, whose opinion Mr Green now seems to hold very highly. “SO A CLUB CANNOT, LACKING LEGAL PERSONALITY, ENTER INTO A CONTRACT BY ITSELF.” The money was not due to Rangers FC. It was due to oldco. However this would seem to be another of the assets Sevco bought for their £5.5 million! If he is not satisfied, maybe Rangers FC should sue the SFA, except, lacking legal personality, Rangers FC cannot do so.
“If the Commission is correct about this recognisable entity then the SPL and SFA must be wrong in making that entity apply to join bodies it was already in.
Who wrote this for Mr Green? I assume it was not Sevco’s lawyer! The SPL did not make Rangers apply to join an organisation they were already in – it was approval of a share transfer.
The SFA required to approve transfer of membership. The Commission is not looking at SFA rules either.
What is so hard about that?
“Maybe they should both appoint Lord Nimmo Smith to form a Commission to investigate and tell them who their member is.
Brilliant! Next stop the headline spot on the bill at the Pavilion for Mr Green!
“In our view the Commission chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith has been placed in an invidious position by the SPL.
Nice of him to think of Lord Nimmo Smith, isn’t it!
“The establishment of the Commission is the most striking example of the chaotic way the fate of Rangers has been handled by the football authorities.
How does that put his Lordship in an invidious position?
My Google dictionary tells me it means:-
(of an action or situation) Likely to arouse or incur resentment or anger in others; or
(of a comparison or distinction) Unfairly discriminating; unjust.
I do agree with Mr Green however that the handling of the whole issue by the football authorities has not been perfect!
“As we stated previously, it is impossible for us as a club to participate in a process we firmly believe is fundamentally misconceived.
He may believe it is misconceived. Might be nice if he indicated where he disagreed with the Commission’s analysis.
“We believe that most people would not think it right that a football authority that was willing to horse-trade league titles and cups for league status, should then embark on the course of action it has chosen in setting up a Commission. There is no clearer case of moving the goalposts.”
No Mr Green. It could be argued that it would have been unfair if the SPL, having failed to have an agreement reached, decided itself to impose the penalty anyway, although that was the procedure for football discipline which existed for many years till independent panels and Commissions were established.
But here there was a prima facie case of wrongdoing – the owner of the “club” responsible (allegedly) was trying to have the membership it had bought transferred to it. The new owner refused to accept any penalty in the negotiation process – in the absence of an agreement the SPL continued the process.
Mr Green, effectively, refused to accept a fixed penalty for speeding and has elected to take his chances before the court. In what way is this “moving the goalposts”?
Posted by Paul McConville