Since Charles Green walked into Ibrox as the new owner of the assets and business of Rangers, he has taken on an aggressive stance against those he perceives as acting against the interests of what he acquired for his investors. He is happy to take on the football authorities, the other clubs and the BBC, all of which has impressed the fans of Rangers and seems to have won many of them over, despite initial misgivings.
According to the Daily Mail today (yes, I know) Mr Green has now a potential battle coming up with someone else. The paper suggests that the dispute regarding sums paid by UEFA to the SFA for use of players in the European Championship qualifiers is complicated, not simply because of the SFA’s refusal, so far, to pay this money to newco, being Mr Green’s company, rather than to Duff & Phelps, as administrators of oldco.
The paper quotes Mr Green:-
“Rangers FC were due in excess of 300,000 euros for player participation in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, (but) 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.”
However, according to the Mail, the SFA is withholding the payment as a claim has been lodged for the money by Duff & Phelps.
If this is correct, and when have the press ever been wrong, it suggests that a theme I have been banging on about for months might actually have some credence. The question which I, and wiser folk, have been asking, is what precisely did newco buy from oldco. It was a surprise to find that, for example, the £5.5 million purchase price apparently included the right, subsequently waived by newco, to receive around £2.5 million of SPL prize money. There were questions too about whether oldco or newco stood to receive the transfer fees still due to Rangers.
If there is a dispute about this money, that would suggest either than it was not included in the sale agreement at all (in which case it would remain oldco’s) or more likely there is a difference of opinion between Mr Green and newco on one hand, and oldco and D&P on the other about what they actually bought.
If that is the case, then there is the potential for an unusually titled court action, namely that of a “multiplepoinding”, which is the Scottish legal procedure used when property is in the hands of a third party, who does not ultimately own it, and there are two or more competing parties claiming title to it.
The article also mentions that as a consequence of this Biggart Baillie, the solicitors who have acted for both oldco and newco, and particularly in connection with the SPL Independent Commission, might be forced to drop one of their clients due to a conflict of interest.
I do not know whether Biggart Baillie acted for either party in the sale transaction. However as the firm has been the legal advisor to the administrators in relation to Scottish matters since their appointment, and has been paid over £350,000 in fees so far, I suspect that they would not be able to continue to act for newco. This would be even starker if the disagreement was in fact the result of a differing interpretation of the sale agreement between oldco and newco.
Indeed the conflict issue could preclude them acting for either party in this dispute at least.
This also presents an interesting scenario.
If this dispute about these funds forces Biggart Baillie to stop acting for newco, then they will engage new solicitors. Those advisers might very well give different advice about attendance at the Independent Commission. Lawyers with whom I have spoken about the situation are universally surprised by the stance of simply refusing to turn up at a hearing to argue jurisdiction when it has already been stated that their appearance at such a hearing would not, per se, be an acceptance of the Commission’s jurisdiction. (I mean no criticism of Biggart Baillie’s advice to newco, and oldco on this matter – I merely comment as an outside observer.)
Should Mr Green be advised that his best chance of successfully challenging the proceedings of the Independent Commission, either at the Commission itself, or at a subsequent appeal to the SFA or the courts, would come from attending at the so-called “kangaroo court”, then would he follow the legal advice, or risk alienating some of his supporters by performing what would be seen, by some, as a climb down, or surrender to the SPL?
After all of the legal issues which have arisen for discussion during the course of the Rangers saga over the last couple of years, taking in Company Law, Tax Law, Insolvency Law, Sports Law, Employment Law and the rest, it is nice to see the possibility of a good old multiplepoinding too!
The story shall, of course, continue!
Posted by Paul McConville