“Rangers then, Rangers now, Rangers forever” is the popular phrase bandied about by all and sundry of the blue persuasion recently.
“You are deid.” “You are a new club” “You have lost your history”
Popular phrases from the green side of the city recently.
So who is right and who is wrong ?
I don’t profess to know the answer in law, but I hope to put some evidence out there to be considered and give reason as to why I think the club that I “still” support is the same club that I have cast a thousand tears, joy and otherwise, over the years. In making a ruling in law, a judge will often turn to precedents. So with that in mind, I would like to raise the precedents of AFC Fiorentina and Leeds United.
In 1990, a famous Italian filmmaker Mario Cecchi Gori took over the reins at Fiorentina and after an initial period of stabilisation, started to get greedy and chase trophies he hadn’t previously won by going on a spending spree. (Does this sound familiar?) He signed up players like Batistuta, Effenberg, Baresi and the extremely talented Brian Laudrup (again, familiar?)
Unfortunately, Mario passed away in 1993 and the club was handed to his son Vittorio. Following in his dad’s footsteps, Vittorio continued to throw the cash at the club and many more players were flowing through the Viola gates including another familiar name, Andrei Kanchelskis, who at over £8 million was deemed a rather expensive waste of money (more familiarities?)
In late 2001, it became apparent that whilst Vittorio shared his dad’s passion for spending, he didn’t have the same talent as his father when it came to watching how the pennies were looking after themselves and the club was thrown into chaos as debts of around €50,000,000 were confirmed.
Following a consultation period, in June 2002, AFC Fiorentina was put into a judicially controlled administration, was effectively declared bankrupt. The club ceased to exist. The debts of Oldco were extinguished and they were refused a place at the table by the relevant league authorities. (Yes, I know, it sounds familiar!)
Along then came Diego Della Valle who re-established the club as Associazione Calcio Fiorentina e Florentia Viola and after discussions with the league authorities, the newco Fiorentina were admitted the 4th tier of Italian football (déjà vu). Many of the stars of the oldco had moved on and in the first season, newco had to make do with a couple of stars and a number of average and youth players to cope with the rigours of 4th tier football. (Starting to get the picture?)
8 months later, the name was changed back to AFC Fiorentina and the club since then has fought its way back up into Serie A.
But what of its history?
Fiorentina then. Fiorentina now. Fiorentina forever!
There are a number of theories flying about on Leeds United and the general consensus is that the holding company was never liquidated and therefore by extension, there is no comparison to Rangers FC.
To make a conclusion on those theories I used the search function at Companies House.
According to Companies House, the Oldco holding company of the football team Leeds United, LEEDS UNITED ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL CLUB LIMITED (THE), was incorporated in 1920 and wound up on 15/02/2008.
Oldco Leeds is dead.
The Newco owner, LEEDS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB LIMITED, purchased the asset, the football club, in 2007, some 7 months before Oldco was wound up.
The reality of the above is that it is almost the exact same as Rangers with one exception. Rangers oldco is still not formally wound up yet of course.
But what of its history ?
UEFA still believe it’s the same club as they list their biggest win in Europe as happening in 1969, when Oldco was in charge of the asset prior to them going to the wall and the newco taking over.
The English Football League still believe it’s the same club linking to the club’s official history on their own website.
Leeds then. Leeds now. Leeds forever!
I don’t really feel the need to go on, but I’m going to.
In a recent report released by Lord Nimmo Smith, he made some interesting observations which have been previously set out on here.
Para 46 of the report states:-
“It will be recalled that in Article 2 “Club” is defined in terms of “the undertaking of an association football club”, and in Rule I1 it is defined in terms of an association football club which is, for the time being, eligible to participate in the League, and includes the owner and operator of such Club. Taking these definitions together, the SPL and its members have provided, by contract, that a Club is an undertaking which is capable of being owned and operated. While it no doubt depends on individual circumstances what exactly is comprised in the undertaking of any particular Club, it would at the least comprise its name, the contracts with its players, its manager and other staff, and its ground, even though these may change from time to time. 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 not to say that a Club has legal personality, separate from and additional to the legal personality of its owner and operator. We are satisfied that it does not, and Mr McKenzie did not seek to argue otherwise. So a Club cannot, lacking legal personality, enter into a contract by itself. But it can be affected by the contractual obligations of its owner and operator. It is the Club, not its owner and operator, which plays in the League.
“Under Rule A7.1.1 the Club is bound to comply with all relevant rules. The Rules clearly contemplate the imposition of sanctions upon a Club, in distinction to a sanction imposed upon the owner or operator. That power must continue to apply even if the owner and operator at the time of breach of the Rules has ceased to be a member of the SPL and its undertaking has been transferred to another owner and operator. While there can be no question of subjecting the new owner and operator to sanctions, there are sanctions which could be imposed in terms of the Rules which are capable of affecting the Club as a continuing entity (even though not an entity with legal personality), and which thus might affect the interest of the new owner and operator in it.”
This was subsequently blogged by Paul and in summation he wrote, “This suggests an answer to the Rangers – alive or dead – conundrum. The Club can pass from owner to owner, although it cannot do anything legally itself, not being a legal entity. Here the club has passed from oldco to newco. Whilst the SPL do not have any jurisdiction over newco, they still have jurisdiction over the club. In this way, newco has an interest in the case, even if not a direct one.”
The club is the same. It’s an asset of the company. In due course, oldco will be liquidated, not the club. The club has been passed on now and the asset exists just as it always has done.
If your granny died and you sold her house, would the new owner be your granny?
This question always makes me chuckle but it is a question I have heard and read time and time again on Twitter and Facebook.
The answer of course is NO. They wouldn’t become my granny. But it’s such a loaded question, it’s one that should be thrown out of court as soon as it’s asked.
We all know football has strange rules/regulations but to those that ask the question above, I ask them this.
If your granny died and she owed £5,000 to MasterCard and was due to serve 10 days community service for shoplifting, then would the new owners have to pay that debt off and serve that punishment just because they bought the house ?
For those that claim there is absolutely no link from oldco to newco, they conveniently forget that newco has had to pick up some debts of oldco and also a punishment handed down. In what other business or transaction the world over does a completely unattached company pay a price/penalty for an entity that is now dead?
Newco are paying the price of the asset’s “convictions”.
While we are at it, let’s nail one other silly association
Another favourite on the internet is using the UEFA site to prove Rangers FC are not the same club. We are pointed to the page on UEFA dedicated to Rangers.
By some people’s calculations, the fact UEFA state that Rangers last match was 13/05/2012 means that UEFA recognise the Old Club is dead.
However, if you study the website carefully, you will notice that they only update the stats for clubs in the Scottish Premier League (and all other top leagues) and this can be evidenced if you look at Dunfermline Athletic who, due to their relegation last season, also show as their last game being the 13/05/2012.
It should also be noted that Rangers are still earning ranking points in the Club coefficient charts having picked up 0.58 co-efficient points due to Scotland’s ranking for this season.
So, taking everything above into account, leads me back to the title of this blog post.
Rangers then. Rangers now. Rangers forever!
PS – For those that blindly believe there is no rivalry between Rangers and Celtic anymore due to “the death” of Rangers, I would stay clear of listening to Radio Clyde where every 2nd call is a Celtic fan who only wants to talk about Rangers. The “Old Firm” is still alive. And they are still obsessed with each other despite what people want to think or believe.
Posted by Adam