Rangers’ Sandaza Suspended After Falling For Fake Phone Call – Lessons to be Learned?

I have repeatedly commented that an aspiring lawyer who based their legal education on nothing except for matters of law related to Rangers Football Club would end up with a breadth of knowledge more than sufficient to practise in any area.

And today we can add to the list issues of employment law combined with the Data Protection Act and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

A terse statement on Rangers official website yesterday read:-

FRANCISCO Sandaza has been suspended by the club pending an investigation into comments made by the player in a recorded telephone conversation.

The club, Francisco and his agent have had discussions and manager Ally McCoist also spoke with the player, who did not take part in today’s training session.

Francisco will not return to the club while the investigation is underway.

Rangers regard this is an extremely serious issue but there will be no further comment until the inquiry, which could take a week, has been completed.

The background was summarised by the Scotsman on Thursday as follows:-

Rangers have been left red-faced today after Spanish striker Francisco Sandaza was tricked by a Celtic fan into admitting that he had only moved to Ibrox for the money, during an internet recording.

In a 23-minute recorded phonecall which has appeared online, a Glasgow taxi driver posed as a Los Angeles-based agent and lured the Gers player into revealing details of his £4,500 a week wages, and that he is already looking at a move elsewhere.

The Spanish player thought he was being approached by “Jack McGonigle” about a big move to the US’ Major League, and revealed that his wages would rise to £10,000 in the final fourth year, during which Rangers expect to play in Scottish football’s top tier.

In the recording, Sandaza tells “McGonigle” that he would be keen to leave Rangers, but doesn’t want him to reveal his intentions to the club in case of trouble.

The prankster also tried to coax Sandaza into insulting Rangers boss Ally McCoist but the player refused, saying: “I have to be careful because some people have called me and record it and then put it in the papers. And I haven’t met you face to face.”

“Tommy the Taxi Driver” has a history of persuading people to say things over the phone which are, at best, indiscreet. Often they have proved to be very funny, even in situations where the person seems to be on his guard.

So why has Mr Sandaza been suspended?


In a business like football, it is almost certain that his contract of employment will include a clause about bringing his employer into disrepute, or acting in a way damaging to his employer.

Being caught in a sting like this is embarrassing, to say the least. Is it worthy of disciplinary action?

To be fair to Rangers, it is to discover that that they are investigating.

Their statement however suggests that, in some way, there might be an element of pre-judgement going on.

Stating that “Rangers regard this is an extremely serious issue” might be seen as an obvious line, but it could give Mr Sandaza an argument that his position and “offence” have been pre-judged.

Of course, in employment law, there is a common feeling that investigative and disciplinary processes are not always 100% genuine.

The Red Queen said in Alice in Wonderland, “Sentence first – verdict afterwards”. Often, as an observer, one gets the impression that employers adopt that statement in dealing with disciplinary issues! (I, of course, am not accusing Rangers of such actions.)

Stating though that the matter is “extremely serious” when it seems rather different to most people suggests, even subconsciously, how the employer intends to deal with this.

It would be unlikely for him though to be dismissed for having been duped like this. For one thing, footballers are rarely sacked as dismissing them means that no transfer fee can be recovered. It is much more common for the miscreant player to be kept on board, perhaps consigned to reserve football, until an acceptable offer comes in.

One gets the impression that it is the embarrassment factor which most riles Rangers here.

There is nothing wrong with a player discussing his wages. Nor is there anything wrong with him saying that he is there for the cash. I suspect there are few players in professional football doing it for the love of the game or of his employer. After all, teams have always been quick to get rid of players when it suits them to do so, especially if will save them money.

Could the discussion of these matters with “Tommy” be a disciplinary offence? Certainly it could be, depending on the exact contract terms. It might seem unfair that he could be punished for making a mistake, but that would not operate as an excuse.

The most likely outcome would be for him to be fined a couple of weeks’ wages, for him to make a public apology and for him to be sold off in the close season.

I suspect that, even if he was cleared by the investigation, his boats have been burned.

Following on from Kevin Kyle’s departure “by mutual consent” Mr Sandaza’s possible demise suggests that efforts are being made, even if “under the radar” to cut wages. As Rangers has the second or third highest wage bill in Scottish football whilst in the bottom tier, it surely must be essential for this to be controlled in some way. Replacing the more highly paid players with some of their promising youngsters makes economic and footballing sense.

Mr Sandaza is unlikely to get to achieve his promised £10,000 per week at Ibrox now!


As for the DPA and RIPA … what is the position regarding “Tommy’s” recording and broadcast of the phone call?

Firstly, is it legal to “hoax” someone? Yes is the short answer. However, if it done with criminal intent, to obtain a PIN number for example, then it would be a crime. Hoax or prank calls might be a nuisance, but they are not an offence.

Secondly, it is not correct to say that calls cannot be recorded without permission of both parties. There is nothing wrong with one participant in a call recording it without the other’s knowledge. The problem arises rather when use is made of the call.

However I do not imagine Mr Sandaza, or even Rangers, getting on to the local police station to make a complaint. It is not a criminal offence to make Rangers look a bit silly – if it was there is a long list of people from recent years, many of whom are from inside Ibrox, who would have been in the dock!

“Tommy’s” calls fall into the Candid Camera or Beadle’s About style of jest and as such I am sure any complaint would get short shrift.

"Tommy's" spiritual predecessor - Jeremy Beadle

“Tommy’s” spiritual predecessor – Jeremy Beadle

Could Mr Sandaza argue that there has been a breach of confidence? Probably not, unless in making the call he made clear that it was confidential. Maybe he thought that, as he was speaking to an agent (or so he thought) his chat was not to be repeated. But, as regards a one-off call like this, it would be hard to argue that there was a relationship of confidence.

If Mr Sandaza had found out that he had been duped before the recording popped up on YouTube and wherever else “Tommy” publishes them, it is possible that a court might have granted an interdict preventing its distribution pending a full hearing.

It is unclear whether that interdict would have withstood a challenge however.

Now, if “Tommy” was in fact another agent looking for information to enable him to get a commercial advantage, then he would face difficulties under the Acts.

Misuse of “personal data” can be an offence under the Data Protection Act, but an informal discussion like this would not engage the Act.

So the lessons of l’affaire Sandaza?

Francisco Sandaza about to send his bank details to a Nigerian prince who recently emailed him...

Francisco Sandaza about to send his bank details to a Nigerian prince who recently emailed him…

If you are a footballer, make very sure that the person to whom you think you are speaking is who they say they are.

Don’t talk about your salary to an agent without having met them face-to-face first.

And above all – Don’t embarrass your team!

Posted by Jack McGonigle



Filed under Civil Law, Employment Law, Rangers

159 responses to “Rangers’ Sandaza Suspended After Falling For Fake Phone Call – Lessons to be Learned?

  1. ecojon

    Thought Ally revealed quite a bit about coaching and training at Ibrox yesterday with his comment: ‘”I would reassure the fans there is no problem in terms of the amount of training and the level of training. That hasn’t changed in 20 years. The important thing is getting players ready for a game.”

    Perhaps it’s time for a change as he really seems to be failing to get players ready for a game as far as the Bears are concerned 🙂

    • Or, “Am just daein wit Walter showed me tae dae.! Gonnae stoap shoutin at me!”.
      I think the fact that Walter had a team of reasonably talented, though improperly registered players to choose from, has eluded him.
      But surely you are not suggesting that the new club, breaks the traditions of the deid club, ecojon.Far out man!

  2. cam

    Strong rumours emerging that a group of frustrated fans, who have became enraged after the failures of HMRC and LNS to give them a valid reason to use up the rest of the jelly and ice cream they have stockpiled,have joined forces and set up a support group called Anti Rangers Scottish Executive.
    The spokesperson,Padraig O Rourke,inspired by the GB demo outside the Untouchables,recalled the method used by Elliot Ness to bring down Al Capone.”We’ll gie them the death of a thousand cuts”
    Members of A.R.S.E have common ground.Seemingly their children have similar recurring nightmares.One member recounted the tragic case of his 14yr old coming back from GB banner practise and having nightmares about the Singing Kettle.Another tale of youths in Govan not being able to watch the Walking Dead has emerged.Horrific tales of cannabalism and animal cruelty at Ibrox food outlets selling Broxi burgers has caused sleepless nights.
    A.R.S.E’s legal advisor a Mr B Wipe is intent on bringing a class action against the perpetrators of these crimes,seeking substantial financial compensation.
    Due to financial constraints at Ibrox and the growing number of winding up notices lying in the corridors and changing rooms,Chico has asked me to cease and desist from my other activities and get down to the local library and try to find holes in A.R.S.E’s case.
    Chico guaranteed all library fines would be paid,,,eventually.
    I’m currently swotting up on Health and Safety law,Food Hygiene,Copyright infringement and the dangers of sleepwalking.

  3. JimBhoy

    Morning to ya all….My house getting back to some sort of normality, all my kids had others sleepover, my eldest had 6 x 16/17 year old lassies in getting ready for a party last night hence i needed to get out for a beer… Any excuse… My son had a few more pals in than normal for some reason though..!!!!

    And back on topic (kinda)… Met up with a few of my rangers supporting pals last night, One guy is a season book holder and for the second time this season he and a lot of his supporters club members walked out at half time, they watched the rest of the second half in a boozer across the road.. he says it is the worst ever and a lot of his troop are not renewing SBs next season.. I feel sorry for the big guy cos he has followed the rangers everywhere, SB holder for close on 40 yrs. Couple of my other mates said they watched part of it on telly before turning it over..Had enough..!

    None of them could see how rangers get out of this downward spiral with Sally at the helm…They suggest they need a motivator as manager to get the best of the young squad and a couple of quality experienced men to take the lead on the park…Bazza Ferguson was mentioned in a player coach role with Butcher or McCall as manager… However this is gonna cost and they know the financial health is not great..

    The mood in the camp is not good. Bad results and poor performances will burn rangers big time.. The fans have been happy to let Chico run riot, say what he wants and continually cast fibs and vagueness in everything he says, i suppose the rangers fans don’t have much of a say in that BUT when things stink on the park I think there will be a bigger concern as the bears do “DO WALKING AWAY…” and who could blame them.

    • Robert Smith

      What’s wee treacle teeths excuse,luckiest team ever in the CL group stages,32 mill wage bill at last count to service,stadium 30k short of capacity each game,dwindling season tkts(still no official Nr) and no chance of getting through 3 rounds next season to access CL leaving only another Tainted title that means nothing,probably have to sell all his so called stars to make up the wage bill, no wonder he wants away.

  4. Robert Smith

    Dear dear Paul more rubbish,you actually defended me some years ago and I thought you knew your stuff as we got a result but since you have become Rangers obsessed all your blogs and predictions have been shown to be complete nonsense ,time you let your fellow obsessives know that you have done your bit with regards Rangers and are now going to delve into the murky goingsonat parkhead PAST and present

  5. Drew Adamson

    Does anyone have a link to the youtube recording?

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