A quick introduction from Paul –
Whilst it is disputed whether or not Rangers FC “died”, it appears that the question itself will live forever!
Stephen posted recently about why, in his opinion, the die was cast and Rangers FC had ceased to be. You can read his piece here.
The piece provoked various reactions and AD Bryce asked if he could put the contrary view – so here it is.
Two things – he suggested that people who wanted to engage him regarding his thoughts on the point could do so via Twitter – @Bryce9A.
Secondly, it would be great if commenters could hold back on the invective and abuse. Otherwise comments will be disapperaring and commenters pre-modearted, which disrupts the flow of the discussion, annoys those who are moderated, and takes up my time. But more folk are telling me that wading through pages of sniping back and forth to no great purpose is putting them off reading – and that is a shame for all (the majority) of comenters who have sensible points to make and who do so in a courteous manner.
Thank you – and now I leave the stage clear for AD Bryce.
The record books show that no football club on the planet – possibly even in the universe – has bossed its own backyard to the extent of Rangers FC – 54 times wearing the badge of national Champions. As a result, when the financial meltdown of the club hit the headlines, there was no shortage of people to interpret the news – euphorically in many cases –as consigning Rangers FC to those very same history books.
However, things haven’t quite gone according to that script. A football club bearing the name “Rangers FC”, retaining substantially the same colours, badge, stadium, team management and playing staff of the club of that name prior to summer 2012, is currently in existence drawing crowds and media attention to Govan.
The question is whether such observations are best explained by positing that Rangers FC survived the liquidation of its corporate incarnation, or whether the facts point to the SFL3 Champions being an entirely new club, not recognised as existing prior to 2012.
In a nutshell – here are three reasons why I not only believe Rangers FC continued to exist, but that now, in May 2013, ignorance or dishonesty are the only two excuses for not recognising this survival…
- Because…. It’s Official!
- Because…. The Law Lord said so.
- Because… The “club = company” foundation to ‘new club’ arguments is demonstrably false.
To address each in turn…
1. OFFICIALLY Rangers FC survived.
The government does not run Football, neither do the courts. What constitutes “Official” in football is what the game’s governing bodies, albeit operating within the law and their own rules and regulations, determine it to be.
There are two ruling bodies with presiding authority over Rangers FC: the Scottish Football League and the Scottish Football Association. BOTH state, officially, that Rangers FC survived.
THE SFL –
Conveniently, it’s “official website” has a reference page for the club listing just the details we’d require to ascertain the history of this 3rd division club – founding date, trophy haul etc.
The page http://www.scottishfootballleague.com/club/rangers/ states that 3rd division Champs Rangers FC were “founded 1872”, are Scottish Champions 54 times etc. CEO David Longmuir has clarified “the history of Rangers is appropriately described on the SFL website”, ruling out any possibility these facts are the work of an unauthorised individual. http://sport.stv.tv/football/clubs/rangers/128091-sfl-chief-executive-confirms-rangers-league-cup-wins-will-remain/
This evidence is not a media interpretation, a blogger’s spin, it’s direct evidence from the ruling body itself. Therefore it’s reasonable to state that the official presiding league body officially recognises the survival of Rangers FC.
THE SFA –
Another direct source from The SFA, cutting out any potential error from second part interpretation:
Seeking to clarify the situation post “Rangers FC’s insolvency event”/“Rangers FC’s administration”, the SFA issued an official statement that reads “the club’s status has been confirmed by the SPL and SFL”, leading them to acknowledge “Rangers FC as a third division club”, pending, at the time, “conditional acceptance of Rangers FC in Irn Bru Division Three” from the Scottish Football League. http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=1961&newsCategoryID=3&newsID=10204
The SFA has been accused of cowardice in not clarifying more clearly the status of Rangers, but this does seem unfair on the basis of this official statement. A more reasonable allegation would be not accommodating those who cannot interpret a statement that refers to “RANGERS FC” as both:
– suffering an insolvency event/administration in season 2011-12 AND
– being a third division club for season 2012-13.
Tom English of the Scotsman has claimed:
“Last August, Michele Centenaro of the ECA contacted the SFA and asked for an appraisal of the Rangers situation and whether they could be deemed the same Rangers as before or a new company unworthy of acknowledgment from the ECA. The SFA’s response was unambiguous. Different corporate entity but same Rangers, same history, same honours accrued over 140 years.”
Is Tom lying about what Michele Centenaro heard was the Official position of the SFA? Unlikely. Likewise, is David Longmuir co-conspiring with the web editor to lie about the Official position of the SFL? Once again, I think not. It has to be admitted Rangers FC’s survival is, at the insistence of these official organisations, OFFICIAL.
2. RANGERS FC SURVIVED – the Independent Law Lord said so.
Few football-related debates have enjoyed the luxury of having been answered so emphatically by an Independent Commission, lead by a Senator of the College of Justice/ A Law Lord/ A former Supreme Court of Scotland judge. Step up The Right Honourable Lord Nimmo Smith.
His ruling that Rangers FC survived as a “continuing entity” is blindingly clear, forming as it does the very backbone of his reasoning regarding the entire case he was brought in to rule upon by the SPL.
A selection of some of the quotations where continuity of Rangers FC – “the club” which he distinguishes explicitly from the two owning and operating companies – is explicit:
Page 2: “there is no allegation that the CURRENT OWNER AND OPERATOR OF THE CLUB, The Rangers Football Club Limited (Newco) …”
Page 4: “On 14 June 2012 a newly incorporated company, Sevco Scotland Limited, purchased substantially all the business and assets of Oldco, INCLUDING RANGERS FC..”
Page 4: “[Newco] BECAME THE OPERATOR OF RANGERS FC within the Third Division of the Scottish Football League”
Page 5: “Newco, as the CURRENT OWNER AND OPERATOR OF RANGERS FC, although not alleged…”
Page 6: “Rangers FC was liable to sanctions as provided by the Rules in the event of a breach WHILE [RANGERS FC] WAS OWNED AND OPERATED BY OLDCO”
Page 6: “…capable of affect Rangers FC as a CONTINUING ENTITY now owned and operated by Newco”
Page 32: “Oldco as a company, as distinct from the football management or players of Rangers FC as a club…”
Page 32: “Rangers FC is of course NOW OWNED And OPERATED BY NEWCO …”
Page 33: “…does not affect Rangers FC as a club UNDER ITS NEW OWNERSHIP.”
Anyone wishing to spin those statements to mean Rangers FC didn’t survive, good luck! Nimmo Smith’s reputation is defined by his ability to offer an objective, unbiased judgement based on facts… and his conclusion is: Rangers FC survived.
Of course many bloggers and journalists have publicly disagreed, but are any better qualified to judge than the Judge himself? A question that’s answer seems obvious to me at least.
3. The ignorance of the ‘Company = Club’ position
Finally I come to the “new club” perspective, specifically this ‘Company = Club’ mantra, and its idiocy in light of the facts of football precedent. The equation:
The company = the club Liquidated company = liquidated club Dead company = dead club.
Lying at the heart of every “new club” taunt, its simplicity, whilst rendering it seductive to the lazy observer, also makes it so easy to ridicule as nonsense.
Simply put, Football Club X cannot be equivalent to Company Y if: club X survives after being sold from Company Y to another corporate entity, Company Z.
So just 1 measly example of an F.C. spanning different companies – where the only continuing “entity” is a collection of assets (ie. NOT another company)– is all that is needed to kill this ‘Company = Club’ equation stone dead. Happily, we have many, but here’s two of my personal faves:
A. The Classic – Leeds United.
1. Oldco company = http://companycheck.co.uk/company/00170600 Incorp. 1920, Status “In LIQUIDATION”. (“Notice of Move from admin. To Liquidation” KPMG document http://www.scribd.com/doc/87980843/leeds-cvl)
2. Newco company = http://companycheck.co.uk/company/06233875 Incorp. 2007.
B. The Connoisseur’s choice – Crystal Palace FC
1. Original company = http://companycheck.co.uk/company/00084396 Incorp. 1905 (name subsequently. changed to Mardonmain Holdings Ltd)
2. New Company = http://companycheck.co.uk/company/01844765 Incorp. 1984, Status “DISSOLVED”
3. (Another) New Company = http://companycheck.co.uk/company/03951645 Incorp. 2000, Status “DISSOLVED”
4. (ANOTHER!) New Company = http://companycheck.co.uk/company/07206409 Incorp 2010.
In both cases, IF “club = company” is to be believed then the club, Leeds or Palace, CANNOT be separated from its original company and still live on because that company is the club. However, have there been 4 different clubs called “Crystal Palace FC”, with histories starting again each time a new company was born? Are Leeds United a 6 year old club?
No evidence anywhere exists to support such claims, their on-going histories are universally accepted. On this basis, the absence of one company spanning the continuing existence of these clubs must therefore prove the “Company = Club” mantra is false.
What the evidence overwhelmingly shows (check how many companies have operated Luton/Bradford/Portsmouth/Middlesbrough/Charlton/Rotherham/Bournemouth the list goes on and on) is that the sale – from company to company – of the fundamental assets (players/stadium/coaches/brand identity etc..) that comprise a club are sufficient for on-going recognition as X football club by the football authorities (formalised by the transferring of League/FA membership shares between the companies that own those assets).
4. To conclude…
I’m happy to accept that some people will believe what they want to believe, hear “Sevco” every time the name of Rangers graces the airwaves or their television screens, dig up examples where a corporate entity is referred to as a “club” and claim that proves all other uses of the word are therefore invalid. For these people retaining the belief that “Rangers are gone” (quote courtesy of Paul Brennan, CQN) holds more benefits than giving any genuine consideration to whether reality reflects that statement.
However for everyone else, I hope this article has allowed them to at least evaluate the preceding evidence critically – are the SFL/SFA statements lies? Are those quotes actually in the Nimmo Smith report? Has the information in those companycheck web links been doctored? – and come to their own conclusions without the excuse of ignorance of the above facts.
PS. To answer one inevitable question (What about UEFA? Or FIFA?) the answer is these international organisations have no direct say, nor wish to interfere, in the question of the survival or otherwise or a Scottish association football club. Handily for me, you don’t need to trust my word on this – just trust their OWN words and (if you dare) the journalistic integrity of one Alex Thomson…http://blogs.channel4.com/alex-thomsons-view/questions-answered-footballs-governing-bodies/2235
UEFA: “UEFA rules and regulations apply only to European competitions.”
“ the SFA and SPL as they run their domestic game according to the regulations they have passed.”
FIFA: “we would like to highlight that this is a domestic issue which falls under the remit of the SFA”
Thanks for reading.
Posted by AD Bryce