Respect For The Law?

_53295183_sfa_vt2_640Two interesting stories have piqued my curiosity today. One is that Dave King has set up a wee business to collect the season tickets of the Sevco Rangers fans.

The other is that Kilmarnock are going to be the subject of an investigation for a forged signature on a document, rendering one of their players ineligible.

I find both fascinating, and the irony is not lost on me, or anyone else I’d expect. It was the French philosopher Pascal who wrote that “law without force is impotent”, but how are we to reconcile one with the other on a day like today?

With the King situation, we see no force or effect. The man pled guilty to tax evasion on a grand scale, and only then to avoid a trial that would have seen him not only convicted of that but possibly also for crimes ranging from forgery to bribery. These things should carry an automatic directorship ban here in the UK, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped him.

Unless the authorities step in and tells King this is a non-starting event, how are we supposed to take their regulations seriously? Sevco Rangers already has a long history of ignoring them, and this alone makes credibility hard to sustain.

That aside, let’s go over, again, the reason he’s setting up this company in the first place. King wants to use it as the vehicle for the fans to place their season ticket money, instead of putting it into the club.

I’ve already described this as madness, suicidal madness at that, especially when the club has explicitly spelled out the consequences, by putting a “going concern” clause in their accounts, but it appears to phase neither King nor some of the “supporters.”

The organisation standing behind King, the Union of Fans, released a statement last night outlining what they “expect” from the 120 day review, and making it clear that their demand for security over the club’s real estate assets is still the central plank of their platform.

They might as well have demanded proof of Santa Claus, because the chances of them getting that and the chances of them getting what they want here are about roughly the same.

They are also demanding that the 120 day review spells out where “£30 – £50 million in investment” is coming from, something which indicates that a profound break with reality has occurred somewhere here. Let’s, just for a moment, dwell on this point, and try to imagine the circumstances of the next Sevco Rangers share issue.

The “investors” thus far have seen the value of their shares drop like a stone. The principal shareholders who own the majority of the club have yet to make a penny from it, in two years, and are now in fact carrying £16 million in debt. (Probably higher now.)

There is a concerted campaign of destabilisation going on right now, with customers being asked not to give them any more money. The attitude of the media is febrile, veering sharply from wild acclaim one day to bitter, outraged criticism the next.

A large and vocal section of the customer base is unhinged, and led by institutionally stupid people who have backed – and then turned on – every director the club has had in the last 36 months, and some of them are inclined towards intimidation to get what they want. To give you an analogy for what we’re talking about here, think of the kids from Children of the Corn protesting against not getting what they want for Xmas.

Add to this mix of the mad and the bad the highest paid person in the company, and the snarling, spitting, angry, aggressive public face of every decision, who won’t back his employers in a crisis if he thinks it will damage his “standing with the troops” – the self same barking dogs described above – and who, incidentally, can’t do his own job unless he’s outspending every one of his prospective rivals by a ratio on the order of 10 to 1.

Now that’s the company you are being asked to invest £30 – £50 million in, part of a plan presided over by a convicted tax cheat who spent time in prison, and eyed from the outside by a guy who paid £40 million to avoid an 82 year prison sentence of his own. How much you invest is up to you, but you should know that three things will apply.

1) You will never see a return on any of it. Not one penny. The guys who came before you are carrying debt. Buy enough of the company and you’ll be expected to do the same.

2) That the bulk of the money raised will be spent on transfer fees and wages for footballers. None of it will be invested in infrastructure with the aim of generating more income.

3) That the over-riding principle objective of said company is not “turning a profit” or “paying a dividend” or “guaranteeing a return for investment” but the vague and very un-business-like concept of “challenging Celtic.”

Today Sandy Easdale has spoken to the BBC in the starkest terms yet about the situation facing the club. He’s told the fans to show their loyalty, and there is the veiled threat that they would “not survive” what he’s termed a “second administration.”

Obviously I take issue with him, as they didn’t actually “survive” the first, but his point is clear nonetheless. If the NewCo falls into a black hole like the OldCo it is difficult to imagine them climbing out.

One source inside Ibrox has gone even further and told the BBC “the club is on life support.” It will not take much before those in charge decide to pull the plug. This is the very real danger facing them, and the awful choice that confronts the supporters.

Easdale, apparently speaking for the board, says “At the end of the day, the club is at a crossroads at the moment … It can either go forward with a … long-term view, steady as she goes, or be pulled apart in other directions …” There are some, including some of their “fans” who seem set on doing just that. Easdale is telling the rest of the fans to be wary.

The other option, of course, is to believe in Dave King, should the authorities decide that he is fit to run a company. The SFA will also have to decide that, and we know how seriously they take their own regulations. Which brings me to the second story of the day.

Kilmarnock are in trouble, it seems, over an ineligible player. There is talk of draconian punishment, but I very much doubt that will happen. During the Lord Nimmo Smith inquiry, Sandy Bryson, the SFA Registrations Officer, gave his own, rather unusual, interpretation of the rule book when it comes to player registration. Put in its most simple form, he said that a registration is valid until it is found to be invalid, and that if all parties were acting in good faith then there should be no punishment.

Now, applied to the Kilmarnock case it seems like a nonsense. This was a forged signature, after all, and this should, therefore, be beyond question.

Yet, the OldCo Rangers case didn’t simply involve side contracts but a policy of concealment, of disinformation, of cover-up, of obfuscation, of outright denial and lies. There’s not really much grey area there either, and no question at all of all the parties acting “In good faith.” OldCo Rangers was quite clear in what it was doing when it hid details of player remuneration from the authorities, and it did so again during the Lord Nimmo Smith inquiry itself, when it concealed the full details of the Discounted Options Scheme.

The result of all this is precisely what worried many of us in the wake of Bryson’s testimony to Lord Nimmo Smith; that it has created an appalling precedent, one with the potential to unleash all manner of chaos on our national sport.

That he was allowed to get up there and use this explanation as a cover for what Rangers did was an outrage, and it was a matter of time before the chickens came home to roost and made a mockery out of his bizarre claims.

It would be one thing if that’s all it did, but this shoddy series of events has, additionally, made a mockery of our whole national sport. It is proof – not that we required any more – that the people running our game are out of step with its needs, utterly untrustworthy, out of their depth and incapable of doing the right thing. They all ought to be rooted out.

So, hammer Kilmarnock and justice will have been served. Yet that will make the enormous injustice of the Lord Nimmo Smith verdict all the more obvious and scandalous. Let Kilmarnock slip off the hook, because of that diabolical precedent, and you further enshrine it for the future and Scottish football will reap the whirlwind in due course.

What horrified some of us at the time was just this. When you bend, break, remake, ignore, deny and selectively apply the regulations which are supposed to bind everyone, and you do this, initially, for the benefit of one club you are not simply legislating for their cheating but you are unleashing forces you cannot control, and there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. Had Hearts been refused a CVA they’d have died and probably “resurrected” again as a NewCo, allowing Scottish football’s clubs the ultimate Get Out of Jail Free card forevermore.

It is bad enough that on the day Sevco Rangers steps out onto a pitch in European football they will do it with the SFA referring to them as if they were not doing so for the first time. It is inconceivable that UEFA would ever dare endorse this position, because it would take the Scottish FA’s ridiculous decision making continental and bring a world of trouble down on their heads.

This is what happens when laws are ignored, when rules are bent, when the regulations are flexible.

This is how Scottish football got into such a mess. We are only just emerging from the darkness. Today’s double whammy shows us, again, that the spiralling crisis at Ibrox yet has the potential to drag the rest of us down with them.

Be warned friends, and be alert. It’s not over by a long way.

[calameo code=0013829934949a119a7fc width=550 height=356 view=book mode=viewer]

James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

52 thoughts on “Respect For The Law?

  • 24 April, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Listen to yourself you loony? Dark hands at work, “we are just emerging from the darkness”, blah blah blah. Get a life, stop being such a bigot and enjoy the dominance your team are having.
    You lot must be the most paranoid crowd ever: your main rivals were relegated to the bottom division, your chairman sits on the main board for the league, your club is enjoying financial health. See when I see Rangers fans posting conspiracies about the GCC, I cringe a bit. I would hope that most level headed Celtic fans would cringe at this hilarious pish!

  • 24 April, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Steve, thanks for reading! It’s always amusing to me that so many of you feel the need to tell me how silly I am.

    You point to my own club’s dominance. I thank you profoundly for it, and I mean that. Oh, we’d have taken your mob anyway, being better run and with a better team and management … but honestly, the sheer scale of the superiority we’re about to enjoy is due, in no small part, to your own lack of diligence.

    We couldn’t have done it without you! Keep up the good work!

  • 24 April, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Oh dear. Under the insolvency law Rangers would be committing a criminal offence if we were a new club. U only mention the SFA & talk about it would be inconceivable if UEFA state Rangers r same club, well am afraid that according to UEFA’s website & from ASA, where UEFA are quoted, we r same club. U also have statements from Lord Glennie, Lord Nimmo Smith, BDO, the ECA, the London Stock Exchange stating, much to ur obvious anger, that Rangers FC 1872, did indeed survive & is still existing today. But as I stated earlier, look at the insolvency law when buying a company/business in liquidation & that has been liquidated & u will c that Sevco Scotland Ltd bought substantially most of the business the bare minimum required to carry on that said Company’s History, Reputation & Tradition. So there u go the Official, Legal facts of the matter, but ur obviously going to tell me that u know things that they don’t know & their all talking out of their arse & that their all Rangers or anti Celtic (aka pacific shelf) fans. So quite simply WHY should Rangers fans being annoyed or lose sleep over ur hateful, bitter shit stirring, pathetic, embarrassing blogs. Have a nice day

  • 24 April, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Obviously, Alec my man, none of my “hateful, bitter shit stirring, pathetic blogs” bother you at all!

    Keep on reading and posting buddy! You’re always welcome here!

  • 24 April, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    No problem at all, I’m a level headed person who gives credit when it’s due.
    These articles constantly pop up on the Rangers newsfeeds (as that is all you guys seems obsessed about – some new club that you have an unexplainable hatred for – that is, unless you are to pig-headed to just say that it’s Rangers). But thanks for the entertainment. I’ve got lots of Celtic supporting friends who I am sure don’t buy in to this mass paranoia detailed above. Now I think about it, I’m sure I’ve seen Marc walking about with a tinfoil hat on….

  • 24 April, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I enjoy your contributions immensely. First two posts on here today haven’t been from Celtic fans … imagine how pleased I am about that!

    It’s amazing though … two Sevco Rangers fans have already posted on here today and they’re not arguing with each other! That’s a first in recent weeks! 🙂

  • 24 April, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Rangers weren’t relegated,
    They were liquidated!.


  • 24 April, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Look sevconians we aint paranoid we warned you before about administration and yous said it was lies, why all the banners say no to LIQUIDATION chuckles green said if the cva fails then we lose the history

  • 24 April, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Close Keith, the company was liquidated and the club was relegated.

    Don’t let the facts get in the way of a lovely hate-based story.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Absolute cobblers Steve, but whatever helps you sleep at night my old son!

  • 24 April, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Nice one again James to the point and hits the nail on the head. If I were Kilmarnock I would fight any possible punishment with the full force of Nimmo law. That old club Rangers they have certainly put the cat among the pigeons.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Sevco fans….clutching at more straw than worzel gummidge having a wank

  • 24 April, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    The comedy continues.

    Alec – You will be aware that Rangers FC, founded in 1872, incorporated as a PLC in 1899 and were issued with a company registration number. The club became the company. The club IS the company and vice versa.
    I have a question for you, followed by a challenge.

    At what point in the history of Rangers FC PLC did the “club” become a separate and distinct entity from the company?
    Show me ONE reference to the “club” and “company” being separable prior to Administration Day, 14th February 2012.

    I have been asking this question for two years. So come on Alec, be the first to answer sensibly.

    Oh, by the way, check Celtics records at Companies House before spouting the Pacific Shelf nonsense.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    That Dave King Rescue Plan In Full:

    SB Holder: How much is a season ticket?
    Ibrox Ticket Office: About 6,000 South African Rands
    SB Holder: How much is the stadium?
    Ibrox Ticket Office: About one billion South African Rands.
    SB Holder: Here’s 6,000 Rands. Gie’s a season book AND the stadium.
    Ibrox Ticket Office: No problem, sir. There you go.
    SB Holder: We’re SAVED!! Get it up ye, Timmy!

  • 24 April, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Again, as an “author” you should really check your facts rather than peddling non-truths.
    You better tell all the Fiorentina, Middlesborough, Portsmouth et all fans that they are supporting a different club!
    Oh, and better tell UEFA and the SFA to update their websites.
    Come on mate, I know you bitter folk are crying with hope that Rangers will ‘die’ due to your in-built prejudice, but some day you are going to have to look at the hard facts and move on.
    The vast majority of Rangers fans would not want Celtic to ‘die’, so I’m sure that the majority of your support who read these bitter ‘articles’ must cringe at your level of bitterness.
    Come on, the quicker we get rid of this hatred, the quicker society can move on.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    See, you almost trapped me in that web of words there … but quite how you accuse people who are simply exploring an issue of “peddling hate”, call us bitter, call us bigots, call us prejudiced, and then pretend to care about social cohesion really is beyond me … you have a sense of humour anyway.

    I would tell these other club’s supporteres they are supporting different clubs … IF THEY ACTUALLY WERE. But they didn’t die. Your club did.

    Or are you trying to tell me football clubs CANNOT die? Tell that to Gretna. To Belfast Celtic. To Derry City. To Third Lanark.

    Seriously … all this “it was the company that died” … it’s just embarrasing. It really is. It takes one Hell of a lot of effort to sustain a fiction like that. No wonder you don’t have the energy to fight for your NewCo.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    It’s hilarious, what is embarrassing is your blinkered vision. Again, you better tell UEFA, the SFA and the rest that their sites are wrong.

    There is no difference in what happens to Rangers as Fiorentina bit of course they didn’t die because they aren’t the bad men from Glasgow…
    But again; let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good story.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Also, the clubs you mentioned above had financial problems, the holding company liquidated, then there was no cash / intervention to carry on operating after liquidation.
    But I forgot; “tha Hunz are deed cos they ur.”

  • 24 April, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    You just described exactly what happened to your own club. Perfectly.

    If you actually read my articles, incidently, you’d know something. I’ve said, repeatedly, that it does not matter whether the history continues or not. In my view, it doesn’t. The club died. I rely on stuff like past precedent, company law, FIFA and UEFA statutes (you keep telling me to look at UEFA’s website. I have. On many occasions. It still lists Gretna), common sense …

    But in the end, it doesn’t really matter and it never did. If you think a football club is an idea, which I suppose it is, then yours is still alive. Because an idea doesn’t die, even a bad one, like fascism, like Rangers.

    However, and this is what you need to start wrapping your brain around … the VERSION of your club you grew up supporting … that, matey, that is DEFINITELY dead, unquestionably dead, totally and completely and utterly dead. The days of big spending … over. The days of chasing European dreams … over. The days of challenging Celtic … over for the forseeable future, probably for your lifetime and mine, unless someone at Celtic Park really does drop the ball. What you need to wake up to is that newco or oldco, history or not, 50 odd titles or two tuppence ha’penny ones from the lower leagues … the only relevant point is that the Rangers you grew up with is no more.

    Living in our shadow. That’s your future. And in that future there’ll be no need for hate. Your grandkids will be Celtic supporters.

    Welcome to the New World Order 🙂

  • 24 April, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    I’ve always wondered why certain elements of Rangers supporters always deny that they are a different club citing a separation between club and company and then reference Celtic and Pacific Shelf as if Celtic pre and post the McCann takeover were different clubs! I’m sorry but you can’t have it both ways. And for your information the Company Number of Celtic is the same now as it was when it was incorporated, therefore same club.

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