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.

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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 5:48 pm

    Peter, for Gods sakes man … you can’t use FACTS in your argument! That’s just cheating. That’s just WRONG …

  • 24 April, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I’m still trying to fathom what King is trying to do.

    It’s like trying to give someone on their death bed less morphine. Drip by drip.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I don’t think my grandchildren will be allowed to be included in “ra Cellik family” unfortunately, unless the family clean their act up or everyone bows down to their absolute whim. “In the future there will be no more hate”. A very utopian viewpoint but from a totalitarian viewpoint. So everyone has to have your viewpoint or their will be hate. Everyone has to support Celtic? So basically there is no rival to hate. That itself speaks volumes.
    There should be no hate even if there is a cultural, societal or dare I say it, religious difference. We should be aiming to aim for that, not to wipe out the other side so there is no one else to hate.
    Obviously you are never going to admit that it’s the same club no matter what evidence you are guided towards so fair enough, keep your viewpoint, I guess Rangers will never hear the end of it along with many other things that simply aren’t true.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    You’re obviously never going to concede on the same club thing no matter what amount of evidence is pointed your way.

    Interesting comment “there will be no need for hate. Your grandkids will all be Celtic supporters”. Words that really speak a thousand.
    So unless you are a Celtic supporter, you are open for hatred. That really does sum up a lot of the feeling you get in society just now.
    It’s a shame; society would be better if you had a rich variation of cultures, backgrounds and dare I say it… Religions? But obviously not in your viewpoint. Only if someone is the same as you, then they are not worth hating.
    Again, I’ve got a lot of Celtic supporting pals who don’t seem to have this facist (funny how you mentioned that above) viewpoint and I hope for our city your ideology is in the vast minority.
    Rangers had a bad problem with this viewpoint in the past and speaking from direct contact, the problem is rapidly declining, but the see-saw seems to have swung to the other side of Glasgow based on a lot of the comments and actions you see these days.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Lol you really are one mad boy, aren’t you? Your grandchildren will be perfectly welcome at Celtic Park. You can already buy one of our rubber duckies from your own club’s site, so that’s a good start! Get on it and get purchasing!

    We have Aberdeen fans, Hearts fans, Hibs fans, Alloa fans on this site. All are welcome here, and we have duly posted all your points. There is no hate here except that which you’re pouring towards me! 🙂

    But I do not hate you back. I pity you. Your rant about culture and religion is barmy because we DO have that … and my club has always welcomed it whilst yours has wrapped itself in the Union Jack and once wrapped itself in even more tawdry cloth than that; in Orangeism, in fundamentalist Protestantism … yours was the club that was “up to its knees in fenian blood” and was telling the Irish to go home.

    The hate in our relationship has, I’m afraid, been largely one way. And I hate peddlers of hate, no matter which side they stand on. Your ignorance of the reality of multicultural Scotland is appalling, and indicitive of a mindset that hasn’t strayed far from its own door. Your attempt to rewrite the shabby history of your own club doesn’t wash.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Wow. Again, your hatred bursts through. Your club all inclusive? So all the banners, songs, bile doesn’t exist? That is where Rangers have progressed; they acknowledged their is a problem and have / are dealing with it. You pretend you have no problems and when people point it out you cry of bias until the wails are louder than common sense.
    As is apparent here.
    How is my viewpoint appealing? I’m claiming for variety of all kinds and you are calling for the death of Rangers so that there is no one left to hate. Your own venom has blinded you.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    And funnily enough the last time I remember anyone singing about anyone to “go home” was aimed at British soldiers? But that doesn’t count does it? The crazy thing is, you are just pointing out what I am saying; you need to acknowledge there is an issue with hatred to deal with it but as usual it is deny and deflect.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    As always,an articulte,factual and honest piece,James.
    I laugh at deluded Zombies who post on Celtic blogs. I love the pain and hurt their feeling about their new club.
    They should accept beautiful.They are not even an average club,never mind a big club.
    Sugarless Daddy King is full of bullshit.They should try and grow organically,and not look for handouts.
    James you are quite right to watch them closely.The deid club through favours from the SFA cost our club serious money,re European license.

    I look forward to your next instalment,James.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    sevco/zombies/5088/.diedco .As the late great Ian Dury once sang………There ain,t have been some stupid B——S

  • 24 April, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    It’s a sad indictment when any perceived sleight on Rangers is automatically branded “hateful” or “bigoted”. That seems to be a tactic for some and I find it sad.

    As for the “Paranoia” displayed by Celtic fans, I agree we have indulged, but any Paranoia displayed by Celtic and it’s fans has long since been trumped by proclamations emanating from Dignity Towers.

    Is there any Institution left in the UK who is not a “Rangers Hater” or a “bigot”? The BBC, The Record, STV, Alex Thompson, The SFA, and the list goes on.

    That’s dangerous Paranoia.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Alec,steve, did rangers go into administration?yip..did rangers get liquidated?.mmmm.yip…kinda says it all,as if that wasnt enuff tho!!!!here comes the sequel..the words paddle,and shit creek come to mind,

  • 24 April, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Hahaha Steve …. you really will need to try harder. There is a difference between a song that tells soldiers on foriegn soil to return to their own country and a song that promotes racism, bigotry and hate. If you can’t see the difference I am not even going try and explain it to you.

    You accuse me of trying to “deny and deflect.” How the Hell can you rightly do that when I am the one who’s putting his opinion online, over his own name?

    I am not calling for “the death of Rangers.” Rangers have already died. Me calling it for it won’t make them die again any more than your saying they didn’t will bring them back to life.

    You are confusing yourself now. You cannot recognise hate from simple commentary. And yes, my club is all inclusive. The wide range of views in the stands reflects the multinational parade of talent – of ALL RELIGIONS – we allowed to pull on the jersey. It was not my club that went such a long time operating an apartheid policy. That was yours.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    From experience, arguing whether SevcoRangersFC are the same as RangersFC1872-2012 can the tax the brain a lot especially when you’re up against a zealot but it’s shooty-in when you’re given the ”We were relegated” nonsense as Steve has quoted. That is a July/August 2012 defence, before actual facts got in the way of it! The ”same club” campaigners dropped that one a long time ago and have since moved on to more outlandish theories.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    If rangers never died,then man up and pay the debt its that simple….

  • 24 April, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    The sevconians think they were relegated and claim everyone is anti rangers look at super salary demanded to know the names of those on the panel putting their lives at risk and he was never punished, sevco-rangers play the victim card when everyone wants the truth you want the history but not the debts

  • 24 April, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    A lot of agreements coming from my side James all I can say is its no wonder the servo fans are sceptical of handing over there hard earned I bloody wouldnae trust them

  • 24 April, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Oh well, it’s times like these that make these arguments and hatred seem insignificant and petty. Rest in peace Sandy Jardine, a true gentlemen in our game.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Here here Steve. No arguments there at all fella.

    RIP Sandy. Love & respect to all those who’re mourning him.

  • 24 April, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Admire you communicating with poor Steve..He is one of the thousands of the obviously deluded totally bought into the Rangers version of ‘ Die GroBe Luge ‘ …..must be quite an experience for these folks living in an ‘Alice in Wonderland ‘ type world..
    Well done ! Nice post ..

  • 24 April, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Rest in peace Sandy Jardine.
    He was a great player for his club during my formative years watching Scottish football.
    My condolences to his family at this sad time.

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