Charles Green has declared war on the Scottish football authorities. His statement and that of Duff and Phelps today deserve detailed analysis, which is ongoing at McConville Towers as we speak, and will be concluded as soon as Stewart Regan, Neil Doncaster and Peter Lawwell tell me what to write.
For now, I wanted to speculate if Mr Green had managed to forget the terms of the SFA Rules, under which Rangers FC was censured for his comments some time ago. Mr Green could well have forgotten, as the censure took place as long as eleven days ago.
The relevant rules are as follows:
Rule 1: All member clubs shall:
(a) observe the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship in accordance with the rules of fair play;
(b) be subject to and comply with the Articles and any statutes, regulations, directives, codes, decisions and International Match Calendar promulgated by the Board, the Professional Game Board, the Non-Professional Game Board, the Judicial Panel Protocol, a Committee or sub-committee, FIFA, UEFA or the Court of Arbitration for Sport;
(c) recognise and submit to the jurisdiction of the Court of Arbitration for Sport as specified in the relevant provisions of the FIFA Statutes and the UEFA Statutes;
(d) respect of the Laws of the Game;
(e) refrain from engaging in any activity, practice or conduct which would constitute an offence under sections 1, 2 or 6 of the Bribery Act 2010; and
(f) behave towards the Scottish FA and other members with the utmost good faith.
Rule 2: Each member shall procure that its officials, its Team Officials and its players act in accordance with Rule 1.
Rule 66: No recognised football body, club, official, Team Official or other member of Team Staff, player, referee, or other person under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall bring the game into disrepute.
Rule 71: A recognised football body, club, official, Team Official, other member of Team Staff, player or other person under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall, at all times, act in the best interests of Association Football and shall not act in any manner which is improper.
Now let’s see where Mr Green might, through inadvertence, have sinned against those rules, accidentally of course. The following are extracted from his statement on the official Rangers FC website.
“Our lawyers have made that point repeatedly to the SPL in correspondence and yet our requests for an explanation from the SPL have been completely ignored. The SPL’s silence on these issues is deafening. The outcome of the SPL’s process will have no legal effect.
“Although the SPL goes to great lengths to emphasise the independence of its Commission, the Commission is not independent of the SPL. It has been appointed by the SPL. It follows SPL rules and its process is managed by SPL staff. I don’t question the impartiality of the individual panel members but whatever decision they reach is a decision of the SPL.
“Did the SPL launch an investigation? Did they appoint a Commission? Did they ask to see EBT correspondence? Did they ask any questions at all? No. They did absolutely nothing.
“What compounds the breathtaking hypocrisy of the SPL in this whole saga, is that the SFA, the SPL and us – as the new owners – took part in numerous discussions regarding the new company’s league status during which it was made clear that a deal was there to be done where ‘the EBT issue’ would be dealt with as part of a package of sanctions which would be implemented in return for membership of the SFA and a place in either the SPL or Division One.
“We do not accept that people who are willing to come to an agreement on such matters then have a right to instigate a full blown inquisition when matters do not unfold as they thought they would.
“In our view, it beggars belief that an authority which can be heavily involved in these discussions to the point that the Chief Executive Neil Doncaster repeatedly stated he was not interested in stripping titles from Rangers can lurch from that position to setting up its own Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Nimmo Smith.
“I must make it clear that we are not questioning for a moment the integrity of Lord Nimmo Smith and his colleagues but we believe the SPL have been hypocritical in their approach to this matter.
“Why is the SPL rushing to judgement now when it has been sitting on the matter for two years? Their haste is particularly difficult to understand when the tax tribunal judgement is imminent.
“The factual issues in both cases are identical. We have to ask why is the SPL so anxious to issue a judgement in this matter before the tax tribunal’s findings are made public.
“Nothing has changed as the judgement still has not been made public. Why is the SPL rushing ahead when in April the SFA felt it unwise to do so?
“Rangers was not the only club in Scotland to use EBTs yet nothing was done and little has been heard about it. Also, Rangers stands accused of achieving sporting advantage unfairly – yet there is little debate over the fact in all the years EBTs were in existence at Ibrox, the Club often failed to win either the league title, or the main cup competitions.
“The decision we have taken has not been taken lightly. There are powerful representatives from Clubs within the SPL – not all of them by any means – who appear hell bent on inflicting as much damage on Rangers as possible.
“It is lamentable that the Board and executive of the organisation have not been able to deal with this appropriately. We do not hold every SPL club in the same regard. Several clubs were placed in an invidious position and we believe their interests were not best served by those in more powerful positions.
“Furthermore, as a Club we are not satisfied that the issue of conflict of interest relating to advisers to the SPL has been satisfactorily dealt with.
“Once again I would thank our supporters for their patience and tolerance. They have been asked to take it on the chin time and again and we stand united in saying: No more.”
Have a read through these edited highlights once again…
The SPL’s silence on these issues is deafening … the Commission is not independent of the SPL … They (the SPL) did absolutely nothing … the breathtaking hypocrisy of the SPL in this whole saga … a full blown inquisition … it beggars belief that an authority which can be heavily involved in these discussions to the point that the Chief Executive Neil Doncaster repeatedly stated he was not interested in stripping titles from Rangers can lurch from that position … we believe the SPL have been hypocritical … There are powerful representatives from Clubs within the SPL – not all of them by any means – who appear hell bent on inflicting as much damage on Rangers as possible … It is lamentable that the Board and executive of the organisation have not been able to deal with this appropriately. We do not hold every SPL club in the same regard. Several clubs were placed in an invidious position and we believe their interests were not best served by those in more powerful positions … Once again I would thank our supporters for their patience and tolerance. They have been asked to take it on the chin time and again and we stand united in saying: No more.
Mr Green has issued a lengthy statement, as can be seen from the fact that what is shown above is only an extract from it. It is on the official Rangers website, and is stated to be by “Rangers Football Club”.
If this is not a declaration of war on the SPL and by extension the footballing authorities in Scotland, I don’t know what is.
I spoke to a friend who compared some of Mr Green’s recent statements to what has become known as “dog whistle politics”. There is little of the dog-whistle about this – instead it is a clear rallying cry to the loyal support of Rangers, which will, I am sure ensure that the turnstiles keep clicking at Ibrox for some time yet.
As of a few minutes ago the respective posts regarding the statement on two of the main Rangers FC fan sites showed a total of 867 posts and over 26,000 views. Not bad for a statement issued two hours ago!
I also suspect that the reaction there will be 100% positive.
Deciding that they are refusing to play and denouncing the process before the first hearing takes place is an interesting tactic. Now, if the Commission proceeds, in the absence of both oldco Rangers and newco Rangers and delivers a damning judgement, it will be ignored, it appears, by Mr Green and his company. And, if action is taken, then they propose to invoke the aid of the courts to stop disciplinary action happening.
What strikes me is that, once again, Mr Green is playing a masterful hand. He is a king of diversion. When the transfer of the SFA membership took place Mr Green said:-
“There remains, however, an outstanding issue with the SPL regarding EBTs. As we have proved in the last couple of months we will stand up to any challenges that face Rangers and will continue to fight for the Club’s best interests.”
What he has managed to do is to build the impression that the one penalty, above all others, which newco will not accept, being the most horrendous possible, is the stripping of titles. Not being barred for all time from, membership of the SPL; not being suspended for a longer period than the next three years; not the imposition of further financial penalties…
No, the one penalty to be fought against, above all others, is one which will cost newco not a penny, and will in fact generate more support from the fans.
As I said, it is brilliant!
He has challenged the football authorities to take action, as indeed he promised he would. So much gratitude for the three ruling bodies pledging to “facilitate” Rangers entry to SFL3!
And as far as his attack on some, but not all, SPL teams, one wonders why he felt constrained from telling us who they were. After all, Ibrox is the home of clarity, transparency and free speech!
However the extracts above indicate numerous ways in which the rules quoted at the top of this piece are broken. Will the SFA have the courage of its convictions to take action? Will the SFL take any steps itself?
Or has Mr Green stared them down, and, as long as the share flotation comes along in the near future, enraptured the fans into subscribing in their thousands?
As has been the case ever since RTC started, this piece could end with the line:- we have no idea what will happen next; we will have to wait and see!
Posted by Paul McConville