Whose assets are they anyway?

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Tykebhoy @ 3.42pm. You make a valid  point re the discretion …

Comment on Whose assets are they anyway? by Scatman's Gongs.

Tykebhoy @ 3.42pm.
You make a valid  point re the discretion wording in FIFA’s Article 8 of its Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.

This states that a player’s contract must be submitted with their registration form, but gives national bodies discretion to take account of “contractual amendments and other agreements not duly submitted” to them with a player’s registration form.

However, the SFA’s rules (narrated fully in my earlier post of 2.44pm) are very clear that the player’s registration form must be accompanied by their contract, which must narrate all payments made to the player for playing activities, in order for the registration application to be valid. The rules also state that no valid application equals no registration and that no registration equals ineligibility to play.

On my reading, that leaves no scope for any “other agreements” to exist which the SFA could exercise discretion to take account of. The SFA’s rules as I read them define the player’s contract as including all playing payments. If my reading is correct then the FIFA discretion wording doesn’t add anything as the side letters are part of the player’s contract in terms of the SFA’s rules and therefore had to be submitted to the SFA with the player’s registration forms in order for the players to be registered and therefore eligible to play. The SFA has no discretion on the point as the side letters are neither “contractual amendments” or “other agreements”. 

On that view, even allowing for FIFA’s wording, the side letter players were not eligible. 

As I understand it, a side letter is normally understood to be part of a contract anyway. It is basically part of an overall contract that is recorded in a separate letter for commercial or confidentiality reasons. So viewing the side letters as part of the player’s contract would, as I understand it, be the normal legal view.

It would be interesting to get the likes of Hirsuit Pursuit’s take on these points. (S)he is usually pretty forensic in examining the minutiae of regulations and clarifying legal points.

Scatman's Gongs Also Commented

Whose assets are they anyway?
The key issue to keep in mind is: did Rangers field ineligible players during the EBT era? If they did, they must forfeit any honours won during that period.
SPL Rule D1.13 states:
“A Club must, as a condition of Registration and for a Player to be eligible to Play in Official Matches, deliver the executed originals of all Contracts of Service and amendments and/or extensions to Contracts of Service and all other agreements providing for payment, other than for reimbursement of expenses actually incurred, between that Club and Player, to the Secretary [of the SPL], within fourteen days of such Contract of Service or other agreement being entered into, amended and/or, as the case may be, extended.”
The LNS Commission was satisfied that the side-letters constituted “agreements providing for payment…between that Club and Player” within the meaning of SPL Rule D1.13.
The SPL, as their lawyer explained to LNS, had hitherto understood this to mean that unless “all agreements…providing for payment…between that Club and Player” were delivered to the Secretary of the SPL within 14 days of the agreement being entered into, a Player was not eligible to Play in Official Matches.
However, Sandy Bryson explained that, once a player had been registered with the SFA, he remained registered unless and until his registration was revoked.  
LNS concluded that the rules of the SFA and the SPL relating to registration should be construed and applied consistently with each other and that a player’s registration should generally be treated as standing unless and until revoked.
LNS added that while there may be extreme cases in which there is such a fundamental defect that the registration of a player must be treated as having been invalid from the outset, the case before his commission was not such an extreme case and that there was no instance shown of Rangers FC fielding an ineligible player.”
LNS did not go into detail with Sandy Bryson as to the details of the SFA Rules on player registration. He relied on Mr Bryson’s explanation of the rules in question.
The relevant SFA rules are SFA Registration Procedures paragraphs 2.2.1 and 4 and Article 5 of the FIFA Statutes (which are expressly incorporated into the SFA Registration Procedures).
SFA Registration Procedures Paragraph 2.2.1 states: “… a Non-Recreational Contract Player Registration Form will not be valid unless it is accompanied by the contract entered into between the club concerned and the player stating all the Terms and Conditions in conformity with the Procedures Rule 4.”
A Registration Procedure Rule 4 states: “All payments to be made to a player relating to his playing activities must be clearly recorded upon the relevant contract and/or agreement. No payments for his playing activities may be made to a Player via a third party.”
Taken together, Rules 2.2.1 and 4 therefore state that a player’s registration form is not valid unless accompanied by the contract entered into between the club concerned and the player recording all payments made to a player relating to his playing activities. This includes the infamous side letters.
 The SFA’s Registration Procedures incorporate the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players – from Article 5 of the FIFA Statutes of 19th October 2003.
 Article 5 (Registration) states: “Only registered players are eligible to participate in organised football”.
 Article 6 (Registration Periods) paragraph 3: “Players may only be registered … upon submission of a valid application from the club to the relevant association during a registration period.”
In order to be eligible to play in official matches in terms of the SFA’s rules, players had to be registered. In order to be registered, a valid application had to be submitted. In order for a registration form to be valid it had to be accompanied by the player’s contract including all terms and conditions.
The Rangers’ players side letters contained contractual terms and conditions, They were not submitted with the players’ registration forms. The players’ registration forms were therefore not valid. They payers were therefore not registered. The players were therefore not eligible to play.
LNS concluded that the players were eligible to play on the understanding that, once they were registered, they were automatically eligible to play and that (as Sandy Bryson explained) their registrations could not be revoked retrospectively.
LNS appears to have missed the fact that due to the side letters not having been disclosed, the players were not registered in terms of the SFA’s rules.
They appeared to be registered but, in fact, were not. A pre-condition of registration (the submission of all contractual terms and conditions along with the registration form) was not met.
They were therefore never eligible to play.
 


Whose assets are they anyway?
As has been discussed many times before, the key findings of LNS re player eligibility were informed by the Commissions interpretation of SPL Rule D1.13, which states:
A Club must, as a condition of Registration and for a Player to be eligible to Play in Official Matches, deliver the executed originals of all Contracts of Service and amendments and/or extensions to Contracts of Service and all other agreements providing for payment, other than for reimbursement of expenses actually incurred, between that Club and Player, to the Secretary [of the SPL], within fourteen days of such Contract of Service or other agreement being entered into, amended and/or, as the case may be, extended.
On one reading Rule D1.13 would be read as meaning that all agreementsproviding for paymentbetween that Club and Player must be delivered to the Secretary [of the SPL] within 14 days of the agreement being entered into (1) as a condition of registration and (2) for a Player to be eligible to Play in Official Matches. This was the SPLs understanding going in to the LNS Commission.
The LNS Commission concluded at paragraph 82 of its decision that the side-letters constituted agreements providing for paymentbetween that Club and Player within the meaning of SPL Rule D1.13.
An open and shut case, you might think. Then entered Alexander Bryson, Head of Registrations at the SFA”, who [according to LNS at paragraph 86 of the LNS decision] described the registration process. During the course of his evidence he explained that, once a player had been registered with the SFA, he remained registered unless and until his registration was revoked. Accordingly, even if there had been a breach of the SFA registration procedures, such as a breach of SFA Article 12.3, the registration of a player was not treated as being invalid from the outset, and stood unless and until it was revoked.
This led Mr McKenzie, for the SPL, to accept [at paragraph 87] that there was scope for a different construction of the rule, to the effect that, as the lodging of the document in question was a condition of registration, the registration of the player would be liable to revocation, with the consequence that the player would thereafter become ineligible to play. He accepted that no provision of the Rules enabled the Board of the SPL retrospectively to terminate the registration of the player. It became apparent from his submissions that Mr McKenzie was not pressing for a finding that Issue 3(c), together with the concluding words of Issue 3(b), had been proved.
Based on this, LNS drew the following conclusions (at paragraphs 88 and 89): –
“There is every reason why the rules of the SFA and the SPL relating to registration should be construed and applied consistently with each other. Mr Brysons evidence about the position of the SFA in this regard was clear. In our view, the Rules of the SPL, which admit of a construction consistent with those of the SFA, should be given that construction. All parties concerned clubs, players and football authorities should be able to proceed on the faith of an official register. This means that a players registration should generally be treated as standing unless and until revoked.
There may be extreme cases in which there is such a fundamental defect that the registration of a player must be treated as having been invalid from the outset. But in the kind of situation that we are dealing with here we are satisfied that the registration of the Specified Players with the SPL was valid from the outset, and accordingly that they were eligible to play in official matches. There was therefore no breach of SPL Rule D1.11.
For these reasons we are not satisfied that any breach of the Rules has been established in terms of Issue 3(c), taken in conjunction with the concluding words of Issue 3(b) quoted above.
This is an important finding, as it means that there was no instance shown of Rangers FC fielding an ineligible player.”
What would seem to be a logical interpretation of Rule D1.13 was, therefore, set aside in favour of an interpretation which matched the SFAs rules re player registration and eligibility as described by Sandy Bryson.
So what are the SFA registration rules which lie behind Sandy Brysons evidence and LNSs resulting conclusions?
LNS refers at paragraph 73 and Annex D (xi) to (sic) SFA Procedures Rules 2.2.1 and 4. (This should actually read SFA Registration Procedures paragraphs 2.2.1 and 4). These Rules, in LNSs words in effect require all payments to be made to a player relating to his playing activities to be recorded in his contract of employment and disclosed to the SFA.
SFA Registration Procedures Paragraph 2.2.1 is narrated in full at Annex D (xi) of the LNS decision. It states: “Unless lodged in accordance with Procedures Rule 2.13 [which applies to circumstances where a player is allowed to play outside Scotland while his registration is held by a Scottish club and is therefore of no relevance to the LNS decision] a Non-Recreational Contract Player Registration Form will not be valid unless it is accompanied by the contract entered into between the club concerned and the player stating all the Terms and Conditions in conformity with the Procedures Rule 4.
SFA Registration Procedure Rule 4 is also narrated in full at Annex D (xi) of the LNS decision. It states: “All payments to be made to a player relating to his playing activities must be clearly recorded upon the relevant contract and/or agreement. No payments for his playing activities may be made to a Player via a third party.
Taken together, Rules 2.2.1 and 4 therefore state that a players registration form is not valid unless accompanied by the contract entered into between the club concerned and the player recording all payments made to a player relating to his playing activities.
The SFAs Registration Procedures incorporate the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players from Article 5 of the FIFA Statutes of 19th October 2003. These are narrated in full in an annex to the Regulation Procedures and are stated to form an integral part of the basic text of the Regulation Procedures. These state the following: –
Article 5 (Registration) paragraph I states: A player must be registered to play for a club and that Only registered players are eligible to participate in organised football.
Article 11 (Unregistered Players) states: Any player not registered who appears for a club in an official match shall be considered to have played illegitimately.
Article 6 (Registration Periods) paragraph 3: Players may only be registered upon submission of a valid application from the club to the relevant association during a registration period.
On the above basis, it seems apparent that no valid application forms were submitted in terms of the SFAs rules to register any of the EBT players. In terms the SFAs own Registration Procedure rules, players may only be registered upon submission of a valid application. In terms of the SFA rules narrated above, it appears self-evident that the players must be deemed never to have been registered as the trigger for them to be registered (a valid application recording all payments made to them for playing activities) was never made.
If they were never registered, they were never eligible to play official matches.
Paragraph 88 of the LNS decision states that: “There may be extreme cases in which there is such a fundamental defect that the registration of a player must be treated as having been invalid from the outset. But in the kind of situation that we are dealing with here we are satisfied that the registration of the Specified Players with the SPL was valid from the outset, and accordingly that they were eligible to play in official matches.
The LNS decision relies upon interpreting the SPL registration rules in line with those of the SFA to reach the above conclusion. Yet the SFAs rules appear to indicate that all of the EBT players registrations were indeed void from the outset and that they were never eligible to play for Rangers while their EBTs were in operation. To repeat: paragraph 88 of the LNS decision states that: “There may be extreme cases in which there is such a fundamental defect that the registration of a player must be treated as having been invalid from the outset.”
The SFA’s registration rules appear to indicate that this was exactly such a case. It seems quite remarkable that the LNS Commission decided otherwise based on a stated reliance on the SFA’S rules.


Recent Comments by Scatman's Gongs

LNS – A Summary
As Hirsute Pursuit rightly states, SPL Rule D1.13 would at first reading appear clearly to provide that all payments for playing activities must be disclosed to the SPL secretary in order for a player to be eligible to play.
 
Notwithstanding this, based on Sandy Bryson’s evidence, LNS did not to interpret rule D1.13 as above. He instead concluded that the rules of the SFA and the SPL relating to registration should be construed and applied consistently with each other and that (in line with the Bryson’s explanation as to the operation of the SFA’s rules) a player’s registration should generally be treated as standing unless and until revoked.
 
The relevant SFA rules are SFA Registration Procedures paragraphs 2.2.1 and 4.
 
SFA Registration Procedures Paragraph 2.2.1 states: “Unless lodged in accordance with Procedures Rule 2.13 [which is not relevant to the Rangers situation] a Non-Recreational Contract Player Registration Form will not be valid unless it is accompanied by the contract entered into between the club concerned and the player stating all the Terms and Conditions in conformity with the Procedures Rule 4.”
 
SFA Registration Procedure Rule 4 states: “All payments to be made to a player relating to his playing activities must be clearly recorded upon the relevant contract and/or agreement. No payments for his playing activities may be made to a Player via a third party.”
 
Taken together, Rules 2.2.1 and 4 therefore state that a player’s registration form is not valid unless accompanied by the contract entered into between the club concerned and the player recording all payments made to a player relating to his playing activities. The C of S, as I understand it, has ruled the side letters to be part of the player’s contracts.
 
The SFA’s Registration Procedures incorporate the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players – from Article 5 of the FIFA Statutes of 19th October 2003.
 
Article 5 (Registration) states: “Only registered players are eligible to participate in organised football”.
 
Article 6 (Registration Periods) paragraph 3: “Players may only be registered … upon submission of a valid application from the club to the relevant association during a registration period.”
 
In order to be eligible to play in official matches in terms of the SFA’s rules (FIFA Article 5) players have to be registered. In order to be registered (FIFA Article 6), a valid application has to be submitted. In order for a registration form to be valid (SFA Rule 2.21) it has to be accompanied by the player’s contract including all terms and conditions and noting all payments for playing activities (SFA Rule 4)
 
The Rangers’ players side letters, according to the C of S judgement as I understand it, contained contractual terms and conditions. They were not submitted with the players’ registration forms. The players’ registration forms were therefore not valid.
 
Based on this, isn’t there a clear argument that the SFA rules provide that the players were never registered? They simply appeared to be registered but were, in fact, not as a pre-condition of registration (the submission of all contractual terms and conditions along with the registration form) was not met. If this were the case, it would not matter whether there was a rule permitting the retrospective revocation of registration. The registration in question would, in terms of the rules, never have happened in the first place.
 
Article 8 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players of 19th October 2003 is also worth mentioning with regard to the Rangers situation and may shed some light on the Kachloul situation at Livingston too.
 
It states: “The application for registration of a professional must be submitted together with a copy of the player’s contract. The relevant decision making body has discretion to take account of any contractual amendments or additional agreements that have not been duly submitted to it.”
 
As I understand it from previous posts, Livingston registered Kachloul as an amateur. I can’t see any requirement for an amateur player’s contract to be submitted in order for his registration application to be valid and in order for him to be registered. It would follow from this that Kachloul was correctly viewed as having been registered from the outset and therefore eligible to play – hence no revisiting of Livi’s results. I am therefore not sure that his case provides any kind of precedent for the Rangers case, which dealt exclusively with the registration of professional players.
 
The second sentence of Article 8 of the FIFA Regulations states: “The relevant decision making body has discretion to take account of any contractual amendments or additional agreements that have not been duly submitted to it.”
 
The C of S has ruled, as I understand it, that each side letter was effectively part of “the player’s contract”. That would seem, based on the current position (which is of course potentially subject to appeal) to preclude the side letters from being viewed in terms of FIFA Article 8 either as “contractual amendments” or “other agreements” (i.e. agreements other than “the player’s contract”. If that view is correct, there would be no discretion to take account of the side letters.
 
Also, even if discretion to take account of side letters did exist in the SFA rules, would it be reasonable to exercise such discretion in the case of wilful and sustained non-disclosure, as was the case with the Rangers side letters?
 
LNS relied on an explanation of the operation of SFA registration rules to conclude that no side letter players were ineligible to play. When the rules in question are looked at in detail as above, there appears to be a logical argument that in fact none of the side letter players were eligible to play.


LNS – A Summary
Tangoed, it is the business of the SPL / SFA if a player takes a loan from his club if that loan forms part of the player’s financial package for playing activity. Any payments for playing (irrespective of whether they are structured as loans) must be disclosed to the SPL (as was) and the SFA. Rangers officials were quite open with the FTT(T) that the loans were part of the players’ overall financial packages, agreed and signed off at the sane time as their disclkosed contract. Players’ bonuses were in some cases paid by loan.

Failure to disclose the loans breached SPL rule D1.13 and also SFA registration rules. That made it the business of the SPL (and the SFA in its appellate capacity).

The non-disclosure of these payments was never in dispute at the LNS commission, hence Rangers being found guilty of deliberate non-disclosure.


LNS – A Summary
A view on the current status of LNS’s findings on player registrations and eligibility to play.

LNS concluded that no players were invalidly registered. This was based on two things. First, Sandy Bryson’s statement that, once registered, players were viewed as validly registered until found not to be – and that SFA rules do not permit registrations to be revoked retrospectively. Second, on LNS’s assertion (which is quite sensible) that SPL rules should be interpreted according to the SFA’s rules.

LNS therefore interpreted SPL Rule D1.13 to mean that if copies of all written agreements covering playing payments were not submitted with 14 days of a player’s registration form, the player’s registration was valid for the time being but liable to be declared invalid later when the omission came to light. He thus concluded that the side letter players were eligible to play at all times.

The problem with LNS’s conclusion is that the SFA registration rules require  players’ contracts (narrating all their terms and conditions including all playing payments) to be submitted with their registration form in order for the application to be valid. They also state that in order  for a player to be registered, a valid application must be submitted. 

The side letters, according to last week’s Court of Session ruling on the big tax case (albeit appeal is still possible) have been held to include contractual playing payments (eg bonuses). The side letters are therefore part of the players’ contracts. The failure to submit them with the players’ registration forms means the players were not registered according too the SFA’s rules. Not improperly registered but rather not registered at all. Only registered players are eligible to lay official matches. If the side letter players were not registered, they were not eligible to play according to SFA rules.

My post on the previous blog at 7.44pm yesterday explains why this is in my view unaffected by any wriggle room built into FIFA’s statutes on player registration. That wriggle room appears not to apply to the players’ contracts (which would as things stand incvlkude the side letters).

The C of S ruling therefore surely requires a fresh SPFL commission to consider these points and determine once and for all the validity or otherwise of the side letter players’ registrations.

One final thought. According to Sandy Bryson’s evidence, there is no SFA rule allowing retrospective revocation of player registrations. That makes perfect sense if, as narrated above,  the SFA rules are in reality designed to catch a flaw in registration at the point of an application and to prevent registration from taking effect until all requirements are met. Based on reading the rules, it is difficult not to view the side letter players’ registrations as void from the outset and to view that as the intention of the SFA rules in cases such as this one.
 


SFM – The Next Steps
In response to Martin Williams’ piece in the Herald, The Rangers Football Club was formed in 1872 as an unincorporated association of individuals, each of whom had unlimited personal liability for the club’s debts and obligations.

The club consisted of the individuals who ran it. It had no separate legal personality.

The club was incorporated on 27th May 1899 as “The Rangers Football Club Limited”. Its details and the date of incorporation can be seen by entering the company number SC004276 on the webcheck section of the Companies House website.

The legal effect of a sports club incorporating as a limited company is neatly summarised on the Sportscotland website, which states:

“Converting your sports club to a Limited Company enables your club to become established as a legal entity in its own right, separate from the individual members.

Advantages – Limited Company
• Because the club is a distinct legal entity, it is easier for the club to enter into contractual arrangements e.g. to borrow money, own buildings, or stage very large events.
• The club itself, rather than the individual members, are responsible for the club’s obligations and debts (unless one of the officers has acted negligently or fraudulently, in which case the individual remains personally liable)
• And the individual members can only be held responsible for the debts and obligations of the club up to the nominal value of their guarantee.”

The key point is that, upon incorporation, a club becomes a limited company. The limited company (in Rangers’ case company SC004276) was the club. From 27th May 1899 onwards, the club and company were one and the same.

The Rangers Football Club Limited subsequently became a plc, and its name was accordingly changed to “The Rangers Football Club PLC”, to indicate that its shares were now traded on a public exchange.

It entered administration on 14th February 2012 and compulsory liquidation on 31st October 2012. In the interim, its name was changed to R.F.C. 2012 PLC on 31st July 2012 and some of its assets were sold by its then administrators, Duff & Phelps, to Sevco Scotland Limited (Company Number SC425159), which had been incorporated on 25th May 2012 and changed its name (also on 31st July 2012) to “The Rangers Football Club Limited”.

The club was not sold to Sevco Scotland Limited. The club was one and the same as The Rangers Football Club PLC (now called RFC 2012 Limited). The club could only be acquired by acquiring its shares (i.e. the shares of The Rangers Football Club PLC (now called R.F.C. 2012 Limited)).

Sevco Scotland Limited did not acquire any such shares. They acquired some of the club’s assets, including its stadium and club crest. Some of the club’s employees – notably Ally McCoist, Lee McCulloch and Lee Wallace among others – also chose to transfer under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)) regulations from the club to Sevco Scotland Limited and became employees of Sevco Scotland Limited.

At the time it agreed to purchase certain assets of the club, Sevco Scotland Limited (now called The Rangers Football Club Limited) was not itself a football club. It subsequently became a football club when it was granted conditional membership of the Scottish Football Association and a licence to operate as a football club under the auspices of the SFA.

Sevco Scotland Limited (now called The Rangers Football Club Limited) bears a close resemblance to the previous The Rangers Football Club PLC as it has a very similar name, uses the same stadium and club colours and employs some of the same people. Many of those who attend its matches also attended matches of the original Rangers.

Sevco Scotland Limited (now called The Rangers Football Club Limited) is not, however, the football club formed in 1872 and incorporated on 27th May 1899. It does not own the club formed in 1872 either. It was not possible in law for Sevco Scotland Limited to acquire the club formed in 1872 other than by acquiring the shares of The Rangers Football Club PLC (now called R.F.C. 2012 Limited), which was (and still is) the original Rangers Football Club. No such share acquisition has ever taken place.

The football club formed in 1899 still exists, but is no longer active as a football club. It is a corporate husk, kept alive temporarily while its liquidators seek to recover as large a portion as possible for its creditors of the money which the creditors are owed by it. It will remain in existence only until the liquidation process is complete, at which point it will be dissolved and removed from the Register of Companies. It played its final competitive football match on Sunday, 13th May 2012, twelve days before the club currently playing out of Ibrox came into existence.


Everything Has Changed
First time poster. Long time lurker here and previously on RTC.

I’m driven to post for the first time (and probably only) time by my incredulity at LNS’s interpretation of the rules on the eligibility of the players with undeclared side letters to play in official matches.

Rule D1.13: A Club must, as a condition of Registration and for a Player to be eligible to Play in Official Matches, deliver the executed originals of all Contracts of Service and amendments and/or extensions to Contracts of Service and all other agreements providing for payment, other than for reimbursement of expenses actually incurred, between that Club and Player, to the Secretary, within fourteen days of such Contract of Service or other agreement being entered into, amended and/or, as the case may be, extended.

In my opinion, and I drafted contracts for a living for many years, this rule means, in layman’s terms that “all other agreements providing for payment etc” must be delivered to the football authorities. If this is not done, the consequences are twofold: (1) a condition of the player registration requirements is broken; and (2) a player is not eligible to play in official matches.

LNS concludes that the side letters were such “other agreements providing for payment”. He determines that the side letters had not been delivered. The two consequences of this failure to deliver the side letters, as provided in D1.13 and as Hirsute Pursuit and majorcoverup have already pointed out are clearly in my view (1) that the registrations were flawed AND (2) that the players were ineligible.

On the registration point, LNS accepts seemingly without question the SFA’s Mr Bryson’s evidence that, as far as the SFA are concerned (1) a registration is valid until it shown not to be valid and even then, only becomes invalid from the point when the factor which invalidates it comes to light and is proved and (2) remains valid through any period during which it should not be valid but the invalidating factor is not yet known to the SFA. LNS quotes no precedents for this approach having been taken in the past and no SFA rule underpinning such an approach.

LNS goes on to state that SPL rules in his view should be interpreted to agree with related SFA rules. Therefore, he interprets D1.13 to provide that while the non-disclosure of the side letters was a breach of the registration conditions, the fact the non-disclosure was not known to the SPL meant the registrations of the affected players remained valid and that, as they were validly registered, they were eligible to play. If the registrations were subsequently proven to be invalid, they would only became invalid from the point of time they were proven to be invalid (i.e. now) and cannot retrospectively be challenged or set aside.

LNS then relies on rule D1. to determine that, following his conclusion above, no ineligible players were fielded by Rangers FC as a result of the non-disclosure of the side letters.

Rule D1.1 states that: “Subject to these Rules, to be eligible to Play for a Club a Player must first be Registered…”

Rule D.1 clearly, in my opinion, means that a player cannot be eligible to play if he is not registered.

It cannot in my opinion, reasonably be taken to mean that if a player is registered, he is therefore eligible.

Yet that is how LNS has interpreted it.

A quick analogy. In order to be pregnant, one must be female. By the logic of LNS’s interpretation and application of D1.1, however, if one is female, it follows not only that one is pregnant, but also that one will be forever be deemed to have been pregnant during such period as passes from the point one became female until the point one proves that one is not pregnant.

The most bizarre aspect of the LNS findings on eligibility of the affected players is that it goes to such lengths to determine that the players were validly registered when valid registration is just one of a number of requirements for eligibility and when, in terms of D1.13, another of the requirements for eligibility to play is clearly absent.

As stated above, D1.13 provides that “for a Player to be eligible to Play in Official Matches…a club must…deliver all other agreements providing for payment”. This could not be clearer in my view. It matters not a jot whether the players were validly registered. In terms of D1.13, if the “other agreements for payment” were not delivered (which LNS confirms they were not), the players were not eligible to play, irrespective of the validity or otherwise of their registration.

Yet LNS concludes that the side letters were “other agreements for payment”, concludes that they were not delivered, but concludes that the affected players WERE eligible to play.

Try squaring that circle. I can’t.


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