Rangers Should Lose SPL Place Next Season


I have recently been following Gregory Ioannidis’s enjoyable Sports Law blog.  A well known and internationally recognised sports lawyer, Dr. Gregory Ioannidis is a senior lecturer in Sports Law at Buckingham and a practising advocate specialising in sports law, arbitration and litigation.  Much smarter than me, then.

In Gregory’s latest piece, wearing his objective sports lawyer hat, he considers the legal position ahead of the rematch between the SFA’s Independent Appellate Tribunal and a disreputable football club currently trading as Rangers FC (In Administration).  Dr. Ioannidis thinks that the new, improved, Court-of-Session-approved verdict will punish the disreputable Rangers FC (In Administration) with a ten-game suspension from the SPL and sets out his reasoning in his article.

Now, Gregory does this sort of thing for a living while I am a mere internet bampot but that does not deter me from disagreeing with him and hoping that he’s wrong.  So I replied to his article with the following argument.

There are several grounds upon which I see inherent injustice in a proposal to suspend Rangers for ten games.
1. One of the eleven other clubs will have to beat Rangers in a real game of football by 3-0 just to catch up with the other ten who were awarded a 3-0 victory for nothing.
2. Of the ten clubs which are awarded 3-0 walkovers, about half of them will have to travel to Ibrox in the second quarter of the fixture schedule while their rivals will have home advantage.
3. No revenue at all will be generated from the ten matches which are declared forfeit.
4. Season ticket holders of clubs whose home game against Rangers is cancelled by the suspension will have been short-changed.
5. The multiple offences which got Rangers into trouble persisted for almost an entire season during which they were free to contest 114 points (or 104 after having had 10 points deducted for entering into administration) yet the proposed punishment extends for less than a quarter of a season and affects only 30 points.
6. The offences of which RFC were found guilty were judged to be of exceptional gravity; only outright match-fixing was considered to be more serious. On top of that, you suggest that Rangers will be held to have made their position even worse now because they pursued the matter in an action at the Court of Session.

I accept that I am but a layman in this field but it appears to me, from what has been laid down already, that the ultimate punishment is outright expulsion. I deduce from the tribunal’s findings – viz, that Rangers FC’s offences were second only to match-fixing in their seriousness – that match-fixing is the ultimate offence. I hope that I am right in concluding that the ultimate offence would be punished by the ultimate sanction. Expulsion appears to me to be fair and just punishment in cases where match-fixing is proven.
So I find it hard to see why there should be such a huge gap between the ultimate penalty of outright expulsion and the second worst penalty of a piffling ten-match suspension. What would a club have to do to merit a season-long suspension? Or a four-year suspension?

Proposing a ten-match suspension punishes ten clubs. They will have no match to play; their supporters will have no match to watch. A much better solution is to suspend Rangers for an entire season and introduce another club in their place. Either Dunfermline Athletic FC should remain in the SPL or Dundee FC should be admitted.
A fixture between, say, Dundee Utd FC and Dundee FC, played in a stadium filled to near capacity, is a much more satisfactory outcome for football and its supporters than a phantom 3-0 result, created by the fiat of technocrats and lawyers.

Since proportionality is a key consideration, we must not cause disproportionate disruption to the schedules of the highest professional level of the national game for the sake of a club which has already been found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute. The reputation of Scottish football is already at an all-time low. If it were possible to make it worse, one way of doing that would be publish a fixture list and simultaneously declare that one of the leading clubs is too disreputable to be allowed to participate in its allotted fixture.

What we want to see in the SPL is twelve clubs, each playing 38 matches, contesting every game according to the rules and Laws of the Game and competing in public for the entertainment and enjoyment of the paying supporters. Anything less than that sells everybody short. So let us ensure that we have twelve fit and proper clubs in the SPL for the whole of the season.

I hope the Tribunal bears these points in mind and suspends Rangers FC for at least a full season to give it time to contemplate its massive failings, get its act together and aspire to the same standards of sporting integrity that are expected of every other club.

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Posted on June 4, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. TheBlackKnight TBK

    Brilliant, Just, quite brilliant 🙂

  2. Good stuff Henry ,although i still think they must be dropped to the 3div. AT LEAST ! It could have been going on for the last 20yrs or MORE! It’s only now with W.W.W. and the likes of your good self,Phil Mac,the two Pauls and others ,the truth is getting out .Criminals keep doing what they do until they’re caught .Gers have been caught after 20yrs on the run .They should be sentenced for EVERY crime commited in that time

  3. When you’re right, you’re right, Henry.

    And you’re right.

  4. Another great post Henry, well argued, and good on you for challenging the learned gentlemen!

  5. buckfastswallier

    Well argued Henry.

  6. If the SFA do not administer the severest of sentences upon the napper of the Toxic Waste Dump called Ranjurrs F.C* then UEFA / FIFA will come down on the SFA and the rest of Scottish football like a ton of bricks. Nothing less than the Third Division or a two season ban from Scottish football will suffice. There aught to be one or two jailed into the bargain.

  7. I almost completly agree with you, the only issue I differ is that I want Rangers (ia) expelled completely, for me this would mean RFC would be liquidated and Charles Green would, on record have to admit his NEW rangers is not in anyway shape or form the OLD rangers when applying for an SFA license. Furthermore it would almost certainly ensure sporting integrity as New Rangers would have no claim to the SPL share AND no claim to the history. Therefore the only logical starting point would be the SFL DIV 3. Then again maybe that’s the route they will need to take if suspended for a year! Hmmmm interesting times ahead this week. Surely with the FIFA deadline (friday) we should finally have a clearer view on things??

    • TheBlackKnight TBK

      What gives this NEWCLUB greater rights over, say, Spartans?

      They would have to apply to play in Div 3 🙂

  8. I completely agree that the 10 match suspension that has been suggested is …quite simply….bullshit. The reasons you have listed yourself, rendering such as unfeasible and unfair.

    Sadly, I do not have a suggestion for punishment; what I do know is that the SFA have backed themselves into a corner on this situation as they also publicly noted that they felt ‘expulsion’ or ‘suspension’ to be ‘harsh’ punishments and therefore imposed the embargo instead. It will look rather silly to go back and retrospectively issue one of those punishments after previously stating that you deemed them to be harsh.

    However, in this case – and with FIFA now taking an active interest, the SFA may have no option but to go down this route.

    I do not,and never will believe that Duff & Phelps did not understand the potential ramifications of running to the domestic courts. (as outrageous as that actually is, infact…if something has been missed in all of this it is the shambolic and disgraceful manner in which the sports governing bodies appear to deem themselves above the law of the land – but that is another story). In my opinion Duff & Phelps were more than competent in their thinking and that this is probably just another step in the inevitable path to liquidation.

    Yet again, Scottish Football has been made to look completely micky-mouse.

    The governing body is incompetent, one of its largest members has been effectively defrauding the tax man for 18 months (most likely longer but we await the FTT verdict on that for certainty) rendering them an unfair financial advantage over the other clubs and then sinking into administration surrounded by rumour of money laundering, ‘bungs’ and a whole host of other irregularities.

    If truth be told – the ball is burst. Rangers, in some form or another – will still be around, playing in the SPL and all the jazz that goes with it. Of that you can be certain, why? because i would say the silence from the SPL/SFA has been deafening. There is no ‘plan B’ for these organisations. They would like to, on the face of it, be seen to be punishing Rangers. However their ultimate goal includes Rangers plying their trade in the SPL. At the end of the day, it keeps those in charge in the lifestyle that they are accustomed to.

    Integrity? That’s only for fans…..not for suits.

    • Thanks for commenting, Garry, and welcome to my humble blog.

      When the panel said that the options of suspension or expulsion were “harsh”, it should be borne in mind that they were saying so on an understanding that they could improvise another option, viz. a transfer embargo. The situation is different now – they must select from the menu which they have in front of them. In my view, the least that they should do is impose a suspension. The only thing to argue about then is its length. I maintain that a full season is the only way to avoid massive disruption to the other clubs’ planning.

      Believe it or not, I have not lost faith in the SFA’s will to do the right thing. I give them the benefit of the doubt so far. It is better that they take their time to ensure that their decisions are unchallengeable than that they rush to judgement. RFC have already demonstrated a determination to contest even the most reasonable judgements so I can understand why SFA prefers to be slow but sure rather than to err in haste and repent at leisure.
      The current procedures, instigated by Stewart Regan, are an infinite improvement on how things would have been done a couple of years ago.

    • I agree that at one time the SFA/SPL would have found a way to mitigate punishment for Rangers, but they are being overwhelmed by the seemingly never ending day by day multiple offences and scandal.

      I think we’ve reached a point where only the most severe penalties will be deemed appropriate.

  9. Henry, while I agree with your analasis over that of Gregory Ioannidis’s. I fear when it comes down to it the SFA will bottle it and award a suspended sentence along with a ban on playing in the Cup for say 3 years.

  10. Allyjambo Taxpayer

    Really good piece there Henry. Like everyone else I can’t see the sense in any suspension for part of the season as it would punish every other club and, unless it was for the first 22 games with every team dropping both a home game and an away one, half would have the advantage of an ‘away win’ with the other half enjoying a ‘home win’. If there has to be a part season suspension then I’d suggest making it 11 games, all classed as home matches for Rangers, thus ensuring no-one else loses revenue and all season ticket holders get their full quota of matches (even any Rangers ST holders who would have had this factored into their price). Not ideal, but whatever happens, only Rangers should suffer any loss.

  11. this punishment is just the start, so that’s the cva conditions bust with themselves to blame.
    After waiting 3 month they have just found all the ebt paperwork ( at the bottom of Campbell Ogilvie’s shredder) so still have the outcome of that to look forward to, and who can forget the big tax case result coming soon.

  12. Henry

    I would have no problem with what you are suggesting i.e. a full season suspension but a fair way to effectively give them a ten game suspension would be for them to start on -30 points, in SFL 3 of course!

  13. How about a retroactive suspension of 11-12 season resulting in 3-0 win to opposition in every game?
    This results in relegation for Rangers and Dunfemline remain in SPL. The commensurate redistrbution of prize money also gives most other member clubs (with exception of Celtic whose place as winners is unaffected) a boost in their funding.

    • Sounds fair! Basically they played out last season with players that they couldn’t afford (or they would have paid the tax on their wages) It could be classed as playing ineligible players therefore 0-3 in every game is adequate.

  14. Hello again Henry, fine blog you have here. Eric Blair would be proud, you pull no punches. Obviously, I’m a layperson also when it comes to legal matters, but that’s never stopped me sticking my nose in anyway.

    Recent events, such as D&P claiming they knew nothing about potential sanctions from FIFA for going to a civil court, and the laughable CVA (no definitive pence in the pound deal for creditors), convinced me once and for all that they are trying to kill the club, no matter what spin they put on it.

    Rangers will/should get expelled or suspended for a year. It’s then up to their supporters what form a newco takes when it finally rises from the ashes. We all know they’ll be back one day. Let’s face it, no-one else will have them.

    • Hello ‘oldpesky’ 😉
      I agree with you that D&P are trying to provoke the liquidation event (and indeed that very point was the subject of my previous blogpost, ‘Suicide By Cop’.)

      It’s been Rangers’ undoing that for the last quarter of a century they have been run by people who don’t give a damn about football, far less Rangers. Minty was, and probably still is, a rugby man who saw Rangers as nothing other than a useful tool which he could use to leverage his way up the Scottish business community. Whyte is simply a predatory scavenger. D&P are grave-robbers. Charles ‘Emerald’ Greed is a much more malevolent version of Arthur Daley.

  15. Hi, excellent piece.

    I too follow Gregory’s blog, and I wondered where he got
    The idea of a 10 game suspension.

    I did assume that it would be 10 home games.

    Full season is the only solution.

  16. I agree that if Rangers are suspended for an entire season then Dundee should be promoted in their place. The rules apparently specify that the bottom club (Dunfermline) must be relegated.

    But surely the vacancy created in the SFL by this would be pushed down to the third division by promoting the play off runners up through the divisions. And why shouldn’t the SFL then arrange a quick election to fill that vacancy as they did by electing Annan Athletic when Gretna collapsed. After all, third division clubs shouldn’t have to miss out on the income from two home games.

    Of course that would leave no vacancy in the SFL for Rangers to occupy at the end of their suspension…..

    • It would be very interesting to know the SPL’s position abut what happens to a club which is suspended for a season. Does it have a right to take up its SPL share membership again as soon as the suspension has expired? Would this simply mean that the SFL DIv 1 champions would not be invited to join the SPL (thus rendering the “promotion chase” meaningless from the moment the season begins) because the suspended team would have first dibs on taking the place of the bottom SPL team?

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