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.
Posted on June 4, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged Appellate Tribunal, disrepute, Dr. Gregory Ioannidis, Dundee FC, Dundee United FC, Dunfermline Athletic FC, expulsion, football, Henry Clarson, match-fixing, Rangers, RFC, scandal, Scottish football, SPL, suspension. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.