Media, Scottish Football, Sevco, SFA, SPFL

Ethereal Punishments

Good Evening.

The Clumpany invites you to ponder a couple of things. First up is this:

Rangers* await panel verdict on outstanding Lord Nimmo Smith EBT fine

The above piece was written by STV’s Andy Coyle [@STV_Andy] and contains the following explanation:

“Rangers* are awaiting the outcome of a tribunal which will rule on whether the Ibrox club has to pay an outstanding amount of £400,000. The £250,000 fine, plus costs of £150,000, relates to a charge brought against Rangers oldco by the SPL in relation to the use of undisclosed payments to players in the form of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) over a period of 11 years.

A commission set up by the SPL, headed by Lord Nimmo Smith, ruled that the league’s rules had been breached and the fine was levied against the oldco, which is now in liquidation. The Scottish Professional Football League, created as a result of the merger between the SPL and the Scottish Football League, pursued Rangers newco for payment.

Rangers admit under the terms of the ‘Five Way Agreement’, which allowed them to participate in Scottish football through entry to the bottom tier, the newco would be responsible for any sanctions imposed on the oldco by Scottish football’s governing bodies.
But they claim the subsequent actions of the SPFL mean they ‘waived all and any right it may have had to insist upon payment under the clause.’ The SPFL dispute that accusation. As a result, the Scottish Football Association was asked to convene an Arbitral Tribunal to rule on the matter.

The tribunal sat on October 29 and 30 to consider the matter but no decision was reached immediately. Members of the panel will now consider the matter and return a verdict at a later date, though no timescale has been set for a decision to be reached.”

The main points you need to note from the above extract are that

  • the tribunal sat on October 29 and 30 2015,
  • no timescale was set for a decision to be reached; but
  • it is now the latter part of February 2016, almost 4 months after the tribunal was in session; and
  • the tribunal is not deliberating on a profound moral or constitutional issue…

All of which begs the question “what on earth is going on?”. It also leads you to ask “how hard can it be to reach a decision, inform the parties involved and announce it to the public?”

Where there is silence, people are going to be inclined to fill the gap with speculation. I asked Andy Coyle if he had any update on his earlier report and he kindly replied that (astonishingly) a verdict is still awaited. [Cheers Andy! In the unlikely event that you are looking in…].

Of course, the LNS ‘punishment’ isn’t the only bit of fine-related Rangers (IL) business that is still outstanding. There is also the question of the £200k fine imposed by the SFA when they banned Craig Whyte from any involvement in Scottish football for life in 2013. The last The Clumpany heard about the fine was this piece from Ewing Grahame in The Telegraph in November 2014:

SFA to go after former Rangers owner Craig Whyte for over £200,000 of unpaid fines

The key extracts are as follows:

“The Scottish Football Association has confirmed that it is continuing to pursue Craig Whyte, the discredited former Rangers owner, for the £200,000 (plus interest) he owes it, even though officials privately admit that they do not expect he will be in a position to pay.

A writ from the SFA was served on Whyte in May of last year over non-payment of the fines he incurred in 2012 for four separate breaches of the governing body’s rules.

Whyte, as so often, failed to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court, although he was represented by his lawyer. At the time, the venture capitalist described the fine (and the lifetime ban from Scottish football which accompanied it) as ‘a complete joke’ and added: ‘It makes no difference to my life whatsoever – good luck collecting the money.'”

“’It may be that Scottish football will not see the money owed to it by Mr Whyte but we believe that if he was brought to justice then it would confirm that we were right not to give up on this matter’, a senior Hampden source said”.

And then the trail of available information seems to go cold. Has the SFA given up on pursuing the fine? Or is it still relentlessly chasing Craig Whyte? 

You would have thought that given the not-insignificant sums involved, and the profile of the issues at hand, the SFA and SPFL’s member clubs and their fans really ought to know what is going on with these fines. Hopefully someone in a prominent media outlet will ask the SFA and SPFL for updates, and will keep asking if they are slow in coming.

Whatever you think about them, the LNS and Craig Whyte fines represent the culmination of officialdom’s so-called attempt to impose ‘punishment’ on Rangers (IL) for years of wrongdoing. They may be deeply flawed (in the case of the LNS Commission) but they still represent some sort of sanction.

However, their implementation – their ‘bite’ if you will – appears to be ‘missing in action’. And quite possibly ‘missing in inaction’. 

That is utterly unacceptable to anyone who paid in to Scottish football during the side-letter and ‘intriguing tax strategy’ years, which saw Rangers drive itself off a cliff having hoovered up a lot of curiously-gained trophies en route.

Quite remarkably, in 2016 I still find myself asking “will anyone ever inflict entirely merited punishment on Rangers*? Even if it is only the ‘punishment’ handed out by authorities whose mascot probably ought to be a paper tiger where the Ibrox clubs are concerned…”.

Answers to my question on a postcard please. Addressed to your favourite Scottish Sports journalist, who will hopefully keep taking it up with the folk at Hampden…



2 thoughts on “Ethereal Punishments

Comments are closed.