Celtic Trust reps meet with SPL

Published on Tuesday 8th May, 2012 by Celtic Trust

Meeting between the SPL and the Celtic Trust

Meeting between the SPL and the Celtic Trust

Tuesday 8th May 2012 at 10am

Attendance: 

SPL: Iain Blair and Neil Doncaster

CT: Kenny Butler, Jim Cosgrove and Jeanette Findlay

 

The following is not a formal minute of the meeting as none was taken.  What follows is based on the notes taken at the meeting by the CT and confirmed within the Trust delegation thereafter.

This note was amended on Thursday 10 May at 12.34 to make it clearer and more accurate

The meeting opened with an agreement that matters should only be discussed which could be reported back to CT members and the wider Celtic support.  With the exception of two minor issues nothing which was discussed is excluded from this record.

We began by outlining our concerns that the way the Rangers case was being handled could potentially lead to a loss of faith in the integrity of the Scottish game; we indicated that this was particularly relevant if a Newco is allowed back into the SPL; we indicated the strength of feeling of supporters and the possible response by supporters if a Newco is allowed direct entry to the SPL.  The SPL acknowledged that there was a great deal of strength of feeling around this but they felt it was based on a misunderstanding of what was happening or what could happen.  The position of the SPL as outlined by ND and IB is that all the matters which are at issue ie all the alleged wrongdoings of Rangers have been dealt with, or are being dealt with, under the existing rules of the SPL , the SFA and in terms of the relevant  legislation.  Specifically ND outlined the following:

  • EBT/Tax case      - being dealt with by HMRC
  • Extra Contract allegation – subject to an SPL investigation which, if a prima facie case is established would then either  refer it to an independent commission to investigate and decide the punishment if they are found guilty, or it would be done by the SPL Board or a sub-committee of the SPL Board
  • Last year (ie the period between  the Craig Whyte takeover and administration) – SFA had imposed a 12 month registration embargo (not a transfer embargo so players can still be sold)
  • Administration – 10 point penalty as stated in SPL rules

ND stressed that Rangers were being subject to exactly the same rules and sets of sanctions as any other club in the same position and that nothing was being ignored.  When asked how this maintained sporting integrity, ND stated that they were being punished according to the rules – the debate on whether this was sufficient punishment was another issue but it was the same rules as would apply to any club.  He further noted that existing legislation applied to any other type of business would also allow for a transfer of assets and a shedding of debt via a CVA or a newco. 

ND further argued that the distinction between a CVA route out of administration and a Newco route was ‘fine’.  In the first case debt would be shed as a result of creditors taking a percentage in the pound; the HMRC has no special standing under existing legislation (2006 Enterprise Act);  the Club would not face any additional penalties unless it remained in administration into a new season.  In the case of a Newco, the new owner would buy the assets (including the name, the football club, the ground and the SPL share etc) [NB: the transfer of the SPL share would have to be approved by the SPL] and transfer them to a newco; the oldco would either be liquidated or it would seek a CVA.  Either route would lead to creditors receiving a percentage in the pound but the latter route could potentially lead to a merger with Newco.  Application for registration of the transfer of the share would take place before completion of the sale of the assets.  Under the existing rules, the 6-man SPL Board would deal with the application.  If the proposed rule change to be discussed on 30 May is passed then that decision will be taken by all the member clubs of the SPL.  A number of points were stressed:

  1. There is no reason in principle why one route (CVA or Newco) would give more money to the creditors than the other
  2. The sanctions imposed on Rangers (Oldco) would not automatically pass to the Newco
  3. Newco would be obliged under the TUPE regulations to take on all employees (who wanted to transfer) on the same terms and conditions – so they would, in fact, have all the player registrations.
  4. The application to join (ie to have the Rangers share passed to Newco) could be on the basis that they would shoulder the sanctions imposed on Rangers or it could be that they would not shoulder this responsibility – this may influence the views of the SPL clubs when deciding  whether or not to approve the share transfer  (our emphasis)

The other regulations to be voted on include:

2A in which all 8 clubs have to vote, which states that if there is a transfer of the share to a Newco there would be a deduction of 10 points in each of the following two seasons

2B, which only requires 11 votes, states that a Newco would lost 75% of all fees for the next three seasons

If the share is transferred to a Newco before this vote takes place, these regulations would not apply to it.  The new regulations will only apply to those clubs who go into administration following implementation of the rule (ie once it is passed and then further approved by other bodies) and won’t be applied retrospectively.

A number of other points arose in the discussion:

  • The total amount of the debt will not make a difference as it will just be part of the CVA – so the final determination in the big tax case won’t  affect the range of possible outcomes
  • If liquidation does take place (and that does not necessarily have to happen for a Newco to be in place as outlined above) then that gives the administrators greater investigatory powers going back to the old Rangers regime, and this may or may not lead to criminal charges.
  • UEFA are not involved in this at all except in relation to their own competition.  In that regard, a CVA would lead to a one year ban from European competition and a Newco would have a three year ban (as a consequence of having to provide three year’s accounts to take part in the competition). UEFA are currently looking at increasing the CVA penalty to three years and ND/IB interpret this as UEFA saying that there is little difference between the two possible routes out of administration.

In all of this, it appears that the main issue for supporters is not what rule changes take place, as the Trust, together with the CSA, the GB , the Affiliation and the North American Federation had originally thought when we collectively  wrote to the Club Chairman last week. 

On the basis of what was stated today, the only discretionary element in the process, and therefore the point where sporting integrity will either be upheld or not, seems to be the point where a Newco Rangers applies to have the Oldco Rangers’ share transferred to it and the undertakings, or lack of them, which might be offered by the Newco at that time.  That will, in all probability, be decided by all the clubs collectively.

ND/IB appealed for fans to make their decisions at the point where the final decision is made and the position becomes clear.  They were concerned about misunderstandings clouding the views of supporters and seemed keen to spend as much time as possible to dispel any such misunderstandings.

However, the supporters and their organisations might take the view that our interests are best served by seeking to influence the outcome of such an application to ensure that sporting integrity is maintained.  How we would do this needs to be discussed now and communicated to those in whose hands the decision will lie.

While we emerged from the meeting with a clearer understanding of the rules and how they would apply, we are left essentially in the same situation as when we went in, which is that either there is a game in which wholescale wrongdoing is properly punished or, for whatever reason (including the lack of effective regulation of companies in the UK and the perception by Club Chairman that their financial interest lies in ensuring that Rangers in some form survives),  we will see a debt-free unpunished Rangers playing in the SPL next season. Who they will be playing in front of is a matter for supporters and their organisations to determine.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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