By Jim Thornton:
I Fought the Law, and Nobody Won
Duff & Phelps may have been unwise in going to court to overturn the SFA’s transfer embargo on Rangers, and they may well end up with nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory and a very bloody nose to show for their efforts. However, if fair play’s a jewel, then they were perfectly entitled to do so in the circumstances.
And, if nothing else, it’s given James Traynor yet another excuse to lambast the SFA.
I’m still firmly of the opinion that, mutatis mutandis (as Lords Carloway and Glennie would say), a transfer embargo on Rangers is an appropriate sanction for the offence in question; anything less is too lax, and outright expulsion too severe. I also believe that Rangers have only themselves to blame for the predicament they find themselves in, and can hardly complain if supporters of other teams are indulging in a measure of schadenfreude at their expense.
However, no matter how culpable Rangers may have been, they are still entitled to a fair trial, as it were. And can justice really be seen to have been done if FIFA, via the SFA, effectively hold themselves to be above the law of the land - any land - and say they’re right even when a court says they’re wrong on two counts?
Firstly, in finding for Rangers, Lord Glennie didn’t say the ban was too severe a punishment. Instead, he came to the view that the SFA, according to its own rulebook, didn’t actually have the powers to impose such a sanction at all. Or, in other words, they were making up the rules as they went along.
Secondly, Rangers are supposedly in prima facie breach of the SFA rule that says clubs can’t go to law to settle disputes; they’re supposed to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
However, Lord Glennie decided that that wasn’t the case, and that the SFA were the appropriate disciplinary body (working within their valid powers, of course).
According to the SFA’s hymn-sheet, the Ibrox club, as a fully-paid-up member of the governing body (well, I assume they’re paid-up), are now exposing themselves to whatever alternative punitive measures the SFA, as directed by FIFA, determine (assuming, of course, that the SFA do actually have any valid disciplinary measures at their disposal). If the SFA don’t hit Rangers hard enough for FIFA’s liking, the latter are likely to take the petted lip and punish the Scottish game as a whole, so bang goes my Champions League and World Cup double, then.
Leaving aside the morality, if not the legality, of an organisation holding itself out to be above the law, the SFA were found by the court to have acted outwith its own rules and regulations. So how can the SFA in all conscience then punish Rangers for breaching those same rules and regulations? And if the SFA seek to have Lord Glennie’s decision reversed, will they then have to punish themselves for going back to court?
No doubt the SFA and FIFA will simply choose to disregard the court’s decision and hit Rangers with the equivalent of a Gary Caldwell tackle – misjudged and over the top. And, of course, Rangers’ fans will then complain of being bullied. If FIFA did irony …
There’s Been a Murder
And is it true that Nat Fraser’s trying to appeal his guilty verdict to the SFA Judicial Panel?
Disasters and Stripes
Celtic have announced they’re to play Real Madrid in a friendly in Philadelphia on August 11. The organisers say the clubs are contractually obliged to play their strongest line-ups, including, as they put it, their ‘marquee players’ and ‘superstars’. I take it they didn’t manage along to Jacksonville the other day to see Scott Brown or Charlie Mulgrew in action for Scotland.
Trouble in Toytown
Has former Ibrox striker Billy Dodds given Rangers a hospital pass when trying to defend himself after he was ‘outed’ as one of the beneficiaries of the Ibrox club’s EBT scheme?
Wee Billy says the payment in question was due to him in respect of the final six months of his contract when he moved from Rangers to Dundee United. Which, of course, flatly contradicts Sir David Murray’s earlier assertions that the now infamous EBT payments were non-contractual, and therefore didn’t have to be disclosed to the SFA or SPL. They can’t both be right, can they?
Big Ears is adamant he’s got nothing to hide; Sir David’s version, on the other hand, reminds me of Noddy’s hat - it’s got bells on.
One Rule for Them …
Why all the fuss about the SPL’s new financial fair play rules? Did you really expect sporting integrity to outweigh filthy lucre? And what’s the betting any meaningful sanctions against an Ibrox newco would stand up to challenge, anyway?
Should Kilmarnock, for example, go bust and come back as a newco, you can bet they would get hammered. Rangers, on the other hand, would in all probability get a slap that wouldn’t even give Graham Norton a limp wrist.
Neil Doncaster says the new rules form ‘... a progressive and bold package of changes, on which SPL clubs should be congratulated.’ Who writes his scripts? Andy Coulson?
… And Another Rule for Them
And do you think it was just a coincidence that the SPL only chased up Duff & Phelps for the as yet undelivered EBT paperwork the day after the media rattled Big Neilly’s cage about it?
I also understand that the guy tasked with looking for any double contracts goes by the nickname ‘Blind Pew’.
Having a Lovely Time, Wish You Were Here
The re-introduction of artificial pitches is one of the items on the agenda at the Football League’s AGM this week – in Portugal. Was Blackpool fully booked?
There’s Only One Team in Lanarkshire
Get your dosh on Hamilton Accies for the First Division next season. Did you see the way they tore Scotland apart at the weekend?