The SPL and the cheats charter

The SPL have outlined their plans for the future of Scottish Football and it seems to anyone reading them that the document ‘Your Game, Your Club, Your Future’ would be better called ‘Anything to save the Cheats.’ This disgraceful document, sent to all SFL clubs, outlines 5 scenarios, all of which focus on how to save the cheats. They are as follows:

The SPL and the cheats charter
The SPL and the cheats charter

1. Rangers stay in SPL

2. Rangers to Third Division

3. Rangers to First Division

4. Rangers to SPL2

5. Rangers terminated or suspended

The term ‘Rangers’ used by the  SPL means of course refers to Sevco Scotland, a company which bought the assets of the disgraced and dead Rangers FC. The SPL in their shameful and threatening document go through the above scenarios one by one.

 Option 1: Rangers stay in SPL. Dismissed as other Clubs rightly refused to countenance such a shocking betrayal of all that sporting integrity stands for. Kudos to every one of them who had the balls to publicly state their objections to this odious prospect. The silence from Celtic was deafening, although the Club is clearly playing a canny game given their position as Rangers biggest rivals for 124 years. Peter Lawell is nothing if not a political animal and there may be some merit in quietly letting things pan out.

Option 2: Rangers to Third Division. This option, preferred by most Scottish fans is rejected by the SPL on the grounds that it would lead to £16m going out of the game, (no clue or explanation for this) Commercial partners might walk away (again no explanation) and laughably ‘The Sporting opportunity is quashed for other Clubs.’ This last comment is worth considering. The term ‘Sporting opportunity’ brings to mind the years of double contracts, EBTs and improperly registered players robbing other teams of ‘sporting opportunities.’ Let’s not forget during the EBT years that Celtic lost a title by a single goal (2003) and by a single point. (2005) Third Division teams, we are told by the SPL, will see ‘sporting opportunity quashed’ by the Newco presumably being too strong and cantering to the title. It remains to be seen how the depleted Newco Squad deals with a trip to Brechin in the December sleet but the moral argument for the new club to start at the bottom remains unimpeachable. New Clubs start at the bottom of the leagues in every country in Europe. No special cases, no bending over backwards to avoid financial problems and no helping out old pals in trouble. The rules must remain the same for all or sport is dead.  

Option 3:Rangers go to the First Division. The SPL salivate at their preferred option and state that while this might cost the SPL £30m, it ‘Balances short term need for redemption with a least worst case financial scenario and it is financially possible to recover from this scenario.’ This propaganda piece is a shoddy attempt to wallpaper over the appalling misdeeds of the former Rangers FC by administering a small slap on the wrist and a year triumphantly marching through the First Division. We have already witnessed some Division One clubs baulk at the injustice of a New Club being shoe-horned into their league. The argument is the same as that used by other SPL Clubs, sporting integrity and fairness. New Clubs should start in Division 3.

Option 4: Rangers go to SPL 2. As you know, SPL 2 doesn’t exist as yet but the threat to invite clubs to leave the SFL and join the increasingly compromised SPL is used to pressure Division one clubs into accepting the SPL’s preferred option. They admit that the SFA do not support this scenario and that it is not their preferred option but the threat remains. Formation of SPL 2 would lead to paralyzing litigation and does look a very unlikely prospect.

Option 5:Rangers are Terminated or Suspended. The implications of this we are warned in stark, alarmist terminology will be financial meltdown, settlement obliterated and fans lost to the game forever. The game would survive, they say, but where? This alarmist tosh bears little scrutiny. Scottish Football would take a hit if Rangers no longer existed but the new situation would not be the Armageddon which the SPL predict. New challengers would rise and some clubs may actually see attendances rise as the opportunity to challenge for honors increased. As for lost fans, losing some of the knuckle draggers who follow Rangers will be no loss to anyone. The SPL then goes on to attempt a crude bribe to SFL Clubs to go along with their preferred option of Newco in the First Division. They will receive ‘An immediate cash benefit for all 30 Clubs!’ (Their exclamation mark) Gates would rise and the Scottish Government would remain committed to the community strategy.  Contact with the Scottish Government suggests they have no intention of changing their community strategy no matter where the Newco ends up so quite what the SPL is on about here is puzzling.  With breathtaking arrogance the SPL claim this plan shows ‘Leadership in the Scottish game.’ Leadership? Ignoring the vast majority of customers to placate one new club, who’s predecessor broke just about all the rules of sporting and financial fair play is not leadership. It is moral cowardice. The rules must be the same for all clubs in the league or we may as well pack up and go home.

Consider the plight of Livingston FC in 2009whowere rendered insolvent and were close to liquidation, before being rescued. The SPL then demoted them to Division Three because they were deemed to have broken the rules regarding insolvency. While Rangers Football Club PLC (1872) have yet to be officially liquidated, it is clear that they transgressed more of the rules of the game than mere insolvency. A Newco has now been set up seeking to claim their place in Scottish football. Any move to allow a new club into any Scottish league other than the lowest division would be totally unacceptable. This isn’t about any inherent dislike of Rangers FC or subsequent manifestation of a new club bearing a similar name. This is about sporting integrity and fairness. The SPL are putting financial considerations before the good of the game. If they are seen to giving preferential treatment to the Newco, which we should remember is built on the bones of a disgraced and corrupt predecessor club who folded owing scores of millions in unpaid taxes and other bills, then there could be unforeseen consequences the likes of which didn’t appear in the SPL’s shameful little document. The fans of other clubs in the SPL and SFL are watching with interest and their mood is at best rebellious. The SPL should listen to them of face the consequences.