One of the keenest debates around Scottish Football in recent weeks has been the decision on how to punish Rangers for their lack of financial integrity. Yet it appears that despite the crimes perpetrated, the SPL is leaning towards some light touch regulation of its own. Should Rangers become a new-co, there are several very good reasons why the only credible course of action available to the SPL and the SFA is instant demotion to the Scottish Third Division.
|Whitehouse & Clark from Rangers administrators Duff & Phelps|
1) Retention of Newco-Rangers in the SPL will send the message that cheats win: Anyone who has followed this story will be well aware that the charges of “financial doping” have been well and truly been proven, even this week the Rangers Tax Case blog fingers the transfer of Christian Nerlinger as being the first contract where the EBT is mismanaged. So should we follow the example of our friends across the continent and take tough measures, bearing in mind that the financial fair play measures are due to be brought in by UEFA over the next couple of years. Or should we follow the example of the English FA, who have not exactly been rushing to charge club owners as unfit and proper people to run football clubs and have stood back while the EPL have praised Manchester City for running up huge losses – or in EPL speak “being a shining example of inward investment”. The revolving door of unfit owners of Portsmouth FC is further testament to the FA’s lasiz faire stance with .
2) This is the quickest punishment: Should the footballing authorities decide to demote Rangers, punishment will be swift and instant. Rangers will start the season and have to adapt to their circumstances. The alternatives seem designed to show that something is being done, but will impact for seasons to come. For example, the proposal to dock Rangers 10 points per season for the next three seasons. There are also proposals to fine Rangers or to inflict some sort of entrance fee on them. All of these so called “punishments” are due to drag on for years. No, sorry but the punishment for Rangers should be swift and not cast a shadow over Scottish Football for years to come.
3) Relegation is the norm on the continent: On the continent when a side goes into administration, they are relegated down a division. This happens in France (where clubs are audited by a body affiliated to the French Ligue 1, any offenders suffer “points relegations” for financial irregularities) and in Italy (where new-co Fiorentina were sent down to Sieire C). Neil Doncaster’s point that this does not happen in the UK should be viewed alongside the fact that both the FA and the SFA are rather remiss in cracking down on unfit an improper people to run football clubs in spite of the evidence to the contrary.
4) The Football authorities will need to act for the sake of their credibility: Should New-co Rangers escape with a fine and the above points deduction, then both the SPL and the SFA will see their credibility disappear into a hole. The question will then be asked if the SFA and SPL are fit and proper people to run Scottish football.
Of course it’s not just the footballing authorities that will need to think very carefully about what to do with Rangers. There are rumblings about a fan boycott by supporters of non old firm fans against Scottish football as a whole, especially if the SPL vote to retain Newco Rangers within the SPL. Kilmarnock fans are particularaly unhappy about the comments by their chairman, while season ticket sales at Aberdeen are supposedly down.
5) Relegation will be good for New-Co Rangers: One of the great misnomers is that Newco Rangers will recover quicker by staying in the SPL, and that any punishments that are “too heavy”, to quote Neil Doncaster (right), will put off any investors. Rubbish. What will be best for Newco Rangers will be starting from the bottom.
Firstly, any relegation will remove a great deal of the stench of favouritism and quite frankly the venom and rancour towards Newco Rangers in an instant. Secondly, Newco Rangers will not be in a position to challenge for championships come the first day of next season anyway. It makes much more sense for Newco Rangers to re-build the foundations of the club while making their way through the divisions. It is of course entirely feasible that Newco Rangers could generate additional media exposure and as a result income from their quest to get through the divisions. As for investors, quite frankly the country as a whole is still in the economic myre and will be for the forseable future. That will have a bigger bearing on Investors than whether Newco Rangers are facing fixtures next year against Arbroath, Peterhead and Queens Park.
6) We will see the end of the BSkyB/ESPN Television deal: Neil Doncaster is already on record as saying that the BSkyB part of the deal essentially is predicated in there being four Old Firm matches a season. So apart from the money will we miss the disparaging weekend lunchtime kickoffs, the highlights days after games have taken place and just generally being BSkyB’s bitch. Well, I’m not so sure that we will miss the deal, in fact I suspect that quite a few football fans will be glad to see the back of this deal.
Of course, the main reason why Newco Rangers look to be kept into the SPL will be money. That is the calculation that the chairmen of the SPL Clubs need to make, money or credibility. It’s a sad world where credibility starts second favourite to money.