There’s an industry of deliberate misunderstanding in Scottish football (and on the pages of CQN). One of the last vestiges of this is the SFA’s fabled Fit and Proper Test. There is no test, never has been a test and in all likelihood, never will be a test. It was almost certainly a figment of some under-informed journalist, who provided the concept enough currency for it to endure in the imagination, despite many, many, people explaining reality.
To be a director of a football club you need to be Fit and Proper, you do not sit or pass a test.
It’s a bit like:
To do a job you need to speak English, you do not sit or pass an English language test.
If you accept the above job assuring your employer you can speak English, and you can’t, you are likely to be fired.
If you accept a job as a director of a football club, assuring the SFA you are Fit and Proper, and you aren’t, the SFA will ban you from football and discipline the club for failing to ensure a director was Fit and Proper before appointment.
This morning the incessant campaign continues to throw reputational damage on anyone who would be inclined to point out that Dave King contravenes the eligibility rules on becoming a football club director. This is different from being Fit and Proper, which is a subjective assessment, Mr King is simply ineligible.
The reasons for his ineligibility (he was a director of a football club which was liquidated within the last 5 years), and other matters, most notably, his 41 convictions for breaking the tax law in South Africa, and the blame laid at his door by the SPL’s Lord Nimmo-Smith report, make up material reason why the SFA may consider him not Fit and Proper to run a football club.
After targeting Peter Lawwell yesterday, the campaign today turns direct to the SFA, who are accused of allowing Craig Whyte to “bluff his way through the Hampden [non-existent] ‘test’ by simply filling out an official SFA form”.
As should be patently obvious to anyone with a dozen or more brain cells, the SFA form is neither a ‘test’ nor a certification of appropriateness from the SFA.
The obligation to ensure a football club appoints Fit and Proper directors lies with that club’s board. If the board fail in their duty to the game, the club is liable to sanction from the SFA.
So who was on the board which appointed Craig Whyte as a director of Rangers?
Our emerging heroes, the men who chased away the billionaire, Dave King and Paul Murray. As non-executive directors of Rangers they had a responsibility to the club’s stakeholders that their interests were being protected.
The Institute of Directors factsheet on the role of non-execs quotes the Cadbury Report, saying they “should bring an independent judgement to bear on issues of strategy, performance and resources including key appointments and standards of conduct.”
It was the Rangers board’s responsibility to instruct the necessary checks on Craig Whyte’s appropriateness to be a director of the club. They either failed to do this, or if they did, failed to act on the information, or withdraw their names from the club’s register of directors.
Sir David Murray may have controlled the majority of shares, but as recent boardroom events at newco demonstrate, there is a great deal non-execs, when in a majority on the board, can do to inhibit major shareholders if they believe the interests of other stakeholders are being jeopardised.
Non-execs are not there to wear the blazer and attend supporters’ events, they are the eyes and ears of the supporters, shareholders, employees and creditors who are not privy to the inner workings of the club. In this respect, Mr King and Mr P. Murray failed Rangers on a cataclysmic level.
They are, in every respect possible, perfect for the job of running newco. My prediction (no inside info) is the SFA will fold under sustained media pressure, set aside their ineligibility rules and allow Mr King and Mr P. Murray to work their magic one more time.