SEVENTEEN people have complained to the Advertising Standards Authority over the Statement from Celtic Supporters which appeared in the Sunday Herald on January 25th 2015. The statement set the agenda in the week leading up to the first ever meeting between Celtic and the successor Rangers club, created by Charles Green in 2012 following the liquidation of Rangers FC.
Before accepting the advertisement, which was paid for by crowd funding on the Celticquicknews.co.uk, the newspaper consulted with their own lawyers, provided the copy for guidance to The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and (with the Celtic Supporters’ consent) provided a copy to Police Scotland and indeed to the two football clubs with dates of incorporation in 1888 and 2012 respectively.
The Statement from Celtic Supporters has received extensive media coverage, with the Scottish media choosing to ask opinions regarding the placing of the advertisement and seeking ex-players’ views on whether they regard Rangers to be a new club or not, rather than address the content of the statement or indeed the need for a group of supporters to have to “club” together to bring the facts regarding the liquidation of Rangers and the resultant club continuation myth to a wider audience.
It should also be remembered that all these newspapers carried extensive coverage in the summer of 2012 on the demise of Rangers FC, with front page headlines like RANGERS RIP.
Now with these 17 objections being made to ASA, the content of the Statement from Celtic Supporters (which cost less than all reported figures) can be scrutinised.
It has to be noted that several media outlets, including Daily Mirror, actually re-produced an incorrect early draft of the Statement which was completely different from the final version that appeared in the Sunday Herald. This early draft quoted ex Rangers vice- Chairman Donald Findlay who in November 2014 admitted that he regarded the club currently playing at Ibrox as a ‘new entity’.
CQN Magazine understands that The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) advised that the following text within the Statement from Celtic Supporters “appeared to be acceptable” as it is “likely to be regarded as a matter of opinion.”
“The Old Firm. It is our view that this term is now redundant due to the liquidation of Rangers (1872).”
CAP continued with their guidance given to Sunday Herald by making the following points:
“All other claims in this copy are presented as factual. Consumers are likely to be regard these claims as objective and therefore, the advertiser will need to hold documentary evidence to support them. In particular the advertiser should be able to prove the following:
– “Upon incorporation into a limited company, the officers of Rangers Football Club signed up to and adopted a set of Memorandum and Articles of Association which stated clearly that the Rangers Football Club and the new limited company was to be regarded as one and the same legal entity.”
– “For well over 100 years, all football authorities in Scotland, and indeed Europe, accepted that Rangers Football Club and Rangers PLC – as the incorporated private limited company would eventually become – were one and the same legal person and club, and all Scottish Football authorities over a prolonged period of time accepted and endorsed contracts of employment and other legal documents which stated that Rangers Football Club and the limited company it had become were one and the same.”
– “To be clear, there was no transfer of SFA membership between Rangers (1872) and The Rangers (2012) but a completely fresh application for membership by the new club and at no time did Rangers 1872 and Rangers 2012 hold one uninterrupted membership of the SFA.”
Accordingly The Sunday Herald, which is owned by Newsquest Media Group, requested and received from the advertiser all relevant documents. These documents were reviewed by the legal team at the Sunday Herald and were deemed to be acceptable. Accordingly the newspaper decided to proceed with the booking of the advertising space, having gone through an extensive checking process and due diligence on the content of the Statement from Celtic Supporters.
Police Scotland, who had requested a copy of the advertisement, raised no objections. Neither club commented, although the final copy of the Statement was subsequently leaked to a Rangers fans forum two days before publication in the Sunday Herald. Any party benefiting from the courtesy of advance sight of this Statement could have gone to court to prevent or delay publication if the Sunday Herald refused such a request. No such request was made. No such court action was taken. The media, as mentioned above, have turned away from challenging the facts set out in the Statement from Celtic Supporters, no doubt aware that their position in 2012 was completely at odds with the club continuation myth they endorse today.
It will be interesting to see how ASA responds to the 17 complaints they have received, with some Celtic supports already claiming that those who peddle and support the club continuation myth have taken the bait set in the Celtic Supporters Statement.
The Sunday Herald appears to have benefited from this episode with huge exposure and reports of the newspaper selling out and a large number copies being posted all over the world to those interested in reading the truth.