The potential scenario of a Scottish Premier League club going out of business, becoming an ex-club, has played out in several places since we discussed it last month. As a result, we have all had an opportunity to establish our views on the matter, what would and would not be an acceptable reaction by the league and SFA.
The first ‘insolvency event’ of a failing club is likely to be the appointment of an administrator to protect the company from immediate creditors. This would draw a 10 point penalty. The choice of the administrator for a football club could be a controversial subject, especially if some creditors stand to lose a considerable amount of money through any rushed deal. For example, although Rangers have a considerable potential liability to HMRC hanging over them, their creditors might feel that a period of administration stretching several years into the future would enable all debts to be paid in full, a position not all administrators would necessarily agree with.
It’s normal for directors to appoint an administrator prior to a creditor getting to court but if creditors don’t feel the appointment is likely to serve their best interests they can apply to appoint their own. These battles can get acrimonious.
In the days after an administrator is appointed the club may not be in a position to fulfil its fixtures. When Gretna’s administrator informed the Scottish Football League they could not guarantee they would be able to fulfil the following season’s fixtures the league relegated them two divisions, to the bottom rung of the league structure. This proved to be a temporary position before the administrator admitted defeat and folded the company. Precedent suggests we should look out for a double relegation if a club in administration has to tell the league they cannot fulfil fixtures.
There is no point waiting until a well-organised administrator presents a fait accompli to the league before we look for precedents and debate an appropriate response. For the integrity of the Scottish game, football fans need to be ready for this debate. Where possibly, colours should be pinned to the mast.
One outcome of the online debate in the last couple of days (thanks to untiring work of our friend Phil) is that Celtic were forced to consider this question. I sought and received assurances that they will not vote to admonish owners of an ex-football club with a paltry point penalty, allowing them to reform as though nothing happened the following season.
The question is still-hypothetical, so clubs are not in a position to comment officially yet, but we are in a healthier position for the debate and should encourage high profile supporters of other clubs to engage the debate as some from our own club have recently.
Fans Against Criminalisation are holding a pubic meeting on Saturday, 12 November, at Whitehill Secondary School, 280 Onslow Drive, Denniston, with Michael McMahon, MSP, among others, speaking. Try to make it along to support this important initiative before you are criminalised by a combination of stealth and apathy.