There was a flutter of excitement yesterday at news from the Court of Session that Rangers liquidators, BDO, did not object to Dave King becoming a director of newco. King sought permission from the court to prevent a subsequent challenge from one of Rangers unpaid creditors, but the phoenix club are now free to appoint him as a director.
The question of whether he is fit and proper to run a football club remains. King has employed professional PR and appears to have a clutch of journos doing his bidding, I even heard one ask yesterday if the SFA would dare hold him to a higher bar that that of the highest court in the land – either deliberately or accidentally misunderstanding legal process.
The ‘highest court in the land’ was asked to adjudicate what turned out to be a matter which was not contested. The SFA is another matter.
The SFA will not seek the view of Rangers creditors, they will consider the words of Lord Nimmo Smith’s inquiry into some of Rangers misdeeds while Dave King was a director of the club:
“There is no evidence that the Board of Directors of Oldco took any steps to obtain proper external legal or accountancy advice.
“The directors of Oldco must bear a heavy responsibility for this. While there is no question of dishonesty… we nevertheless take the view that the nondisclosure must be regarded as deliberate.
“Given the seriousness, extent and duration of the non-disclosure, we have concluded that nothing less than a substantial financial penalty on Oldco will suffice”.
The SFA will also consider Mr King’s 41 criminal convictions last year for breaking tax law in South Africa. They will consider an earlier assessment by Judge Brian Southwood’s that King is a ‘glib and shameless liar’.
They will not consider some of the 281 charges of dropped as part of his plea bargain, including charges of money-laundering and racketeering.
They will consider the actions taken by King to displace the previous newco board, which led to the resignation of nomad WH Ireland and the subsequent de-listing of the club from the stock market. The possibility of shareholder legal action in light of the de-listing was disclosed last week, opening another new stage for reputational damage.
Newco Rangers can go ahead and appoint Mr King this afternoon. There is no SFA ‘Fit and Proper test’. Instead, clubs are liable for retrospective punishment should they appoint someone who the SFA subsequently regard as not fit and proper to run a football club.
To avert retrospective action, Mr King has asked the SFA to settle his fitness in advance.
If the SFA consider judge-issued phrases such as “directors of Oldco must bear a heavy responsibility”, “nondisclosure [to the SFA]must be regarded as deliberate” and “glib and shameless liar” as being appropriate to run a Scottish football club, we have no fit and proper criteria whatsoever.
His fitness is linked to his suggestions made some months ago that tens of millions of pounds will need to be invested in newco and that he was the man to make it happen. If he has the money, he will invest whether the SFA pass him or not.
This entire issue is a faux precipice. King could easily appoint his own people to the PLC board, he would be able to attend board meetings and bark whatever orders necessary. So why not just appoint a board full of experienced non-execs and set about running the club?
It could be that the tens of millions required are not there and he’s looking for a get-out, but I honestly don’t see that. Whether he invests the necessary money or not, he’s there for the long haul. This is about authority over the SFA.