Yesterday the Scottish Football Association announced an independent inquiry into Rangers FC which will report to the SFA board within two weeks.
While it is welcome that the enquiry is independent, it is gravely concerning that the SFA refused to state the scope of the inquiry or indicate if the final report will be made public. An inquiry into the Fit and Proper status of Craig Whyte is moot. An inquiry into last year’s takeover of the club, or how it has conducted its tax business before and after the takeover surely cannot report within three weeks of Rangers going into administration and before the outcome of the tax tribunal is known. So what are the objectives of the report?
The important question the SFA must address is whether Rangers FC improperly registered football players. Rules on the legal registration of football players are clear and well established. All financial compensation offered to players must be part of their contracts, copies of which must be lodged with the club’s national association.
This audio file contains information from Player’s Union representative, Fraser Wishart, who correctly tells Radio Clyde listeners that “in football you’re only allowed one contract, all your earnings from football have to be on that contract”.
The same audio file has excerpts of football journalist, Darrell King, repeatedly telling Radio Clyde listeners that Rangers players involved with EBTs “had two contracts”. This assertion has not been subject to challenge by Rangers.
The major question for the SFA is whether, as alleged by Mr King, Rangers FC played improperly registered players from around 2000 until the expiry of those contracts, some of which are likely to still be active. While they are doing so, it would be useful to extend the inquiry to examine recent contracts.
My primary concern regarding the inquiry is the role of the SFA president, Campbell Ogilvie, in framing the scope of the inquiry. As we reported yesterday, Ogilvie was general secretary and director of Rangers until 2005. He will be able to answer many of the key questions and, as president, will not only have been able to influence the scope of the inquiry, but will be one of the few who receives the report.
Any SFA inquiry into Rangers FC must report on the key matter in this whole business, the proper registration of football players. Any attempt to exclude matters which could involve Mr Ogilvie must be resisted and would show the entire activity up as nothing more than a sham.
The sporting penalty for playing improperly registered players is a 3-0 defeat in each game. Sion have already tested national and international authorities on this matter and are paying a heavy price for trying to gain an unfair advantage.
The stakes are high for Scottish football. The SFA must demonstrate transparency and the highest possible ethical standards when an inquiry into a member club involves past activities of its president. It also has a responsibility to fans and member clubs to establish and report any improper conduct at the earliest opportunity.
My Ogilvie should step aside as a matter of urgency in order to provide evidence to the inquiry.
In a gesture which tests the boundaries of the word magnificent, the Celtic fan who paid £5000 towards the Vanessa Riddle Appeal for the signed Celtic jersey we auctioned last week asked us to put it back up for auction again.
Auctions are a magnificent way to help get Vanessa the lifesaving treatment she needs but the cost of participating at the business end soon gets out of the reach of many fans. With this in mind, we have started an eBay raffle; you can win the jersey for the cost of a £1, or the entire purchase price of Rangers FC PLC.
There are no excuses to sit this one out, Vanessa needs your help, you would like to own a signed Celtic jersey, and you too can afford the kind of money Craig Whyte used to buy Rangers. Click here to participate.
Thank you for the dozens of response to the request for writers for CQN Magazine. I’m still working through them, will be in touch soon. Issue six, our Fit and Proper edition, is set to become a landmark collectors item. You can browse the magazine online here but you can buy your own hard copy by clicking on the link below. Fill your boots…..
You can support the online edition by making a discretionary donation here.