There has been a pattern for me in recent days. I’ve read a statement by a current/former football club director, then I’ve gone looking for corroboration, just in case the report is a sabotaged attempt to make the author appear foolish.
A statement was released by former Rangers chairman, Alastair Johnston yesterday, discussing the current SPL Commission looking into how his board administered football player contracts. I agree with him that any “capital punishment decision” should not be left to the SPL, but the SPL have no authority to impose capital punishment on a football club. The decision to terminate a football club can only be taken by the SFA (I am discounting the reckless behaviour of directors), and is perhaps a reason the SFA decided to delegate this inquiry to the league. It is interesting timing for Johnston to put this on the table.
Johnston’s main thrust is in connection with the SPL Commission, saying “the SFA wrote to us asking for more details about the public speculation concerning our financial and tax situation. The latter obviously referenced the impact of the EBT schemes as creating a potential taxation liability.
“The club responded accordingly and provided details, as it had done in previous years, by declaring player salaries, bonuses, benefits, etc., but also payments made to a Remuneration Trust. The SFA compliance officers must have known, both from the description and context of the reports, that such expenditures had some connection to player compensation.
“However, without any further investigation at the time, Rangers FC received its SFA license to compete in the 2011/2012 season. Rangers, therefore, were entitled to believe that they were not in breach of any SFA regulation requiring reporting of player compensation.”
Mr Johnston clearly implies that the SFA were in receipt of sufficient information to ascertain if Rangers correctly registered players (and considering the SFA president was on the board which sanctioned these decision was have to wonder), but the key point is missing from his testimony.
While disclosing this information to the SFA did Rangers reveal the existence of the alleged second contracts? For the purposes of the SPL Commission, it doesn’t really matter how much players were paid, or if they received this money through a Remuneration Trust, what matters is: were contracts submitted and players correctly registered? If not, then it doesn’t matter what else the club submitted to the SFA.
Sir David Murray, then Rangers owner, vehemently denied the existence of second contracts as recently as March this year, so it would appear unlikely that Rangers revealed these allegedly non-existent contracts at an earlier date.
Labouring this point slightly Johnston said: If the SFA now decide to adopt a more focused evaluation of the data they request from its members in order to be granted a license, they should ensure that the legislation upon which they rely for enforcement and the corresponding sanctions are more transparent and predictable.”
For clarity, the information the SFA requires in order to grant a club licence is not being changed in any way. The SFA and the SPL do, however, require clubs submit player contracts as part of the player registration process. It is not the club licence which is in doubt here, it is the registration of players, Mr Johnston, we have to wonder why you are trying to focus away from this matter.
Our own club was brought into the issue: “A lawyer representing Celtic recently was successful in having charges against that club dropped because of the inadequacy of the SFA’s prescribed rules, regulations, and sanctions. The same principle should apply here.”
Perhaps time is playing tricks on Mr Johnston’s memory. Paul McBride ensured a punishment imposed on Neil Lennon (not Celtic) was enforced in line with SFA rules. Johnston also meanders on the subjects of match fixing and financial doping, distancing his former club from both, but neither charge is of any consequence.
Despite his extensive diatribe on the subject, at no point does the former Rangers chairman deny the central allegation – that for over a decade Rangers gave dozens of players second contracts which were not registered with the SPL or SFA. Like Charles Green the previous day, he never suggested Rangers have been wrongly accused, he just complains about the club being accused.
There is a degree in Cognitive Bias in this matter if anyone is looking for material.
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