Press stories yesterday that Newcastle United and newco Rangers would not be able to play in Uefa competitions in the same season have caused Mike Ashley considerable angst. While it would appear few things are untenable for Ashley, having one of his clubs bow out of Europe to allow the other to compete is beyond what even he believes to be acceptable.
Newcastle issued a statement early today challenging the reports, which initially appeared in the Daily Telegraph, a newspaper Newcastle have banned from their premises. The Telegraph reported that Uefa confirmed newco Rangers and Newcastle would be prevented from competing in Europe in the same season due to Article 3 of their competition regulations, which relate to multi-ownership.
I contacted Uefa this morning, who confirmed that the report in the Telegraph is incorrect; Uefa have made no such ruling. However, this is because they have received no complaint and no investigation has taken place. Uefa do not trawl looking for administrative breaches and will not investigate such matters unless asked to do so. This issue, it appears, has not gone beyond the Uefa Media Office, and will only be passed to Compliance if a complaint is made.
I reckon Ashley will be comfortable dealing with the SFA, who he can delay and confuse until after newco’s next funding round, which will take place before Christmas, but he doesn’t want Uefa, or the FA in England, on his case, as either could jeopardise plans.
It’s incredible that months after Ashley bought into newco no one has complained to the one body who have the power to dissuade him.
The scenes outside Glasgow Sheriff Court yesterday were predictable. Craig Whyte stands accused by the court of public opinion of liquidating Rangers Football Club. I know some of the bile directed towards him went well beyond what is acceptable, but you can’t liquidate a football club and not expect some push-back at the fringes.
The court of public opinion, isn’t making sense, though. Rangers fans are angry at Craig Whyte, who, apparently, played hardball with the evil HMRC, then was cheated out of his rightful place in the Premier League by a combination of the SFA, the SPL, Celtic, the BBC and bigotry.
If it wasn’t for these dark forces, Craig would have used the [cough]perfectly legitimate business tactic of liquidation, to carry the same club through the crippling debt Sir David Murray had lumbered it with and back to its rightful place in Scottish football.
So if it’s all someone else’s fault, why are they so angry at Craig? Genuine question. He either released the club from Murray’s excesses, and was victimised, or he brazenly killed the club and tried to flog them a newco as though nothing had changed.
The only reason I can think they are angry at Craig is because our old pal Cognitive Dissonance is gnawing away in the background. Whyte’s plan was to liquidate Rangers, present the SPL and SFA with a fait accompli midseason, and have the newco pick up the vacant league position the following week.
This was a horrible plan. Rangers fans’ ‘No to liquidation’ campaign was correct. Everyone else’s opposition to this aberration was also correct.
The fait accompli didn’t work. The rest of Scottish football chose to step off the cliff into the unknown, although many Rangers fans quickly adopted Whyte’s – liquidation means nothing – logic, however they couldn’t bring themselves to accept the man himself.
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