We gave STV credit on Wednesday for their reporting on SPL voting process required to decide what to do if a new company applies to join the league after an existing team ceases to exist (through prepack or other means).
I subsequently noticed in the same article they suggest Leeds United went into liquidation and returned with a phoenix prepack. This is incorrect. Leeds United, then in administration, were sold in 2007 to Ken Bates’ newly formed company, with Bates agreeing a deal with creditors. Leeds were, therefore, only liable for the statutory 10 point penalty for entering administration, although the league increased the punishment to 15 points as the club failed to follow correct administration procedure.
I don’t wish to harangue STV on what was an article with genuine information but they cite Leeds as a precedent: “there is no guarantee that the Scottish Premier League would act in the same way as their counterparts in England but the similarities between the regulations mean that the precedent may be used as a guide”.
If I was Rangers right now I would be trying to convince everyone that putting a football club out of existence, only to allow another company to pick up its league share, with a points total calculated from the position of the former club, is similar to a common administration. It’s not. This would be a completely different scenario.
Having discussed this matter with many people throughout the game and the media, I can find no precedent for a football club going out of existence and phoenix-ing back into the same league spot.
Airdrieonians failed in 2008, when the owners of Clydebank FC moved to Airdrie and renamed to Airdrie United. Gretna FC were voted into the space created by the absence of Airdrieonians (then a Second Division team), but entered at the bottom of the Scottish Football League.
Gretna failed in 2008 and a new club based at the same ground successfully applied for membership of the East of Scotland Football League. Annan Athletic entered the bottom rung of the Scottish Football League after Gretna’s demise, not into the First Division spot Gretna were unable to fulfil. Third Lanark were in the bottom division of the Scottish Football League when they were replaced by Clydebank.
Gretna-Annan, Clydebank-Gretna, Third Lanark-Clydebank are the only precedents that exist. If you fail, the team that replaces you joins the bottom rung of the Scottish senior league structure, there have been no exceptions, in Scotland or in England.
The SFA have a say in this matter also. They must ratify any decision of the SPL board and grant a licence to a new club before if can play in the SPL or Scottish Football League. The national association is made up of member clubs, most of whom stand to gain considerably if a Rangers Newco FC were to enter the Scottish Football League.
Irrespective of the SPL’s decision, the SFA better have some pretty good lawyers if they deviate from precedent. The football authorities have a duty to ensure their competitions observe meritocratic and moral correctness. It’s only ‘fit and proper.