So much happened yesterday, I’ll be as brief as possible:
Newco Rangers sent their counsel to the Court of Session to protest Charles Green’s contract with the club, stating it should pay legal expenses, now crystallising ahead of his forthcoming criminal trial.
In opposing Green, James Wolffe QC raised various objections, but as is often the case when people speak on behalf of Newco, included an arbitrary insistence that Newco operated the same club as the now liquidated Rangers.
Green’s QC, Jonathan Brown, put his pit boots on before stating his client’s case, but tantalisingly, before lunch informed the court that he would return to the same club/new club debate later. And didn’t he. Brown explained that Sevco Scotland purchased the assets of Rangers, not the club itself, with poetic prose adding:
“The team are paid by Sevco, plat at a ground owned by Secvo, are trained by a manager who is employed by Sevco and fans buy tickets from Sevco. That is the business that is being carried on.”
Adding that Rangers were “a collection of assets”, “What if the players were sold to one person and Ibrox to antoher, where is the ‘club’ then?”
I had to look away from court reporter, James Dolman’s Twitter feed at this point. It was like watching an acquaintance being humiliated. Not something you want to see.
Lord Doherty will determine if Newco should pay Green’s costs in due course, but this will be soon, as Jonathan Brown noted, “the rainy day has arrived”.
This next bit is really important:
Soon after court ended, Dave King was out with a rambling statement on the Newco website. If it was designed to play to the galleries, it hit the spot. If it was designed to influence what happens to his club, or how others will regard his input, it was surely an horrendous mistake.
It was a hard day to be chairman of Rangers International FC PLC. The court hearing only happened because the club objected to its contract with Green, so the unedifying episode could easily have been avoided. Despite this, sometimes you have to shut your mouth.
Sure, some Newco fans love a bit of grandstanding, but you know what yesterday’s statement will achieve. If the objective of the statement was to convince other Scottish clubs not to consider disciplinary action against Sir David Murray, or oldco Rangers, for their actions, it was an almighty miscalculation.
Threats seldom work. This one is unlikely to curry favour: “If the history of our Club comes under attack we will deal with it in the strongest manner possible and will hold to account those persons who have acted against their fiduciary responsibilities to their own clubs and to Scottish football.”
Don’t threaten clubs you are trying to influence.
Don’t grandstand to your own fans if you are trying to influence other clubs.
Keep a poker face. Keep your mouth shut, even if it means taking grief from your fans for the lack of public reaction.
King’s statement also addressed the sporting advantage issue from what we now know was an unlawfully operated tax scheme. While the EBT scheme saved tens of millions of pounds, and King earlier intimated this did provide a sporting advantage, yesterday he insisted the advantage was financial, that the shareholders were “committed to providing funding to the club” and would have done so, if required.
Here’s the thing, in 2012 another King statement revealed, “I have made a claim of £20m on the basis of non-disclosure by the then chairman, David Murray, of Rangers true financial position as far back as 2000.”
That commitment to further shareholder funding seems predicated on some controversial information. According to King, of course. Controversial enough to launch a £20m claim, but not to inhibit investment.
For the war-chest hunters among you, if you read this article covering King’s 2012 statement, you’ll find a strong clue.
One other quick but important point:
Some media are attempting to portray questions of sporting advantage as Rangers being punished for spending money they could afford, a travesty, as so many other clubs have done likewise.
This must surely be a deliberate attempt to misunderstand the issue and manipulate the debate.
No one suggests Rangers should be punished for spending money they could not afford. The questions are straightforward:
Did Rangers break tax law, break SFA rules and break SPL rules, when contracting football players?
Did they disclose matters openly with authorities (in other words, inadvertently make mistakes), or did they conspire to subvert the rules by hiding incriminating information?
Spending like the Borgias? Time to move on. Conspiracy to subvert the rules? We have a problem.
Don’t be distracted by potential ramifications to these questions, they are irrelevant for now. We should consider no more than did they break all of the above rules, should any the rule breaking be interpreted as an oversight, or does evidence of conspiracy to subvert the rules exist?