We’ve not really discussed the enormous political and disciplinary matters hanging over Scottish football since before our Champions League campaign got underway but it moves to the fore today, as the SPL Commission, headed by Lord Nimmo Smith, sits to consider charges levelled by the league against former member, Rangers FC. The Commission is expected to conclude by the end of this week.
Rangers are charged with improperly registering players by allowing footballers to enter into contractually binding agreements to receive money in connection with the game, directly or indirectly, without registering these agreements with the SPL or the SFA.
Playing an improperly registering footballer voids the result of a match, no matter how innocuous the registration impropriety is, as Spartans discovered 14 months ago to their cost. They saw their Scottish Cup win over Culter overturned because a player’s registration form was dated only once, not twice as required.
As well as being awarded a 0-3 defeat, the improper registration of players will cost the offending club any prize money ‘won’ and will result in a disciplinary measure being imposed. Spartans were fined £4000, approximately 20% of their annual income, and were suspended from the competition for 12 months. A steep tariff for leaving a box on a form empty and fielding a player in one game of football.
Lots of speculation has centred on the so-called ‘stripping of titles’ but in the event the Commission upholds the charge the voiding of results will happen as a matter of consequence; it should not subject to speculation. What is more interesting is the size of prize money the league would seek to reclaim, and redistribute, and any penalty imposed by the Commission.
SPL teams receive prize money based on their final league position, funded by the league’s TV deal, which for teams finishing in the top two positions is well in excess of £1m each year. Any ‘stripping of titles’ is likely to be a headline grabber, but the repayment of prize money and disciplinary measures will be far more significant, for some.
Sir David Murray, who owned Rangers throughout the period of alleged improper registration of players, insists the club registered all contractually binding payments players received in connection with playing football. SFA president, Campbell Ogilvie, was an executive director of Rangers for some of the period under investigation and may have been responsible for some registrations.
Charles Green rejected an offer to limit the consequences of the charge being upheld in return for his company (then called Sevco 5088 Ltd) acquiring the SFA membership vacated by Rangers. We will soon discover if he is master of the Cunning Plan or an over-ambitious gambler.
I expect calls for SPL and SFA rules to be upheld without fear or favour to be met.
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