“RANGERS” will play Hibernian in the Scottish Cup Final next month after the two Championship sides won penalty shoot out semi finals at the weekend.
It wouldn’t do for Scottish football to have any club participate in European football while ineligible so a review of the rules might be helpful at this stage.
UEFA Rules are an interesting place in that UEFA does its best to protect the integrity of its competitions by providing processes and definitions in UEFA Financial Fair Play rules of what constitutes a licence applicant for a place in a UEFA competition. There is a specific process described under Article 15 of UEFA FFP for granting a UEFA licence exceptionally to clubs from lower tiers who are not checked to the UEFA FFP standard by National Associations but qualify for a UEFA place on sporting merit.
The Rangers Football Club or Hibernian Football Club will be subject to this process that in the absence of knowing the date should now be underway (if not completed) and where UEFA will make the final decision. This decision depends on minimum criteria promulgated by 31st August the prior year by UEFA and without knowing what that is, it is impossible to predict the outcome. (see Annex IV of UEFA FFP below for the process)
ANNEX IV: Extraordinary application of the club licensing system
1. The UEFA administration defines the necessary deadlines and the minimum criteria for the extraordinary application of the club licensing system as specified in Article 15(1) and communicates them to the UEFA member associations at the latest by 31 August of the year preceding the licence season.
2. UEFA member associations must notify the UEFA administration of such extraordinary application requests in writing and stating the name of the club concerned by the deadline communicated by the UEFA administration.
3. The UEFA member associations are responsible for submitting the criteria to the club concerned for the assessment for the extraordinary procedure at national level. They must also take immediate action with the club concerned to prepare for the extraordinary procedure.
4. The club concerned must provide the necessary documentary proof to the licensor that will assess the club against the fixed minimum standards and forward the following documentation in one of the UEFA official languages to the UEFA administration by the deadline communicated by the latter:
a) a written request to apply for special permission to enter the corresponding UEFA club competition;
b) a recommendation by the licensor based on its assessment (including the dates and names of the persons having assessed the club);
c) all documentary evidence provided by the club and the licensor as requested by the UEFA administration;
d) any other documents requested by the UEFA administration during the extraordinary procedure.
5. The UEFA administration bases its decision on the documentation received and grants special permission to enter the UEFA club competitions if all the set criteria are fulfilled and if the club ultimately qualifies on sporting merit. The decision will be communicated to the UEFA member association, which has to forward it to the club concerned.
6. If such a club is eliminated on sporting merit during this extraordinary procedure, the UEFA member association concerned has to notify the UEFA administration immediately, and this procedure is immediately terminated, without further decision. Such a terminated procedure cannot be restarted at a later stage.
7. Appeals can be lodged against decisions made by the UEFA administration in writing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in accordance with the relevant provisions laid down in the UEFA Statutes.
Boring stuff rules, however the following Article 45 which sets out the kind of applicant UEFA will consider if that applicant is a football company is interesting. Hibernian will presumably apply under 1a below and The Rangers International Football Club under 1b, TRIFC being the company responsible for operating The Rangers Football Club.
Article 45 – Written contract with a football company
1 If the licence applicant is a football company as defined in Article 12(1)(b)
[ Article 12 – Definition of licence applicant and three-year rule
1. A licence applicant may only be a football club, i.e. a legal entity fully responsible for a football team participating in national and international competitions which
a) is a registered member of a UEFA member association and/or its affiliated league (hereinafter: registered member); or
b) has a contractual relationship with a registered member (hereinafter: football company). ]
it must provide a written contract of assignment with a registered member.
2. The contract must stipulate the following, as a minimum:
a) The football company must comply with the applicable statutes, regulations, directives and decisions of FIFA, UEFA, the UEFA member association and its affiliated league.
b) The football company must not further assign its right to participate in a competition at national or international level.
c) The right of this football company to participate in such a competition ceases to apply if the assigning club’s membership of the association ceases.
d) If the football company is put into bankruptcy or enters liquidation, this is deemed to be an interruption of membership or contractual relationship within the meaning of Article 12. For the sake of clarity, should the licence have already been granted to the football company, then it cannot be transferred from the football company to the registered member.
e) The UEFA member association must be reserved the right to approve the name under which the football company participates in the national competitions.
f) The football company must, at the request of the competent national arbitration tribunal or CAS, provide views, information, and documents on matters regarding the football company’s participation in the national and/or international competition.
3 The contract of assignment and any amendment to it must be approved by the UEFA member association and/or its affiliated league.
Earlier UEFA rules from 2005 also made the distinction between 1a and 1b in the same terms, which does beg the question who was the licence applicant from Ibrox in the past? Rangers FC the registered member of the SFA or Murray International Holdings (MIH) on the basis they had a contractual relationship with Rangers Football Club and a written contract of assignment?
In an archive somewhere in the dungeons of Hampden or Nyon that evidence lies.