Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rangers newco: Clyde comment

Devoid as we are of international success it might be heartening that Scottish football is now head and shoulders above any other country when it comes to releasing statements.

Today it was the turn of Clyde.

Quite explosive this one. It seems to nail as hollow some of the threats that have been made, it questions the continued silence of most SPL clubs and draws attention once more to the uncertainty that still surrounds the Charles Green owned Rangers newco.

And it also suggests - perhaps more explicitly than any other club statement - that based on the information so far provided to the SFL the Rangers newco should not actually be admitted at any level.

It certainly seems to me that, whatever the outcome on Friday, it is going to be difficult for Scottish football to keep either Neil Doncaster or Stewart Regan in positions of such influence.

The board of Clyde Football Club met last night to consider how it might approach the resolutions (see below) to be voted on at the SFL meeting on Friday 13th July. This update is to inform our owners and supporters and hopefully explain some of the complexities that face the club when carefully and objectively considering how we might vote. We hope that by being as clear as possible about the difficulties surrounding this situation that the people able to support the process act swiftly to do so.

The overwhelming reality is that we are being asked to make one of the most important decisions for Scottish Football in a vacuum devoid of factual information, that vacuum having been filled with unhelpful rhetoric and scaremongering by the chief executives of the SFA and SPL.

We therefore looked at what we were being asked to vote on, how it fitted with the principles of the sport, and what information we might need to inform a logical decision in context of the current reality.

It was clear that the resolutions marked a clear departure from all previous process and custom and practice when considering admitting a team to the SFL, albeit operating within the rules of the SFL. It was in that context which we considered the resolutions. In reality, the customary principles of sport were not at the forefront of the resolutions.

We first concluded that there was limited risk to the SFL from the 'Armageddon' theory, as depicted in the detailed presentation by Neil Doncaster and supported by Stewart Regan, which had prompted fears of cash flow loss to the SFL next season. We have obtained a copy of the Settlement Agreement signed up to by the SPL and the SFL in April 1998 - it is clear that the agreement is not ambiguous in this regard and there is no scope for the SPL to fail to meet the obligations to the SFL except by deliberately breaching the agreement. Neil Doncaster was unequivocal when he said that there would be no payment under the agreement and stressed that it was not the board of the SPL that made big decisions, it was the clubs themselves. We have concluded that it defies credibility that the SPL clubs would instruct the SPL to deliberately breach a legal agreement. To assist the SFL clubs to take decisions in the right manner then the external threat should be removed by the SPL clubs, confirming to the SFL that they have not and will not instruct the SPL to breach the Settlement Agreement.

Consideration was then given to Resolution 1 which we concluded required to be reworded to be explicit that entry was to SFL3. The reason for this is that once entered to the SFL in the manner proposed under Resolution 1, we understand that it is within the power of the Board of the SFL to place a club into any league of their choosing. We believe that, due to the intolerable pressure placed on the SFL board to date by external parties, this resolution should be explicit to avoid the Board coming under pressure from either the SFA or SPL in the event that Resolution 2 is rejected. It is also our opinion that Resolution 1 being explicit sits more appropriately with Resolution 2 which in itself is explicit about where any club might play.

In terms of Resolution 1, whether reworded or not, it seemed inconceivable to the Board of Clyde that absolutely no information whatsoever has been provided to support the resolution. This is clearly a matter of haste and again driven by an external agenda, perhaps because Sevco have not lodged an application to join the SFL then they have not submitted any information. Whilst we have accepted that this is being treated as a special case and we are willing to run with this, it simply was not possible to conclude that we could make any decision at this time. The matter is made worse because of the extent of uncertainty which hangs over Sevco. There is no need to prepare an exhaustive list of the issues as they are well publicised, however the extent of outstanding sanctions that may or may not be levied against a club which has yet to obtain SFA membership, together with the increasing number of possible commercial and legal challenges to the transactions to date simply presents a significant risk to the ability of the club to fulfil its fixtures in any league. Given that some of these matters are in the hands of the governing bodies it seems inexplicable that they are left hanging. We are clear that for the good of the game that we would want a swift and positive conclusion that would see Rangers Football Club taking part in the game again and we would wish to be able to support a Resolution that saw them entered to SFL3. However, until we receive enough information to inform such a decision then we are being pushed into a corner which would actually leave any club making a logical decision arrive at the conclusion that Resolution 1 should not be supported. The SFA could assist the process by transferring the SFA membership to Sevco prior to the Friday meeting if they have satisfied themselves of fit and proper tests and have carried out their own diligence on the viability of the club and the various legal challenges.

Resolution 2 suffers from the same issues as Resolution 1, in that no information of any sort about Sevco, not even whether it will obtain SFA membership, leaves no possibility of making a decision about entry to the SFL based on facts or logic. Clearly it is incumbent on all the governing bodies to make available all factual information they have available if they truly want this process to have any chance of being recovered from the current chaos. At the very least the business plan for Sevco and any other information that led the SPL clubs to arrive at a decision should be made available to the SFL clubs, and not with inappropriately short notice, although that point has as good as passed. Resolution 2 was where the challenge to sporting integrity arose. It was impossible to engage with this concept without continually bearing in mind that the SFA had already undermined the prospects for any integrity to be maintained by making it clear that failure to deal with the admission of a newco to SFL3 would be a dereliction of duty. In effect posting notice that no matter what decision is taken by the SFL clubs to administer their league, the SFA would not tolerate anything other than SFL 1, an equivalent point having been made by Neil Doncaster on behalf of the SPL clubs. The stated position of the SFA and SPL chief executives means that, whilst this club can have faith in David Longmuir to do all in his power to deliver a new combined structure that meets the objectives of Resolution 2, we have no faith in the parties that the new arrangements would be negotiated with. Their behaviour to date is evidence enough for us. We should not be disingenuous on our own position in terms of the question of trading sporting integrity for transformational change to the way the game is governed that is posed by Resolution 2. We have said previously that there would be no winners and that compromise would be required at some point. With this in mind, had we worked through this process and seen positive collaborative behaviour from the leaders of the SFA and SPL and we were challenged with backing Resolution 2 in exchange for revolutionary change that would truly benefit the game as a whole, then we would have engaged with that. As it stands, we have no information on the proposals other than that distributed in advance of the meeting last week and no confidence in the parties that will control the process outside of the SFL. As such we would vote no to Resolution 2.

Resolution 3, as many have pointed out this resolution seems presumptuous as no invitation has been issued from the SPL to either club. Again, this arises because of the external pressures, the haste and the failure of other bodies to complete their own processes. As things stand, whilst Sevco/Newco was not voted into the SPL, it seems that the SPL still has 12 members based on the reported voting at the SPL meeting last week, albeit one of whom is in liquidation. It seems to make more sense that the SPL complete their processes and make the appropriate invitation for a club to join the SPL. We would seek to support whichever of our member clubs are invited to join the SPL to make that move, however, at the moment there is no certainty that Sevco will be entered into the SFL and the SFL should not risk leaving itself short of a team.

In summary, the complete absence of information on Sevco Scotland Ltd renders it impossible to vote with any logic in favour of any of the Resolutions. The default in these circumstances would unfortunately be to vote against. We hope and trust that this unacceptable situation will be resolved swiftly and will allow Clyde Football Club to support Resolution 1 from an informed position and will see Rangers Football Club playing in SFL3. We see Resolution 2 as a matter of trust and it would take a change of personnel and attitude for us to be confident that David Longmuir would be entering discussions with a group of people committed to a collaborative process in a spirit of genuine partnership. In the current circumstances our only decision could be to vote against Resolution 2. Subject to a satisfactory outcome on Resolution 1 we would support Resolution 3.

The three resolutions presented to the club are as follows:-

(i) That the Scottish Football League Members agree to admit Sevco Scotland Limited as an Associate Member and agrees to permit Rangers F.C. to play in the League during Season 2012/13.

(ii) That the Scottish Football League Members direct the Board of Management of The Scottish Football League (the “Board”) to provide that Rangers F.C. shall play in the Third Division of the Scottish Football League during Season 2012/13 unless the Board shall have to its satisfaction negotiated and reached agreement with The Scottish Premier League and The Scottish Football Association on a series of measures which the Board shall consider to be in the best interests of the game, how it is structured, how it is governed and how it is financed, whereupon the Board shall be authorised to provide that Rangers F.C. shall play in the First Division of the Scottish Football League during Season 2012/13.

(iii) That the Scottish Football League Members in terms of Rule 12 approve the resignation of either Dundee F.C. or Dunfermline Athletic F.C., whichever shall be admitted to join the Scottish Premier League for Season 2012/13, such resignation to take effect as at the date of admission of such club to the Scottish Premier League, notwithstanding that the requisite notice under Rule 12 shall not have been given.Details of the series of measures referred to at (ii) above shall be made available to the Members in advance of the meeting and an opportunity for full discussion of those measures will be given prior to the proposals being put to the meeting.

From www.clydefc.co.uk

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