Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rangers and the SPL: Looking for leaders

Another week slips by and the saga of Rangers drags on.

It seems the capacity this story has for delivering farce is almost limitless.

Where are we this week?

Hard to know exactly:

  • Charles Green and his largely unknown consortium still want to take control of Rangers, delivering them from evil either through a CVA or the unknown delights of a newco
  • "Take control" rather than buy: it seems Green - and his still conditional offer - will involve him and his mates spending cash that Rangers will then need to pay back, with interest, over the next eight years
  • A CVA offer has gone out - showing that debts have risen since the scale of Rangers' financial dunderheidedness was first revealed - but outstanding tax cases and outstanding legal challenges make a proper appraisal of that CVA offer look all but impossible
  • Duff and Phelps are under increasing scrutiny regarding their relationship with Craig Whyte - a scrutiny they dismiss as the muckraking of the tittle tattle brigade - but seem to be pretty sure of their own multi million pound payday whatever happens
  • Rangers took the SFA to court and won over the transfer embargo, the SFA being told that they'd need to consider a punishment within the specific sanctions laid out in their own guidelines
  • The SFA are preparing another appeals panel in light of that court ruling while FIFA - for whom clubs taking such matters to national courts is about as appealing as a transparent trial of goalline technology - consider how they're going to deal with what is no longer Scotland's little local difficulty
  • To the sound of hoofs rumbling through an unlocked door the SPL agreed to bring in a selection of financial fair play rules but decided that decisions on newcos getting into their exclusive club would be decided on a case-by-case basis by all the clubs
  • Oddly Charles Green - who currently owns about as much of Rangers as any taxpayer - was allowed to play a part in that SPL meeting, the lunatic invited out for tea before taking over the asylum
  • Rangers have finally delivered, three months after being asked, the documentation the SPL requested as part of their dual contact deliberations, with the SPL board set to receive an update on the progress of the league's investigation on 18th June
  • After the BBC's Mark Daly raised the ceiling on ridiculousness with cameos in this story for Joanna Lumley, Prince Albert of Monaco and a "Cockney football fixer," this week we had the SPL's Neil Doncaster suggesting that Gandhi - while possibly a damn fine football chairman - might struggle to pass a fit and proper person test

What next?

The SFA must react to the slap in the face delivered by the Court of Session and, to avoid an international conflagration, do so in a way that doesn't further antagonise FIFA.

Chief executive Stewart Regan has confirmed tonight that the they won't risk the wrath of FIFA by indulging in a tit-for-tat court appeal (one appeal judge backed the embargo, one appeal judge dismissed the sanction, who knows where a best of three contest could end up?)

So now the SFA's appeal panel must refer back to the other sanctions available and bar Rangers from the Scottish Cup or suspend or terminate their SFA membership.

They'll also probably have to make yet more adjustments to their disciplinary procedures come this summer's AGM. One step forwards, two steps back.

Rangers can also expect an additional punishment for taking this matter to the Court of Session in the first place. FIFA will be watching out for that one.

This might still be a most Pyrrhic of victories.

For those of us who have argued that the outrage and uproar over the transfer embargo was a well orchestrated diversion by some at Ibrox might now look at the CVA offer - I speak only as a cheated taxpayer not a direct creditor - and see a deal that looks as measly as Duff and Phelps look weaselly.

Non-acceptance of that offer would send us back to the delectable prospect of internecine warfare as Scottish football decides on a home for Rangers 2012.

Meanwhile, of course, the issue of dual contracts won't go away.

I'm sure Neil Doncaster wishes it would go away but it won't. Every room he walks into, there it is, a big, well paid elephant lounging on the couch.

Without closure on that, one way or the other, it's difficult to see how the rancour and distrust will ever clear.

And that's a big problem.

Things have dragged on too long without resolution.

I've seen too many people connected with Rangers not only predict that letting Rangers die would be nothing more than a mass suicide pact for Scottish football or, worse, taking gleeful delight in the idea that if they're drowning, they'll drag the rest of us down with them to really care now if they don't survive in the SPL. Or even survive at all.

A tragedy for the decent Rangers fan of course. But there it is.

Duff and Phelps, the Keystone Cops of administrators, and Charles Green, a man who looks perpetually lost without his black cloak and scythe, still seem to be the only people standing between Rangers and further disaster. They're hardly the Fantastic Four.

But what's the plan for Scottish football?

Forget about Rangers.

Financial fair play rules are all well and good. But we're entering the summer without a clear idea of the teams that will make up our top flight, we've got a TV deal that looks no closer to being signed, a headline sponsor winding down with no sign of a replacement.

Somebody's got to take control of the situation and plot a course to safety.

If life without Rangers is going to be as petrifying as some tell us then start planning for the worst. If Rangers somehow pull their listing ship through just about intact then that will be a bonus.

It should also be a lesson to all that living beyond our footballing means is no longer option.

In the meantime there's thousands of people like me who have already made an investment in next season.

Who's fighting our corner? Rangers' mess is their mess. Isolate it and find a way to fill the gap.

We deserve more than a whole game paralysed in the face of someone else's greed, mendacity and disregard for the sport we love.

We're not looking for a Gandhi. But I'm not sure we're looking for a Neil Doncaster either.

Like this? Like the Scottish Football Blog on Facebook.

Pub football

To Glasgow last weekend to spend the nicest, hottest Saturday of the year sitting in a basement bar on Bath Street talking about football.

That's never a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon but on this occasion there was also a - slight - point to the outing.

I was very happy to be invited along to have my say in the Scottish Football Forums end of season podcast.

Thanks to all the chaps - there were no women, I guess the Scottish Football Forums team must be a touch sexist - for their hospitality and bonhomie.

A strange season in many ways, one perhaps better digested with a beer in hand.

It was certainly a more agreeable trip to Glasgow than my Hampden outing the week before.

No free drinks from the Bath Street Pony though.

I suppose this could be remedied next time if we all give them huge compliments so I'd like to thank the staff at the Bath Street Pony for being quite the superstars as a disparate group of football mercenaries descended on them to rant into a microphone.

All the ways to listen (and a full cast list) here

Like this? Like the Scottish Football Blog on Facebook.