Let me start by saying I’m not a lawyer. My legal knowledge amounts to a few poll tax/eviction hearings (my own), & a rather messy divorce (ditto). So if I’ve got any of the legal bits wrong please let me know, I’m not too proud to admit when I get the wrong end of the stick.
I’ve said a few times now that I thought Messrs Clark & Whitehouse of D&P appeared to be making a hash of things deliberately because (in my opinion) they realised that they’d bitten off more than they could chew & were hoping 1 of the many creditors would petition to have them removed as Administrators, as this would do them less reputational damage than if they walked away. No such luck.
So have they now come up with a “cunning plan” worthy of Baldrick? (Or should that be Machiavelli?)
A couple of points to make 1st of all:
That Rangers* are guilty is not in question.
That they deserve to be punished is not in question.
That the charges against them were serious enough that a fine on its own was not sufficient punishment, is not in question.
I won’t go over all the boring details, but cut to the JP decision. Why a transfer embargo? This will have bears up & down the Soo’ Side screaming blue murder: by punishing them with the embargo, the Judicial Panel were (however wrong-headedly) trying to do them a favour, showing them a leniency they did not at all deserve. How did they react to this? By screaming “No fair, ye cannie do that!” And that was just the official view.
How did the “fans” take it?
By calling the SFA “Dirty bigoted bastards…” and much much more (even though the SFA had no influence over the decision,) while at the same time issuing threats against the members of the Judicial Panel, who had been (shamefully) named in the gutter press.
So Rangers*, or D&P acting for them, appealed the decision, and this was subsequently refused by an Appeal Tribunal under Lord Carloway.
Fast forward to the Court of Session and Lord Glennie’s decision to overturn the transfer embargo. Why did he rule in Rangers* favour?
Not because he thought they were not guilty, or that the penalty was excessive, but because it was not specifically available to the SFA under Rule 66. The JP thought (and many would agree, including the SFA) that, under Article 95 they had the discretion to apply any other reasonable punishment if so required.
Lord Glennie couldn’t have made his decision on any other grounds, because the application by D&P was made only on the very singular point that the embargo was not available to the JP. So, not a point of law, more a matter of semantics or interpretation.
The fans however saw this as full vindication, and cries of “Haha we won we arra peepil GIRUY SFA” rang out around Edmiston Drive. They were quick to point out that a Supreme Court Judge had overturned the ban, but seem to forget that the Judicial Panel was chaired by a leading QC, and Lord Carloway is himself a Supreme Court Judge.
But what exactly has been “won”? Erm, the right to go back to the Appeal Tribunal where they will face a far more serious sanction than that previously imposed; either suspension or expulsion (I believe a Scottish Cup ban was already dismissed as too lenient.) And a further disrepute charge to boot.
So now Rangers* fans are saying “A harsher punishment would be just vindictive” & “They can’t use a punishment they’ve already said was too strict..” etc etc.
Well, sorry to burst your Jubilee-themed red white & blue bubbles here but not only can they impose a more serious sanction, they have to. The CofS verdict makes sure of that. And before you even think about it, LG has pre-empted any appeal, by saying “The fact that I find the imposition of the additional sanctions to be ultra vires does not necessarily mean that the petitioners will escape to a lighter and ineffective punishment.”
So, if there’s no upside for Rangers* why go to the CofS in the 1st place? To answer that you have to ask another question: Who benefits in the case of liquidation?
The football creditors? HMRC? Ticketus? Mr Bhutta the newsagent? Any or all of the other 270-odd creditors? No, no, no, no, and no. The only people who stand to gain anything at all are Messrs Duff & Phelps (who some people, myself included, thought had a serious conflict of interest as soon as the connection to Craig Whyte’s takeover surfaced.)
That’s right. As Administrators Duff & Phelps get weighed-off before anyone else gets a look in. Nice work if you can get it…
I’ve gone on a bit & should save any more for another time but just before I go, a word about that arsewater that appeared in yesterday’s Daily Record (which I note, with the utmost disgust, took the liberty of not only naming the members of the AT, but reminding us who was on the original JP in case the less stable Rangers* fans had forgot):
Green “furious with D&P” for going to the CofS? That the same Charles Green who had already stated that they would appeal the JP decision?
Last but not least, and this is a cracker: Rangers* to “offer the SFA a compromise”? Since when did a guilty party set their own punishment? And no matter how appealing (sorry!) it might sound to offer to take a shorter transfer embargo, I’m afraid that (where did I put that…ow…pfft) since Lord Glennie has already ruled this as ultra vires, there’s just no way that’ll ever happen…