THE NUCLEAR OPTION – DENOUMENT

THE NUCLEAR OPTION – Dénouement

In the abundance of clichés surrounding the Rangers* situation, the one that seems to make the most appearances is “smoke & mirrors.”

As I’m sure you all know, but I’ll say it anyway, this refers to the mechanics behind an illusion; it’s how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear.

There is however a far more basic principle that underpins all “magic” (and most con-tricks) – Misdirection. While you’re busy watching the magician’s right hand, you don’t notice him dipping your pocket with the left.

And here’s the thing – what if the whole “Newco” scenario is just that; misdirection?

Think about it – as soon as the idea of a Rangers Newco being parachuted into the SPL came up, everyone’s attention was drawn to that, with fans lobbying their clubs’ boards to vote against it, threatening boycotts etc. – no-one was paying too much attention to whatever else was going on.

I won’t rehash the story of the bidding process, that’s been written about enough, by better writers than me. Suffice it to say that Charles Green is granted preferred bidder status & somehow becomes the front man for the club, even before he “officially” came on board on 6th June.

Cut to today, and HMRC jump the gun by announcing that the CVA will be rejected, as if that’s news! Mr Green will fill several column inches & 2-page spreads in the MSM with his outrage at the decision. Don’t believe a word of it; inwardly he’s screaming “Oh ya beautaaaaaaaaaay” because, if his plan to buy the assets is allowed – personally I don’t think that’ll happen; isn’t this why BDO have been appointed as Liquidators? – He saves £3m on the deal.

What happens next? If the Green deal goes through then we wait for the outcome of the Appellate Tribunal, and Charlie is praying that it’s suspension/expulsion. Why? Because then he can announce that the club cannot possibly survive without income – let’s face it, he’s no Abramovich – sell off whatever players he may have left & close it down. Then he’s left with all that real estate – Ibrokes & Mahatma Gandhi Park or whatever they want to call it & the car park.

Many people have said that there isn’t much point owning a football stadium without a team to play in it; to them I say only this: Highbury.

(For the more parochial among you, when Arsenal moved to the purpose-built & heavily branded Emirates Stadium, their old ground became an exclusive private housing development that made £170m. That’s not to say Ibrox would realise as much as that, but it’s a thought; Just because David Murray’s Casino & Hotel plan got knocked back doesn’t mean the land can’t be used for something else.)

Then there’s Murray Park. As I live in London I can’t be sure, but is Milngavie still as pan-loaf as ever? I understand it’s green belt round there but, as the land has already been built on, it’s quite possible something else may be allowed.

If they somehow survive the impending catastrophe, don’t worry about the Govan Rangers making an appearance in the SPL any time soon; that’s far too expensive for them & they won’t want it. Expect instead a team of kids turning out in the 3rd Division for a season at most, before being closed down as above.

(I have neither resources nor contacts, but perhaps a member of the 4th Estate might have a wee ring-round all the SFL clubs & ask them if they’ve been approached by anyone looking for a ground-share? A 50 000-seater stadium would look awfy empty on a wet Wednesday night when the opposition is Clyde (no offence!))

“But won’t that mean the BTC dies, and all that debt with it?” I hear you ask. Well, no. I believe that it will be broken down into individual cases, which will arguably be easier for Hector – you can’t give a Civil Servant too much to do when he’s chasing your money(in my experience.)

Anyone & everyone who was involved with EBTs in any way may well find themselves facing prosecution; bad news indeed for a certain Mr Campbell Ogilvie who not only signed off accounts “in good faith” (which itself may be against the law – submitting false accounts is not looked on favourably, and ignorance is no excuse) but was recipient of one worth £95 000. The Courts will be busy for a while…

Whichever way the cards fall, a Rangers* newco will be around for a year, at very most. Roll on Thursday.

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THE NUCLEAR OPTION Part 2

WARNING: This post contains scenes of wild conjecture; however where “official” sources have been cited they have been quoted more-or-less verbatim or (at worst) paraphrased slightly.

It seems you can’t your eyes off the ball for 2 seconds given the way things are developing! On Wednesday I thought I could do with a break so set about editing some of the 4000+ photos clogging up my hard-drive. Took a few days. And what did I miss? I’m still playing catch up.

Because I kinda left things hanging the last time, I may have given the impression that Duff & Phelps are the only ones who stand to gain from liquidation; this is of course not true, as I will try to explain.

There are many people asking, “What if liquidation has been the point from the start?” There is more than enough evidence to suggest that may well the case; the CVA proposal issued just prior to the Judicial Review being perhaps the most derisory offer ever made, bar the time I invited the local good-time girl to, ahem, “keep me company” on the promise of £2.50 and 10 Benson’s (Oh sh*t, did I say that out loud? Just as well my mum wouldn’t know the Internet from a hairnet!) & had/has no chance of ever being accepted – would you agree to sign away a debt on the promise/threat that “If you don’t take this you’ll get nothing”?

I’ll come back to the CVA later, but first we need to ask the question “Why request a Judicial Review when it was obvious to most right-minded people that the transfer embargo was a compromise that was in fact a far more lenient punishment than Rangers* deserved?” Was it simply naivety? I don’t know about you, but I can give no credence whatsoever to D&P’s claim that they were “unaware of the can of worms they were opening” by petitioning the Court of Session, strictly against/ FIFA statutes. £1.8m in Lawyers fees and nobody thought to read the rulebooks? Aye, right ye are.

To my mind there are 2 answers, one of which only a few short days ago would have sounded no more than the ramblings of a grade-a conspiracy theory fruitcake (you know, the kind who line their walls with Bacofoil etc; I most certainly do not!) But with each new day another revelation comes along which only serves to reinforce the impression that there is much much more to this sad state of affairs than can be discerned from a cursory look, and that the end may be at last near. So here goes:

The 1st reason is quite simple: perception/appeasement – as long as D&P appear to be doing everything they can to save the club then, when things eventually do go tits-up, there’s no way they’ll get the blame. No siree, it will all be laid at the door of the SFA/UEFA/the BBC/the schools/the Pope etc etc.

Secondly, (and this is where you may start to question my sanity, but bear with me): to D&P, or rather Messrs Clark & Whitehouse, the outcome of the JP was immaterial; the appeal was what may best be described as an “inciting incident.”

If I have it right (And please let me know if I don’t; I went to the library & borrowed a few heavyweight – in every respect. – business law books, and it wasn’t until I had almost popped my hernia lugging them home that it dawned on me that, as my library is in SE London, they were about as much use as a chocolate fireguard…) in a Judicial Review the Judge either grants or denies the petition based on his interpretation of the evidence, there is no middle ground; this is not arbitration. (I wonder, had they known exactly the very narrow point being argued, would the RFFF still have ponied up the cash?)

So as I said the outcome wasn’t important to D&P; it was all about the consequences of the Petition being lodged, namely: putting the SFA’s nose out of joint; hacking off the Appeal Tribunal & attracting the attention of UEFA/FIFA. (Please note that I mean no disrespect to Lord Carloway & the other tribunal members, and do not for a minute think that personal feelings will have any bearing on the eventual outcome. It’s not likely M’Luds Carloway & Glennie will end up having fisticuffs in the golf club car park…)

Had Lord Glennie upheld the Appeal Tribunal decision, (which I would argue was their preferred outcome,) D&P could right away declare that, with big-name players heading for the door & the inability to sign new players over 18, the club was no longer viable & therefore they had no alternative but to liquidate. This in turn would mean that Charles Green gets to buy the assets (Ibrox, Murray Park etc) for the knockdown price of £5.5 million, which would of course be swallowed up by Administration & legal costs.

If Lord G found for D&P – which of course he did, much to the consternation of everyone involved (by everyone I include D&P, but not the poor deluded currant buns) – this would, they hoped, bring the wrath of the acronyms crashing down upon their heads & lead to suspension at the very least, which in turn of course would lead to aforesaid liquidation. After all, hadn’t Stewart Regan reminded us all that the Petition was a violation of both SFA & UEFA rules, and would be dealt with? This would of course take a little longer but hey, 200 grand a day…

The SFA however inexplicably decided that they would take no further action with regard to the civil action, with Stewart Regan saying “There is a consideration that we have within our articles where going outside of the Scottish FA’s articles and going to a civil court technically could have breached the Scottish FA’s articles. However, in light of Lord Glennie’s comments and having discussed the matter with Fifa, it is not our intention to take any action. We are aware of the reasons why Rangers did what they did and we will not be pursuing them for that.” This sets a very dangerous precedent – does anyone think that D&P won’t appeal if the AT wallops them?

Think I’m havering, off my meds again? Consider this quote from a (not exactly delighted) Paul Clark outside the CofS: “Both we, and the SFA, will have to study the full ramifications of the judgment when it is published and either side has 21 days in which to decide the next course of action or whether they wish to appeal.” Come again? You would think that, if they had any hope of turning the AT decision over, they would have their strategy mapped out beforehand, wouldn’t you? This is where the wheels start to come off for D&P.

So what happens next? Well, it’s back to that ridiculous CVA, and we have to listen to the nonsense that this is “The best outcome for creditors.” Paul Clark’s statement when asked how creditors could be expected to vote on a CVA that didn’t actually contain any figures is very telling: “They can – they don’t have to know (the amount available), “You show me the rule where they have to know. What I’m saying is that although there can be a certain level of distribution you can also have a situation where you’ve just got a certain level of assets – which is what we’ve got here – albeit it’s not a known level. But we know the assets will go into the pot.” Dripping with contempt for the creditors? Or maybe it’s just me?

So, let’s say the CVA is voted down, then what? The plan was, liquidate & sell the assets to Charles Green who forms a “newco” as said but – and this is a big but because I’m still not sure what exactly happened last week as I’ve been unable to track down a link (my researcher is a total d*ck!)– It sounds like the CVA has been re-issued after some alteration by HMRC, to the effect that, should it be rejected, D&P are kicked to the kerb & BDO come in to handle the liquidation. Have I got that right?

If so, it looks like the other shoe is about to drop, because surely if BDO are to liquidate, Mr Green’s purchase is a no-go? You would think they will do it properly, break-up the assets & sell them to the highest bidder (?) Again, if I’ve got this wrong, I’d be grateful for clarification.

Just noticed the time, so I’ll knock it on the head for the minute, but there is definitely a part 3 on the way; suffice it to say the word “newco” figures heavily…

THE NUCLEAR OPTION?

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…

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