Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return

It is currently 00.14am on Wednesday 13th June 2012.

If I were to sit down, ten years ago till this very day and tell people that Glasgow Rangers would be no more, ‘bankrupt’, ‘liquidated’, ‘kapeesh’  – however you wish to term it: I would have been laughed out of the company I found myself.

Indeed, that is now – unfortunately – the reality of the situation.

Cause of death? = years of corruption, abuse and corporate failure, ending in a bitter and embarrassing dispute over failure to pay the most basic and essential of all bills; the age old bill that has forever haunted man and beast and shall forevermore: TAX!

It is one thing to bump the odd bill. If there is anyone out there that has genuinely never…’misplaced’ a utility bill then more power to you. Everyone I know has, at one time or another ‘bumped’ a bill to pay for something more urgent. Naturally, those bills will sometimes never be repaid. I still get letters from a certain mobile phone company over an unpaid bill from many moons ago. They have sold the debt to one of those rather annoying companies that will forever phone you up and send the odd threatening letter with utter  rubbish about taking you to ‘court’ over a bill that is a) over 5 years old and b) worth less than the price of court action.

Sorry, I am rambling. What I am getting at there is simple: it is one thing to delay the payment of a bill – but to be so bold, balshy and completely incompetent as to fail to pay P.A.Y.E – there was only ever going to be one outcome. To use cash that is rightfully owed elsewhere to your own advantage is a game that you can never win.

Liquidation appears to have come somewhat as a shock to many Rangers fans today. This is hardly a surprise, indeed if you had listened to Mr Green in recent weeks you would be under the impression that it was somewhat of a formality that a C.V.A would be agreed. I have argued that liquidation is inevitable for over a year – never mind since Feb. 14th – and even I must admit I was slightly shocked by the result today. Not shocked in the sense of “ I never thought it would happen” more in the sense that – with all the noise being made by Mr Green part of me actually started to believe that he had called the creditors bluff somewhere along the line. Today, I realised I had allowed by heart to rule my head: something I am not normally prone too.

The big question is; what has actually happened then?

Well, as I have alluded to on many an occasion – the C.V.A ( an agreement for creditors to accept a pence in the pound deal in return for the debts Rangers cannot possibly pay them) has been rejected, effectively, by HMRC (who are the largest creditor and thus vital for any CVA to be accepted). This basically means that all that Rangers own will now be sold off, like in an auction – in-fact, if anyone remembers bailiffs or debt collectors from yesteryear when they would turn up – sell your £150 TV for £40 and make off happy they had got some of their money back then – yeah…like that. Obviously liquidation is far more clinical than such a circumstance. The assets of Rangers will be sold off and the value of such split amongst the creditors.

At this point I raise some questions: The C.V.A was paramount to approx. £7million ; if Rangers assets are sold for less than this – then the creditors will receive less from liquidation than they would have from the C.V.A – chances of this happening? According to Mr Green (If you choose to believe him) – very high.

Another question needs to be asked at this point. Remember Craig Whyte?? Yeah…that guy. Well, although some challenge had been made through the courts no one ever did decide if his ‘floating charge’ to the value of over £30million was valid on Rangers. If it is…then, it would be likely that ALL the cash raised from liquidation would go into his pocket? Of course, under such a challenge of the court this could become a messy…long and tedious affair that could put a spanner in the works of a Rangers ‘newco’ playing out of Ibrox as soon as Mr Green would make you believe.

To be honest, one thing that has been forgotten in all of this is Craig Whyte. This man is still involved somewhere along the line, it would be not only stupid but incredibly blind to believe that somewhere in all of this Craig Whyte is sitting back, looking in with interest….vested interest.

So, if we are prepared to believe that Rangers will be ‘liquidated’ then we can move on to the next subject of :

What next?

Well, assuming that the sale of the assets goes to Mr Green rather quickly then Rangers (The new one) would be able to apply for membership of a league. Technically that could be any league but let’s please forget those fanciful ideas of anywhere outside of Scotland: it isn’t going to happen.

A space will be created in the SPL (and a share transferred for SFA membership) , now either every team from the SPL to Division 3 would move up a place or Rangers are admitted straight into the SPL. That is for the other teams in the SPL to effectively decide and there is no point arguing the merits of their own subjective decisions at this stage. We all know the financial situation at many SPL clubs not to mention the contract conditions presumed to be entailed in any sponsorship and TV deals. Until those are explicitly expressed to us then we can only argue on ‘but if’s’ and that is a long and subjective process in itself.

One argument is that Rangers go into division 3 instead in their new format: others argue the ‘Spartans’ case. First, and probably finally – that is not an argument worth even entertaining. Quite simply, if we are left with a team with an all seated stadia, thousands of supporters (as Rangers (newco) inevitably will have) and compare it to ‘Spartans’ (or other) then there is no comparison as to which team will/should or could be accepted into the league. Football is a business, and for as long as it remains a business then decisions will not be made on any other grounds than business ones.

Personally, and with no basis other than opinion here: I can see any new Rangers being accepted into the SPL. The next question comes regarding ‘sanctions’. One argument is that it is impossible to impose ‘sanctions’ on the team and that any point deduction etc. for a team entering a league would need to be a contractual decision and most would point toward the ‘Leeds United’ case for clarification of this matter.

From the Leeds Utd arbitration decision: “This was a commercial bargain, at arm’s length between a powerful and rich Consortium of businessmen and a responsible professional Sports Governing Body.”

From the Compromise Agreement signed between Leeds Utd (newco) and the Football League: “The Board has determined that the appropriate sanction should be the imposition of a penalty points deduction of fifteen championship points in Season 2007/8 subject to an appeal to the member clubs of the League as outlined in Clause 3 below”;

and

“4.1 Leeds hereby release the League, any of its directors, officers, employees and any member club of the League (past, present or future) (the “Released Parties”) from all claims, whether known or unknown to Leeds, which Leeds has or may have against the Released Parties arising out of or connected, whether directly or indirectly with the service of the Notice, the conduct of the League with regards to OldCo, the Conditions and the imposition of the sanction or, if passed, the Appeal Sanction (the “Claims”).”

“4.2 Except for the obligations created by this Agreement Leeds hereby covenants that it shall not, and will procure that its directors, associated companies …, shareholders, officers or other employees shall not commence, or threaten to commence, any proceedings in any jurisdiction before any court, arbitration panel or other similar judicial body against the Released Parties (including by way of third party claims in any other action) arising out of or connected, whether directly or indirectly with any of the Claims.”

The arbitration panel considered that Leeds were barred as a matter of contract from taking any further appeal beyond the appeal to the membership of the Football League, which had been made and lost. Interestingly though, in its judgment and reasoning it ignored any suggestion that the rules of natural justice had been broken by having parties with a vested interest in the appeal i.e. those other clubs in the same division as Leeds, voting whether the 15 point penalty should be upheld. However, in a postscript (obiter dicta, I suppose) it stated: “We feel obliged to record that we consider an Appeal to Members of the League to be unsatisfactory. Some Clubs in the same League may not readily agree to reduce a points sanction in the understandable self-interest of their Clubs.” I thought then and still think now that the courts might be interested in any internal appeal against a penalty whether imposed by the SFA or the SPL, where the only right of appeal lies to your direct competitors. The SFA of course have amended their procedures to rule that out.

Could the objective approach of Scots law take a different outlook?

Anyway, in a nutshell that is what we have ahead of us.

What does liquidation mean?

Well this is the next sticking point with many. Liquidation, in my view, is similar to death. All this pish about ‘history’ remaining doesn’t really wash with me. Rangers will be a new club. It may walk, talk and act like Rangers and people can associate it with all the memories of old but for me, a new Rangers means a clean slate. That is all that I have to say on that matter.

I seen this on Facebook today, and it annoyed me:

“just so folk don’t get mixed up in the confusion rangers are not dead nor are they dying it’s the same as a company just changing name the exact same thing ceptic done in 94 rangers now rangers then rangers forever we welcome the chase !! jim/ftc”

Right this sort of thing is just getting boring now. There is absolutely NO similarity to what happened to Celtic a few years ago. Let me put it this simply. I take out a bank loan for £500.00. I then go to the local registry office and change my name to ‘Charlie Chalk’. It does not mean that I do not owe the bank £500.00. I may have changed my name, but I am still the same person. That is the Celtic example.

The Rangers example? I get the same £500.00 bank loan; walk out the door of the bank, loose the £500.00 on the horses and drop dead with the shock – broke. I believe in reincarnation…..I come back as a frog; I do not owe the bank £500.00.

Now I am sorry, that sounds utterly ridiculous – I know that. However, I am beginning to think that only by being so bloody ridiculous will some people begin to stop talking utter pish about the situation and instead of accepting what is happening – blaming it or comparing it in some way to Celtic.

This HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CELTIC. Nor the SFA, nor HMRC being bad to poor Rangers.

I agree that it is incredibly harsh that us Rangers fans need suffer due to the failings of a few who promised the world and glossed over the – not cracks, but major structural problems, with success and celebration only to abandon ship when the gloss gave way bringing the only glorious club to its knees and inevitably its death.Sadly though, that is the nature of business and especially that of limited companies.

This is a time to get behind any ‘Newco’ – and to learn from the mistakes of the past.  If anything this is the perfect opportunity to end years of often ruthless and pathetic bile towards others (incidentally that works more than one way). Yes, it is sad that Rangers are no more, but it is something we must accept and only by doing so can the club move on in a new form and be built into something worthwhile again.

Forget about EBT’s; forget about ‘loans’ forget about HMRC. A clean slate, a fresh start….like buying a new face.

No skeletons in the closet can be brought against the new club. Sad as its death may be….this new club, this new entity – has so much potential that others may actually look on in envy. The others riddled with debt..

For months we have heard the cry that ‘we don’t do walking away’ and that is great. However, now is the time to prove that. I am not for one second suggesting that Mr Green is in this for anything other than a few quick pounds to line his pockets. Allow him that…who cares, if he can keep the band together then make off with the first gigs takings then that is fine; he will still leave behind a club with massive potential and with a lovely clean slate at the bank.

A few questions must be asked of those overzealous fans that rather naively dived into their pockets recently.

1)    Will the season tickets already purchased be honoured by the ‘newco’?

2)    Will Rangers actually be playing in that strip next season or is it now merely a collector’s item?

I have missed out on a lot of things that I probably wanted to say, but that’s now an hour I have been typing and I have little need for another late night.

If Rangers are now involved in a saga, or bidding war regarding their assets – this could drag on for some time. If it does, then there is every chance that Rangers would not be in a position to restart next season in whatever decision it is decided for them. In my opinion, this would be the ultimate disaster.

If Rangers newco can strike when the iron is hot, when the passion is there – then there is no doubt in my mind that little will change other than Rangers having a clean slate.

One year out – then I fear the worst.

The 3rd division seems to be a favourite of many Rangers fans now. Personally I think that perhaps some of the fan-base would dwindle after a few months; when the novelty wore off.

What about the players?

Well, this is an interesting one. Today Mr Green stated that the players effectively need to play for the new Rangers. He also made reference to the Transfer of Undertakings (protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (otherwise known as TUPE) to backup his theory. He states that players would be in ‘breech of contract’ if they did not transfer to the new Rangers. Personally I do not know a great deal about TUPE, nor do I have the time to investigate however I would comment as much as to say that Mr Green may be somewhat fanciful in his thinking. How can players be in ‘breech of contract’ when, upon liquidation – their contracts would effectively be ripped up anyway unless they are sold to raise funds? Also, he does not give any time limit. What if Rangers failed to pay the players this months wages due to liquidation, effectively making the players creditors? Failure to pay wages is breech of contract and would effectively make their contracts null anyway. You cannot force players to any employee to join a ‘new’ company….nor does their contract of employment likely have such a stipulation.

TUPE, from what I gather; allows for employees to automatically become employees of a new company however it cannot ‘force’ such a transaction. TUPE, for all intents and purposes was invented to protect ‘normal’ workers from getting a ‘shoddy’ deal and having their terms altered significantly when a ‘newco’ was formed. This may be ideal for those working in the Ibrox offices but I fear that TUPE was not designed with football players with a sale value in mind. If a player were to ‘object’ to the transfer to a ‘newco’ then he would effectively become a free transfer and this is the sort of situation where players of value (ie) Mcgregor, Naismith and Davis could find themselves making a handsome coin. With No transfer fee to pay many clubs will be more than willing to line the pockets of those players to secure their signature. Who would turn that down? Especially if they are faced with the prospect of Division 3 football. As much as all three men may be ‘Rangers supporters’ their careers are unlikely to prosper whilst playing at the likes of Albion Rovers on a Saturday (with all due respect to Albion Rovers). It would be fanciful to believe otherwise.

Do Rangers really WANT those players anyway? In my opinion no. It would be simplistic to say Rangers wipe the slate clean (as i have) and continue on their merry way. The club would need to downsize considerably in the next year and begin building from the bottom. Celtic waited almost 10 years to build their team into the mould that it has prospered into today. Would the Rangers faithful ‘walk away’ in seasons 2/3 when – no matter where you finish- there would be no Europe? or perhaps promotion to divisions 2/1. I am all for the enthusiasm and guile of the Rangers supporters right now but this is like taking on a major undoing. This will be no novelty. This Rangers ‘newco’ will require your time, money and passion to nurture. It will take a lot of the above…..and it won’t be easy. THe Rangers coffers could suffer when the glory hunters walk away…or some get bored or dillusional at getting nowhere. This needs to go back to basics. To square 1.

Questions must be asked of those governing the Scottish game. Indeed, we all know Celtic fans have had severe issue with the SFA et al for many many years; branding them incompetent. For quite some time there was a general leaning in the Celtic support to accuse the SFA of favouring Rangers. I never thought that to be true, and I still don’t. Perhaps it was misguided rage at the incompetence that Celtic fans felt their club to be bearing the brunt of. They got one thing completely spot on though: the governing bodies of football clubs in this country have done absolutely nothing for the game and to be honest, should be disbanded along with their mirage of outdated and incompetent rules. Forget Rangers, the financial state of the game in this country is something that should have been taken into account and fixed a long time ago. At Celtic, after years of some big spending – their board decided it was time to cut the cloth to suit. The Celtic board should be commended on this route. Indeed, Celtic seems rather lucky to have a board and majority shareholder who genuinely have the interests of the club at heart and have built a steady ship. What if they did not? What if the Celtic board and majority shareholder were as reckless as their Ibrox counterparts? Would the SFA have noticed or would they have allowed both clubs to spiral down the sink into oblivion?

Hypothetical, I know – but entirely possible.

One thing is completely certain about today’s news. No matter the corruption at Ibrox in recent years, no matter the distaste and hatred that many will have toward Rangers for cheating by not paying due bills to HMRC – today was not a ‘good’ day for Scottish Football. Of that I am certain.

However-Only time will tell if today was a building block, or a sinkhole; for the future of this countries game. Time and only time.

There are still more questions than answers.

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