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To Comply or not to Comply ?

UEFA Club Licensing. – To Comply or not to Comply ?

On 16 April 2018 The UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) adjudicatory chamber took decisions in the cases of four clubs that had been referred to it by the CFCB chief investigator, concerning the non-fulfilment of the club licensing criteria defined in the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations.

Such criteria must be complied with by the clubs in order to be granted the licence required to enter the UEFA club competitions.

The cases of two clubs::

Olympique des Alpes SA (Sion Switzerland )

and

FC Irtysh  (Kazakhstan) 

are of particular interest to those following the events under which the SFA awarded a UEFA License to Rangers FC in 2011 currently under investigation by the SFA Compliance Officer because

  1. The case documentation tell us how UEFA wish national associations to apply UEFA FFP rules
  2. The cases  tell us what might have happened to Rangers  FC in 2012 had they not gone into liquidation and as a consequence avoided the same type of sanctions that UEFA applied to Sion and Irtysh.

 

FC Sion  (Olympique des Alpes SA)

Here we are told how the Swiss FL and then the UEFA CFCB acted in respect of FC Sion in 2017 where a misleading statement was made in the Sion UEFA licensing application.

Full details can be read at

http://tiny.cc/y6sxsy

 

but this is a summary.

In April 2017 the Swiss FL (SFL) granted a licence to Sion FC but indicated that a Disciplinary case was pending.

In July 2017 the CFCB, as part of their licence auditing programme,  carried out a compliance audit on 3 clubs to determine if licences had been properly awarded. Sion was one of those clubs.

The subsequent audit by Deloitte LLP discovered Sion had an overdue payable on a player, amounting to €950,000, owed to another football club (FC Sochaux ) at 31st March 2017 as a result of a transfer undertaken by Sion before 31st December 2016, although the €950,000 was paid in early June 2017.

Deloitte produced a draft report of their findings that was passed to SFL and Sion for comment on factual accuracy and comment on the findings. Sion responded quickly enabling Deloitte to present a final report to the CFCB Investigation Unit. In response to the Deloitte final report Sion stated:

“il apparaît aujourd’hui qu’il existait bel et bien un engagement impayé découlant d’une activité de transfert. Ce point est admis” translated as

“it now appears that there was indeed an outstanding commitment arising from transfer activity. This is admitted”

What emerged as the investigation proceeded was that the Swiss FL Licensing Committee, after granting the license in April and as a result of a Sochaux complaint of non-payment to FIFA, had reason to refer Sion’s application to their Disciplinary Commission in May 2017 with regard to the submission of potentially misleading information by FC Sion to the SFL on 7th April 2017 as part of its licensing documentation.

Sion had declared

“Written confirmation: no overdue payables arising from transfer activities”, signed by the Club’s president, stating that as at 31 March 2017 there were no overdue payables towards other football clubs. In particular, the Club indicated that the case between FC Sion and FC Sochaux regarding the transfer of the player Ishmael Yartey was still under dispute.

The SFL Disciplinary Commission came to the conclusion that FC Sion had no intention to mislead the SFL, but indeed submitted some incorrect licensing documentation; the SFL Disciplinary Commission further confirmed that the total amount of €950,000 had been paid by the Club to FC Sochaux on 7 June 2017. Because of the inaccurate information submitted, the SFL Disciplinary Commission decided to impose a fine of CHF 8,000 on the Club.

Whilst this satisfied the SFL Disciplinary process the CFCB deemed it not enough to justify the granting of the licence as UEFA intended their FFP rules to be applied.

Sion provided the CFCB with a number of reasons on the basis of which no sanction should be imposed. In particular, the Club admitted that there was an overdue payable as at 31 March 2017, but stated that the mistake in the document dated 7 April 2017 was the result of a misinterpretation by the club’s responsible person for dealing with the licence (the “Club’s licence manager”), who is not a lawyer. The Club affirmed that it never had the intention to conceal the information and had provisioned the amount due for payment and that, in any case, it has already been sanctioned by the SFL for providing the wrong information.

The CFCB Investigation Unit accepted that the Sion application, although inaccurate, was a one off misrepresentation and not a forgery, (as in intended to deceive ) but that nevertheless an overdue payable did exist at 31st March and a licence should not have been granted.

Based on their findings, the CFCB Chief Investigator decided to refer the case to the CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber and suggested a disciplinary measure to be imposed on FC Sion by the CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber, such measure consisting of a fine of €235,000, corresponding to the UEFA Revenues the Club gained by participating in the 2017/2018 UEFA Europa League.

The CFCB Investigatory Chamber submitted that it was  appropriate to impose a fine corresponding to all the UEFA revenues the Club gained by participating in the competition considering the fact that FC Sion should not have been admitted to the competition for failing to meet one of its admission criteria.

 

The Adjudicatory Chambers took all the circumstances (see paras 91 to 120 at http://tiny.cc/i8sxsy ) into consideration and reached the following key decisions.

  1. FC Sion failed to satisfy the requirements of Article 49(1) of the CL&FFP Regulations and it obtained the licence issued by the SFL not in accordance with the CL&FFP Regulations.
  2. FC Sion breached Articles 13(1) and 43(1)(i) of the CL&FFP Regulations. (Documents complete and correct)
  3. To exclude FC Sion from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next two (2) seasons (i.e. the 2018/19 and 2019/20).
  4. To impose a fine of two hundred and thirty five thousand Euros (€235,000) on FC Sion.
  5. FC Sion is to pay three thousand Euros (€3,000) towards the costs of these proceedings.

Comment in respect of the award of a UEFA Licence in 2011 to Rangers FC.

It is now public knowledge that an actual liability of tax due before 31stDecember 2010 towards HMRC, was admitted by Rangers FC before 31st March 2011.

This liability was described as “potential” in Rangers Interim accounts audited by Grant Thornton.

“Note 1: The exceptional item reflects a provision for a potential tax liability in relation to a Discounted Option Scheme associated with player contributions between 1999 and 2003. A provision for interest of £0.9m has also been included within the interest charge.”

The English Oxford Dictionary definition of potential is:

Having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future.

Which was not true as the liability had already been “developed” so could not be potential.

This was repeated by Chairman Alistair Johnson in his covering Interim Accounts statement

“The exceptional item reflects a provision for a potential tax liability in relation to a Discounted Option Scheme associated with player contributions between 1999 and 2003. “  where he also added

“Discussions are continuing with HMRC to establish a resolution to the assessments raised.”

This could be taken as disputing the liability but In fact the resolution to the assessments raised would have been payment of the actual liability, something that never happened.

In the Sion case it was accepted the misleading statement was a one off misrepresentation, but at the monitoring stages at June 2011 in Ranger’s case the status of the liability continued to be misrepresented and in September the continuing discussions reason was repeated, along with a claim of an instalment paid whose veracity is highly questionable.

The Swiss FL Licensing Committee did at least refer the case to their Disciplinary Committee when they realised a misleading statement might have been made. The SFA however in August 2011, when Sherriff Officers called at Ibrox for payment of the overdue tax , did no such thing and pulled up the drawbridge for six years, one that the Compliance Officer is now finally charged with lowering.

 


 

The case of FC Irtysh of Kazakhstan is set out in full at http://tiny.cc/y9sxsy  and is a bit more straightforward but is nevertheless useful to compare with events in 2011 in Scotland.

Unlike Rangers FC , FC Irtysh properly disclosed that they had an overdue payable to the Kazakhstan tax authorities at the monitoring point at 30th June 2017. This caused the CFCB Investigatory Unit to seek further information with regard to the position at 31st March

It transpired that Irtysh had declared an overdue payable at 31st March but cited their financial position (awaiting sponsor money) as a reason for non payment to the Kazakhstan FA who accepted it and granted the licence. The outstanding tax was paid in September 2107.

The outcome of the CFCB Investigation was a case put to the CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber  who agreed with the CFCB Investigation Unit that a licence should not have been granted and recommended that Irtysh be fined the equivalent of the UEFA prize money, (that had been withheld in any case whilst CFCB investigated.)

The CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber however decided that a fine was not sufficient in sporting deterrent terms and ruled that:

 

  1.  FC Irtysh failed to satisfy the requirements of Article 50bis(1) of the CL&FFP Regulations and it obtained the licence issued by the FFK not in accordance with the CL&FFP Regulations.
  2. To withhold four hundred and forty thousand Euros (€440,000) corresponding to the UEFA revenues FC Irtysh gained by participating in the 2017/2018 UEFA Europa League.
  3. To exclude FC Irtysh from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next three (3) seasons (i.e. the 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons). This sanction is deferred for a probationary period of (3) three years. This exclusion must be enforced in case the Club participates again in a UEFA club competition having not fulfilled the licence criteria required to obtain the UEFA licence in accordance with the CL&FFP Regulations.
  4. FC Irtysh is to pay three thousand Euros (€3,000) towards the costs of these proceedings. “

 

The deferral was because unlike Rangers FC,  FC Irtysh had properly disclosed to the licensor the correct & accurate financial information required, so the exclusion was deferred for a probationary period of (3) years.

 

Comment in respect of the award of a UEFA Licence in 2011 to Rangers FC.

From the foregoing it could be deduced that had Rangers FC qualified for the Champions League (or European League) and not gone bust as a result and so not entered liquidation BUT it became public knowledge by 2012 that a licence had been wrongly and possibly fraudulently granted then

  1. Rangers would have been fined the equivalent of their earnings from their participation in the UEFA competitions in 2011
  2. At least a two year ban from UEFA Competitions would have been imposed, but more likely three in view of repeated incorrect statements.
  3. The consequences of both would have been as damaging for Rangers survival as the real life consequences of losing to Malmo and Maribor in the qualifying rounds of the Champions and European Leagues.

Karma eh!

Interestingly in the UEFA COMPLIANCE AND INVESTIGATION ACTIVITY REPORT 2015 – 2017 , the CFCB investigatory chamber recommended that both the Kazakhstan FA and Swiss FA as licensors

“pay particular attention to the adequate disclosure of the outstanding amounts payable towards other football clubs, in respect of employees and towards social/tax authorities, which must be disclosed separately;

Would the same recommendation apply to the Scottish FA with regard to their performance in 2011 and will the  SFA responses thereafter to shareholders in a member club be examined for compliance with best governance practice by the SFA Compliance Officer investigating the processing of the UEFA Licence in 2011?

This would be a welcome step in fully restoring trust in the SFA.

Is it time for the Sin Bin?

A guest blog by former Celtic & Scotland defender, Jim Craig

 

What time is this to come back?”

Dolores McCann (her Mother had been a great fan of foreign films) stood in that classic pose of the wounded woman – up to her full height and chin forward – as she glared at her husband who had just come in the front door. Before he could say a word, she gave him another volley;

 “you left the house at half-past-two for a three o’clock kick-off, it only takes you 20 minutes to get to the ground, a match lasts only one-and-a-half hours plus ten minutes for the break and you’ve just walked back in the door at half-past-seven! So where the hell were you?”.

Wayne McCann (his father liked Westerns) tried to calm her down.

“Dolores, you don’t know what it’s like at football matches nowadays ; it has changed out of all recognition; a match goes on for much longer”.

“In what way?” Dolores asked.

“Well, for a start, the players and even the managers can complain about any decision that is given against them. If that happens, the referee then goes and has a word with firstly, the two assistant referees, then the fourth official and gets their comments before he reflects on the situation. If he is still in any doubt that he made the wrong decision then he can ask the guy upstairs sitting in front of a television screen what he thinks. And, of course, all through this, the managers and players of both teams can chip in with their comments. That all adds a fair bit of time to the match”.

“Aye…but turning up at half-past-seven is still a bit over the top…is it no’?”

“Well, no’ really……you see, nowadays you are not allowed to have a drawn game, so if the match is level at the full-time whistle, there is extra time, which takes a minimum of half-an-hour”.

“The time is still no’ matching up!”

“Aye, mibbe so, if that was the end of the match. But if the match is still level at the end of extra-time, then it goes to a penalty shoot-out. I told you…you are not allowed a drawn game”.

“ A penalty shoot-out disnae take long”.

“That might have been the case at one time but because so many keepers were being accused of moving before the ball was kicked, nowadays they are strapped in to a harness which anchors them in the middle of the goal. They can only move when the foot of the guy who is taking the penalty actually touches the ball. So, after each kick, the keeper has to be put back into the harness and it all starts again. And, of course, you get the complaints from the managers and players that the harness wasnae working properly or that the officials who put the harness on didnae put it on right. That all adds up to the time factor”.

“Did you go to the pub?”

“As God is my judge, Dolores, after the match finished, I came straight here”.

“Who won anyway?”

“That’s a difficult question… there was so much noise and kerfuffle both on the pitch and in the stands, nobody was quite sure what the final score was. And the guy who usually does the announcing had gone home. Somebody said that he had a date. Anyway, if you let me turn on the radio, I’ll hear the score there. And Dolores?”

“Yes”

Wayne walked over to the drinks cabinet and took out a couple of glasses. “I don’t suppose you would fancy a wee drink”


We will leave the smooth-talking Wayne to his attempts to mollify Dolores and reflect on the situation. What you have just read is probably the ultimate scenario for those who wish to tamper with the current rules of football. Do I think that the game needs radical changes like that? No but I do think that some change is necessary and in one specific circumstance.

Now, I was a professional footballer for 9 years and in all that time, I can put my hand on my heart and state with complete conviction that I never pulled any other player’s jersey. Did I try to half him in two with a tackle, yes! But no jersey-pulling. And, of course, I was penalised for the challenge.

Today, though, I feel that there is a lot of body-checking and jersey-pulling going on in every match. Very often the referee lets it go and then you get the ridiculous scenario at a corner kick when all those waiting for the ball to come in are pulling and pushing, with the referee watching it and ignoring it. It is a foul, ref!

When the referee decides that an offence has been committed, then the player will be spoken to first. If he does it again, he will be given a yellow-card. The problem is, though, that the offence might possibly have affected the play in the match, whereas the yellow card does not affect the player’s participation.

If the player is daft enough to do it again, then of course he gets another yellow and will be off. Most, however, are sensible and keep the head, so they go unpunished as far as the current match is concerned. What we have to find is a punishment that affects the match in which the transgression occurred. Which means that we have to consider the sin bin.

This works very well in rugby and gives the referee a means to punish an offence a little more harshly – yet more efficiently – than a yellow card but without having to go for the ultimate, drastic – and for many unpalatable  – option of the red card. I hope it comes in soon.

Is Regan a DIDDY?

Is Stewart Regan,  Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Football Association a DIDDY?

Disingenuous: Incompetent: Dishonest: Duped? You decide.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Scottish Football Monitor sorority/fraternity jury, who want an honest game, honestly governed, are invited to pass judgement on Stewart Regan, the CEO of the SFA.

The main stream media are finally asking questions of Regan’s performance in that role, but based on a rather shallow (by comparison to what he has presided over) single issue of the recruitment of a national team coach, and not his character. Continue reading Is Regan a DIDDY?

The Elephant in the Room

A Guest blog by @heavidor:       

Given The Takeover Panel’s success in procuring a Court of Session order to compel Dave King to make an offer for all Rangers International Football Club Plc shares not owned by the Concert Party it would be impossible for King to remain a director unless he complies with that Order.

The co-option of Barry Scott to the board and the elevation of Alistair Johnston as a person with significant control could be construed as repositioning, however it will be whether King makes an offer of 20 pence per share to all the shareholders not included in the Concert Party or not that will determine what happens next and we shall know later this month.

(King resigning) is the correct thing to do and should have already occurred. Instead, Rangers financial reputation has been dragged through the mud by association.

Continue reading The Elephant in the Room

IT IS BETTER TO OFFER NO EXCUSE THAN A BAD ONE

This headline is a quote by George Washington, but it is also friendly advice to Keith Jackson of the Daily Record in response to his ‘exclusive’ today on the reasons Derek McInnes turned down Rangers.

May I begin by drawing people’s attention to two statements by the same organisation on what was essentially the same subject matter: Continue reading IT IS BETTER TO OFFER NO EXCUSE THAN A BAD ONE

The Ernie B Thread

A special place for the posts of Ernest and those wishing to engage.

Fans for Judicial Review – Counsel Opinion

The fans for Judicial Review group have asked us to put out this statement.

 

Fans of many clubs were concerned by the SFA’s refusal to join with the SPFL in a review of the actions of both organisations over the last 10 years. Processes used by both organisations were clearly insufficient and rules were inadequate to properly deal with deliberate rule breaking, deception and financially irresponsible behaviour by at least one member club.

Continue reading Fans for Judicial Review – Counsel Opinion

Enough is enough

As Celtic prepare to take on one of the Champions league big boys again, a warning to the commentators and pundits.

Like most Scots, I was sad to see Celtic so comprehensively thumped by PSG and Bayern recently. But something about those nights made me angry as well. Continue reading Enough is enough

Who Is Conning Whom?

What follows is a record of an exchange in October with David Conn of The Guardian in respect of an article written by him in August 2016 reporting the arrival of The Rangers FC in the top tier of the SPFL.

In that article David Conn suggests that there was no tax overdue in respect of “The Wee Tax Case” of 2011 because he was told by the SFA that agreement had been reached with HMRC to postpone payment until after the Takeover by Craig Whyte and on those grounds the SFA granted a licence. Continue reading Who Is Conning Whom?

Time to Ditch the Geek Show

 

The link at the bottom of this piece points to an excellent blog by James Forrest on the ‘decline’ of the Old Firm, and particularly the viewing figures for the recent matches between Celtic and TRFC.

Whilst James, as you would expect is focusing on the consequences of the OF tag for Celtic, it is worthwhile considering that the decline in viewers is an excellent litmus test of the provenance of TRFC with regard to RFC.

Is it because the ‘you’re not Rangers anymore!’ faction is winning the argument? Continue reading Time to Ditch the Geek Show

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