Guest Post by Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan
Last night, I found myself sitting at home when an e-mail arrived from the administrator of these pages suggesting that I write a guest article for all to consider. At that precise moment my television was full of the efforts of James T Kirk attempting to escape the Wrath of Khan, who blames old James T for all his ills and troubles including what he sees as his ridiculous and malicious banishment to a distant star in the middle of nowhere— amongst other things. He seeks vengeance, causes mayhem, and refuses to recognise the rule of law.
It may seem strange, but there is much to be learned from The Wrath of Khan. For example, in the midst of the action Admiral James T acknowledges that when he first faces what is at the time an unknown adversary, in most unusual and unknown circumstances, he ignores rules and regulation and as a result “gets caught with his pants down.”
That is the consequence of ignoring rules and regulation more often than not—even for the good guys.
This is also the movie where we are introduced to the Kobayashi Maru—the supposedly impossible test in which members of star fleet are asked to rescue a stricken ship and its crew without sacrificing themselves, their starship and all members of their crew. The test is meant to be impossible to solve as it cannot be achieved—unless you change the rules of the game!
Captain’s log: Star date 2012; This is the voyage of the Starship Scottish Fitba—and we’re lost!
How can it come to be, that as we approach September 2012 the world of Scottish Football is in such a state of flux and disarray with an unbelievable amount of uncertainty and doubt about fundamental matters and principles, after months when we have seen the spiralling demise of one of our country’s biggest football clubs and the threatened disintegration of the entire system of football administration in Scotland as a result?
Surely after all that has happened in these past months the administrators would have learned to not only play by the rules, but be seen to be playing by the rules, insisting on the rules, and reinforcing the principles and platforms that those rules are based on?
Rangers PLC has ceased to be a part of Scottish football and the failure to deal with that simple fact, even more than the demise of what was regarded as an institution, is baffling in the extreme. The simple fact of the matter is this: There are rules and laws —regulations if you like —which were pre written to deal with such an event. Apply the rules and everyone knows where they stand— ignore the rules and, as James T Kirk points out, you get caught with your pants down!
So far, the rules have been half implemented half ignored. Rangers were automatically deducted points for going into Administration and properly so. They were convicted, by a properly convened independent panel, of various rule breaches, and duly sentenced as a result—again properly so. Thereafter, the company was consigned to Liquidation because it could not pay its debts- with the result that it loses its SPL share and the right to participate in football altogether— and with the further result that it left a trail of unpaid debts to creditors, including football clubs, which ran to millions of pounds.
Further, let’s be clear, The SPL and the SFL only exist with the consent of the SFA. The SFA are the ultimate governing body in Scottish Football, with the two league associations merely management tools to achieve what is supposed to be the efficient management of the game in compliance with the pre agreed rules, procedures and principles that are meant to govern football and football administration. If you wish to play under this system, then you have to accept the very same rules procedures and principles, and there should be no contracting in or out of either membership, or the laws of the game.
Yet when Rangers went into Administration, and stared liquidation in the face, The Administrators, and subsequently everyone from Bill Miller through to Charles Green stated publicly that they, together with the SFA and all of Scottish Football, were facing the Kobayashi Maru whereby maintaining the rules and the principles of the game whilst at the same time saving Rangers FC could not be achieved!
The rules had to be ignored for the sake of expediency cried some press members. Whilst principles are all well and good, you can’t apply them if it means the death of Rangers—Rangers are too big — cried others. If you apply the principles and the rules you will kill Rangers—and yourselves—said some.
It would appear that when it came to Rangers and their wellbeing, some took the view that principles were not quite so important and that, no matter what, Rangers FC had to be saved—- and there it was—the impossible task— The Kobayashi Maru!
I wonder if those who spouted that argument looked at The SFA website in any detail? Because there it states specifically that the SFA wants its coaches to educate all its young players, trainee managers and future coaches to “ Honour the game-respect your opponent- play to the rules–value sportsmanship–redefine winning- not just focusing on match results and league positions- and to help produce positive, respectful, and confident people with useful life skills“. Presumably those life skills include playing by the rules, valuing integrity, behaving with honour and respecting the position of others and so on.
Yes—It is hard to believe—but all of those phrases are direct quotes from the Scottish Football Association webpages—they are the words of the SFA themselves. How could they be seen to abandon such principles—especially when they so publicly proclaim them?
What a choice then for the SFA—abandon your principles—or lose an institution—The Kobayashi Moru! You just can’t win!
Except, Green & Co—and I include sections of the media in that phrase—clean forgot who was sitting the Kobayashi Moru test. The SFA were never faced with the test—if anything it was their rules that posed the test for whoever wanted to try and save Rangers. In the end, nobody was willing to attempt that task under the existing rules. No one was prepared to come along and pay the debts and so save the club—and at that stage it was Rangers and Rangers alone who faced the Kobayashi Moru.
Green, by way of his Servco company, then sought admission into the footballing world at a time and under circumstances which the rules dictated must result in failure. He had no accounts, no history in the game, effectively no players and nothing that would suggest that he could meet the criteria of the pre agreed rules for entry into the SFA.
It was at this juncture that the footballing executives made the error of ignoring the rules and principles that govern our game—the ones that the SFA espouse on their own website. They tried to shoe in Green against all the rules, with the result that supporters, fans, and club chairman voted them down and left them with their pants firmly glued to their ankles in Kirk speak.
The SFA, at the instigation of the member clubs from all leagues, then played the Kirk role in attempting to solve The Ibrox Kobayashi Moru by changing those rules with the agreement of the majority, so that Mr Green and his cohorts could gain membership, by effectively agreeing to allow Green’s Servco to obtain membership of the SFA on a conditional basis— with one of those conditions being that Mr Green’s company will pay ALL outstanding football debts—and make no mistake Captain Green accepted that he would play by those rules as otherwise he faced oblivion.
Here is what Green said as published on the SFA website following the signing of the 5 man agreement:
“The agreement signed today allows Rangers to be granted membership by the SFA and finally enables the Club to move forward.
“The Board, the Manager and senior executives have been working tirelessly over the last few weeks to secure the future of the Club and today is the start of that process.
“The Board has had to take some very difficult decisions to gain SFA membership, including accepting the delayed transfer ban and paying outstanding financial penalties. But we are now able to get back to playing football and plan for the new season, starting this Sunday with our match against Brechin.”
The website also reported that Servco had been granted conditional membership with one of the conditions being – “Sevco Scotland Ltd has agreed to settle all outstanding football debts to other members of the Scottish FA plus clubs under the jurisdiction of other Football Associations.”
You will note that nowhere does it state that the SFA or the SPL will pay any of the footballing debts out of any money supposedly due to the second place team in season 2011/2012 as Charles Green appears to claim – and besides it is obvious to everyone that Servco did not participate in the league during that season and so cannot be entitled to any such payment as they were not Registered with the league nor had membership of the SFA or SPL.
Rangers PLC were so registered, but if they were due any money that money would go to their Administrators. However, given that Rangers PLC were the Registered body and were convicted of offences which were described as only second to match fixing, then it follows that they should not be allowed to profit by so much as a penny in that season as a result of their rule breaking activity. Had they been expelled from the league they would have been entitled to nothing at all, and it should be remembered that it was the same Mr Green who took that situation to the Court of Session with the result that the court sent the case back to the panel with the clear instruction that such a penalty may well be appropriate and that in the circumstances the tribunal may have little alternative but to impose such a sanction.
Clearly, this is a scenario that Charles Green had to avoid. In this instance he ignored the footballing rules of not going to courts of law, and found himself with his pants down and facing the Wrath of The Court and the Kobayashi Moru whereby any technical success at the court was likely to result in certain extinction by way of expulsion from the league.
Now Captain Green seems intent on steering his starship into yet another dead end with fatal consequences. He claims that the Scottish Football debts are paid. If we ignore for the minute that he has never attempted to pay any footballing debts outwith Scotland – thus jeopradising his conditional acceptance into the SFA— his claim that it was agreed that these debts would be paid by the SPL or the SFA out of 2011/2012 prize money is derisory.
No fundamental principle of fair play, respect for opponents and attempt at honouring the game could allow for such a situation. Besides the SFA were quite clear in their statement and he has at no time demurred. From the date of the 5 man agreement onwards Captain Green undertook to pay all of the footballing debts— and if he doesn’t, then again he risks the withdrawal of his conditional membership. There is no other solution to the issue. Those are the rules he signed up to, and if you ignore the rules………….
However, this entire affair still has far to go. Where is the transparency and clarity championed by Henry Mcleish and oft promised by Stewart Regan and others? Why are the details of Green’s investors and his business plan, timescales for meeting obligations and everything else about his operation kept so secret? Given the history of those who have been in charge of Ibrox over the last twenty years, the complete failure of their administration and what is now known about their tenure there and in football generally,— and given Green’s latest public statements—, does it not occur to the SFA that the rest of Scottish football has a right to know the details of what they have been told and what Green has promised?
He has promised to clear the footballing debts and appears to be making little attempt to do that whilst his manager hails as triumphs the signing of what he sees as the best players from other teams at relatively huge expense—whilst the debts remain, and the obligations are unfulfilled.
Again that cannot be right and goes against all principles of respecting opponents and honouring the game. It is a circumstance that amounts to the antithesis of the principles espoused by the SFA and appears to be completely contrary to the mandate given to Regan and the powers that be by the clubs and fans of all divisions. Further, the current position gives the impression that Mr Green believes that he can run his company and participate in football as and how he wants, as and when he wants and under his terms and conditions.
This smacks of previous regimes that hovered around Ibrox for far too long with ultimately disastrous results particularly for Rangers fans, investors and creditors.
History cannot be allowed to repeat itself under these circumstances and the SFA must bring pressure on Green to pay the obligations that he undertook to meet within a publicly known timescale. Not only does he need to do that for the benefit of the clubs owed money—he needs to do it for the sake of the integrity of the whole of Scottish football, and he should not be allowed to build at team or field a team if he breaches the agreement. That should be the rule.
He should not be allowed to sacrifice publicly proclaimed and nationally accepted principles for the sake of his own financial expediency “for the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few—- or the one!”
Oh—and lest anyone think that it is mere trivia to link the current plight of Scottish Football with Star Trek and the Wrath of Khan, and that any such comparison is childish and of little consequence, that last quote was specifically relied upon, referred to and quoted in the Supreme Court of Texas in a decision issued on 22nd October 2010 in the case of Barbara Robinson, Individually and as Representative of the Estate of John Robinson, Deceased, Petitioner against Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc., Individually and as Successor to Mundet Cork Corporation, Respondent— thus bringing the undoubted logic and wisdom of Mr Spock well and truly into the Law of the United States of America!
Few would argue that Spock’s logic is not a sound legal principle!
It also seems to me that perhaps Spock had some solid business advice for those who choose to ignore the rules with a view to seeking short term gain or advantage—whether that be by way of trophies, money, position or what have you—but peril their entire existence by engaging in unlawful or illegal activity. It is advice which was ignored apparently by Sir David Murray and his board and by Craig Whyte and his entire cabal. We wait to see if Charles Green will have learned the lesson that they so clearly didn’t, or whether he believes in the potential rewards of the quick fix at any cost?
Live long…….. And prosper!