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Posted by Douglas Cameron on 06/18/2012

The last few months have shaken my belief in many things. I have found myself questioning the importance of football in my life and the intensity of emotion it can produce in me. I have wondered about the motivations of many pundits and been left perplexed by the desire of some fellow football fans to see our club disappear. Punishment yes, but to disappear entirely?

With every revelation, with bids new and failed, and with documentaries laying out for all to see the misdeeds of previous boards my faith in how this would play out has wavered. Ultimately I have tried to keep promoting my key beliefs both of which I now feel will just about come to pass.

1. A business and assets deal would see Ibrox, the training ground, the intellectual property , so far as they wish, all employees and, if approved, the SPL share/membership sold to a newco.
This has saved the football club while the old company will go on to be liquidated. I had been told a long time ago that when it came to the crunch a group of wealthy bears would step forward. These were guys who didn't really want to own a club and would not wish the hassle of the day to day running. For a while it looked like I was wrong on this but all that changed with the emergence of the McColl and Park group this week. Walter is the man needed to front it and guarantee support but be assured they will call the shots in ensuring the acquisition is successful. Many are questioning why it took these guys so long? We need to be honest here, the process of acceptance amongst the Rangers support that The Blue Knights weren't just going to ride into Govan and make all this disappear with a large cheque has been an understandably slow one. The thought process roughly went:
1. We will only accept the company being saved and no sanctions
2. We will accept the company being saved and there being some sanctions
3. We can just about live with Bill Miller's temporary newco
4. We will accept a newco

People are rightly sceptical about Green and his consortium but the rush to demand he steps aside for Smith, McColl and Park is not particularly pleasant. Green and his consortium put up the money needed. They invested the time, effort and money in advisors needed to steer us through this process. It now seems clear others were willing to let them do the dirty work. That is more than understandable. Equally though it must be recognised the Green consortium took a significant risk and will rightly be looking to make a proportionate return. If Green can ensure approval is given for the transfer of the SPL share from oldco to newco then their investment immediately becomes more valuable. I would say a price of £12 million would not be unreasonable. Maybe if they stay on for another three or four years and get Rangers back winning leagues and in Europe that might increase to £30 million (roughly Celtic's market cap) but do they wish to invest further time and probably money? No of course not. If the transfer of the SPL share is not agreed the price would probably be closer to £9 million. These are business men and they will rightly take a quick return. Such a scenario must have been in their thinking all along when they decided to steer Rangers through the newco process.

2. Punishment must follow but must be in line with existing rules
For me nothing has really changed in terms of the existence or history of my club. Rangers? The Rangers? Same difference. Or even the same difference.

I have cited precedents previously for the notion this change of corporate structure is of no real consequence. The chairman of Middlesborough Steve Gibson this week offered his views on how they came through a newco process and gave the sort of perspective so often lacking in Glasgow's gold fish bowl when he noted "nobody will notice any difference".

In stating this is the same Rangers I am of course claiming our history. You cannot though cherry pick your history so it is our entire history and clearly includes the two disasters, the sectarian signing policy and Manchester. Crucially it also means the immorality and alleged criminality perpetrated by owners and directors in recent years. There can be no shying away from the fact this is very much a part of the Rangers story.

The financial misdeeds have criminal and legal consequences for the old company and more importantly the individuals involved. HMRC's actions this week were a strong signal of intent in this respect. Right now the prospect of Murray and or Whyte in court is as exciting for me as any cup final ever could be.

Punishment is also due for the breaching of football regulations. This is a separate issue though from the above and people over simplify matters when they equate a breach of tax/legal rules regarding EBT use with breaches of football registration rules. Similar issues but completely different wording and different rules. I personally feel that if existing footballing rules can be shown to have been broken then existing punishments must apply. As a support we are perfectly correct to assert our belief that our club survives even if the old company must be liquidated. In doing so though we must accept that the club continues to have responsibility for what went on historically and so punishment must follow.

The recent court case win struck me as an attempt to rightly ensure the authorities and other clubs were not able to simply impose new rules and punishments not specifically laid out in the regulations to suit their own desired outcomes. In reality I think a whole host of issues are going to be negotiated away though in the coming week as part of the approval for the SPL share transfer. The SPL have been advised by their lawyers they can only have a simple yes or no vote, conditions cannot be attached. In reality I think Rangers will advocate/accept that the share is transferred and they are allowed to be recognised as the same club with history intact but in return they will have to accept sanctions need to be imposed. Is that the enforcement of the rules? No. Is it justice? Well that is for you personally to decide. For me it is a realistic compromise. Sorry but that is how the real world works. The most likely scenario for me is therefore Rangers remaining in the SPL but with a points penalty for two seasons of say 20 points. There is likely to be a forfeiture of prize and sponsorship money too. Where it gets difficult is regarding the transfer embargo. I would expect the SPL clubs would want Rangers to accept this stands but unless there is certainty enough of the current squad are retained it would be hard to agree to. The new consortium are unlikely to have agreed an acquisition swiftly enough to offer any certainty on players intentions. (Green is bluffing on registration as this cannot possibly be used to frustrate the TUPE principles)

There are no doubt some reading this that are outraged by what I am suggesting. I am not saying this is right simply it is how I think things will play out. The chairmen are in an impossible position with fan opposition having to be balanced against the demands of their banks. The reality of punishing Rangers too severely by refusing SPL membership is essentially a scorched earth policy to the detriment of all of Scottish football.

It may not fit with the stereotypical view held of "huns" but I am actually someone who does care acutely about the general well being of Scottish football. I've been abroad to watch the national team and my interest in the EPL generally extends no further than looking out for the performances of our players. A notion has somehow emerged in recent weeks that all the ills of Scottish football can be laid at Rangers door and that in our absence the top division will return to some form of 1980s utopia. In that decade Aberdeen, Dundee United, Celtic and Rangers all won the league while Hearts fans must still regularly find themselves awake in the wee small hours wondering how they didn't. The ever growing wisdom out there on Scottish football forums and in provincial boozers is that it was Murray's spending and ambition that removed the competition in Scotland. Frankly that is a nonsense. Scotland is far from unique in being a league where only a small % of competitors can ever hope to lift the title. France and Germany are Europe's exceptions which prove the rule. Well, unless you count Man City being bankrolled by some sheiks as a good thing but where that sits in the "sporting integrity" debate goodness only knows.

In the 1980s Scotland regularly qualified for the World Cup. Even into the 1990s we were at 4 of the 5 major tournaments. Is the drop in the general standard of Scottish player, and in particular domestically, purely the fault of Rangers? Did nobody else buy foreigners? The truth is the advent of the EPL and Champions League brought an influx of TV money that has warped European football. The Bosman ruling also brought us to the point where any truly decent young footballer won't be with a non Old Firm club past his 21st birthday. Where in the 1980s Dundee United could thrill the entire country with wins against Barcelona now they must be happy to get through a couple of rounds against teams from minor Eastern European leagues. Our clubs are not professional in the sense that they can be compared or compete with those of major nations. Oddly rugby, arguably an even more conservative blazer run sport than football, has adapted sufficiently by creating a domestic league beyond Scotland's borders to ensure that if you watch one of our a professional clubs you are watching a standard of player comparable with those at top clubs in England or France.

A Rangers free SPL may well be more competitive. Personally I doubt it will be anything other than a procession for Celtic. Rather than casting blame in our direction a number of clubs would do well to take a look at themselves and, in failing to offer any serious proposals for change, the authorities. In Walter Smith's last game as manager in his first stint at Ibrox Rangers lost the cup final to Hearts (it was only in the years following nine in a row Rangers began to amass a debt beyond their means and utilise EBTs). Hearts then were clearly Scotland's third force. In the years since their fortunes have fluctuated but with two further cups and as the only club to split the Old Firm that remains the case. How then has Rangers spending on players significantly altered anything that has happened further down the league?

If other clubs and their fans want a competitive league that is great. So do I. You won't simply be handed one of a higher quality though by expelling Rangers. People aren't stupid. They will still recognise the product is substandard. The Sky generation are not suddenly going to be enthralled by the SPL over night.

The theoretical worst case scenario for Rangers is SFL3 but it is also the worst case scenario for all of Scottish football. That is not just a question of finance it is also about quality of player and the standing of our game. You personally may think it is the least we deserve. I personally may think it is what I would like to see happen and a sizeable minority of Rangers fans agree. It doesn't matter though as the chairmen of the SPL are unlikely to go that far. The more I think about it the more I think the actual worst case scenario for us is SFL1. If you think such a fudged scenario has not been debated by the SPL, SFL and SFA then you are naive. It is a scenario which could probably also be tolerated by Sky/ESPN. Three years without Rangers would not.

Ultimately the SPL chairmen must do what is best for them and fans of every club are perfectly correct to lobby for their desired outcome. It is impossible though for all parties to be satisfied with the outcome.

Events seem to be moving at a frenetic pace where once we had the purgatory of a D&P run administration. This week should see a vote on the transfer of the SPL share and hopefully progress with the McColl and Park acquisition. It is also rumoured to bring a conclusion on the registration investigation. The clamour for titles to be stripped for as yet unproven registration breaches remains as frenzied as ever. As before, my understanding is Celtic have been advised by their lawyers this will not be possible. Time and possibly a whole heap of legal fees debating the merits of blazer drafted regulations will tell.

Over the course of the last few months to be a Rangers fan is to have your morality and decency questioned on a daily basis. It is to experience people you consider friends wish you ill. If you are anything like the Rangers fans I am friends with then you will have endured all this because you chose to support Rangers since it is who your dad/friends support or because they are your local team. Those who wish to deny us our past and prevent us from having a future will never be satisfied. This has been a painful process but the financial and legal complexities are almost at an end. We must now get through the footballing implications and must accept punishment is required. Through all this though remember who you are and why you support our great club. Remember the first game you went to. Remember the joy you had from a Rangers win when your life was falling apart. Remember the 66 who went to a game and never came home. Remember we owe it to ourselves and to every other fan that ever cheered the team in the last 140 years to ensure we recover from this.

They'll never kill the Rangers.

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Comments

Posted by Jimmy Jones on 06/16/2012

Many of you points are very thin and the spin is obvious. You don't even realise that the Oldco cannot sell their SPL share to a newco.

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 06/17/2012

"if approved" isn't making it clear enough Jimmy? Obviously if the SPL do not vote to approve the transfer ownership of the SPL share reverts to the SPL and doesn't go to newco.

However, the deal with Green stipulates what cannot happen is the SPL share just sits with oldco or that it can be sold to another party (say the Smith/McColl group) who can then apply for approval of a transfer to their company. The important risk for Green there is he goes through the hassle and cost of a newco only to have a rival Rangers claiming they are the legitimate Rangers since they have the football share.

As for spin you will have noted this is a Rangers blog. I don't proclaim to be a journalist. I do claim to have a decent understanding of how a business and asset transaction works and have sought to communicate that to my fellow fans.

I think in the main I have been pretty reasonable and have always advocated that punishment should be accepted. What is not acceptable just now is a total absence of any dissenting voice to the general "hang 'em high" line (Radio Scotland's debate yesterday being a case in point). So feel free to keep reading and offering criticism Jimmy but do please remember this is a Rangers blog.

Posted by duccablue on 06/17/2012

another great post my man.

Posted by Seamus1967 on 06/17/2012

Nice Post Mr Cameron.

It is somewhat refreshing to find a Rangers supporter conceeding to the idea of accepting punishments for the club. As far as many of the Rangers forums go, it's a rare thing.

I do feel much of the "hang 'em high" attitude you speak of is at least in part fuelled by the assertion from many "huns" that they have done nothing wrong.

And I am most impressed with your attitude towards your history in this post. Fair & well reasoned.

I do enjoy your blogs and look forward to the next (and you lot being around next season so we can hammer you).

Hail Hail,

Seamus.

Posted by Bill Hicks on 06/18/2012

This has been your best work ever! would you rule out Rangers assets being bought by money not belonging in any way to Green?,as I find it difficult to seperate Whyte,Duff and Phelps and Green,as the way Green was produced still rankles with me,I think money syphoned off Rangers by Whyte may be the very same money used to acquire the assets by Green,also as the newco does not exist yet would this mean we will be out of Europe for at least 4 years as we would not have 3 years accounts by 31st March 2015,

Posted by Chris Sheridan on 06/22/2012

As one of the Celtic fans who have perhaps demonstrated a desire to see your club disappear, the existence of fans like yourself suggests that my desires in this regard will be left unfulfilled!

Posted by Anthony O'Sullivan on 06/23/2012

Good luck with what will continue to be very difficult times for Rangers. A strong SPL is vital for the future of football in your country and Rangers fans need to be represented. If there is penance due for ills of the past, so be it. But the sooner this mess is cleaned up, the better it will be for all followers of the SPL and especially the Old Firm clashes.

Posted by Andy's dads Andy on 06/23/2012

Best yet by a mile, made me proud to be a bear! Scottish Cup Final, last minute 3-2 Lovelypants header, I'll never forget that weekend!

Posted by Collin M. on 06/23/2012

Douglas, you are an example of the reasons why this Bhoy doesn't want to see Rangers disappear forever. The supporters are not responsible for the actions of a greedy and negligent board, but instead suffer at their hands in the wake of a decade of cheating the playing field.

I wish you all the best fortune in recovery, as I don't care to see the Old Firm matchday vanish forever, but certainly do agree that punishment must be accepted and the page turned. A decade of fraudulent tax dodging and cheating not only your supporters but nation's taxpayers must not be ignored, but neither should the undeniable love and support of Gers from their supporters. Regardless of our differences, be it football, nationalism or religion, the Old Firm rivalry is a beautiful part of sport and must never be forgotten. Here's to hoping we get a chance to whip yer arses at least once this next season : ) Hail hail

Posted by T on 06/24/2012

As a Celtic sympathizer, I must admit that I enjoyed Ranger's state of affairs at first. But I must admit, it won't be the same without you. As a Ranger fan told me in Spain years go, we'll forever be rivals but not enemies. May Rangers recover so we can continue our battles on the pitch. Good luck

Posted by Arizona Bhoy on 06/25/2012

If you do the crime you must do the time.
The SPL Chairmen will not vote Newco into the SPL, The Club Chairmen from the "Divisions" will not vote Newco into Division 1. Green has 6 weeks to put a team together for whatever division the rangers will be playing in. Unfortunately, Green still hasn't applied for the last spot in the 3rd Division. The illegal registration of players,for which rangers received a paltry 12 month signing ban, which Green challenged ILLEGALLY in a court of law, was overturned. Now you say that only a punishment that was "on the books" will be tolerated. Well, as you wish, the only punishment left is expulsion from the Scottish league structure. Should have left well enough alone. Lest we forget, HMRC still haven't announced their judgement for the BTC.
Now, I'm a Celtic fan and this looks like piling on, but if this was Aberdeen or Hearts, I'd be saying the same. I love the "OF" games.
If you're a fan during the good, you have to be a fan during the bad.

Posted by Spartacus Mills on 06/25/2012

Good work DC. Yet again a lot has happened for the worse even since you wrote this particular blog. A huge decision by the other SPL clubs to reject The Gers into the SPL. Have to agree that in the last couple of weeks it's more and more looking like SFL Div1, which is possibly the worst scenario.

As well as questioning again as to whether the other SPL clubs have really done their sums re their turnover minus Rangers, I still have to ask you/all informed Scottish football fans/Charles Green/UEFA: is there any possibility whatsoever that Rangers can accept the ultimate punishment of exclusion from Scottish football, pack our bags and head for the Blue Square Conference or Northern Leagues? The speculation seems to be non-existent as to this possibility.

Finally...3rd May 1999....win the title at Parkhead...celebration at The Bank with Klos doppelganger....priceless ;-)

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 06/26/2012

Thanks for the feed back one and all.

Arizona you are factually wrong re the 12 month signing ban it relates to Whyte's time in charge nothing more. The only illegal aspect of the decision was the sfa acting beyond their own powers hence the court verdict. You illustrate well though the point this debate has reached. Shout long enough and loud enough and there is no need to actually prove anything.

The decision on the illegality of EBTs is outstanding. Likewise the spl investigation into whether players were not properly registered. Despite this clubs and their fans have decided we are guilty on all counts. Throw in the fact whyte's take over (an open and shut case of financial assistance) is now officially the subject of a police investigation and this is a quite ludicrous scenario.

Still that is all mere details. Hang 'em high.

Posted by AZMaccyJohn on 06/26/2012

DC, I think it is unfair to state the other clubs are finding Rangers guilty on all counts. I think many people simply see the new legal entity for what it is, a new football club and as such should not have direct entry into the top flight of Scottish Football.

If, however, the new legal entity are able to assume the share of the new legal entity then they should face the punishments that come from any wrong doings relating to ETB, illegal registration and backhand payments to other clubs officials. They should also be on the hook for all remaining football debt.

The new legal entity can not have it both ways.

On a side note - Whats your take on the football doping of the old club? Should they be stripped of titles just as has been done in other countries & other sports when a party has found to be cheating (whether thats for illegal payments to players or other clubs officials and / or fielding inelligible players).

Posted by llapd on 06/27/2012

While I enjoy your posts I think they have been shown to be consistently over-optimistic about Rangers future. The law will catch up with Murray, Whyte et al , and this process will deal with the legacy left by poor and possibly corrupt administrators, though lets let the courts decide this. The new company, Rangers, should be treated exactly as any other new club seeking a license would. As a Celtic fan I am acutely aware of the football and financial ramifications of this, but you simply cannot push the rules aside for one new club. If SPL or SFL vote in support of the newco then OK, due process has been followed, if they say no - and the financial upside for lower league clubs will be small assuming Rangers will only be there for 1 season - then sorry but they start again in Div 3. As a big club it will be back in the SPL in 3 years, and old rivalries will resume, with more to prove than ever before. Meantime scottish football will be the loser, a Rangers legacy from this mess.

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 06/28/2012

Based on today's announcement rangers are headed to sfl1. I am troubled by the notion there can be no future recourse to legal action given the authorities have already attempted to punish out with their own rules. However in general I think the proposal is on the face of it a fair one although I suspect the instant reaction all round will be outrage.

If retaining responsibility for the actions of "oldco" then I think any fair minded person would dispense with the notion this is in anyway a new club. I also hope the deal where the spl would buy rights to sfl1 games for a mere £1m and include in their existing deal with sky/espn brings an end to the lectures on "sporting integrity". I won't hold my breath.

Posted by deiseach on 06/29/2012

"I also hope the deal where the spl would buy rights to sfl1 games for a mere £1m and include in their existing deal with sky/espn brings an end to the lectures on "sporting integrity". I won't hold my breath."

Um, so Rangers can have their place in SFL1 bought for £1 million, and you think no-one should have any concerns over sporting integrity? How much would it cost the SPL to keep Celtic or Rangers in the top flight if either were to be relegated? As George Bernard Shaw said, "we have established what you are, madam. We are now merely haggling over the price".

Posted by Arthur on 06/30/2012

A few points:

1. Courts of law should be out of bounds for sports clubs. That is what the CAS is for.
2. The new SPL/SFA/SFL proposal is a total fudge which could potentially do more damage (to everyone) than a move to Div3 would. People will ask "if they changed the rule to deliberately parachute Newco into Div1 with te hope of getting them back into the top flight ASAP, then would they also deliberately give dodgy penalties and influence other decisions during the seasons to ensure they gained promotion?". All credibility would be lost.

Posted by Lo Sbandato on 07/02/2012

The SPL is substandard with Rangers in it. Hell, even Americans look capable in that penny ante league.

Posted by Andy on 07/07/2012

Is Lo saying that the SPL will be a better standard without Rangers?!?
Unbelievable! Keep taking the stupid pills, punk!!

Posted by Will Willows on 07/07/2012

I wonder if any other members of the SPL could withstand the scrutiny offered up for Rangers? I doubt it. Once the older players are gone, field the youngsters in Division III, let them mature as they move upward, once they hit the SPL again, they will hit their stride. On the way, a good buy or two to help a good player extend his legs and give the youngsters maturity and pride in being a member of Rangers, newco or oldco, still Rangers.

Posted by Kevin Martin on 07/08/2012

As a former resident of Glasgow & a Rangers fan, I have to agree with the way things are going, a rejection of the idea of starting a new club to avoid responsibilities of the old club.

Since it is a new club (who gave the advice to go down this path?), then they must do as any new club is required - apply to join & if acceptable get voted in at the lowest level. After that, the new club will progress on its merits (or otherwise - hopefully not). It will probably mean Celtic being given the Premiership almost automatically for the next few years, but whose fault is that?
We cannot blame the SFA & SPL for not wishing to renege on the Rules.

I do hope all British clubs, learn this important lesson - keep up with your legal obligations, if you don't, expect the worst. It's really that simple.

Kevin Martin

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