Scottish Premier League: Has the SPL Called "The Rangers FC's" Bluff?

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Scottish Premier League: Has the SPL Called
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The Rangers' situation continues to develop at pace, and some might say the hopes for a continuing "Rangers presence" in the SPL have begun to unravel.

Yesterday afternoon the Scottish Premier League released a press statement in which they said:

"At its meeting earlier today, the SPL Board considered a number of issues relating to Rangers FC.

EBT Investigation

The SPL Board heard a report from its solicitors following the investigation into payments to, or for the benefit of, players allegedly made by Rangers FC outside of contract.

The delay in concluding the investigation was caused by an initial lack of co-operation from Rangers FC.

The investigation has now been completed and, in the view of the SPL, there is a prima facie case to answer in respect of its Rules.

Disciplinary charges will be brought when the future status of Rangers FC is clarified and prior to the start of season 2012/13.

General Meeting

An application for registration of transfer of Rangers’ SPL share has been received. Consideration of the application will depend on receipt by the SPL Board of all required documentation and verification.

A general meeting of all 12 member clubs has been convened for 10am on Wednesday 4 July 2012 for members to decide whether to approve the transfer."

 

Prima facie is a legal term which basically states that a review of available evidence suggests that on the face of it, an offence has occurred.

Last month, a BBC documentary produced evidence that since 2001, Rangers FC made payments to players through an Employee Benefit Trust (EBT), which enabled them to avoid paying huge sums to the UK tax authority, HMRC.

Should Rangers FC now be found guilty of making payments to players which were not included on their contracts (and for an EBT to be utilised properly they cannot be included in the contract), then they have been fielding ineligible players in all competitions and each and every match should now be recorded as a 0-3 loss, meaning they could be stripped of all league titles and trophies won in the period.

This could also have major ramifications for the SFA, as Rangers would have fielded improperly registered players in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup/Europa League as well.

As I reported yesterday, Rangers FC actually no longer exists. The club entered liquidation Thursday last.

 

On July 4th, the SPL will consider an application from The Rangers FC, a company formerly known as Sevco Ltd, who last week purchased Ibrox Stadium and Murray Park. In fact, scratch that. The BBC today reports that "The Rangers FC," cannot at this moment be used by the new company. Companies House, the government agency responsible for company regulation in the UK, reports that Sevco 5088 has not as yet changed its name and cannot do so until the liquidation of Rangers plc is concluded - a process which may take up to a year to complete.

 

Sevco 5088 say (rightly) that it was Rangers plc (in liquidation) which owes HMRC and other creditors a confirmed £55m, and possibly as much as £134m. The Rangers FC are a new company and so, have no debts.

On the other hand, The Rangers FC claim to have purchased the club, with the implication being that they are entitled to Rangers FC's place in the SPL.

Yesterday, the SPL may just have called their bluff.

If The Rangers FC are the club formed in 1872, it must now put its neck on the chopping block for the soccer punishments incurred by Rangers FC.

This could mean a fine, the stripping of honours won since 2001, relegation, suspension or even expulsion from Scottish soccer.

If the Rangers FC are NOT the club formed in 1872, then they must acknowledge that they are a new club, meaning that there is no sporting argument for admitting them to the SPL.

In just over two weeks' time, we will discover if sporting integrity, or keeping "Rangers" alive is more important to the soccer authorities in Scotland.

 

 

Follow Daniel O'Connell on twitter @DanielOConnel18

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