12 Apr 2012

Rangers and the morality of repaying what you owe

OK. Just to get to some hard facts as the firestorm rages around the new SPL rule-change proposals.

Obviously this is being seen as a parachute back into the SPL for RFC, but in terms of cold, hard facts, away from the emotion, that’s not the way to see it because the parachute already exists.

SPL told me this morning (and I will get more from Mr Doncaster this afternoon) that the SPL board could simply vote a newco Rangers back into the SPL in theory, with no sanctions beyond the obvious ones arising from liquidation in terms of European competition etc.

To be clear: Rangers FC could be back in the SPL having paid nowt to the taxman and without the currently proposed sanctions to be voted on.

So in cold hard facts, the rule changes actually toughen things up for RFC – or anybody else – and not the other way around.

The wider morality of allowing such a newco anywhere near the SPL, having not paid the £75m owed to you, me and every other taxpayer, is a wider argument.

I can certainly tell you from conversations with the administrators and HMRC and Uefa that the very idea is not going to play well – and the SPL would do well to consider their wider constituency as their members approach the vote on this. If there is one story Uefa wants to tell you right now it is financial fair play.

And then there’s the HMRC and their “eleventh commandment”, quoted to me some weeks ago: “Though shalt not get away with it.”

Clearly any RFC parachuting back – and it is not a done deal, although the curious eight majority vote makes it a virtual cert (more on that from Mr Doncaster later I trust) – will involve a club that actually has to live in a more real world financially and actually think about paying back money it borrowed; not paying so much money it does not have; forgetting any notion of playing European football; losing matches with a depleted squad and very limited means to enhance it, and so forth.

RangersCrisis Rangers: how come nobody saw this coming?

Some might consider that adequate punishment for the sins of yesteryear and a new beginning now underway etc. Others will say getting away with not paying the millions you owe is a terrible precedent to set, not just for the governance of our football but for that of our very culture. My hunch is the latter will have the majority.

More from the SPL later in the day and – if Uefa can ever get back to me – the first of two blogs on political interference in Scottish football.

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