24 May 2012

Rangers resolution? Don’t hold your breath

So what now? Well first off a thank you to the BBC team for what looks on the face of it a significant piece of public service TV.

Let’s look at Duff and Phelps next, the Rangers administrators. As any journalist who’s ever gone beyond asking ‘How do you feel?’ will tell you, toughtalk about defamation, shoddy journalism etc is just PR and a routine reaction to journalism-for-grown-ups.

Channel 4 News has received actual lawyers letters threatening action in the course of investigating Rangers – never mind whining drafted by PR people – and frankly it’s all an occupational hazard when you put stuff in the public domain that rich men with lawyers don’t want known.

So ignore all the legal threats against the BBC from Rangers administrators. It’s hot air. The only thing that matters is the writ. Wait. Watch. But I do not advise the holding of any breath.

Craig Whyte, the owner of Rangers Football Club reads a statement outside the club's Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow 13 Feb 2012 (Reuters)
Craig Whyte, the owner of Rangers Football Club reads a statement outside the club's Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow 13 Feb 2012 (Reuters)

Craig Whyte said he’d sue over the last BBC film. He has not done so. He told me he has identified 47 defamatory articles about himself in the Glasgow press – particularly the Daily Record – I am not aware of any writ.

Talk is cheap. So are warning letters from lawyers (relatively). We are not even at the latter stage yet.

Broadcasters operate in a much stricter culture than news papers. One reason why you have to wait to gets comments up on this blog is because they all have to be screened.

It goes without saying the BBC film will have been greenlighted by their lawyers before being broadcast.

So what of football? Well the clue is in Duff and Phelps’ press release last night, where they won’t comment on EBTs til the First Tax Tribunal finally utters. It is currently considering the legality of the Employee Benefit Trust payments to staff.

Everyone will follow suit. Of course the matter is hardly sub judice – you cannot prejudice a judge considering a verdict at appeal which is what the Tribunal is. But Rangers administrators are using it as cover.

The Scottish Premier League, the Scottish Football Association and UEFA will all effectively now hide and play for time.

The SPL and SFA will take cover behind the tax Tribunal a la Duff and Phelps. But both have the extra cover of the SPL investigation into double contracts. Both will say and do very little I predict, until that is complete.

We know the SPL wants it to be the full job. Forget prima facie stuff and a quick glance from the legal team investigating to prove the basis of a case or not. The game’s shifted. SPL strategy is to have every possible Rangers player who may not have been properly registered investigated here and now. And they’ve asked around at other clubs too of course. We have a major line-drawing operation here. So when the job’s done there are no comebacks.

RangersCrisis Will fans buy Millers bid for Rangers?

Actually I think they’re probably right here. The BBC reported how some players had ‘double contracts’ but what matters is what Rangers actually told the SPL. Only the SPL can know.

It’s frustrating but it is as well that they get this fully crossed off. Of course it also suits their position to have the whole thing delayed as long as possible whilst Rangers itself prepares to exit administration via a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) or liquidation and becomes a Newco (new company).

The SFA as the overisght and appeal body for the SPL, can effectively sit on their thumbs and wait. Down in Switzerland, UEFA can and will say ‘this is a matter for sovereign countries and their governing bodies’.

The meeting at the end of May to establish new financial penalties for clubs like Rangers who seem to need sectioning, as well as accounting, will likely postpone any action yet again and Rangers’ attempts to become a CVA will grind on through June as many players up and leave any how.

All in all I have no plans to travel to Glasgow today, nor Switzerland in the light of all the above. I am however, going on another foreign assignment on Friday so – like others it seems – I might be quiet on the Rangers saga for a little while.

I will however, put up another blog on all this with (pace Jonathan Swift) a Modest Proposal which appears to get Rangers and Scottish football, off the hook. Stay tooned.

Read more from Alex Thomson on Twitter: @alextomo

Tweets by @alextomo