When I wrote my earlier piece on the Coral’s court case I didn’t think it would come to anything more than a brief footnote in our history. How was I to know that the “legal strategy” I outlined – where the guy would call out the media and drag the football authorities into it – was the one he and Corals would jointly follow?
How happy I am that they did.
So here we are, with the case now done and awaiting a verdict, and what a can of worms has popped open here. The media have been held up as “evidence” and Coral’s have contradicted their view that Rangers was “relegated” at every turn. The governing bodies have had to get up and say that Rangers ran what was basically a tax scam and admit that their interpretation of the rules in the case of liquidated clubs isn’t the same as the one FIFA has.
“We choose to define our rules based on clubs having an existence…that’s not the way FIFA operate,” Rob McKenzie of the SPL – appearing on the bookies behalf – said, in a bizarre moment that we’ll be interpreting for years to come. It is plain nonsense, but what he means is that the FIFA (and UEFA too) don’t differentiate between the club and the company that owns them. The “club” as he refers to is some kind of ephemeral reality, not bound to this world.
In FIFA’s world, when the company is no more the club goes with it. One can’t exist without the other. In the crazy lop-sided reality of Scottish football we try to pretend apples are oranges and that they both taste like bananas. Rather than admit what happened to Rangers in 2012 – a fact there was clear-cut agreement on at the time – we now have to go through these kind of contortions over and over and over again, to support an obvious lie.
Amazingly, now even Corals are hiding behind this daft form of words.
Although this is plainly insane, and the lengths the SPL and SFA have to continue going to in order to defend it are certainly embarrassing, nobody seems prepared, even now, to tell the truth. The closest we got to that was when the guy’s lawyer pressed McKenzie on the word “relegation” as it’s defined in the rulebook … a question he didn’t answer.
Because, of course, there was no mechanism in the rules for “relegating” Rangers even had they still existed. The club’s place in the Scottish football hierarchy was vacated on death. A new entity with a new company number and a new SFA membership arose in its place. The motion to grant them the SPL license belonging to Rangers was, rightly, thrown out by the clubs after pressure from the fans. Even the greeting faced Stewart Gilmour voted that way, seeing clearly what had to be done to protect the integrity of the sport.
James Doleman, who reported all of this on Twitter, deserves enormous credit for trying to bring clarity to this case, one which has left the media looking pretty daft, especially when numerous reports were read out in court as “proof” of the relegation story.
It’s incredible to me that there was a time when all this wasn’t in dispute. Today it’s as if none of what actually took place happened.
This case has been an unhappy reminder, for a lot of people, that it did, and one of them is Graham Spiers whose own toing and froing on this have been as humiliating as those undergone by anyone in the journalistic profession.
Yesterday he expressed his joy at “both sides” following the case with interest, only for a Twitter user, appropriately named lapdog lapdog , to ask him for clarity.
“Both sides being supporters of every other club and TRFC fans?”
To which Spiers sheepishly replied “Er … yes.”
Because that’s still how the media views this; as a “Celtic – Rangers” issue, instead of one that affects the whole game here. Every club’s supporters outside Ibrox – and a good portion of those who go there every week – knows Rangers is no more and that Sevco is a Newco. Corals know it, which is why they wouldn’t pay the bet. The SPL knows it, which is why their lawyer made the ridiculous claim that their interpretation of what constitutes “a club” is different than that which UEFA and FIFA holds … and yes, the media knows it too.
They all said so at the time, after all.
Predicting which way the judge will lean here is nearly impossible. James Doleman thinks that Corals put forward a good case.
More interesting than the verdict itself will be the specific wording of the judge’s legal finding.
Those of us who always said this matter would finally be settled, once and for all, in a courtroom may just be on the verge of vindication.