What is the job of the SFA’s compliance officer? To assure that the rules and regulations of the game are being followed. It seems fairly straightforward. But those rules apply to more than just what goes on out there on the pitch. Compliance covers a lot of ground.
For one thing, adherence to financial fair play would be part of the compliance officers job if the game here in Scotland had such a thing. Making sure that clubs meet the rest of UEFA’s strict criteria is definitely a part of the job. And whilst there is a single word in the statute books referring to “fit and proper persons” that is part of the remit as well.
As everyone knows, we have a new compliance officer at the SFA, the first ever woman to hold the post. She doesn’t get special dispensation for that. There is a job to be done and it’s a big one and if she isn’t up to it she ought not to be in it. Part of that job will involve banging heads with people who will resort to any means to get what they want. If she didn’t know that then whoever interviewed her didn’t fully put her in the picture.
I am sure that she is a diligent professional, but she inherited a mess and she has to know that already. The controversy over Beaton has given her a hint of the total shambles her predecessor left behind, as well as a glimpse of the internal chaos that has existed at Hampden for far too long. This is never clearer than in how fit and proper person works.
To be blunt, it doesn’t work. Not the way the SFA operates it.
We don’t have fit and proper regulations worthy of the name here. We have a self-certification system that relies on bad people telling the SFA what they are. It relies on the honesty of dishonest men. You could not invent dereliction of duty this severe, and when you add it to the other examples of glaring stupidity and laxity over there – such as giving the liberum veto to the incident review panel – is it any wonder that supporters of all shades and stripes distrust this lot?
The moment to have tightened those regulations up was back in 2012 when it became clear what Craig Whyte was. The only reason not to do it then was that there was already significant concern about Charles Green, enough that he might never have gotten his hands on the Ibrox assets had the SFA launched an inquiry into him.
And of course, when Green’s hand-picked placemen fell there was no way a fit and proper person test was going to be applied to Dave King, because that would have left the NewCo permanently stuck in the mud.
The rules are written as they are to protect men such as these, and I can only conclude it’s because without them the Ibrox operation would certainly collapse. In other words, those rules protect one club and not the game as a whole, and we’ve seen from recent history that they actually don’t protect that club at all. Indeed, they aided its predecessors demise and they leave this one in the hands of people without a coherent strategy.
You cannot draw any other conclusion, because even when it is readily apparent that Dave King does not meet the criteria as a fit and proper person in any way, shape or form there is still no appetite at Hampden to take him on over it.
That state of play cannot be sustained, not for very much longer, if King is, as many suggest, currently in defiance of yet another court order, the one which ordered him finally to make an offer for the club’s remaining shares in line with the Takeover Panel’s instructions, and under threat of being held in contempt.
Look, we really don’t have any way to know whether or not King has complied. Phil has good sources who tell him that King hasn’t, and I am inclined to believe it and not just because the man in Donegal has excellent access to information.
I suspect it’s true because King has a long history of pushing things to the brink. It is King’s MO, as this site has discussed previously. This is a man who gambles again and again and again, daring his opponents to take things to the next level, and let’s face it the Takeover Panel does look fairly toothless. They’ve let this drag on a while now, and if King has concluded that they lack the bottle to go the distance who can blame him?
But the failure of the Takeover Panel to press King into a corner he can’t get out of should not be a hindrance to the SFA when it comes to convening a hearing of their own. If King is openly defying the courts yet again, daring them to act, then he is demonstrably in breach of the fit and proper person regulations over which Clare Whyte is now responsible.
How could Scottish football’s administrators accept a man like King as chairman of a club when he is in clear violation of an explicit instruction by a judge? Craig Whyte (no relation to the compliance officer, or one would hope not anyway) was banned from any participation in the sport because he didn’t disclose his directorship ban. King’s criminal convictions are a matter of public record, but so too is his open defiance of the City of London’s regulator.
The SFA could have helped the Takeover Panel with their case at any time, simply by reminding King that their own rules oblige him to follow the rules and the law of the land. They could have made it clear to him that continuing to defy the courts would disbar him from holding a senior position at one of their clubs; they cannot pretend to have been in ignorance of this behaviour.
But they remained silent. They remained mute. They did the courts no favours, Scottish football no favours, they did the Ibrox club no favours and they’ve done King himself no favours because had they interceded when it first became clear what this guy was up to they’d have forced him to make a decision one way or another and he would not be in peril of a contempt charge and the possibility of arrest the next time he sets foot in Scotland.
What an embarrassing shower the SFA is, and that they are dithering when there is a clear course of action never ceases to amaze me.
If King has decided not to play ball, if he’s openly thumbing his nose at justice, then the SFA does not have to wait for the courts to haul him back in. They should be asking him now if he intends to comply, asking for evidence that shows that he has, and if that is not forthcoming then, at the very least, a charge for bringing the game into disrepute should be.
The reputation of our game has to come first.
If that adversely impacts on the Ibrox side, then tough; this is what fit and proper rules are there for. King does not qualify and he never has. The longer the SFA ignores this the greater will be the damage when it finally becomes impossible to.
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