Today, a lesson from football in Wales.
It’s not often that you’ll read me writing that, but here we are and what a lesson it is. It’s a lesson to Celtic, it’s a lesson to our fans, it’s a lesson to the Resolution 12 guys and to every sports journalist in the country; this is how a real football association does its business.
It is the second massive punishment the club has been given in two years, and it virtually guarantees a second successive relegation for a team who, before their troubles, had finished the 2017-18 season in fourth place in the league before the FA revoked their license.
Last night, the FA down there hit them with a string of charges including fielding ineligible players and failing to honour contract commitments to six others. For each of the games involving ineligible footballers they were docked points.
In a long and technical statement, the Welsh FA laid out the charge sheet against the club, but the upshot of it is that they’ve broken several rules in relation to the timely disclosure of contractual information.
They are accused, in effect, of what the LNS commission found Rangers guilty of; a mass non-disclosure of pertinent contract information.
The difference is, the Welsh FA didn’t bother with the nonsensical “no sporting advantage” argument … they acted.
In an excoriating published verdict, the FA laid into the club and the reasons why every point was being stripped. In addition to the deductions, they also imposed a transfer embargo on the club which will last a year. It may well be that Bangor City don’t come out of this.
The relevant section of the statement reads thus:
“The Panel noted that the Huws Gray Alliance League Rule 7 states that any club to have played an ineligible player in a league fixture will be dealt with by the management committee. If found guilty they will be deducted three points per game and fined a maximum of two hundred pounds per instance … As Bangor City had played ‘Player A’ in 11 (eleven) matches, the Panel decided that Bangor City Football Club should have 33 (thirty-three) points deducted from their Huws Gray Alliance League record for the 2018/2019 season
“The Panel noted that ‘Player B’ had participated in 11 (eleven) matches, 8 (eight) of which were the same matches as ‘Player A’. The Panel felt that the punishment of a three-point deduction per match for the eight matches that both ‘Player A’ and ‘Player B’ has participated in was sufficient. However, the Panel determined that with the three remaining matches that ‘Player B’ had participated in between October 2018 and December 2019, which ‘Player A’ did not participate in, there should be a 3-point deduction per offence. Hence, the Panel decided that Bangor City should have an additional 9 (nine) points deducted from their Huws Gray Alliance League record for the 2018/2019 season.”
I have never been able to properly wrap my brain around the Lord Nimmo Smith verdict or the way our club swallowed it. It is the ultimate disgrace of this board of directors that they did not fight for us in a meaningful way during that time.
Celtic allowed that sham of inquiry to restrict its remit, to let the SFA call officials as witnesses who should rightly have been in front of disciplinary hearings, they let the SFA itself be a court of appeal in spite of that, when the governing body should have completely recused itself from the process and they made no effort to call Campbell Ogilvie to properly account for his part in the scandal, giving him free reign in spite of his own signature being on the first EBT document.
There is barely a person in this country who does not believe that a raft of players, over a ten-year period, were not properly registered to play for the Ibrox club. The media has been very good at blowing smoke on this one over the years – such as by playing the sad song about how players don’t deserve to have their medals taken from them, as if that was the issue – but nobody denies the basic facts and those facts are that those registrations were not complete.
And that means those registrations were not valid.
Had the SFA done its damned job right, there would have been a slew of titles and trophies taken away from the Ibrox record. That is how it’s supposed to work. That is what is supposed to happen. When rule breaches are identified, punishment should follow.
In 2017, after the Big Tax Case verdict had gone all the way to the Supreme Court, Celtic issued another statement.
The SFA refused to grant the inquiry we called for, and once again we let the matter die.
Celtic should have hammered it home again and again, and threatened to take the matter all the way to the Court of Arbitration in Sport if necessary.
It is shocking that the Welsh football authorities have gone much further than our own ever did.