In spite of this blog having written about it many times, there are still lots of people in our support who do not properly understand the Five Way Agreement or the issues that arise from it.
I understand that, because it’s a complex matter and appears to have no relevance to what we do on the pitch.
There are those amongst the Celtic support who are blissfully unaware of how things stand in Scottish football.
There are those amongst our support who would happily, gladly, live the rest of their lives without exploring any aspect of how the game is governed. They think any focus on anything but Celtic is stupid.
They are the most likely to squeal “obsessed” at you when you mention Sevco.
Those who don’t understand why this stuff is important … it used to be that there was nothing I could say that would convince them that it is. There was a time when I couldn’t explain why it’s important to keep on pushing these issues and why we have to keep the pressure on and why some of us will never quit until the job is done.
At the centre of all of this is one rancid document.
We know it as the Five Way Agreement.
The reason it’s so important right now is that it is inextricably linked to our outgoing CEO Peter Lawwell.
This is the reason a section of our fan-base will never trust a word he says again.
Before I explain what the man is alleged to have done in relation to the Five Way Agreement I need to explain what it is.
The document that birthed the Survival Lie is the Five Way Agreement.
Without it, there would be no club calling itself Rangers. A team wearing their colours and playing out of Ibrox would almost certainly exist and it probably would be part of the league set-up, but it would not have the history or the name.
And it would not be able to prevent justice being done on the OldCo.
This article will take a look at the Five Way Agreement and those who signed it.
And it will pose the killer questions that Scottish football needs answers to.
Above all else, it will explain why Peter Lawwell has the biggest questions of all to answer … and it will explain why the answer he’s already given has seen many of our fans brand him a liar … a devastating charge which appears to be supported by the facts.
The Five Way Agreement is the document which was written with thepurpose of binding Sevco to the sins of Rangers.
It is the document that let the club into the Scottish football structure, a set of regulations that all the respective parties had to be bound to.
Its signatories are the SPL, the SPFL, the SFA, Sevco and Rangers.
The signatories on behalf of Rangers were their administrators Duff and Phelps.
The point behind it was that it allowed Sevco to pretend to be Rangers, keeping the history and the name and all that other stuff which they claim makes them a direct continuation of that club.
It is, as I’ve said, the document that props the Survival Lie up.
The public perception at the time was that it was created by the SFA as the price Sevco had to pay for pretending to be a dead club but I have always believed it was an idea that sprung from somewhere else, that and the weakness of the governing bodies themselves.
To understand that, we have to go back to the period before it was signed.
In the original Five Way Agreement, Sevco was supposed to admit to liability for the EBT years and lose trophies as a consequence.
But in that agreement they were also supposed to go straight into the SPL.
When the clubs of the SPL voted against that Charles Green tore the original up and everyone went back to the drawing board.
Think on what had happened during the debate over the SPL vote, and then in its aftermath as the SFA tried to secure Sevco a berth in the second tier. Stewart Regan talked about “Armageddon” and “civil disorder.”
He made it clear that he saw Sevco as a continuation of Rangers and as a club that was “too big to fail.”
And in dealing with Green they were dealing with a man with no scruples, a man who was perfectly willing to take advantage of that sentiment.
It was around that time he started talking about taking the club outside of Scottish football, ramping up the pressure on the SFA to consider the abyss.
First, the Five Way Agreement lost all talk of title stripping.
Every subsequent version was weaker than the last.
Somewhere along the line, Green obtained a side letter from the SPL over title stripping – a side letter that explicitly ruled it out – but even then he didn’t sign the document.
Instead he played the waiting game, and when Sevco’s first game was only days away the SFA blinked first and gave the club a provisional licence.
Green used that first match in several ways; it established Sevco as a part of the SFA structure even when they still weren’t, and left the SFA with only two options; change the Five Way Agreement to a version which suited Green or to be seen as accountable for the Second Death of Rangers.
And Green knew there was exactly zero appetite for that at Hampden.
He had them in the palm of his hand, and he proved it when he stood on the pitch that day and grandstanded against those who had “tried to kill the club.”
He played the sectarian card too, dealing it from the bottom of the deck, and that made the SFA’s position even more difficult.
He absolutely outplayed them.
Whatever version of it was finally signed was one slanted heavily in Sevco’s favour.
Whilst it bound the club to punishments for the behaviour of Rangers, you only have to look at the way those issues were handled.
The SPL gave its “no title stripping guarantee” in a side letter signed by Peter Lawwell’s favourite administrator Neil Doncaster, and the SFA sent Sandy Bryson into the LNS inquiry to make sure.
The signing ban became a “registration embargo” which allowed them to assemble a full squad of over-paid players – a quite scandalous affair where a serious punishment was turned into no punishment at all – and even the slap on the wrist fines were never paid on time and the SFA finally had to with-hold TV and prize money to get the cash.
The Five Way Agreement was a one-sided farce.
Everything that followed confirms that.
Subsequent Sevco boards have used its final draft, as well as the reams of other evidence leaked by Charlotte Fakeovers, as the ultimate tools of blackmail, to keep the SFA out of their business whilst God alone knows what has gone on at Ibrox.
But it did more than all this.
Perversely, the Five Way Agreement did one more thing, something beyond belief, and it’s this Sevco clings to, holding it up as their shield, hoping to turn it into the Get Out Of Jail Free Card that writes the rest in stone forever; the no-title-stripping side-letter, Lord Nimmo Smith and the Survival Lie itself.
The Five Way Agreement actually splits the deeds of Craig Whyte into two segments.
They are known as the Craig Whyte “enduring acts” and the Craig Whyte “exempt acts.”
Unfortunately, yes, but this shouldn’t surprise you as the SFA has a history of this kind of sleight of hand.
They changed the time-frame under investigation in the Nimmo Smith inquiry to protect its own people, by excluding the Wee Tax Case – which lies at the heart of Resolution 12 too, of course – and they let Sevco investigate the links between Craig Whyte’s regime and that of Charles Green in the infamous Pinset Mason report scandal … so why should this be a shock?
In this case, the scandal is that it effectively let Sevco off with a lot of what Whyte did, by splitting them into actions they were able to blame solely on him and having others which were the responsibility of the club.
They also attempted to suggest that some of his sins were of such a low-level nature that they weren’t worth prosecuting.
It makes you wonder why they bothered to create a specific criteria for them, right?
But in taking some of the things that Craig Whyte had done whilst at Ibrox and saying they were solely his responsibility, they indemnified the NewCo from any responsibility for them.
And when Sevco won the right to challenge the charges relating to the UEFA license of 2011, which the SFA levied in 2018, it was the “Craig Whyte Exempt Acts” they were hiding behind.
If you were suspicious – and let’s face it, we’re all suspicious right now – you might assume that this segment of the Five Way Agreement was written specifically with this issue in mind, and you may well be right.
From this vantage point it seems crystal clear that this is exactly why it was done.
And you cannot help but think that in providing Sevco with such an indemnity the SFA was protecting itself most of all.
But were they also protecting someone else?
The evidence suggests that they were.
That’s complicated. As far as the SFA and Celtic are concerned, the matter is dead.
The SFA were forced to punt the issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but they announced, on the day Celtic was confirmed as Nine In A Row champions, that the matter would not be pursued.
That was clearly done with the connivance of our club, and I won’t even entertain arguments to the contrary.
They chose a day on which the media and others accused them of doing us a giant favour to announce that they would not be pursuing a case forced on them, initially, by Celtic? And you think we didn’t approve that?
Our one hope here has always been to take this out of Scotland entirely.
Sevco’s contention that this falls under the Craig Whyte “exempt” acts is patently ludicrous whatever the final draft of the Five Way Agreement may say to the contrary.
Whyte did not operate alone.
He was part of a board of directors and that included Alistair Johnston and former SFA member Andrew Dickson.
Others on the Ibrox board knew the situation with that license application and they did nothing.
They said nothing.
Silence does not absolve them of responsibility for what came to pass.
It was a scam, and clearly falls under the definition the SFA itself put on the Craig Whyte “enduring acts” in the Five Way document “corruption, fraud….. or any matter similar in its reprehensible nature…… which acts or omissions are of at least equal gravity to those found to have been committed by or engaged in by RFC”.
And yet, the Ibrox club has never had to answer for it … and our club and the SFA regard it a dead issue.
So who is covering for who here?
Two years ago, E-Tims posed a series of questions.
Many of them were the work of our friend BarcaBhoy, and his fellow Twitterati, TigerTim. They were of the utmost importance to everyone in Scottish football and especially those who care about how it’s run.
They are as follows:
Is every professional club in Scotland subject to the same disciplinary code?
A massive question and especially pertinent in light of recent events.
The existence of a document which essentially gives one of them a sort of blanket immunity from past sins is something no other football body in the world would permit.
It is clear that Sevco has conducted itself in a truly appalling fashion throughout its short history, with everything from statements that bring the game into disrepute and for which nothing was done, to the behaviour of its fans about which nothing is ever done.
The club does seem to exist in a world where rules don’t apply … perhaps that’s because they have it in writing.
Does the SFA have a disciplinary process that applies to only one club and if so why, and how can they possibly justify that?
As an adjunct to the first question this is vital.
Because Sevco does not seem subject to the same processes and procedures as other clubs either.
How can it be that the Resolution 12 investigation took so long in the first place?
The Ibrox Five case was another example of how the disciplinary process works in favour of one team … and we watch all this.
What made the Resolution 12 case different from every other allegation that the Judicial Review Board has to consider?
But the way this was done still stinks.
It took an age to report in the first place, was handed off elsewhere and is now buried?
Can all member clubs of the SFA refuse to have their rule breaking adjudicated by the National Association?
In falling back on the Five Way Agreement, Sevco was actually telling the SFA that is has no right to open the case, and the SFA somehow, perversely, agreed to put that question to another body.
Was this to be the norm for clubs which come up before the beaks? What makes Sevco so special?
Remember that when they presented their dodgy dossier on the SPL board that they threatened to take the matter to the courts … which is a flagrant breach of the SFA and SPFL regulations.
What they did in the Five Way Agreement case was a clear case of discrimination against all the rest of the clubs.
The way they were allowed to do their own investigation of the Ibrox Five was another case in point; that was part of the reason for the long delay in the SFA getting around to charging their players.
And where does that leave our game?
Are UEFA aware of, and comfortable with, a legal agreement between the SFA and Rangers which takes authority out of the hands of the SFA?
This might well be the most important question of all of them.
The SFA rulebook exists in the shadow of the UEFA one, and it is formed out of the FIFA statutes. Are we really expected to believe that an agreement which indemnified one club from sanctions, or let a non-national association body adjudicate them, when all other clubs are treated according to the regulations we all live by, would meet the approval of the European governing body?
It is almost inconceivable that UEFA would agree to that.
The Five Way Agreement itself is a violation of UEFA regulations, which clearly and concisely cut through the whole “club versus company” argument on which the Survival Lie depends.
Their definition of what “a club” is leaves no room for doubt; they make no distinction between the two which means that when Rangers died they were gone and Sevco is a different entity.
That they give the club the same coefficient points as the old one appears to be a flat contradiction of policy, but it flows from the SFA’s own position on the matter.
But that position is based on a document which does make clear distinctions between Sevco and Rangers, and sets them out clearly.
It is the basis of the Survival Lie, yes, but it also contradicts itself in the number of times it clearly separates the two entities … the Five Way Agreement is actually the enshrining of a lie which all involved freely admit is a lie.
It is a document that says “we know Rangers died but this document will commit to treating Sevco as if they were Rangers … except when that would be inconvenient for us.”
We were once under the wholly mistaken belief that UEFA allowed Sevco and the SFA to maintain this fiction on the clear understanding that the sins of Rangers would be paid for by the current Ibrox club, and if the SFA has given Sevco immunity from those charges then, yes UEFA would have a problem with that.
But actually, it’s much worse than that because as UEFA confirmed to Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, they didn’t even know the Five Way Agreement existed … the SFA and those involved in drafting that document hid that from the European football governing body, and in doing so placed the whole game in this country in the deepest jeopordy.
And a lot of our fans now believe that our board was wholly aware of it all … and when Peter Lawwell was asked about that, directly, at the club’s AGM, he lied about it.
That’s the full measure of what we’re talking about here.
The Five Way Agreement is the most destructive document in the history of the Scottish game.
It enshrines lies.
It underpins every strutting arrogant Ibrox boast, and it is quite clear that it remains the most corrupt agreement ever drafted in the sport, a document so bad that its existence was never disclosed to the European governing body, although it impacts on their governance rules.
Over the past few years, as questions have continued to grow as to exactly why Celtic has been resistant to pushing this as hard as they could, more and more attention has focussed on the Five Way Agreement itself and a big question; what did Celtic know about that document?
More importantly, did we play a role in its drafting and adoption?
There are basically two possible answers to that question and both sound pretty ridiculous, but one of them is more tenable than the other. The first answer is that of course we didn’t and the second answer is that of course we did.
The idea that we might have done so, and legitimised the Survival Lie sounds patently absurd.
Why would we?
What do we gain from their ability to claim the history of Rangers and all that goes with it?
Why would our board agree to such a momentous fraud?
These questions hardly need to be answered in light of what we’ve seen this season.
Our directors do not think about things the same way we do.
They have different priorities.
The largest shareholder is on record as believing we need the Ibrox club.
In 2012, Lawwell publicly decried the loss of revenue that Rangers’ demise would inflict on us.
These people can probably tell themselves they were acting in our best interests.
If they hadn’t been involved in its drafting they saw its result and they have never raised their voices in complaint about any of it far less fought it as hard as they could.
If you’re asking me, honestly, do I believe they signed off on the Five Way Agreement I am going answer you honestly; I do believe it.
I am 100% sure they did because the SFA would never have entered into any of it without Celtic, for fear of the enormous consequences if our club raised a stink over what that document was and what it meant.
They needed us on board, and I think we were probably on board from the off.
This would be bad enough on its own, and the Requisitioners have always suspected that it was the case, but what makes it worse is that they asked the club the Five Way Agreement question directly; did we know and when?
And Celtic, through Peter Lawwell denied it.
He denied that Celtic had ever seen the most consequential document in the history of Scottish football.
Considering his position within the game, and Celtic’s pre-eminent position as the biggest club in the country, the answer is absurd.
Either he was lying or it was the grossest dereliction of duty in Celtic’s history. As bad as that alternative is, I understand exactly why he would have lied … as knowledge without comment equals consent or worse, conspiracy.
How do we know that Lawwell lied?
We know he lied because leaked e-mails show that a Celtic director was sent drafts of the document.
We know Celtic saw it.
What we don’t know for sure is why we said nothing and did nothing about it.
But we can surmise the answers from the way things have unfolded this season, and from the failures off the field which contributed to this campaign’s shattering defeat.
I’ll reprise those tomorrow, but they add up not so much to a failure to win the big fights for reform but a failure even to have them.
I think someone at Celtic decided that to keep us buying season tickets we needed not just a rival but an enemy.
It’s the same philosophy Ibrox has been using since the NewCo was formed in 2012.
I think our board took a deliberate decision to endorse all of the lies we live with at present … and that will be what finally destroys their reputations in history.
And all of this is fundamental to where we are today, and why, when the club asks us for trust, so many of us don’t believe they deserve it.
It’s why managerial change was only part of what was needed to get this club back where it belongs.
We require regime change as well.