Don’t write-off Regan… (yet)


The Scottish Football Association released a statement yesterday regarding Rangers’ choice to take the SFA to a Judicial Hearing re: their transfer ban.  As we all know, the hearing sided with Rangers and demanded the decision was referred back to the SFA panel to choose a new punishment, as based on SFA guidelines.

In response, Stewart Regan said:

“In light of Tuesday’s decision by Lord Glennie at the Court of Session, it is necessary to clarify the position of the Scottish FA in relation to the disciplinary sanctions imposed on Rangers FC.  Football must always operate within the law of the land. None the less, it is regrettable that a member club has sought recourse for a football disciplinary matter through increasingly costly civil court action.

“The right of appeal is now open to the Scottish FA through the Court of Session. However, by so doing, the very principles on which the Scottish FA – and, for that matter, UEFA and FIFA – are founded, namely football disciplinary matters being dealt with within its own jurisdiction, would be fundamentally compromised.

“Therefore, it is our intention to accede to Lord Glennie’s request and refer the matter back to the Appellate Tribunal, which will consider the remaining sanctions open to it. Details of a new hearing date will be confirmed in early course.  The Scottish FA is bound – as are all other decision-making bodies in this country – by the Supervisory Jurisdiction of the court under Scots Law. The Scottish FA’s Senior Counsel represented to the Court of Session that it had no jurisdiction with reference to Article 5.1(b) and (c) of the Scottish FA’s Articles and Articles 4(2), 62(1), 63(1), 63(2) and 64(2) of the FIFA Statutes. This representation was rejected by Lord Glennie, who considered that the provisions of the FIFA statutes and the provisions of the Scottish FA Articles did not oust the supervisory jurisdiction of the courts to deal with questions of the powers open to the tribunal.

“It is important to reiterate that the additional sanction of a registration embargo was imposed by an independent Judicial Panel chaired by a leading QC, Gary Allan, and upheld by an Appellate Tribunal chaired by a Supreme Court Judge, Lord Carloway.  That in itself vindicates the robustness of the Judicial Panel Protocol, which has been questioned in hackneyed comment in certain quarters this week. It should be noted that two vastly experienced Supreme Court Judges, Lord Carloway and Lord Glennie, arrived at diametrically opposed viewpoints on the same issue.

“With our Annual General Meeting taking place on Wednesday, June 6, it will be appropriate to remind member clubs that by very dint of their membership of the Scottish FA, they accept and abide by the Articles of Association.”

What does this mean, and what is the message?  Let’s look at it bit by bit.

Football must always operate within the law of the land. None the less, it is regrettable that a member club has sought recourse for a football disciplinary matter through increasingly costly civil court action.

In layman’s terms this means, we’re based in Scotland and thus have to obey Scottish law.  However, we also have our own rules which Rangers signed up to, and therefore we now have no option but to apply those…

The right of appeal is now open to the Scottish FA through the Court of Session. However, by so doing, the very principles on which the Scottish FA – and, for that matter, UEFA and FIFA – are founded, namely football disciplinary matters being dealt with within its own jurisdiction, would be fundamentally compromised.

What Regan is saying here is that, yes, they could appeal the ruling from the CoS, but that would leave the SFA in deep doo-doo with FIFA and UEFA, not to mention break their own rules.  They will keep the decision in house… Fair enough really.  But what now, and what will they do?

Therefore, it is our intention to accede to Lord Glennie’s request and refer the matter back to the Appellate Tribunal, which will consider the remaining sanctions open to it (my emphasis)

OK… so back to a 3rd tirbunal.  The punishments open to that tribunal are 1) A 100,000GBP fine, 2) Suspension from Scottish Cup 3) Suspension of Membership or 4) Expulsion from the SFA.  As two tribunals have already stated, to fine a club 100,000GBP, when they have saved 20,000,000GBP by not paying taxes is not a punishment.  It has to be something else.  Likewise, Suspension from the Scottish Cup does not punish their actions in the league, and the unfair advantage they gained.  Hmmm, so that leaves two options then…

It is important to reiterate that the additional sanction of a registration embargo was imposed by an independent Judicial Panel chaired by a leading QC

My reading of this is that Regan is trying to say the panel was trying to be fair to Rangers by choosing a new punishment, specifically to avoid what’s coming next.

appropriate to remind member clubs that by very dint of their membership of the Scottish FA, they accept and abide by the Articles of Association

I just want to repeat this.  remind member clubs that by very dint of their membership.  Read that, over and over again.  The only thing I can interpret from this is that Regan now see’s no choice but to make an example of Rangers.  He doesn’t want any club doing this, ever, and, if they do, they can pack their bags and go play somewhere else.

To sum up, I think this statement by Regan is as strong as it could be.  He’ll let the panel reconsider the punishments open to them.  I fully expect they will come back and suspend Rangers from the SFA, based on the fact they have now been given no option.  That will save the SFA taking further action for the blatent disregard for the SFA and FIFA articles of association.

Let’s just be clear, and Regan touched on it by saying “the very principles on which the Scottish FA – and, for that matter, UEFA and FIFA – are founded, …would be fundamentally compromised“, if the SFA do not ban Rangers, the Scottish football, not just in the eyes of the Scottish supporter, but in the eye’s of FIFA, will be DEAD.

Well done Rangers. You’ve taken Scottish football to the brink. There is no half choices anymore.  Its all or nothing.

Stewart Regan – it’s time for you, and the SFA to really stand up and be counted.  Scottish Football is counting on you.

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