A club capable of being owned and operated   

Thursday 11 September, 2014

On last night’s Sportsound programme on BBC Radio Scotland, the former Herald journalist Richard Wilson – now working in some sort of capacity with the BBC – spent some considerable time attempting to explain the current financial farrago going on at Rangers.

During his stint on-air, he was asked a question by the programme’s presenter, Kenny McIntyre, that went something long the lines of: if the club runs out of cash, would this be classed as a second or a first administration?

McIntyre’s question is important, for two reasons; one is down to how the club would be punished if it was forced into administration due to cash-flow problems, and the second concerns the myth being perpetuated by supporters of the club that it is the same entity which existed prior to its liquidation in 2012 with honours and history intact.

Wilson responded with the following remark:

“In February 2013, Lord Nimmo Smith ruled that the current club was a continuation of the same entity, so Rangers – in a football sense – are the same club, so therefore it would be a second administration. In corporate terms, it would be a first administration for Rangers International Football Club.”

Now, here is the problem with this: the High Court Judge Lord Nimmo-Smith, in a document produced for the Scottish Premier League in 2013, published a remark to the effect that football clubs are capable of being owned and operated or bought and sold by a “parent” company or operator.

The document was produced as part of a tribunal commissioned by the SPL to determine whether The Rangers Football Club PLC had broken league rules in its remuneration to players.

The crucial element here is that Nimmo-Smith’s remarks were not a legal ruling or court judgement; they were his own personal view.

His opinion has never been put to the test in a court of law, but it suited the SPL’s agenda at the time (ie. to restore Rangers – and their income potential – to the top-flight of Scottish football).

However, Wilson casually passed along Nimmo-Smith’s remarks as fact on-air – either because he does not understand their original purpose, or he has a deep-rooted desire to somehow make them true.

It’s a form of journalism best-suited to a newspaper.

The BBC has often found itself in trouble for remarks made by its presenters and journalist like this before, especially where Rangers are concerned – usually when the corporation has reported that Rangers were NOT a continuing entity (see: Jim Spence Rangers Jibes), so this is a curious about-face by the national broadcaster – and it will be interesting to see if Wilson’s remarks go unchecked, or if the angry hoards rise up demanding redress.

Ultimately, it’s a classic illustration of how the individual perspective of one journalist, based on the subtleties of their language when tasked with interpreting and reporting information can be influenced by their own world view.

Tags: , , , ,