Posts Tagged ‘jim spence’

Weekend At Bernie’s

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

In 1989, the American actors Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman starred in a low-budget comedy entitled Weekend At Bernie’s [1], which became a surprise commercial and cult success, earning back twice its production budget and spawning a moderately profitable sequel, Weekend At Bernie’s 2.

The plot of the movie centres around two young insurance salesmen who discover that their boss, Bernie Lomax, has died having embezzled millions from his own company. However, in the event of his death, crafty old Bernie had left strict instructions that the two nosey salesmen were to be taken out by hitmen – but the duo would be spared so long as Bernie remained alive. Consequently, the two salesmen spend the remainder of the movie attempting to avoid their own deaths by wheeling Bernie’s body around and pretending to everyone that he’s still alive.

It’s a reasonably funny movie, peppered with genuinely hilarious slapstick comedy moments as the two protagonists blunder from scene to scene with their dead boss in tow – dressed up to appear as though he’s alive and well. Admittedly, the whole charade soon becomes somewhat tedious.

Over the past few years, the Scottish public has witnessed a real-life Weekend At Bernie’s unfold, as fans of The Rangers Football Club have repeatedly attempted, often in vain, to convince everyone (including themselves) that their club is still alive and did not die in June 2012 when it went bust. These individuals will go to extraordinary lengths in their attempts to sell this “same club” myth to the rest of us – including, but not limited to issuing death threats and mounting distasteful social media hate campaigns against individuals and private organisations who have the temerity to detract from the narrative, that being: the current club they support is the same club it has always been. [3]

On 1 January 2015 in an interview with the BBC, the current Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster added further fuel to the Ibrox funeral pyre, with the bizarre insistence that the current club is, in fact, the same one as existed prior to liquidation in 2012 – despite having absolutely no basis in fact or any corroborating evidence to support his assertion. [4]

Doncaster has his reasons for attempting to keep old Bernie alive (those reasons are largely financial in nature, but equally, they’re not a million miles away from trying to keep hitmen off his own back). However, Doncaster is as deluded as the people who have attempted to perpetuate the “same club” myth since June 2012.

Below, various arguments are presented in detail, explaining why each strategy ultimately fails to convince any sane person that the club currently playing football at Ibrox stadium is anything other than a dead corpse, and, just like Bernie Lomax, it’s being trundled around purely for comedic effect.

1: The Lord Nimmo-Smith Commission Argument

The former High Court judge Lord Nimmo-Smith retired in 2009, but in 2013 he produced a document for the Scottish Premier League (now known as The Scottish Professional Football League) as chair of a tribunal which was commissioned to determine whether The Rangers Football Club PLC (founded in 1872 and incorporated in 1899) had breached league rules in its remuneration to over 100 players and staff during the period 2000-2010. [5]

It’s a complex story known commonly as “The Big Tax Case” [6] and is documented at length elsewhere by others, but it concerns a serious charge that the club illegally paid hundreds of players and staff millions of pounds via tax-free offshore benefit trusts, and remains subject to court appeal proceedings. Ultimately, the whole debacle brought about the corporate end of the club when it entered administration on 14 February 2012 due to insurmountable (albeit slightly different) social tax debts, and was subsequently placed into liquidation.

Lord Nimmo-Smith was the man drafted in by the SPL and given the responsibility of attempting to pick the situation apart in an attempt to make sense of it all. It is important to note at this stage that Lord Nimmo-Smith was financially remunerated by the SPL to produce his report.

The two headlines which most Rangers fans cite from the Lord Nimmo-Smith report in support of the “same club” myth are (in no specific order): 1. That Rangers were not to be stripped of the league titles or any trophies won during the period of their financial misdemeanours [7], and, 2: That Lord Nimmo-Smith “ruled” that a football club is capable of being owned and operated, or capable of being bought and sold by a “parent” company or operator – and therefore, because the “club” was sold to new owners when its “parent” company was liquidated, its honours and history remained intact. [8]

Curiously, this so-called “ruling” of Lord Nimmo-Smith’s did not extend to maintaining the company’s financial history – including debts in the millions to hundreds of creditors, which remain unpaid to date.

The stripping of titles (or not) was never mentioned anywhere in Lord Nimmo-Smith’s report – because no such action was covered in the remit of the commission (the report did, however, mention that no sporting sanctions should be levied against Rangers because the financial misdemeanours were carried out by the “previous owners” and not by the “football club” itself).

The reason that “no title stripping” became the headline from the report was because Rangers were given sight of the document prior to its publication on 28 February 2013 and the PR machine carefully pre-spun the story by leaking key elements of its contents to the BBC ahead of the official announcement at noon that day – with a specific emphasis on “there will be no stripping of titles under the commission’s punishment recommendations“. Having not actually read the full report, but wishing to be first with the story, the BBC duly reported this as the fundamental outcome of the commission – and the rest of Scotland’s media followed suit. When Lord Nimmo-Smith finally released his report later that day – and it became apparent to all that title stripping was never on the agenda – it was too late for any media outlets to run with the real story.

In fact, the Lord Nimmo-Smith report – regarded by Rangers fans as the cornerstone of the “same club” myth – found the club guilty of wrongdoing in respect of the improper registration of players and deliberately withholding important information from the SFA regarding the same – but not of operating an illegal tax scheme – and recommended that the football authorities fine whoever was willing to admit to being in charge of the club/company the grand sum of £250,000.

The Commission deliberated in August 2012 before the Big Tax Case delivered its verdict (a decision which supported the line taken by Lord Nimmo-Smith that an illegal tax scheme had not been used by the club and that no sporting advantage had been gained in doing so). However, an earlier incarnation of the tax avoidance scheme was used by the club to pay three players between 2000-01 and 2002-03 and was instigated by the former Scottish FA president Campbell Ogilvie (who held a director’s role at Ibrox until 2005). It was known as a Discounted Options Scheme – commonly referred to as “The Wee Tax Case”. This scheme was determined to be illegal by the courts and Rangers were issued with a bill of £4m by HMRC. [9]

However, Lord Nimmo-Smith was unaware of these payments, as the details were withheld by Rangers from the SPL as being subject to legal proceedings in the same way the “Big Tax Case” details were. The SPFL Board and the SFA have been made aware of this in a series of letters, but have chosen to take no further action on the matter. Rangers have never been punished by the SFA or the SPL for being found guilty of running the Discounted Options Scheme, despite the obvious sporting implications.[10]

Notably, the £250,000 fine recommended by the Lord Nimmo-Smith commission is yet to be recovered by the SFA – because the current owners/operators of the club formerly known as “Rangers” maintain that it was a financial sanction levied on a completely different entity (the different entity being the previous owner and operator of the club, which was liquidated and therefore has no responsibility for its debts). This is despite the fine having been levied on the “club”, not its “owner” or “operator”. [11]

However, the SPFL (the body which emerged from the later merger of the SPL and the Scottish Football League) claims that the current Rangers owners entered into an agreement as a condition of the transference of Rangers’ SFA registration to the club’s “new owners” – which stipulated that the new company would be liable for the football debts of the old company – an agreement which the SPFL is having difficulty enforcing because it can’t quite make up its mind if the current club is the same club or merely an entirely new entity which agreed to assume responsibility for the old one’s debts.

Lord Nimmo-Smith’s report makes frequent mention of “oldco” in reference to The Rangers Football Club PLC (a company which was incorporated in 1899 and is currently undergoing liquidation proceedings), which is also conveniently ignored by the proponents of the “same club” myth. The logic applied here is known in psychology circles as cognitive dissonance – put simply: the human brain has a tendency to ignore the bad things about something unpleasant, while emphasising the good things about the bad thing – no matter how incompatible with logic and common sense doing so may seem.

It’s a dense document, peppered with legal jargon that often seems confusing and contradictory – and appears to reach the bewildering conclusion that because no-one knew Rangers were breaking the rules, then the club didn’t really do anything wrong – but they should be fined a piddling sum for their mendacity anyway.

In his definitions early in the report, Lord Nimmo-Smith wrote:

“Rangers Football Club was founded in 1872 as an association football club. It was incorporated in 1899 as The Rangers Football Club Limited. In 2000 the company’s name was changed to The Rangers Football Club PLC, and on 31 July 2012 to RFC 2012 PLC. We shall refer to this company as ‘Oldco’.” [12]

Eight days following the publication of Nimmo-Smith’s report, the commission was compelled to issue an additional document to further explain how it had reached its conclusions, which said:

“It will be recalled that in Article 2 ‘Club’ is defined in terms of ‘the undertaking of an association football club’, and in Rule I1 it is defined in terms of an association football club which is, for the time being, eligible to participate in the League, and includes the owner and operator of such Club. Taking these definitions together, the SPL and its members have provided, by contract that a Club is an undertaking which is capable of being owned and operated. While it no doubt depends on individual circumstances what exactly is comprised in the undertaking of any particular Club, it would at the least comprise its name, the contracts with its players, its manager and other staff, and its ground, even though these may change from time to time. In common speech a Club is treated as a recognisable entity which is capable of being owned and operated, and which continues in existence despite its transfer to another owner and operator. In legal terms, it appears to us to be no different from any other undertaking which is capable of being carried on, bought and sold. This is not to say that a Club has legal personality, separate from and additional to the legal personality of its owner and operator. We are satisfied that it does not.“ [13]

So, Lord Nimmo-Smith specifically differentiated between the two “Rangers” entities, then clarified that a football club is a separate entity from its owner and operator. However, in the same clarification, he also asserted that a club does not have a legal personality – and therein lies the crux of the problem: if a football club does not have a legal personality (in the way, say, a house or a car does) then it simply does not exist in any tangible or legal sense. If it does not exist, it cannot be passed from owner to owner.

This “legal personality” definition is not commensurate with the popular argument that the original Lord Nimmo-Smith report specifically “ruled” that Rangers is/was/forever-shall-be the same club as it was prior to liquidation in 2012; either the club exists as an entity that can be bought and sold, or it does not. It cannot be like Schrödinger’s Cat; appearing to be both simultaneously alive and dead. In truth, the club exists only in the way Bernie Lomax did; as an amusing plot device contrived to keep its benefactors alive.

Additionally, contracts with players did not transfer to the Newco as stated above in Lord Nimmo-Smith’s addendum, in line with the Transference of Undertakings of Protection of Employment law (TUPE) which entitles employees of liquidated companies to move to any new company that has assumed control of the former company’s assets under the exact same terms and conditions as were held with the previous company. In fact, 67 players raised a legal action over the handling of their contracts and ten separate players chose not to move to the new company – and the new “owners” at Ibrox failed to mount a successful challenge to recover £6m in compensation from the clubs which some of the players eventually moved to, as would be normal. In fact, the new owners were forced to pay the departing players’ legal costs for wasting everyone’s time. [14]

The legal challenge failed because the players were fully entitled under TUPE regulations to walk away from the new company, since their previous employer had gone bust and their contracts were voided as a result. Crucially, in line with employment law, it was ruled at the same tribunal that the departing players’ SFA registrations were held with their employer (i.e. The Rangers Football Club PLC) and not the mythical “club” component of the organisation.

This is by far the most stringent legal point which is conveniently ignored or dismissed by supporters of the “same club” myth – and it fundamentally wrecks any ridiculous notion that the club is somehow the same legal entity as it was before it was liquidated in 2012. If Rangers are the same club, it begs the question: why were ten contracted players legally allowed to move to new clubs without any form of compensation being paid to their former club?

The answer is simple: because the club they were contracted to no longer existed.

An interesting aside to this issue is that the new owners of Rangers were required, under the conditional transference of SFA membership agreement, to pay sums owed to other clubs for players that had been purchased while under the guise of its previous incarnation – yet not the debts owed to ordinary, non-football creditors – which may yet be subject to legal proceedings. [15]

However, the crucial point at which the Lord Nimmo-Smith argument falls down is a much simpler one: the remarks made in his commission report were not a legal ruling or a court judgement in any way, shape or form; they were his own personal interpretation of the SPL and SFA rules and Articles of Association – which he was paid to produce. In other words, it was a report produced by a commercial entity to protect its financial interests.

In July 2013, the SFA subsequently modified its Articles of Association to reinforce this issue. Previously, under the SFA’s rules, a club was defined as:

“a football club playing Association Football in accordance with the provisions set out in Article 6”

Whereas the new Articles of Association now define a club as:

“a football club playing Association Football in accordance with the provisions set out in Article 6 and, except where the context otherwise requires, includes the owner and operator of such club“.

So, according to the SFA’s own Articles of Association, when Rangers went bust 2012, there were no separate “club” and “company” entities defined – the club was the company. Now, it is both the club and the company – just in case anyone else tries to pull a Sevco by liquidating, wiping out their debts and setting up a new “holding” company to operate the mythical “club”.

However, there is one further area where the Lord Nimmo-Smith argument falls down miserably: Scots Law. As the BBC noted in their public response to the findings of their own Trust – in respect of a number of upheld complaints over the corporation’s reporters and presenters repeatedly referring to “oldco” and “newco” in relation to Rangers (for more on this see point 4 below):

“A football club, once incorporated, is indistinguishable in Scots law from its corporate identity. If the club was separate it would need its own constitution, committee members, trustees, etc. Rangers Football Club does not have that because it is incorporated.” [16]

To repeat: the idea that a football club and its “history” are legal, tangible assets that can change owners (in the same way a house or a car can) is fictional nonsense.

In the original incorporation documents of The Rangers Football Club Limited, submitted to Companies House in 1899, clearly stated in its Memorandum and Articles of Association, it is written:

“The words “Club” and “Company” and also the words “Member” and “Shareholder” throughout the said Memorandum and Articles of Association shall, where the context admits of it, be of synonymous meaning.”

So, all the way from the national archives, printed, stamped, signed, agreed, approved and incorporated comes the damning details: the club and the company are synonymous – ie. they are one and the same. There’s just no getting away from it.

Unfortunately, Lord Nimmo-Smith’s learned opinion, which is based on incomplete evidence withheld from him, has never been tested in court – which would be the most appropriate and definitive means of shutting down the debate for good – but it suited the SFA and the SPL’s agenda at the time; to attempt to restore Rangers and its income potential to the top-flight of Scottish football for the supposed benefit of all mankind, as quickly as possible. Instead, it risks slowly poisoning the very thing it was intended to protect.

2: The European Football Club Association Argument

The European Club Association (ECA) is an independent body which represents football clubs at European level. Its stated function is to protect and promote European club football with the aim of creating a democratic governance model that reflects the key role of clubs. Every country in Europe is represented by at least one club.

Members are awarded either Ordinary Membership – which is set aside for founding members and clubs who are participating in their country’s top league, in addition to regular European football, and Associate Membership – which is set aside for founding members who are no longer participating in their country’s top league, and, as a result, not participating regularly in European competition.

It has no regulatory powers in regard to any formal business in relation to football. Its real purpose is to protect the income of its member clubs. In truth, it is merely a group of rich people who wish to maintain their wealth by asserting a collective influence on the organisation with the actual power; UEFA.

In a rather feeble fashion, Rangers fans cite this group as another irrefutable reason for the world to believe their club is the same entity it was before liquidation. The basis for this argument is that Rangers are currently an Associate Member of the ECA – having previously been an Ordinary Member prior to liquidation, whereupon the club’s status was revoked. In December 2012, a vote was taken in Moscow at a meeting of the ECA’s executive committee to decide whether to grant Associate Membership to the “new” Rangers, a motion which passed. (Interestingly, the oldco had been a founding member of the ECA in the days following the disbandment of the G14 – another organisation designed to promote the wealth of a select few European top-flight elite clubs).

In 2012, following the Moscow meeting, the ECA released a statement:

“Rangers FC held ordinary membership with the ECA before entering into administration and later into liquidation. Meanwhile Rangers FC, owned by the Rangers Football Club Plc, transferred all its assets, including its goodwill, to Sevco Ltd (Sevco Ltd later changing its name to the Rangers Football Club Ltd). Alike at Scottish FA level, this ‘new entity’ had to re-apply for membership with ECA as according to Swiss law, membership of an association is neither heritable nor transferable (article 70.3 of the Swiss Civil Code). In dealing with these re-application, ECA applied the terms and provisions of our membership policy and statutes. According to the prerequisites set out in the membership policy, Rangers FC did not meet the requirements to be granted ordinary membership (top division and European licence). With regards to associated membership, the membership policy states amongst others that founding members are granted automatic membership,” the spokesperson explained. Taking into account that the ‘new entity’ also acquired the goodwill of the ‘old entity’, it was held by the ECA executive board that the goodwill, taking into account legal and practical arguments, also included the history of the ‘old company’. Consequently it was concluded that Rangers FC was entitled to associated membership of ECA as considered to be a founding member.” [17]

In other words, the ECA took a committee decision to let Rangers back in for old times’ sake.

As stated above, this organisation has absolutely no power to determine whether a football club exists as a legal, continuing entity – it’s a lobby group. Its machinations have absolutely no basis in law, and its decision to recognise Rangers as a continuing entity means nothing in practical terms. It’s what the Germans refer to as “a cat in a sack”.

3: The UEFA website argument

UEFA is the administrative governing body of all football in Europe. It represents all of the national football associations of Europe, runs nation and club competitions including the UEFA European Championship, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Super Cup, and controls the prize money, regulations, and media rights to those competitions. UEFA defers to all domestic associations (such as the SFA) in relation to domestic club matters and only gets involved if the matter under dispute is cross-border, involves one of their cross-border competitions, or if the local association in question has acted improperly in the application of its own rules.

Rangers fans cling to the notion that because Rangers are listed on UEFA’s website, with all of the previous club’s history and honours listed, then the club must be the same one as it was before liquidation in 2012. [18]

However, UEFA has never made any public statements about Rangers’ legal status as a football club, and refers all such matters to the SFA.

For a club to become eligible to participate in any of UEFA’s domestic football competitions, it is required to be a member of its national football association for three uninterrupted seasons. Since the current Rangers Football Club was only incepted in 2012 and was not granted SFA membership until 3 August 2012, it did not meet the requirements until August 2015, and is therefore not valid to participate in any UEFA competitions until at least season 2016/17 (since the licensing threshold date ended on 31 March 2015).

This is conveniently ignored by Rangers fans, as it can be easily explained by their “holding company” myth (ie. that a club is capable of being owned and operated, as per Lord Nimmo-Smith’s report) and the delay is merely an inconvenience of the prior holding company being liquidated.

The one entertaining component of the UEFA website argument is the fact that the governing body still lists Rangers’ date of foundation as 1873 on its website, when in fact the club was founded in 1872 – another little snippet the club’s fans are all too happy to ignore because it fails to support their argument.

All of the earliest records of Rangers’ foundation date maintain that the club was founded in 1872. However, in the 1920s, this date was changed to 1873. John Allen, the man who edited the Daily Record newspaper at the time – and who also edited the Rangers Annual Yearbook – failed to notice in 1922 that Rangers were 50 years old. So, instead of releasing the 50th anniversary annual one year later in 1923, he decided to change the club’s founding year from 1872 to 1873 – so that he could publish a book that would bring in some cash in its new Jubilee year. It took almost two decades before the deliberate mistake would be corrected following pressure from the club’s fans and historians.

It would appear that Rangers’ date of foundation is something of a movable feast, depending on the circumstances and context.

One other aspect of the UEFA website is the inclusion of a Uefa coefficient for Rangers, which has been maintained on the organisation’s website. Coefficients are calculated based on an equation involving the performances of a given club participating in European competition and the overall performances of other clubs from the same country participating in the same European competitions. [19]

Unfortunately, Uefa’s co-efficient system also lists other clubs which are no longer in existence – including Unirea of Romania and the club formerly known as Derry City from Northern Ireland. Derry City were liquidated in 2009 and the club was denied entry into following season’s Europa League competition. The “new” Derry City was able to participate in European competition in 2013, but the Uefa coefficient ranking was not inherited by the new company. Derry City now has a completely new Uefa coefficient. [20]

4: The Advertising Standards Authority argument

In 2013, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a ruling in favour of Rangers following an advertising dispute over whether the club should be allowed to use the slogan ‘”Scotland’s most successful club”. The 82 separate complaints argued that the club could not boast such a claim because it had only existed for one year and its honours were easily outstripped by other clubs.

An original ASA ruling (which was also in Rangers’ favour) was reviewed after a remark submitted on behalf of the club in its own defence was deemed to be false (ie. that the claim to “owning” the previous club’s history was supported by the London Stock Exchange – it was not).

The ASA stood by its original ruling not to uphold 82 complaints that Rangers were misleading consumers by using the “Scotland’s most successful club” advertising slogan. The new adjudication said the ASA was confident that consumers would understand that the claim was in reference to the history of Rangers Football Club, but did accept that that the club’s history was “separate to that of Newco”.

The ruling said:

“We consulted with UEFA, which explained that its rules allowed for the recognition of the ‘sporting continuity’ of a club’s match record, even if that club’s corporate structure had changed. We also consulted with the SFA, which confirmed that its definition of a football ‘club’ varied depending on context, and could sometimes refer to an entity separate from the club’s corporate owner.” [21]

UEFA and the SFA have since declined to clarify the remarks made to the ASA. The SFA, having overseen the demise of several clubs in its history (Third Lanark, Clydebank, Airdrieoneans) should know exactly what constitutes a “club”, and perhaps the definition of a football club entirely depends on which club is being referred to.

The Advertising Standards Authority is the self-regulatory organisation of the advertising industry in the United Kingdom. It is a non-statutory organisation and so cannot interpret, create or enforce legislation. As with Lord Nimmo-Smith and the ECA, the ASA has no authority to determine whether a football club is a continuing legal entity – only the law does. As an organisation, it exists entirely to uphold standards agreed by its members and those enforced by government legislation – but more importantly, it exists to promote revenue growth within the overall advertising industry.

Put simply: it exists to make rich people even more wealthy. (There’s a pattern emerging here).

If you find yourself relying on the ethics of the advertising industry to back up your argument, you’re in a bad place.

5: The BBC Trust Argument

In May 2013, the BBC Trust ruled that the BBC’s News and Sport website had inaccurately reported that Rangers Football Club had been liquidated in 2012 (the complaint being along the lines of: only the “holding company” was liquidated, not the actual club). One of the complainants asserted that the Corporation was operating under the influence of institutional bias – which was rejected by the Trust – but the complainant requested the Trust to review their claim. [22]

In its findings, the BBC Trust ruled that the complaint of institutional bias would not be considered for appeal and said that the terminology used by the BBC in its reporting (not just when reporting about Rangers, but in general) often depended on the purpose and context of the material and the intended audience.

However, the Trust also said that while there was no justifiable “news” reason to treat Rangers Football Club as a new entity simply because its had been liquidated and its assets had been flogged off to a new owner, there was justification in differentiating between the two different companies when referring to business matters.

Ultimately, the Trust ruled against its own Corporation, saying that it had not used “clear, precise language” when referring to the Ibrox outfit, and that due accuracy had not been achieved when making reference to the “old” and “new” Rangers. (It specifically referred to football matters and business matters in its judgement). The Trust also admitted that the complexity of the Rangers saga had probably caused the problem, but that bias was not an influencing factor.

Finally, the Trust also conceded that Rangers fans were a sensitive bunch, and perhaps it was not necessary to rub it in by constantly mentioning that their club had died. However, in a contradictory fashion, the Trust also said that referring to “old” and “new” aspects of the organisational setup at Ibrox was probably unavoidable at times, and, indeed, would often be necessary in the interests of clarity for people who were not of a Rangers persuasion.

The complaint was therefore upheld – but only in part. However, Rangers fans often cite this as a victory and claim that it demonstrates further proof that their club is the same one it has always been – and they perpetuate the myth that the BBC was found guilty of wrongly referring to to Rangers as “oldco” or “newco”. The logic follows that if the BBC got it wrong, everyone else must be wrong too.

However, the Trust only ruled that the BBC had not achieved due accuracy when referencing the two different corporate entities that have been involved in football and business operations at Ibrox. The BBC Trust did not rule that the BBC had been wrong to make use of the terms “oldco” and “newco” or that it was wrong to describe the club as “old” or “new” – merely that it had been inappropriate to do so in the specific news stories which were subject to the complaint and the appeal – and, the BBC should attempt to apply a more stringent description in future when discussing business and football matters relating to Rangers.

As mentioned earlier, BBC Scotland subsequently released a statement in its own defence of the Trust’s ruling (since the Trust’s decisions are final and the BBC cannot appeal against a Trust decision) asserting that a football club cannot be afforded the protections of a legal entity unless it is incorporated (which Rangers Football Club PLC was in 1899, until it was liquidated in 2012).

There’s not much more to add to this, other than to say that the BBC has tended to be circumspect in its references to Rangers (old or new) since the Trust ruling – although a case cropped up late in 2013 when BBC Scotland received complaints that their journalist Jim Spence had made a similar “old” and “new” reference to Rangers on air. The claim was that Spence said “the club is dead”, but what he actually said was:

“John McClelland who was the chairman of the old club, some people will tell you the club, well, the club that died, possibly coming back in terms of the new chairman.”

Subsequently, all Hell broke loose. The fans of the “same club” myth rose up against Spence and issued all manner of rabid complaints and death threats towards him.
The BBC Trust subsequently ruled that Spence had done nothing wrong, was a national treasure, and that Rangers fans were, well, a bit mental. [23]

Interestingly, this subsequent ruling is ignored by Rangers fans.

6: The SFA Registration Argument

In 2012, Rangers Football Club PLC went into liquidation and lost its share (and by way of share, its place) in the Scottish Premier League.

Sevco 5088 was incorporated by a consortium led by the businessman Charles Green on 29 March 2012 and was awarded the rights by the insolvency practitioners Duff & Phelps to purchase the assets of the failed Rangers Football Club PLC on 14 June 2012. Serco 5088 then passed those rights to Sevco Scotland Ltd (which was incorporated on 29 May 2012 – also by Mr Green), who subsequently bought the assets for a considerably reduced price than their perceived market value.

The transfer of rights is disputed by the previous owner of Rangers, Craig Whyte, who is currently the subject of fraud proceedings for his part in the club’s purchase and financial collapse.

Sevco Scotland then made a formal request for the old company’s share in the Scottish Premier League be transferred to them, and a vote was taken to decide the matter at an emergency meeting of the Scottish Premier League. However, Sevco Scotland’s request to transfer the share was rejected, and the share was taken up by Dundee Football Club, who moved up to the Scottish Premier League from the Scottish First Division. [24]

As a result, all clubs in Scottish football moved up one place to occupy the gap left by the liquidated Rangers Football Club PLC, and a space became available in the very bottom tier of the Scottish Football League for another club to gain membership.

Sevco Scotland then made a formal application to join the Scottish Football League, and a vote was taken by its member clubs to grant a space to the new club in the lowest tier of Scottish Football, the Third Division – which was dependent on the new club holding Scottish Football Association membership. Since it was a new club, it had no such credentials.

The new company then made a hasty application to the Scottish Football Association to transfer the full Scottish Football Association membership which had previously been held by The Rangers Football Club PLC to the new limited company, Sevco Scotland.

In order to allow the Scottish football season to commence, Sevco Scotland were offered a conditional membership of the SFA, which lasted from 27 July to 3 August.
A conditional transfer of the membership was formally granted by the SFA on 3 August (the conditions included Sevco Scotland accepting liability for the previous company’s football debts, fines and any contractual arrangements with players and staff under TUPE regulations) – and, after reaching agreement with the SFA and the SPL (now known as the SPFL) on the transference of membership, the new club then became a full member of the SFA. [25]

By this point, Sevco Scotland Ltd had applied to Companies House to change its name to The Rangers Football Club Limited on 31 July 2012 (which was the name of the club which had gone bust) and sought permission from the insolvency experts BDO to do so, which was granted. [26]

The new club was then brought under the ownership of an entirely separate company known as Rangers Football Club PLC, which was incorporated on 16 November 2012.
Rangers Football PLC then changed its name to The Rangers International Football Club Ltd on 27 November 2012.

The application to conditionally transfer the SFA membership of The Rangers Football Club PLC to Sevco Scotland was made entirely at the discretion of the SFA – despite a formal route of associate SFA membership being the normal process for a new club joining the Scottish Football League. No formal or public process was launched to seek applications from clubs around Scotland, who may have wished – or deserved – to obtain SFA membership at the time.

So, a completely new application for the conditional transference of membership by the new club had to be made – and at no point in the process did both companies (The Rangers Football Club PLC and Sevco Scotland) hold uninterrupted, continued membership of the SFA. The membership was transferred from one club to another.

Sevco Scotland, or The Rangers Football Club Limited, or The Rangers International Football Club LTD (ie. the “new” Rangers) were subsequently treated as an entirely new club – for example: their ensuing participation in the 2012/2013 Scottish Cup commenced in the early rounds, whereas Premier League clubs do not participate until later rounds as an advantage of top-flight league status – which Rangers lost when the SPL rejected their request to transfer the share held by the previous company to the new one. Similarly, the new club was not eligible to participate in any UEFA competitions due to not holding SFA membership for the mandatory three-year qualifying period (as stated above in ‘The UEFA Website Argument’).

All of this means that the club, at one point in the past held SFA membership and a share in the SPL – then, it went bust, and lost both before seeking firstly a conditional membership, then a conditional transference of the membership, in order to gain a place to play in Scottish football. If it had been the same club, none of these issues would have arisen.

The final word

Numerous other arguments exist in various forms across the web, social media, on forums, in pamphlets and documents issued and propounded by determined Rangers fans – some are amusing, many are desperate and tend to cling to tenuous interpretations of casual remarks or throwaway comments by people who hold no power or authority to determine the legal status of the club/company.

As mentioned previously, the “same club” myth has never been properly subjected to any form of legal challenge (largely because the opportunity has never presented itself – yet), but overwhelming evidence continues to refute the notion that the club is somehow a continuing legal entity – and there exists no more an authoritative voice than the conditions set down by a Crown Office legal official overseeing proceedings in open court.

On 19 July 2013 at a court hearing for Rangers Football Club PLC in Edinburgh, in his opening statement at the start of a First Tier Tax Tribunal appeal hearing (the appeal being made by HMRC against the verdict of the “Big Tax Case”, Colin Bishopp, Upper Tribunal Judge said:

”Before coming to the detail of the case it is worth making a preliminary observation. I have referred (above) to the strong feelings of many football supporters. Perhaps because of such feelings, professional football clubs are often regarded as having a special status. In some respects that may be the correct view; but it should nevertheless not be overlooked that a modern professional football club is not a “club”, in the sense of an unincorporated association of members who join together in pursuit of a common purpose, but a commercial enterprise whose function is to generate profits for its shareholders. From that perspective it has no special status, and there is no reason why its tax affairs should not be as open to scrutiny as those of any other profit-making organisation. The players, too, have no greater right to conceal their tax affairs from public scrutiny than any other taxpayer. The fact that they are in the public eye is irrelevant. Any application for privacy, anonymity or redaction of detail must therefore be supported by the same type and quality of evidence as would be required of another taxpayer, and will be granted only for the same reasons.” [28]

These remarks demonstrate – above all other evidence – that there is absolutely no legal basis for the Rangers Football Club to circumvent Scots Law by arbitrarily defining itself as separate legal entity from Rangers Football Club PLC (or The Rangers International Football Club PLC or The Rangers Football Club Ltd or Sevco 5088 or Sevco Scotland Ltd) solely to protect the mortally-wounded pride of its deluded supporters and lay claim to an ephemeral notion such as “history” and “honours”.

The “club” component of the organisation has absolutely no protected legal status – only the company does – and since the company was liquidated in 2012, it now exists only in the memories of its supporters and in media chronicles of past events.

Put simply: Rangers Football Club, as it was, is dead. Just like Bernie Lomax.


1. Weekend At Bernie’s:
2. BBC Sport, 12 June 2012, ‘Rangers to re-form as new company’:
3. Channel Four blogs, 12 October 2012, Alex Thomson’s view, ‘Threats and silence: the intimidation by Rangers fans’:
4. BBC Sport, 1 January 2015, ‘Neil Doncaster: Q&A with SPFL chief executive’:
5. BBC Sport, 17 August 2012, ‘Lord Nimmo Smith chairs SPL payments probe’:
6. BBC News, 20 November 2012, ‘Former Rangers Football Club wins Big Tax Case appeal’:
7. BBC Sport, 28 February 2013, ‘SPL Commission will not strip club of SPL titles’:
8. The Herald, 25 September 2012, ‘Green: ‘the Commission has, in effect, ruled that Rangers and its history did not die’’:
9. STV News, 7 June 2012, ‘Rangers administrators blame HMRC penalties for £4m tax bill increase’:
10. The Scottish Football Monitor, 6 October 2014, ‘Harper Macleod and LNS’:
11. BBC Sport, 17 December 2014, ‘SPFL to withhold Rangers’ broadcast fee to cover EBT fine’:
12. Lord Nimmo-Smith SPF Commission report at The Internet Archive:
14. Daily Record, 31 January 2013, ‘Rangers lose out in £6m compensation battle over newco contract fiasco’:
15. STV News, 21 February, 2013, ‘Rangers say all football debt has been cleared over player transfers’:
16. BBC News, 18 June 2013, ‘BBC Trust upholds complaints over reporting on Rangers’:
17. STV News, 14 December 2012, ‘European clubs body downgrades Rangers’ status but recognises history’
18. Uefa, Rangers FC:
19. Uefa coefficients:
20. BBC Sport, 21 February 2012, ‘Derry City are refused entry to Europa League by Uefa’:
21. The Drum, 11 December 2013, ‘ASA rules in favour of Rangers FC in advertising dispute following appeal’:
22. BBC Trust ‘Coverage of Rangers Football Club, BBC Online’:
23. The Drum, 3 October 2013, ‘BBC Editorial Complaints Unit clears BBC Scotland Sportsound presenter Jim Spence over Rangers row’:
24. BBC Sport, 3 August 2012, ‘Dundee’s SPL membership is ratified a day before opener’:
25. SFA website, 3 August 2012, ‘Transfer of membership’:
26. ESPN, 31 July 2012, ‘Rangers confirm name change’:
27. First Tier Tax Tribunal appeal hearing PDF:

A club capable of being owned and operated

Thursday, September 11th, 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.

Rangers investor Mike Ashley bought naming rights of Ibrox Stadium for just £1

Friday, September 5th, 2014

For a change, most of Scotland’s media were running to catch up with the Daily Record’s Keith Jackson yesterday over the story in which he revealed that the former Rangers director Charles Green had sold the naming rights to Ibrox stadium two years ago for just £1, to the Newcastle United and Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.

The sheep simply trundled along with the herd as the story was drip-fed to the media by Green and the Easdale brothers – including the BBC, who really should know better.

However, later in the evening on Thursday 4th September, the BBC Scotland journalist Jim Spence said something on their nightly Sportsound programme that caught the Monkey’s attention:

“Who stands to benefit from this?”

Not even Jackson asked this question in his “exclusive” story, yet it is the single, most important question that needs to be answered – and with the exception of Spence, no-one has bothered to raise it.

Jackson’s story, by comparison, reads like a distraught, emotional plea on the part of the so-called journalist for Ashley “not to press the button on renaming Ibrox”.

It’s a fundamental problem for an individual like Jackson to investigate and report objectively on the club he clearly loves.

The basic conundrum for him is that anything he prints has to be commensurate with the Daily Record’s commercial requirements to sell advertising space and punt newspapers, while perhaps being of interest to the public – but Jackson is simply incapable of doing it because it would require him to cause harm to his favourite club.

The consequences for him would be a reduction in his access and sustained attacks from the club’s supporters.

His credibility as a journalist does not enter the equation, because he simply has none – yet his peers in the Scottish media repeatedly, and quite astonishingly, vote him newspaper journalist of the year at the annual Scottish Press Awards.

Similarly, journalists elsewhere in the Scottish media have significant issues with finding ways to broadcast or publish a story that is already out in the public domain, but which has clearly been leaked in order to benefit (either financially or commercially) third-party individuals like Charles Green, Mike Ashley or the Easdale brothers.

It’s a big problem for Scottish football journalism.

Update: he’s at it again today with a story about Ashley taking control of the club’s superstores. (Note the typo on the sub-heading: ‘payrole’).

Jim Spence Rangers jibes

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

This week, the Monkey dissects a recent article by Chris Graham of The Rangers Standard on 18 September 2013:

Let’s start with his opening remark:

During the past couple of years there have been many examples of malicious reporting on Rangers troubles.

Go on then Chris, give us a few.

During the course of carrying out research for my chapters in the book ‘Follow We Will – The Fall and Rise of Rangers’ I had the misfortune of trawling through much of this and one of the names that stood out enough for inclusion was Jim Spence of BBC Scotland. He displayed a staggering ability to ignore documented evidence and a level of hypocrisy which marked him out, even in the world of Scottish sports journalism. Since then, there has been much talk in the media of the need to “move on” but if events of this past week are anything to go by then this bitter individual is struggling more than most to actually do so.

Again, offer up a few examples. There’s a lot of presumed knowledge here – and the use of highly-charged words like “staggering”, “hypocrisy” and “bitter” achieve nothing except to demonstrate a high level of emotion and hostility towards the subject matter.

Spence’s latest slur came during a performance on Sportsound on BBC Radio Scotland. During a discussion of the possible boardroom changes at Rangers, he stated the following:

“John McClelland who was the chairman of the old club, some people will tell you the club, well, the club that died, possibly coming back in terms of the new chairman.”

In what way is Spence’s remarks a “slur”? A slur is a term of disparagement, suggesting that it speaks of something in a slighting or disrespectful or belittling way. Spence’s remarks were in the context of a discussion about the structure of Rangers’ business and the potential return of two former directors of the failed company (The Rangers Football Club PLC) to the new company running business and football matters at Ibrox (The Rangers International Football Club PLC/The Rangers Football Club Ltd). His remarks were factually correct; The Rangers Football Club PLC died in July 2012; this is a matter of public record – and Spence couched his remark by saying “some will tell you“. To cast these remarks in a disparaging light is, well, disparaging in itself.

Now there are a few things wrong with this obviously. Firstly there is no “old club”. We’ve been over this before so I won’t bother going through all the times this has been confirmed by High Court judges, by the football authorities and by various bodies asked to rule on it. Most importantly with regard to Spence, the BBC Trust has been through it before when they confirmed that “due accuracy had not been achieved such that the guidelines on accuracy had been breached” in BBC Scotland stating repeatedly across their platforms that Rangers were a “new club”. Spence knows this, so he chose to disregard the finding of the body that regulates the BBC’s output in order to push his own agenda.

There are a few things incorrect about Graham’s statement here; firstly, there is an “old club”. The company, The Rangers Football Club PLC is in the process of being liquidated by the insolvency practitioners BDO – this is not a matter open to debate; it is a matter of public record and fact.

An entirely new company now exists to oversee business and football matters at Ibrox. It is currently known as The Rangers International Football Club PLC (and it owns a subsidiary company, The Rangers Football Club Ltd – which bears no relation, other than name, to the company currently in liquidation). It is entirely irrefutable that there exists an old club and a new club – both companies (the current one and the liquidated one) carry the name “club” in their titles, so to refer to them as “old” and “new” when discussing business matters (such as the return of two former directors from the old company to the board of the new company) would be appropriate. This is what Spence was discussing.

Graham cites “High Court Judges” as having confirmed that there is no “old” or “new” club, which is also unsupportable by the facts. The High Court Judge Lord Nimmo-Smith, in a document produced for the Scottish Premier League, made 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 into whether The Rangers Football Club PLC had broken league rules in its remuneration to players. Nimmo-Smith’s remarks were not a legal ruling or court judgement; they were his own personal view.

Similarly, Graham asserts that the same confirmation regarding Rangers being a club capable of being owned and operated has been given by “the football authorities and by various bodies asked to rule on it”. Again, this is entirely false; no football authority has made any public proclamations regarding the validity of Rangers being a continuing entity, despite the club’s liquidation in 2012. When making such assertions, it’s important to provide supporting evidence that backs the claim; Graham fails to do so and assumes the wording “We’ve been over this before so I won’t bother” will somehow bolster his view.

Graham also references the BBC Trust’s ruling regarding the corporation’s journalists using the words “old” and “new” to refer to Rangers Football Club. He is entirely correct here; the Trust ruled that the BBC had not achieved due accuracy when referencing the two different corporate entities that have been involved in football and business operations at Ibrox. The BBC Trust did not rule that the BBC had been wrong to make use of the terms “oldco” and “newco” or to describe the club as “old” or “new”, merely that it had been inappropriate to do so in the specific news stories which were subject to complaint and appeal, and, should attempt to apply a more stringent description in future when discussing business and football matters relating to Rangers.

The important part of this issue is that Spence’s remarks were entirely appropriate given that he was making reference to the club’s business structure; as stated previously, it is a matter of public record that there is an “old” Rangers Football Club PLC and a new Rangers Football Club Ltd. It may seem like semantics, but that’s exactly what Graham is debating here; the wording – and specifically, the use of terms such as “old” and “new” to describe his beloved team/club/company.

Secondly, why would you come out with such a convoluted phrase as the above? The natural thing to have said would have been “John McClelland, who was previously Rangers chairman” or something to that effect.

Of course Spence could have said something like “John McCLelland, who was previously Rangers chairman”, but the remark would have been inaccurate. John McLelland was chairman of Rangers, but he was never chairman of the current incarnation of the company; he was chairman of the previous incarnation, or, the “old” Rangers, if you will. Perhaps a more accurate form of words would have been “John McClelland, who was previously chairman of a company which died” would have been more natural – or something to that effect.

Graham makes a forced point of citing the BBC Trust’s judgement on due accuracy, but insists that Spence should have used a different remark to describe John McLelland’s role – one which would have been entirely inaccurate.

It’s clear that Spence felt the need to make a point on behalf of the Flat Earth Society on Twitter and those who lurk in the dark corners of the internet with whom Spence regularly interacts.

This is not clear at all. In fact, it’s a fatuous remark devoid of any substance or argument and fails to back up any of Graham’s assertions. If anything, it seems paranoid, and, somewhat risible.

Indeed when the complaints started to flood in from Rangers fans, it was extremely illuminating to see those who quickly jumped to Spence’s defence. Phil MacGiollabhain, Angela Haggerty, CQN, Andy Muirhead – they were all there sticking up for their champion. It seems Spence is one of the few journalists still willing to prostitute what little credibility he has for these people.

The deluge of complaints received by the BBC regarding Spence’s remarks (some 400+) were largely at the behest of Graham himself, after he encouraged a campaign of vitriol and hatred towards Spence on Twitter, so this point is entirely hypocritical.

MacGiollabhain tells us that his sources (I’m shocked to hear he has some at Pacific Quay…) are saying that BBC Scotland is going to “grow a set” with Rangers over this.

Indeed, MacGiollabhain claimed on Twitter – and on his own blog – that the BBC intended to respond to the constant attacks on its journalism being frequently made by unhappy Rangers fans. Whether this is correct or not is unknown.

We are also told that BBC Scotland are “not happy” with the way that the BBC Trust’s dealt with previous complaints.

One would assume this to be correct. For the BBC to be told it was inaccurate in referring to two separate corporate entities as being different from each other is something of an mystery and prevents the corporation from freely discussing the facts or reflecting the general view of the situation.

Furthermore, Jim Spence is “incensed” at the treatment he has received. This is fascinating stuff, but either MacGiollabhain or BBC Scotland appears to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between the BBC Trust and a regional part of the BBC. The BBC Trust exists to ensure that the BBC maintains their standards. BBC Scotland clearly cannot do that and therefore need to be assisted in meeting the conditions of their charter.

Again, this is mostly untrue – although, the part about Spence being incensed, one would assume, is true. It’s difficult to imagine anyone being anything but incensed at being referred to – quite unnecessarily – as a paedophile or being sent death threats for making a remark about a club being “old” or “new” – or as having “died” – as happened to Spence in the wake of Graham’s campaign against him.

The Monkey is aware that BBC Scotland attempted to appeal the Trust’s ruling, but was unable to do so since the Trust is the last point of appeal in the BBC’s complaint process; its judgement is final as far as the BBC is concerned, although the Monkey understands that a judicial review is a possible route of appeal in certain circumstances. It seems an unusual structure where the BBC cannot offer a reply or submit an appeal to its own appellate body.

Spence is, whether he likes it or not, a BBC journalist. He is no longer writing for a fanzine. He has a duty to the licence fee payers to be objective, accurate and without bias. It is a duty he regularly fails in. He is not doing his job properly. Spence wants Rangers to be a “new club”, “a dead club” because he doesn’t like us. He is willing to ignore the facts of the matter and put his own job on the line to make a point. He has previous for this and it would appear that the adulation of some of the most bitter people on the internet is enough for him to feel vindicated in his approach.

This entire paragraph is a fascinating insight into the mind of an angry, bitter individual, blinded by hatred and hellbent on vilifying another individual in the pursuit of propagating their own world view.

Rangers fans rightly flooded the BBC with complaints.

Rightly? Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, might does not make right. The volume of complaints bears little relation to the validity of the grievance – although does suggest if you make enough noise, sooner or later someone is going to have to listen to you.

BBC Scotland tried to cover up the issue by omitting his comments from their podcast of the show.

The BBC’s podcasts are routinely edited due to restrictions on length. Editing out Spence’s remarks could be viewed by some as an attempt to cover up the comments, but equally, it could be viewed as frugal editing to make the podcast fit the size allotted to it. It’s also possible the BBC edited it to stave off more “floods of complaints”.

However, despite receiving hundreds of complaints about Spence they have predictably refused to deal with the issue – just as they did with the previously upheld complaints.

According to reports, the BBC has dealt with the issue; it has supported and backed Spence and the comments he made, since he said nothing that was incorrect, defamatory or likely to cause harm.

Those who have gone through the process are now at the stage of moving on to the Editorial Complaints Unit of the BBC in London, where they are likely to have much more luck. Once these complaints move out of the control of BBC Scotland they suddenly appear to be dealt with more effectively.

Again, this is untrue. The previous complaints made by Rangers fans regarding the BBC’s use of “old” and “new” to describe the club were rejected at every stage in the BBC’s complaints process – including the Editorial Complaints Unit that Graham refers to here. It was only when the complaints were referred to the Trust that they were partly upheld.

Spence’s response was predictable. He first attempted to play the victim. He retweeted a few of the more choice comments he received on Twitter whilst totally ignoring the issue, which was his own dishonesty and unprofessionalism. He then decided to liken those complaining to Nazis thereby invoking Godwin’s law.’s_law

Spence wasn’t attempting to “play the victim”. He was the victim; Rangers fans embarked on an intolerable campaign of intimidation and offence towards the man – characterised and motivated not by his remarks, but from a spurious, irrational, unjustified hatred of the man due to comments they deemed to be unpalatable. Presumably, Jim chose not to interact with the people who were offending him due to fear – and the futility of him attempting to do so.

Additionally, Spence’s comment on Twitter quoting Pastor Martin Niemöller did not “liken those complaining to Nazis” – the comment linked the behaviour of the people persecuting him for his remarks to that of an oppressive, unreasonable force, and, were strangely apt – and quickly proved to be so, given the hostile response he received following its posting. The comment was viewed by many as frivolous on Spence’s part, although a few have commented that it was perhaps unnecessary – and more than a few Rangers fans have behaved in a downright hostile and aggressive manner towards him for doing so; that tends to happen when your behaviour is exposed as unacceptable.

However, Spence was right to make the comment – since his suggestion was, that if he was to be prevented from discussing facts which are a matter of public record (ie. The Rangers Football Club PLC having died in 2012) it could quickly become a significant issue for all BBC journalists if they wished to discuss other similar matters relating to the club. The heart of Spence’s point was: if this particular issue proves to be unpalatable to the club’s fans or custodians, and subsequently results in a deluge of complaints and a sustained campaign of hatred towards those initiating the discourse, then it soon follows that all unpalatable topics of discussion will face the same level complaints, even if the topics are demonstrably correct.

The implication that Spence was making was, that once censured for discussing “proscribed” issues, journalists (and the media outlets they work for) would forever self-censor in the interests of preservation.

Finally, the notion of Spence invoked “Godwin’s Law” (a frivolous assertion made by the American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990 in relation to online discussions and the probability of a comparison involving the Nazis or Hitler inevitably arising) is not only fatuous, but ultimately, a fallacist’s fallacy, since it assumes that all online discourse is somehow immune to anyone raising a comparison with Nazi behaviour simply because a notion exists to suggest that such comparisons somehow invalidate a person’s argument. It’s a nonsense point, akin to children attempting to silence each other with a “jinx” when they coincidentally utter the same word simultaneously.

I find Spence’s reaction to this to be typical of those who regularly attempt to denigrate the Rangers support and our club. He says something which is both inaccurate and inflammatory and which he knows to be both inaccurate and inflammatory and then throws his hands in the air in shock when people react badly to it. The inference that anyone who dares to complain about Spence’s unprofessionalism and bias is akin to a Nazi is also interesting. It is entirely in keeping with the type of language used by people like MacGiollabhain about the Rangers support and one wonders who it was that reminded Spence of the quote he used to introduce the topic.

The incomprehensible nature of this paragraph aside, the remarks Spence made were neither inaccurate or inflammatory. It was fact (The Rangers Football Club PLC died in July 2012). Throughout his entire rant, Graham fails to provide any cogent narrative that refutes this – because he can’t. Because it doesn’t exist, except in his mind.

Spence was joined in this line by Graham Spiers who described those taking Spence to task as the “Stasi” – an odd way to describe people simply exercising their right to complain through the BBC Complaints Procedure. I’m not sure that is the route the Stasi would have taken and Spiers should be more versed in their methods given that he famously suggested to the Scottish Parliament that thoughts should be criminalised.

As noted above, the right to complain to the BBC about content deemed by an individual (or individuals) working for the corporation is not an open invite or a licence to do so – and it carries no rights, freedoms or guarantees. Just because the BBC is a publicly-funded organisation does not mean the public owns it and can dictate its terms of office. Although, many people seem to think this way.

When pressed on Twitter, Spence stated that he has no such problems with Celtic fans. The heavy inference being that the Rangers support is somehow unique in reacting badly to people telling lies about their club. Here is a novel idea Jim – try criticising Celtic and see what kind of reaction you get. Better still go on the radio and simply tell the truth about Rangers. Talk about all the official bodies who have confirmed that Rangers are the same club they have always been, that our rich history lives on and that it will be added to in years to come. Then let us know what sort of reaction you get from the same people who currently laud you for peddling their demented propaganda.

If Graham had been paying any attention, he would be aware that Jim Spence has no issue with criticising Celtic or the club’s fans. He has done so on numerous occasions in the past – and, more importantly, he has been openly critical of his own club, Dundee United, on a regular basis. To suggest he has an agenda against Rangers borders on paranoia.

Graham seems at great pains to repeatedly point out that “official bodies (who) have confirmed that Rangers are the same club they have always been” yet has zero evidence to support this claim. Certainly, he has no evidence which has not been cynically re-shapen to conform to his own world view.

It is heartening to see that Rangers are taking the issue seriously. Things have improved greatly on this front since Jim Traynor became involved with the club and the BBC Trust, having already ruled on the same issue, are likely to be perplexed about why BBC Scotland continue to ignore their ruling.

The Monkey thinks Mr Graham perhaps gives too much credit to the BBC Trust with the notion that it is in any way remotely interested in, or aware of any of the goings-on at Ibrox. What now appears to be increasingly more likely is that the BBC Trust made an error of judgement in partially upholding complaints about the BBC’s use of “oldco” and “newco” when referencing Rangers, and now finds itself in the paradoxical position of having censored its own journalists, restricting them from discussing publicly-available information at the behest of a baying, angry, deluded mob.

I would urge those individuals who have complained to take their complaints all the way to the Trust however, and not assume that the club will deal with it alone. The more the behaviour of BBC Scotland is highlighted the more likely it is to be forcibly dealt with from elsewhere in the organisation.

Again, Mr Graham decides to wage a campaign encouraging ordinary folk to complain about the BBC’s coverage, simply because it does not conform with his – or their – world view, and not because the information is incorrect or unsupportable by facts.

The BBC issue will only be solved from London. BBC Scotland, despite admitting privately that they should be apologising to Rangers, refuse to do so publicly.

Another specious statement from Graham. Unless he has a direct line to senior management in BBC Scotland, this is completely unsupportable and vacuous. The BBC has nothing to apologise for; it has not done anything wrong.

They are deliberately placing themselves in a state of conflict with our club and then bleating about freedom of the press and persecution when the club and the fans bite back. It is pathetic behaviour from a totally discredited organisation.

If by “deliberately”, Graham means “reporting facts”, then yes, the BBC may well be putting itself in direct conflict with Graham’s club. Unfortunately, this is how journalism works; as a newsgathering and reporting organisation, the BBC uncovers information – which it knows to be supportable fact and in the public interest – which it then publishes or broadcasts in the form of news. Often, this is material likely to be unpopular with the subject to which it pertains (in this case, Rangers Football Club and its fans).

The Monkey barely feels the need to dissect the highly-charged and emotive statement: “a totally discredited organisation”. Totally means “wholly; entirely; completely”, which hardly applies in the case of the BBC, although perhaps from where Mr Graham is standing, it does.

One wonders if Spence is really cut out for a position at a supposedly objective and non-biased organisation such as the BBC. He would do well to remember what happened when the same people now backing him made promises about filling SPL grounds. He might find his support evaporates when it comes to stepping up the mark. Spence could simply issue a public apology and undertake to be better at his job, report accurately and try to improve both his own and BBC Scotland’s reputation in the process.

As above, Spence did not report any inaccuracies; he reported fact, framed in the context of a live discussion about the business structure of Rangers Football Club. Graham may not like this, but his personal preferences are not a universally accepted axiom.

If not then I’m pretty sure he could get a regular spot on the Scottish Football Monitor website. He might even be able to join McConville, MacGiollabhain and Brennan touring Celtic Supporters Clubs. They won’t care that he’s distorting the truth on a regular basis because he’s telling them what they want to hear. If that fails then I hear The Drum are willing to take literally anyone on as a ‘Staff Writer’.

This final statement is perhaps the most worthy of the hypocritical badge from the Monkey – when turned on Graham, it produces the exact same result; negative media coverage about Rangers is entirely perceived as biased if it opposes his world view, regardless of the reality – and only positive coverage, selectively interpreted in light of his own values and predispositions, will satiate his anger.

BBC Trust denies reports it is to pursue Jim Spence Rangers complaint

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Newsnet Scotland on the BBC Trust not investigating a complaint regarding broadcaster Jim Spence, contrary to a report by The Herald’s Martin Williams claiming it was:

The BBC Trust’s rebuttal of the story came on 17 September, the day after The Herald article was published, but the article has still not been updated.

Mr Williams, the story’s author, admitted to Newsnet Scotland that he had received an email from the Trust informing him the story was incorrect but “did not realise they wanted a clarification”.

This is exactly the sort of thing Hostile Monkey was established to expose and highlight: deliberate failure to report the facts.

Note the very unambiguous language towards the end of the article (the Monkey’s emphasis):

When liquidated in June of last year, Rangers FC owed tens of millions to 276 creditors. Charles Green’s Sevco Scotland Limited acquired the assets of the club and the company was renamed as The Rangers Football Club Ltd. The new entity entered Scottish football in the lowest tier Third Division.

The Monkey awaits the deluge of complaints to Newsnet Scotland and the inevitable statement from The Rangers International Football Club Plc (or one of its subsidiaries) encouraging the same.