Time For Leadership at SFA & SPL
02/03/2012 3,164 Comments
Scotland has a seven hundred year history of asking for help from south of the border in times of trouble and internal squabbling. It has rarely gone well. When King Alexander III died in 1286 without an heir, Scottish nobles asked Edward I of England to referee. Things went so badly, Mel Gibson made a film about it.
More recently, both the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and the Scottish Premier League (SPL) have reached across the border to find executives who could breathe new life into the moribund bureaucracies that were strangling our national game. It seemed a good idea at the time. There were no natural candidates within the Scottish game and the sectarian divide leaves any executive with a history with either of the Glasgow giants facing immediate accusations of bias. Casting the net for executive vision beyond the Solway Firth just made sense.
However, both Stewart Regan at the SFA and Neil Doncaster at the SPL have been major disappointments. In the face of repeated warnings about the greatest crisis in the history of Scottish football, both have been found asleep “on stag”. Stewart Regan’s petulant and immature responses to legitimate questions on his twitter feed have done nothing to suggest that he is a man braced for action. Neil Doncaster just seems to have gone missing altogether. Both men seem to be intent on giving the impression that they came to Scotland to enjoy some good golf and our peerless fishing.
The Daily Mail today quotes former Rangers director, Hugh Adam, as confirming that Rangers had operated with players routinely being issued with secret second contracts going back to the mid-1990s in direct violation of SFA regulations. Despite many warnings that a crisis was brewing, both Regan and Doncaster seem to have shown determination only in burying their heads deeper in the sand. They have had ample opportunity to investigate and to get out ahead of these issues. In my opinion, both have failed, thus far, to lead their organisations in their hour of greatest crisis.
I even tried to alert Stewart Regan. All I got in return were impertinent and insulting replies as the following Twitter dialog shows from 23 January 2012 (including original typos):
RTC: @Stewartregan What penalty would apply to an SPL club that failed to provide SFA with accurate player contracts?
StewartRegan: @rangerstaxcase more ifs buts and mayes
RTC: @Stewartregan ?? You have me confused with others on other subjects. Now can you answer the question?
RTC: @Stewartregan Darrell King, a respected journalist, says he has seen side contracts for RFC players. Did SFA get copies?
RTC: @Stewartregan if / WHEN 😉 it becomes a matter of public record that side contracts existed, do you have a plan if action?
StewartRegan: @rangerstaxcase you have me confused with the SPL. Why not ask them?
RTC: @Stewartregan So the governing body of football in Scotland would abdicate its role in the face of falsification of player contracts?
StewartRegan: @rangerstaxcase inappropriate to speculate on such matters.
RTC: @Stewartregan It would be wrong to speculate on specific clubs, but you can clarify the rules for the people who pay your wage- fans.
RTC: @Stewartregan does SFA get copies of player contracts as part of UEFA licensing process?
StewartRegan: @rangerstaxcase there is no point in answering hypothetical questions and I’m certainly not going to speculate on it.
RTC: @Stewartregan fair enough Stewart, but I would get ready to answer this for real if I was you.
We now have two ex-Rangers employees: Darrell King and Hugh Adam confirming the existence of these second contracts. The Sun has published a redacted version of a player’s second contract. For the avoidance of doubt, let me assure the SFA and the SPL that there is more to come in this story- much more.
If Messrs. Regan and Doncaster are to salvage their reputations they need to get out in front of the seemingly never-ending series of revelations about flagrant rule breaking and illegality at Rangers FC. Their organisations are implicated in these scandals: inaction and failure to investigate over a period spanning decades undermines confidence in the SFA and the SPL. Many will say that this was part of an institutional bias that favoured Rangers. Others will say that this was more a fear of challenging the mighty David Murray and his expensively procured media lackeys. I am prepared to believe that it was just rank incompetence.
So far, all we have in the way of an inquiry is an investigation by Lord Nimmo-Smith of the Rangers takeover. The parameters of this work have not been made public to my knowledge. However, its timeline is too short to include any of the accusations about rule breaking before the Craig Whyte era. The odour emanating from Ibrox in recent months would cause any neutral observer to fear foul play. If Regan and Doncaster have not seen and heard enough to suspect that Rangers FC, by far the most successful Scottish club in the last 25 years, has been operated as a corrupt enterprise during that period then they are unfit for their posts. The integrity of football as a fair competition is in their hands. If these questions are not addressed, we lose any reason to continue to spend our time and money on the Scottish game.
Let me help them in case they have been listening to the wrong people: this story is not going away. There is a lot more to come out. They can choose to lead their respective organisations in cutting out the cancer or they can become infected by it.