Charles Green and the Shambolic SPL

The statement by Charles Green on the SPL investigation into EBTs is the culmination of several weeks of legal wrangling between Rangers and the SPL. It is also vindication of the stance taken by the supporter groups and online community - that the SPL investigation was being conducted for the benefit of certain interests within the SPL hierarchy and without the required transparency, neutrality or competence.

There are a number of issues which Charles Green alluded to in his statement which we would like to expand on in order to try to give some background to the statement. Although many who have been following the issue closely will be able to read between the lines, it is important the Rangers fans know what is going on as well as we can explain it.

There is an obvious conflict of interest with Harper MacLeod which was first raised in the joint fan group statement which you can read here . Since this statement was made, it has been at best played down, and at worst ridiculed, by the various anti Rangers activists on the internet and their useful puppets like Channel 4’s Alex Thomson. Thomson even went so far as to concoct a ridiculous “confluence of interest” argument. However, TRS is aware that Rangers’ lawyers and indeed many others in the legal profession see a huge issue with the involvement of Harper MacLeod in this case and are, quite correctly, seriously questioning their role. The people asking these questions are professional people, currently practicing law. Their opinion stands up well against discredited ex-lawyers or nameless internet ‘experts’.

Even if we set aside this issue, it also appears that Harper Macleod cannot decide who they actually want the SPL to charge in this matter. Mr Green alludes to this in his statement and it is no coincidence that the administrators have also issued a statement on behalf of the old company. Harper MacLeod have fired off legal letters to pretty much anyone they can think of in a scattergun approach. This approach has been met with a stern response from Rangers lawyers which in return has seen a wall of silence from the SPL and their legal representatives. The bottom line is that Harper MacLeod have absolutely no idea who they should deal with in their attempt to purloin the titles that Celtic so desperately want to get their hands on.

There is also a major issue with the behaviour of Rod McKenzie - the close friend of Celtic Chief Executive, Peter Lawwell and the partner at Harper MacLeod dealing with this matter. Celtic are the only real beneficiaries of a negative outcome for Rangers but one might argue that McKenzie should be able to set aside his personal feelings and allegiances to conduct a proper investigation. One would be wrong.

McKenzie has, allegedly, shown his true colours by completely losing his cool in a meeting between Rangers and the SPL at which several other interested parties were present. He also allegedly betrayed the fact that he, personally, is pushing for a particular punishment (stripping of titles), despite no guilt having been established. Jim Traynor alluded to this in an article for the Daily Record last week when he referred to some people “blustering and getting all red and sweaty on occasion” but stopped short of naming McKenzie. Let us be clear that TRS does not publish rumour. We have it on very good authority that this alleged outburst did indeed take place and that McKenzie failed to act either professionally or with the level of neutrality which should be the minimum expected of the man entrusted to gather evidence in this case.

Our information is also that there are several people within Harper MacLeod now starting to ask serious questions about McKenzie’s zeal for this particular case when the evidence is not in any way conclusive. If the process is to be properly carried out, then those entrusted with the delicate task of collating the evidence should be beyond reproach. McKenzie and Harper MacLeod are not.

The involvement of Manus Fullerton, now incredibly a ‘consultant’ for Harper Macleod, has not yet been fully determined because of the media silence surrounding the issues with their involvement. It would however be interesting to know if this man, who was instrumental in setting up the Celtic Supporters Trust and who was an executive of Lloyds Bank when they ‘encouraged’ David Murray to sell the club, is in any way involved in this sham investigation.

Another point raised in the statement, is the vested interest within the SPL board and amongst influential SPL chairmen. In the case of Peter Lawwell, the Celtic Chief Executive, the interest is obvious - it is a transparent attempt to claim titles his club were unable to win on the pitch. Others, such as Rod Petrie of Hibernian and Stephen Thomson of Dundee United, have been vocal in pushing this process through in a highly questionable manner. Their motives are probably best summed up as jealousy and dislike of Rangers Football Club. Some might call it bigotry.

Much like the silencing of voices of dissent within Harper MacLeod, until recently, those pushing the agenda against Rangers within the SPL have been able to control the process. There are now, however, several SPL chairmen who are wondering why the SPL, who cannot pay their own bills when they are due, are involved in what is likely to become a long and expensive legal battle for the benefit of Celtic.

Having said this, the ace in the SPL sleeve is that they don’t have to adhere to the law. They don’t have to be transparent, fair or even honest. They can and have made up their rules as they go along. In exactly the same way as the SFA were able to impose an illegal sanction on Rangers and then hide behind FIFA, the SPL will attempt to hold their kangaroo court, impose their pre-determined punishment and then hope that Rangers don’t have the stomach for the fight. It would appear that Mr Green has set them straight on that.

It is absolutely correct that Rangers should not question the integrity of those appointed to the tribunal by the SPL. Questions do however remain over who suggested these people. Why, for example, did Charles Flint receive the call? Was it through his relationship with Rod McKenzie on the Court of Arbitration for Sport anti-doping tribunals? Is it not possible for the SPL to find people to sit on this tribunal who do not have any association with SPL clubs or people like McKenzie, whose involvement is so conflicted?

The SFA already made the mistake of prejudging the involvement of Craig Whyte, something which may well come back to bite them if Whyte ends up facing criminal charges. Why are the SPL attempting to judge this before the outcome of the tax tribunal on Rangers’ use of EBTs? Is it because any positive outcome for Rangers would make their vindictive attempt to strip titles even more transparent?

The SPL are desperate to hammer Rangers again. The more cynical amongst us might point to several reasons for this. The vocal fans groups of several SPL clubs, who so vehemently backed action against Rangers, have failed to back their own clubs. These clubs now see their crowds and TV audiences dwindling despite giving these groups exactly what they wanted. Perhaps some within the SPL think that further action will persuade these absentee, internet ‘fans’ to actually attend a game?

Whatever the reasons and motives, the SPL investigation is fundamentally flawed. The involvement of Harper MacLeod is highly questionable. The bizarre conduct of the SPL legal representative in highly charged meetings has been noted not only by Rangers but by the SFL and other interested parties. The stranglehold that some SPL chairmen have over the organisation is starting to loosen amid a growing cash crisis. The SPL don’t even know who they should be dealing with such is the shambolic nature of their legal position.

The media have ignored the concerns of Rangers fans over this issue. Perhaps now that the club itself has mirrored those concerns they will sit up and take notice? The information on the conflicts, skulduggery and people involved is all there if they care to look. Perhaps they will even be able to get Harper MacLeod or the SPL to finally comment on the issues raised about their kangaroo court?

The fight to keep our titles will go on. The SPL are very unlikely to see sense or remove the conflicted Harper MacLeod and conduct a proper investigation. The best case scenario is likely to be that the matter ends up in a real court of law where the case can be judged on its merits and in accordance with the law of the land. This would be highly preferable to a hastily convened tribunal acting in accordance with the rules and wishes of a corrupt and shambolic footballing body. Of course whether the SPL can afford it is another matter.

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