A routine costs hearing at the Court of Session turned into a highly significant debate about the status of Rangers and Scottish football today.
Advocates for the former CEO of the Ibrox team, Charles Green, who did not appear in court, demanded that Rangers honour a contractual commitment to pay his legal fees for his forthcoming criminal trial for allegedly defrauding investors during the £20M initial public offering (IPO) made by the company.
However Counsel for Rangers International Football Club (RIFC) James Wolffe QC, opposed the motion on the grounds that Green’s alleged offence occured before he took over Rangers football club and therefore, he argued “It all falls.” Wolffe also contended that there was a distinction to be drawn between the “club” and the “company” saying that “an association football club continues whatever company happens to own it.”
This sparked a furious response from Green’s advocate, Jonathan Brown who told the court that his client had signed a severance agreement when he resigned from the board of directors: ” He was prepared to depart the scene without fuss,” but if he was “dragged back in” the agreement was “you pay the lawyers.” He also challenged the idea that a Rangers was the same club noting: “A club can not sign contracts” and that “a club is an undertaking” of its owners and as it “has neither capacity of personality” no-one can be CEO of it.
In one of the most striking scenes of the day Brown said, referring to the company, Sevco Scotland that Green used to purchase the assets of Rangers: “The team are paid by Sevco, play at a ground owned by Sevco, are trained by a manager who is employed by Sevco and fans buy tickets from Sevco. That is the business that is being carried on.” Rangers, he argued were “a collection of assets,” noting “What is the players were sold to one person and Ibrox to another, where is the “club” then?”
When court adjourned late in the afternoon, the presiding judge, Lord Doherty, thanked Counsel “for their “submissions in this interesting case.” He told the parties he would consider the matter and then produce his findings in writing as soon as he could.
Possibly stung by today’s legal arguments, which were widely reported on social media. The current chairman of Rangers Dave King rushed out a statement just as court adjourned saying: “It is disappointing that a debate has re-emerged around the subject of Rangers’ history in Scottish football.” The South African based chairman of the club added “If the history of our Club comes under attack we will deal with it in the strongest manner possible and will hold to account those persons who have acted against their fiduciary responsibilities to their own clubs and to Scottish football.”
With the legal argument over the case of former Rangers Chiefs Charles Green and Craig Whyte due to resume in December, and King himself set to appear at the Royal Courts of Justice on the 9th of that month to answer contempt of court charges laid by Sports Direct magnate Mike Ashley, performances on the pitch seem to be the least of the club’s worries.