Brian Smith June 29th 2012
After 140 years of existence Rangers FC, who were placed in administration in February have now been liquidated. The avalanche of events and revelations over the last few months have served to underline the fall of Rangers FC.
From nowhere a consortium led by Charles Green, former owner of Sheffield Utd, was handed the club by Duff and Phelps, the discredited administrators, with little concrete evidence that Green and his backers had anything like the money to take the club out of administration through an agreement with the various creditors.
On cue and understandably, the taxman, the largest creditor by far, decided not to accept the “offer” of a few pence in the pound to settle the various tax bills from the new owners. Rangers FC was then liquidated with Ibrox Stadium and the club’s training ground sold to Green for £5M who sets up a new company.
Reports in the press have now begun to appear about how Green’s backers are at best overstating their financial clout or hiding previous financial misdemeanours. HMRC then explain their rejection of the offer to settle the tax bill on the basis of wishing to have fuller powers to investigate Sir David Murray and Craig Whyte, the two previous owners on the club. Finally, the Crown asks Strathclyde Police to investigate whether any criminal acts were committed during former owner David Murray’s sale of the club to the short-lived tenure of Craig Whyte in 2011.
On the playing front the other clubs in the Scottish Premier League, under massive pressure from their fans, many of whom have refused to buy season tickets until their clubs publicly come out against a Rangers new company joining the SPL, have now made it clear that they will not approve the admission of the new company “The Rangers Football Club” into the SPL for season 2012/13.
Some of the Rangers players, including many of the best ones, have now exercised their right not to TUPE transfer to the new company and instead have opted to become free agents rather than play in the lower divisions. At the moment the Ibrox stadium and other staff have jobs in the new company however as any trade unionist will tell you TUPE employment protections can be chipped away very fast by employers through all sorts of get out clauses after the TUPE transfer date.
As the Socialist Party Scotland has said before the events at Rangers is a microcosm of the failed bosses’ economic system with the club being used by “second division” venture profiteers looking for a quick buck.
Duff & Phelps picked up the “Corporate Restructuring Advisor of the Year” at the ACQ Finance Magazine Global Awards 2012 industry awards dinner. This only underlines that the front page shenanigans involving Rangers are the meat and drink of the finance industry. Barclay’s being caught manipulating interests rates further underlines the immorality of capitalism from a working class point of view. This is in contradiction to those running business who see the dodgy actions of the Duffs and Phelps and Barclays of this world as good practice worthy of awards. That is unless of course they are caught and some politicians want to grab a quick headline to make it look as thought they care a toss.
We have also said that real supporters of football in Scotland recognise that neither the Rangers fans nor the workers at Ibrox were to blame for the problems at the club. The vast majority of Rangers fans do not think that it was acceptable for the club to evade taxes which could have been used to provide jobs and services in the communities in which they live.
Many assumed that Rangers would avoid this catastrophe as they are the “establishment club” and would be protected by the powers that be. It is correct that they were not and most fans outwith the Old Firm will also have had a smile at the idea that there is only one establishment club rather than a duopoly of power known as the Old Firm. Some on the Left have implied that due to the history of Rangers FC their demise would constitute a blow against sectarianism in Scotland.
There is no denying the religious discrimination practiced by Rangers in the past with regards to player signings and the employment of staff was totally unacceptable. It is also true that some elements of Rangers’ history and identity are still used by sectarian and also far right groups in their attempt to turn working class people against each other. However, it is difficult to see how the demise of a football team supported by hundreds of thousands of working class people, many of whom reject sectarianism and who participate in trade union struggles and who are fundamentally no different in their attitude to others in society or to politics in general from the fans of other football clubs is something to be hoped for. Socialists fight for the unity of working class people in the struggle to overthrow capitalism – simplistic approaches to building that unity should be rejected..
Most football fans want to support clubs that are well run, controlled by the supporters and play a positive role in our society. There is a growing realisation of the need for such an approach amongst Rangers fans and the current situation could perhaps present opportunities for this. The only way to ensure principled, supporters first approach to running any football club is through democratic ownership by the fans. As all socialists know – you cannot control what you don’t own.