Doncaster: Behind The Mask

Doncaster: Behind The Mask

Neil Doncaster, the current head of the SPFL, has been touted by many as a possible successor to the disgraced Stewart Regan, who quit the SFA last month after he finally got fed up of covering for the cabal that runs Scottish football.

The vacancy has been advertised online, and I actually thought of applying for it myself, but as I don’t have a fake tan and my parents are married, I don’t meet the basic criteria for the position.

However, many feel that Doncaster does.

Indeed, having been assured that he acts entirely on behalf of the clubs, i felt that he perhaps deserved a chance.

After his efforts to secure an independent review into the events surrounding the granting of a licence to Rangers back in the days of the original club I was even more convinced, and the rejection by the SFA of this application seemed to show that Scottish football was divided into two camps, with Regan and the SFA one one side, and Doncaster and the clubs, and by extension, the supporters, on the other.

Image result for Well, he had me fooled

Except, of course, he didn’t get the chance to fool me twice.

and I’ll tell you why..

This email was in response to a supporter who asked him to clarify the Rangers are the same club argument,

For a lot of us, the whole credibilty of Scottish football lies in this simple clarification.

If the new entity are a new entity, as is fairly obvious to any right thinking man or woman, then this must be officially clarified.

Its also important that the shennanigans surrounding the liquidation of the old club are fully detailed and exposed, with those responsible for any wrongdoing punished.

without getting into too much detail on the same club argument, the importance of truth cannot be underestimated where millions of pounds of supporters money is concerned.

No other industry would be allowed to gloss over similar fraud on such a massive scale, why should football be any different?

All we ask is for clarification so that we can, to coin a phrase, move on into shaping a game that is based around sporting integrity.

Doncaster, however, with breathtaking arrogance and a unique and refreshing take on events, replied..

Dear …….

Thank you for your email below.  Last year I indicated a willingness to meet with fans’ groups to answer any questions that they might have.  Indeed, a number of such meetings were held, here at Hampden Park and elsewhere and allowed for a number of misunderstandings to be clarified.  One such misunderstanding is in your email. 
Presumably the hidden one that thought we’d get any sense out of him.

Your email assumes that a Club and the entity with legal personality which owns and controls the Club are one and the same. 

 They are not. 
The distinction between a Club and the entity (usually a limited company) that owns and controls the Club is inherent in SPFL Articles and Rules (and the Rules of the SPL prior to the merger with the SFL in 2013) and the Articles of the Scottish FA and was reflected in the judgements of Lord Nimmo Smith and his Independent Commission in relation to Rangers. 
Er, hang on…
Why then, were the new Rangers forced to apply for a licence to play in division Three ?
Why then, were they not permitted to play in Europe ?
Why then, did they begin the following season, the new clubs first, in the first round of the Scottish cup ?
And why then, did Anders Traverso explain that no punishment was neccessary for the new club as they were, er, a new club ?
Surely the entity would have been okay ?
These judgements are readily available online and would be worth reading prior to any meeting with me here at Hampden Park.  You should particularly seek to read the first (or preliminary) judgement published in late 2012 which specifically addresses this issue. 
Lord nimmo smith ? Was his review of the events not the one that Doncaster called for a inquiry into ?
That judgement and my own understanding of SPFL /SPL Articles and Rules is why I am able to say that Rangers Football Club is the same Club as prior to the insolvency events of 2012 affecting ‘Rangers OldCo’. 
Hang on, and this is important, prior to 2005 the concept of an owner separate from a club did not exist in SFA Articles and the introduction of the rule did not mean that clubs who did not fall into that owner separate from club category (like Rangers the club who were incorporated in 1872?) did not automatically become a club owned separately  because of a rule introduced to allow the SFA to discipline Romanov of Hearts.
Under UEFA rules such a construct of a club owned and operated by a company is recognised under Article 12 of UEFA FFP but such a contract requires a written contract to exist between the club and the operator. If  such a contract between Rangers and some ethereal owner that existed at any time prior to liquidation in 2012 I would accept your ruling but until you do I think you are  either mistaken on the history of SFA/SPL Articles or have deliberately misconstrued them for commercial purposes.
Which I’m tempted to say is my guess.
I know, lets see him  produce a written contract between The Rangers Football Club and The Rangers International Football Club entered into post 2012, Then we could  see in terms of which of the two entities based at Ibrox have applied for a UEFA Licence since.
I wonder as well, if he could confirm,  using UEFA terms that the applicant is a club fully responsible for the football team (as most supporters recognised Rangers before liquidation) or is RIFC the company that now has a contractual relationship with The Rangers FC, formed after liquidation and whose membership of the SFA did not begin until August 2015 ?
Here is the relevant UEFA Article (12 ) sent on the basis that Scottish football is subservient to UEFA on matters of football regulations.

Chapter 2: Licence Applicant and Licence

Article 12 – Definition of licence applicant

A licence applicant may only be a football club, i.e. a legal entity fully responsible

for a football team participating in national and international competitions which


a) is a registered member of a UEFA member association and/or its affiliated

league (hereinafter: registered member); or

b) has a contractual relationship with a registered member (hereinafter: football


The membership and the contractual relationship (if any) must have lasted – at

the start of the licence season – for at least three consecutive years. Any

alteration to the club’s legal form or company structure (including, for example,

changing its headquarters, name or club colours, or transferring stakeholdings

between different clubs) during this period in order to facilitate its qualification on

sporting merit and/or its receipt of a licence to the detriment of the integrity of a

competition is deemed as an interruption of membership or contractual

relationship (if any) within the meaning of this provision. 

Perhaps Neil needs to read that again..

Many football clubs across the world have been owned by companies that have gone through insolvency events, including a number where the club became owned by a new company.  Leeds United and Bristol City Football Clubs are but two examples.  I have not heard it suggested that the Leeds United FC currently playing in the EFL is not the same Leeds United FC that won the First Division in 1992. 
Thats because neither club went into liquidation.

 Can I suggest that you do read the judgement of Lord Nimmo Smith and the relevant parts of the SPFL Articles and Rules (available at and we can then discuss whether a meeting such as the one you propose would be a good use of your time and mine? 

That would be the Nimmo Smith enquiry that you wanted an independent review of ?

Kind regards,

Of course, there’s a lot of detail in my responses, but the fundamental question, the one that leaps out at me, is that if Doncaster is, as head of the SPFL, acting in the best interests of all the clubs, does that mean that all the clubs have now accepted that Rangers are the same club, and in the words of Stewart Regan, there’s no point in raking over the coals ? 

We are 180 something days since the compliance officer was asked to look into this and other events concerning allegations of corruption, collusion or just plain incompetence in the corridors of power at Hampden.

He’s either doing a really good job if it, and the report is being prepared properly and professionally, or its done and no one wants to publish it.

Either way, the paying customer, you and I, need to know which it is.

Petition– if you haven’t signed this yet, please do. Its to get Celtic to ask the question on our behalf.

For a club to be allowed to cheat the taxman and run up huge debts to other creditors, which might explain why they can’t get a bank account and have resorted to secured loans, and be allowed to carry on as though nothing is wrong, and indeed to be encouraged to do so by those in charge, is fundamentally wrong and shows that football in Scotland is no longer a sport, but a gigantic money making operation where the customer is routinely fleeced year on year on the pretence of paying to see honest competition.

At the moment, there is no evidence to the contrary, and indeed the tone of Doncasters email is that he, and the clubs, are happy for it to be thus.


We’re not going away you know, not until every single one of them involved in the crime and the cover up have been exposed and dealt with.

Its our game, and we are coming to take it back.

Image result for persistence beats resistance