This part of a special two part edition of todays Diary deals with the serious stuff.
There’ll be a more light hearted edition later, if i can think of anything light hearted to type about.
There are more questions than answers over the clubs handling of the Resolution 12 issue, and as supporters ponder whether or not to claim the refunds available for the portion of games that weren’t played last season, here’s an email that could maybe help to raise the level of awareness at Celtic Park as to exactly how we feel, that those of you still considering what to do with your refunds, might like to copy and send…
Good afternoon John Paul,
I hope this mail finds you & yours well.
I’m writing to you as I am torn between leaving my refund with Celtic as a goodwill gesture & retrieving it in protest to response to & management of Res12 by our board.
Like all supporters I am over the moon with our on field achievements and appreciate the club is run fantastically well financially, however the handling of Res12 has been a real low point.
I think it worth highlighting the numerous conversations I’ve had with other supporters considering the same. Before my decision is made I’d like to offer the club an opportunity to comment. To that end could you please forward this mail to senior Management to make then aware of the situation?
Naturally I’m happy to discuss in more detail if required. Thanks once again for your help.
The issue isn’t going to go away, its now just a matter of what action will be taken next.
The sooner Lawwell et al realise that then the sooner we can get it sorted.
Over on CQN, Brogan Rogan Trevino posted some thoughts, which deserve to be repeated….
Good Afternoon. (Long Post- sorry)
“Implication” is a great word. When something is implied it is not stated for certain, but it is heavily hinted at.
Another great word is “Consequence”
A Consequence is something that is stronger and more tangible than anything that is implied.
A Direct consequence is much firmer and more certain than anything that is implied, and of course there are consequences when you do something, and there are consequences when you fail to do something.
So here is part of the SFA’s statement with one word substituted for the other.
“following consideration of the consequences of such a referral”.
They used the word implication, but in reality they meant consequences.
Before considering the devastating consequence of not referring the matter to CAS, let’s recap on the history here without getting bogged down in the detail, because in all honesty the detail of what actually happened in 2011/2012 is now a squirrel of gigantic proportions.
The facts are these.
By 2013 there was sufficient evidence available to merit further investigation into the UEFA licence application concerned.
The board of Celtic PLC had instigated their own enquiries as they had seen enough to request clarification from then SFA CEO Stewart Regan.
Regan responded with replies which were misleading, inaccurate and, some would say dismissive. His letters terminated with the suggestion that Celtic should be satisfied with his responses and that should be an end of the matter.
By this time shareholders had gathered further evidence and questioned the responses provided by Regan. They also asked the board to bypass the SFA and take the matter to UEFA as they had no faith in the SFA which Celtic themselves had previously described as not being fit for purpose.
The information available cast severe doubt not only on Mr Regan’s responses but on the efficiency of the SFA in analysing the information provided in support of the licence application, in determining the information required to approve such an application, the interpretation and application of the licensing rules, and the reasons stated by Regan for granting the application.
Mr Regan, in passing, also stressed that the SFA’s entire modus operandi had been audited by UEFA – only for later evidence to emerge which suggested that this was simply just not the case.
Instead of the matter being at an end, all Regan had done was provide more evidence which merited further questions.
In response to those further questions, we know fine well that he drafted his answers and sent them to Ibrox for prior approval – only to be told that his draft response would be embarrassing for both RFC and the SFA.
So another letter goes back to Celtic, again “implying” that the matter was closed.
What was Celtic to do at this stage?
One of the difficulties here was that Celtic were privy to information which was not in the public domain as such and about which there were questions of provenance.
Now lets be clear about what Provenance means.
The provenance of a document is not just its authenticity or being able to prove who wrote it, but also how it got from A to B, what it says, who saw it, relied on it and so on.
Equally, under no circumstances were the board of Celtic PLC going to make further enquiries on the back of documents which others could claim were fake, could deny, and could be used to cause trouble for Celtic — and they were professionally correct to take that stand.
However some of the documentation and information could be stood up. It had been produced in courts of law by either the authors or the recipients and to that extent they were in the public domain and were accessible.
At this stage, it should always be remembered that the SFA have full powers of inquiry and can mount investigations, ask questions and demand the recovery of files from any football club and indeed the tax authorities and others.
All requests asking the SFA to do this and to look into the matter further were rejected.
So, after a certain period of time, Celtic have some information, but not all, and they have some information which they can’t really use because its provenance is not 100% in their eyes.
At this stage, shareholders, quite separate to the board of Celtic PLC instruct an international firm of solicitors and, using some of the information available, start to ask questions separately.
Meanwhile, the board of Celtic PLC ask the SFA about one particular document – a letter – and ask the then Corporate Compliance Officer (Andrew McKinlay) if the document is held within the SFA files or not?
Privately, shareholders are told that Mr McKinlay, (having been appraised of the nature of the concerns of Celtic PLC and the shareholders) is of the view that if the letter is missing from SFA files then there will have to be an inquiry. He also was of the opinion that if the letter was in the SFA files — there would have to be an inquiry!!
Clearly, all was not ok within the state of Denmark so to speak.
Meanwhile, the SFA reply to the shareholders lawyers and commence what can only be described as a litany of excuses for not answering questions and for taking no action whatsoever. Over the next few years they would say:
They can’t answer questions, or examine evidence, unless the questions are asked directly by a member club and any evidence is produced by a member club. (There may be good grounds in law to challenge this but they are as yet untested).
Later they said that they could not make any further enquiries, conduct a formal inquiry, or report to UEFA on the season concerned, because they were time barred from doing so.
They also said that certain matters were confidential to clubs and could not be shared or commented upon.
In the interim they sought to further explain themselves but did no more than tie themselves in knots when faced with further information.
At one point shareholders were able to show that Stewart Regan had publicly answered one particular issue or question with at least four contradictory and different answers.
Then the SFA suggested that shareholders write to UEFA with their concerns and stated clearly that if UEFA instigated an inquiry then the SFA would respond fully and that would get them over the time bar hurdle.
They even provided the name and address of a UEFA man to write to!
Well, being cynics, shareholders chose to write to someone else entirely who was far higher up the food chain.
It would be fair to say that Celtic did not want to go directly to UEFA, as had originally been requested, and preferred to go through the SFA — presumably because they were members of that association and because they wanted to rehearse other issues with UEFA.
In any event, UEFA responded and clarified a few things.
They directly contradicted some of what Regan had said previously, provided some further and new information which was interesting but only partly relevant, but again stated that they couldn’t really correspond with anyone other than a member club and effectively invited Celtic to take the matter up with them directly.
Celtic didn’t do that – and the explanation for that at the time was that the board were involved in so many things and so many discussions with UEFA and the SFA that they wanted to pick their battles and their battleground so to speak.
That happens in all walks of business and in this instance this was not a matter that Celtic PLC wanted to take forward at that time. Later, Shareholders would be told at a much later AGM that UEFA were not interested – despite what they had written in their letter.
Of course, in the background the wheels of justice in the outside world continued to turn and first the Supreme Court and then the High Court ruled.
It was in the course of those hearings, particularly the High Court Trial of Craig Whyte, that what Paul refers to as “New Evidence” comes to light — although much of the evidence was not in fact new ( as it had by this time been known for years) but it was spoken to directly by witnesses who could and did absolutely verify the provenance of what had been said before.
As a consequence (that word again) Regan pronounced that the SFA had likely been duped, and Celtic and the SPL called for a full inquiry — which the SFA refused. Surprise Surprise.
Instead, The SFA ordered that there be a limited inquiry with a view to bringing disciplinary charges — all question of time bar and that sort of thing having magically disappeared.
In the background shareholders continued to ask, and indeed answer, questions.
For example, the letter which Andrew McKinlay suggested would merit an inquiry had not turned up and shareholders were asked to furnish an alleged copy which the SFA would make enquiries on.
Later, we were told that the supposed recipient of that letter had never received it and that the party to whom it was addressed had never seen it which would explain why it had never made its way to the SFA files.
Alas, when shareholders were able to produce a replying letter acknowledging receipt of the letter concerned and which dealt with its contents in some detail — this particular myth was scotched big style amidst no little embarrassment.
As an aside, even after the letter which sparked all this activity had been delivered to Hampden and acknowledged, it once again went missing from the SFA files and during the course of the above mentioned SFA investigation they had to write to shareholders and request a further copy.
Strangely the first two letters requesting that further copy never reached the shareholders lawyers and their existence only came to light when the SFA head of security phoned up to ask why his letters were being ignored.
I will leave you to consider the implications of this chain of events for the moment.
Returning to the SFA internal inquiry, after some considerable time the SFA actually determine that their investigations and inquiries have produced enough evidence to merit bringing disciplinary charges against RFC in relation to the UEFA licence application.
The SFA don’t refer the matter to UEFA – they proceed with charges under their own rules, and in terms of UEFA rules.
By this time, the chap in charge of bringing these charges for the SFA is Mr McGlennan.
Mr Regan and Mr McKinlay are still in the building however.
Back at Celtic Park shareholders are told that persistence has indeed beaten resistance because after years of foraging and corresponding disciplinary charges are being brought and the evidence will be heard. Celtic are disappointed that their call for a full independent inquiry has been rejected but at least part of the matter is now going before an independent tribunal and we will wait and see what comes of that.
But here comes a spanner in the works.
RFC (or The Rangers Football Club Ltd) raise some preliminary points of law with the independent tribunal.
These preliminary points may well relate to not only the legal status of the defendant, but also to the time parameters of the charges, and the jurisdiction of the tribunal itself.
Auldheid is very vexed about what happened with regard to the time period to be considered and learns that the original charges posted on the SFA website seem to have been secretly amended with the material times to be examined being supposedly reduced. Further, before the charges are even dealt with a statement is issued by RFC saying that in relation to the key dates that have been dropped, the SFA have determined that there is no case to answer and that the issue is at an end.
Although how they can do that if they now never had jurisdiction I don’t quite follow.
Given that this statement declaring no case to answer was issued over two years before the most recent one from the SFA and is never contradicted by the SFA – I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.
Eventually the judicial panel rule that they don’t have jurisdiction and recommend that the case go to CAS for determination.
When this matter is raised with Celtic PLC, The board once again take the matter up with the SFA and come back with the comment that the matter will go to CAS — “Why wouldn’t it?”
However, by this time there are other matters to consider in this sorry tale.
After years of failing to investigate, report to UEFA and take any action whatever, the SFA have finally determined that they can and should bring charges, alleging breaches of football rules, based on the evidence they have in-gathered..
Only for an independent tribunal, chaired by a legally qualified chairman, to determine that the SFA, in this instance, cannot prosecute and appoint a panel to hear and determine whether or not there has been a breach of the SFA’s own rules.
Let that sink in for a moment — for whatever reason — an independent judicial panel have determined that the SFA CANNOT enforce its own rules by way of a legal hearing.
Now why would that be
Just what are the “implications” of that ruling and what might the “consequences” be?
Could it be that the rules and regulations of the SFA (and UEFA for that matter) are absolutely unenforceable in Scotland unless the SFA stands aside, acts only as prosecutor and refers each and every case where there is an alleged rule breach to CAS?
If that is the case the implication is that every football club and every player in Scotland can breach every rule in the book and the SFA can do nothing about it unless they go to CAS.
Surely that can’t be right?
Or is the position, as has been suggested, that the referral to CAS is only applicable in this case because of the famous 5 way agreement — which of course is supposedly an agreement between the SFA, the SPL, the SFL and those with an interest (of whatever kind) in just one football club?
If so, then the clear implication is that by design or sheer incompetence, the SFA has by way of that agreement contractually signed away its rights to enforce its own rules and conduct its own hearings in respect of just one club within its association!
That would be an astonishing set of circumstances yet there is a fair degree of evidence to suggest that this is precisely where we are.
Basically, the club charged via the SFA process does not come under the jurisdiction of the SFA in certain circumstances, and in its statement the SFA is making clear that they cannot proceed with any referral to CAS for fear of the implications and the potential consequences of the hearing and the eventual ruling.
What a farce?
But wait because the questions do not stop there.
By this time, Mr Regan, Mr McKinlay and Mr McGlennan, who you will recall brought the charges, have all left the building leaving a trail of idiotic devastation behind them and an almighty legal mess for others to clean up as best they can.
I have to ask why they brought the charges in the first place if the 5 way agreement contractually debarred an SFA independent panel from considering those same charges and enforcing SFA rules?
They must have known of the terms of the 5 way agreement but did they not understand what they had signed up to? Did they not realise that in effect the 5 way agreement totally neutered the SFA in respect of one club?
Yet that is what the panel has ruled and it is my guess that this what the SFA are afraid CAS will rule.
So, after years and years of obfuscation, irregular replies, contradictory responses, and eventual charges alleging rule breaches — there is to be no hearing, no ruling, no conclusion. Not because the evidence isn’t strong enough or because the charges have been refuted in fact or explained away, but because the SFA is afraid to proceed and disclose that it contracted out of its own rules in one instance?
Oh well. That’s that then.
Or is it?
I believe that shareholders in the game can and should challenge this.
I think Celtic should for the sake of their business, but won’t because time has moved on, the club has secured nine in a row and so the fans won’t care a jot at this time/
That however is short termism.
Everybody knows now what happened in season 2011/2012. The evidence came out in court. The SFA were misled by one club and there are direct and implied consequences for every other club.
Now imagine if the deception of the SFA continued after the period involved in the UEFA licensing process
Someone who is behind with their taxes may well be behind in relation to other payments — such as those promised in a side letter to a trust in Jersey. Could it be that right up until 2012 payments were being made to those trusts out of sight of the SFA and in breach of SFA rules?
You might possibly think that — I couldn’t possibly comment.
However all of that is history and many fans will be vexed with the question could the Celtic board have done more; Were the Celtic board privy to the 5 way agreement, had they seen it, are they involved etc?
The CEO said very clearly at last years AGM that he had not seen the 5 way – and that to be honest is my greatest worry.
If that is correct, and I am not going to suggest that it is incorrect, then the implications and consequences are horrific.
It would mean that a club like Celtic can enter SFA competitions each year on the basis of the football rules as presented to them only to find that the SFA has agreed to change those rules in secret and behind closed doors without telling Celtic or any other club.
It would mean that officials within the SFA have free reign to enter into agreements and binding contracts which sign away their ability to enforce rules, or to change the rules, without ever consulting Celtic or other clubs.
It would mean that agreements like the 5 way agreement can be entered into and signed by SFA officials who are either crooked, or, so grossly incompetent as to not know what they are doing in terms of jurisdiction and so on.
It would mean that Celtic PLC have a business worth potentially hundreds of millions of pounds which is forced to play within an association structure which has been shown to be way out of control, acts on a frolic of its own, covers up its own incompetence and over which the best business brains at Celtic PLC have little influence and no control whatsoever
It would mean that Celtic PLC cannot, and never could, give any shareholder, season ticket holder, sponsor advertiser, player, agent or anyone else any type of reasonable reassurance that the events narrated above and elsewhere were a one off or could not be repeated in the future.
Others believe that Celtic are complicit in this mess and I have to admit that Peter Lawwell has on occasion done himself no good by boasting that awkward issues have been kicked into the long grass etc — that is disappointing from someone who has shown very good qualities as a CEO over a long period.
However, I have been at meetings when I have been told that when it comes to meetings at the SFA, other clubs simply don’t care about the issue, that Celtic has only one vote, and that the club have tried and have spoken to other club officials and officers but can’t get them interested in any sort of inquiry of any kind.
I genuinely believe that to be the case as Scottish Football is not run like any other business and it is not subject to the law of the real world.
When giving evidence at one hearing I believe that Rod McKenzie stated the opinion that “the law had not caught up with Scottish Football”
What I believe he meant by that was that the law of the outside world does not apply at all times to Scottish Football.
When clubs gather under the auspices of the SFA or the SPFL it is like a conclave of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. While the world is outside, it is only their rules and their votes on the inside that matter.
If they chose to amend the rules, ignore the rules, waive the rules, or whatever by way of a vote or an agreement there is nothing you, me or any dissenting club can do about it.
If the implications and consequences for the SFA are construed as harmful in any situation then lets abandon the rules even if that lets injustice prevail and wrongdoing go unpunished.
Noises will be made saying this couldn’t happen again and there has been reform and all that tosh but in actual fact that is nonsense.
The SFA are skint, they can’t afford to monitor the veracity of what club officials present to them and they can’t do, or won’t do, anything about past perpetrators presenting current documentation which require greater scrutiny than in the past if only to ensure there is no repetition of past mistakes.
Can the board of Celtic PLC, or any other club for that matter, guarantee that there will never be another agreement such as the 5 way agreement? I don’t think they can.
Can the SFA, UEFA, Celtic or anyone else guarantee that the SFA will not be misled in future and be found to be inept at dealing with licensing processes and any other such deception — I don’t think they can.
On a commercial basis, can anyone at ADIDAS be confident that the SFA will do all in its power to ensure that UEFA rules will be properly applied and that their strips will rightly and properly be seen in licensed competition with the licensing rules being properly overseen by the people at Hampden — I don’t think they can.
Forget the detail of what happened in the past, the decision of the SFA this week, the timing of which was no accident, has raised questions about the entire future and basis of Scottish Football and its Administration.
If that decision is allowed to stand without comment or challenge then Football in Scotland has been holed below the waterline and the consequences may be fatal.
The precedent has been set. The rules will be broken and flaunted again and the SFA will bot deal with it swiftly or adequately.
And Celtic, their board, their sponsors, shareholders and fans are absolutely powerless to do anything about it.
For them, the implications and consequences are both plain to see and absolutely dire.
It was posted on CQN so that the sites editor in chief Peter Lawwell could see it, and we can be assured he has.
Therefore he must know that this is not going to go away.
And if he didn’t , he certainly does by now.
Maybe that explains the redness in his face on Celtic TV the other day, which could be anger, embarassment or even high blood pressure.
If its none of the above, then perhaps its time to bring the make up staff back from furlough.
Here I will profess a little sympathy for Lawwell. His all encompassing controlling style of management is , in fact, combined with a streak of humanity, quite a considerable streak, in fact.
He will be more than aware that if he supports any decision to restart football before the Covid virus is fully eradicated or fully treatable, then people, directly or indirectly as a result of any support he has for such a move, will die.
When Neil Lennon was the subject of bombs and bullets through the post, Lawwell had a terrible fear that someone in the reception could open a letter sent to Celtic Park that could contain something that would injure or kill.
Thats a hell of a thing to have on your mind, and this pandemic will be playing on his thoughts every day.
As opposed to Dominic Cummings, who time after time has proved he doesn’t give a toss about anyone else. Except his toddler, who he drove 2560 miles to get a babysitter for.
Thats his four year old toddler, not the one who’s Prime minister.
For whom he also provides adult care and supervision,
So perhaps it could be seen as churlish to harp on about Res 12 at this time, and it’s true there are other major concerns.
But the least the CEO could do is point that out, and perhaps assure us that he has found the smoking gun he asked for and was given, and was cleaning it up ready to put it on show.
One avenue, and I have to admit , my own preferred avenue, is to hand over all the evidence to the police.
Not Police Scotland, but the department that deals with fraud and other fincial shennanigans in business.
Surprisingly, this is one aspect of Celtic’s failures that the media have failed to pick up on.
Any other issue would have had the press screaming at Lawwell for not looking after supporters and shareholders interests, which in itself shows that the evidence is more than viable, which is confirmed by the media refusing to tackle it and discredit what information is in there.
We are in an ongoing sporting and financial scandal, and we can only begin to surmise just how far the web of involvement , from the illegal actions through to the cover up, and when no one wants to touch it, you can only wonder just how wide that web is.
So , in that case, it has to go outside the web, and there will be journalists in England, Europe and the USA who will see it for what it is.
Thats one route.
For me, it’s far simpler just to hand it all over to the boys in blue and let them do their stuff.
At the very least, it will provoke wider discussion…and ask questions of those who refused to discuss it until they had to.