Winding-up football clubs and stakeholder scepticism

I have dabbled in a law meets football blog before. My most visited blog (by some distance) was this post about the DUFC v RFC football match. After all the build-up to the game in question, Dundee United won 3-0 last weekend.

According to two different figures in the same Sports section of my Sunday Herald, somewhere between 300 and 450 Rangers fans attended the game notwithstanding the boycott. Although I did not watch the game (as I was attending a concert in Glasgow that “kicked-off” at 12.30), I understand there was no crowd trouble. Nothing happened in court either. No director has been sued for a breach of his or her duties to the company, despite my blog suggesting there might be a relevant claim. As an aside, it can be noted that since my original blog, Charles Green has been quoted as being well aware of such duties in a recent BBC article. There he stated that he and his colleagues could be “failing as directors not to explore the alternatives”, relating to an oft-mooted move to English football.

Perhaps (he wrote optimistically) he said this because of my short note, but I am not so vain as to think that is actually the case. Essentially, I return to my point that nothing happened after my blog. No litigation ensued and I doubt it will. Does that mean it was a waste of time? I would argue not. It is important to challenge views here and there, unless a quiet acquiescence in all that goes on around you is something that you are happy with.

After that o’erlang introduction, now we come to the meat of this blog. Rangers have been threatened with a winding-up order. One possible (but by no means necessary) consequence of such an action would be a double-dip insolvency event (i.e. the entity that took over from the OldCo might also have a corporate failure).

For what it is worth, I do not think it will come to this. I suspect, and indeed hope for the sake of my Rangers supporting friends, this will be akin to the Kilmarnock winding-up order that also came to nothing. Many businesses are stretching payment terms out as much as they can in the still tricky current financial climate, and in turn many creditors will make use of whatever (robust) tools Scots law provides to obtain payment. That may be the case here. Clearly, I cannot warrant that my suspicions will be well-founded (so please do not come back and heckle if my clairvoyance fails me). But what I will say with more confidence is this. The reaction amongst the followers of football to this particular story (from Rangers fans and beyond) is certainly not quiet acquiescence. Maybe this is just what Scottish football needs. I have mentioned community ownership in relation to football clubs and more generally on my blog before. This might not be community ownership in action, but it is certainly stakeholder scepticism. Succulent lamb it is not. In the absence of any wider reform of corporate governance in sport, stakeholder scepticism is something to be encouraged. If that means making Rangers’ officials (or any other club’s officials, for that matter) squirm through a press conference, that is fine by me.

Let us see what the next few days bring us, but please feel free to ask daft lassie or daft laddie questions as you go along. And even if nothing seems to happen in the end, that might not be a bad thing after all.

The most recent statement on the club in question’s official website is here.

Update. Straight after this blog was uploaded, I saw that the (shall we say) “divisive” law blogger Paul McConville has a much longer post on the matter, available here. He has delved into the matter far more than I intend to and I would refer you to the links in his piece.

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About basedrones

Bachelor of Laws. Scots lawyer working at the University of Aberdeen. English law qualified. Took far too long to write this bio. Blogs on legal issues, with occasional veering into other purportedly intellectual stuff from time to time. Tweets about legal issues, education, law clinics, fitba, music, rogue cell division and not at all about politics at @MalcolmCombe.
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