Huffpost UK Sport uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Ally Livingston Headshot

Diamond, Plato and the Demise of Rangers

Posted: Updated:

The LIBOR rigging scandal was the story of the last week, but this tale has some surprising parallels with the demise of Rangers. Of course the original crimes were very different, but both their supporters cited the 'greater good', as arguments for the continuation of the status quo. Why have justice if it ultimately makes everyone worse off? In the case of Barclays, Mr. Diamond was seen as one of the country's brightest banking leaders; his resignation would cause even more damage to the bank. In the case of Rangers, the other clubs in Scotland are reliant on the income that Rangers generate; banishing them would send the whole league into financial uncertainty.

Given the perpetual murmerings surrounding the depraved intellectual nature of British society, it was pleasing to see essentially Platonic arguments at the core of these debates. In Plato's 'Form of the Good', the just is the good. Intriguingly, some of the counter arguments adhere to this debate. What if justice not being served would effect the good? For Mr. Diamond this argument won out, he resigned because did not want to further tarnish the reputation of the bank. This debate still rages on inside Scottish football, be it the SPL or SFL. Letting Rangers back into the SPL, would benefit all the clubs, but would tarnish the 'sporting integrity' of the league. That in itself would harm the product of the game. Moreover, fans have threatened mass boycotts, a strategy which could surpass the financial harm that Rangers relegation will cause.

For now, it seems if SPL chairman have been convinced by the latter argument. Division 1 or Division 3 is the new choice. Whichever league Rangers are to play in, the club and its fans care about the reputation of the oldco. Despite being liquidated, the history of that club will be the new battleground of the Rangers debate. Its history will not be shaped by its fans, the SFA or even a higher footballing authority, but HMRC.

Hypothetically, were Rangers to lose the Big Tax Case (BTC), then a number of other sanctions could come into effect. The main problem for Rangers is that every single SPL player must have their full contract registered with the governing body. If any part of that contract is not known to these governing bodies, then a player is improperly registered. If Rangers were to lose the BTC, it would confirm that their players had second contracts (in the form of an Employee Benefit Trust) which were unknown to the SFA. Hence many of their players from 2001-2010 were improperly registered, and the established punishment of a 3-0 loss in each game in which such players have played. In turn, that will prompt questions over the legitimacy of the trophies won. Some will say enough has been done to punish Rangers, some will say history is in the minds of the fans, but If the BTC is lost, this point will certainly be debated.

Supporters of Celtic, Hearts, Dundee United and co will lead serious pressure for such trophy reallocation. In particular, this reallocation will give Celtic the chance to be only one behind Rangers in the all-time Scottish Premier League Titles. Surpassing this would be akin to Manchester United passing Liverpool's haul of titles. It's a record which gains greater significance as the chances to surpass it increase. Any title reallocation due to player ineligibility hinges on HMRC. Ultimately, the tax tribunal is best placed to judge if these were second contracts not the Scottish footballing authorities.

Whether this is the good, right or just outcome is a different matter. Perhaps out of all this uncertainty, one fact can be stated in complete confidence: the next few months will shape the landscape of Scottish football for decades to come.