Now For Something

I’m trying to put General Convention out of my mind (especially the to-and-fro over communion without baptism), so instead of inveighing people who aren’t listening me to think the way I wish they would, I’ll write about something really important. Football.
I’ve blogged before about the world-dividing antagonism between Celtic and Rangers; this year, that rivalry took on a new, complicated dimension. (Important qualification: in what follows, I’m going by my recollection and only occasional refernce. If I get something wrong, correct me, and I’ll fix it.) As people had known for a long time, Rangers had been overspending and at the same time not paying their taxes. This produced a well-paid team of stars who won sixteen championships in Scotland between 2000 and 2011 (Scottish League Cup, Scottish Cup, and Scottish League Championship), but as those of you with household accountancy responsibilities will quickly understand, running a cumulative deficit of as much as £134 million even while you’re winning championships is not a sustainable business model. Rangers went into administration (= US ‘bankrupt’) this year, incurring a ten-point penalty and generating a mountain of problems going forward.
First, the administrators had to find a buyer for the club — something of a tricky proposition, since the buyers would be saddled with staggering debts from the very beginning. Those bidding for ownership have to prove their fitness for so important a position, which rules out most of the people with millions of pounds to throw around. The bidding was somewhat haphazard, with one relatively stable offer from an apparently financially sober source, contested by a series of bids from sentimental favourites who didn’t have as much cash, or as convincing a plan for solvency, or the impeccable moral character of the eventual owner. We didn’t know who would head the club until weeks after the season’s end. Meanwhile, in order to get to the end of the season, Rangers had to elicit pay cuts from its players, who agreed to those cuts (commendably, since that helped save the jobs of many support workers); but no one’s going to voluntarily accept a lowered salary for the long term, just to display loyalty to Rangers. Many of the team’s top players have already opted to abandon sip for more lucrative options at other clubs.
Now, once the eventual owner was determined, the ownership had to do something with all that debt. They proposed a Company Voluntary Agreement to pay off/write off their debts, but their debtors (especially including Her Majesty’s Revenue Commission) rejected that option. Since the idea of paying off the debt pound-for-pound was laughably improbable, the new owners had to come up with another way of escaping the crippling inherited debts — so they formally dissolved the owning company of the Rangers and sold all the Rangers’ assets to a successor company (a ‘newco’).
But wait — it turns out that if the old Rangers were dissolved, then the New Rangers aren’t automatically entitled to take the Old Rangers’ place in the Scottish Premier League. They needed eight votes of support from the eleven remaining clubs, and it soon became clear that hardly anyone wanted to just wave Rangers through. That’s pretty understandable; Rangers have been cheating (finncially) for years, and winning championships that would presumably have been more closely-contested if Rangers had been living within their means. It’s as if the neighbourhood bully who had been stealing your milk money for years suddenly needed your support to remain in the same neighbourhood; well, of course the former victims weren’t going to vote to let the old bullies back in. Indeed, it’s a wonder that they weren’t summarily shown two fingers and told to scram, pal.
In the meantime, the Premier League has had to make up its fixtures (= US ‘schedule’) for next year, so they’ve built the fixtures around a yet-to-be determined ‘Club 12’. If I had a suitable bankroll, I’d have immediately ordered a whole slew of Club 12 gear so that undecided SPL supporters could show their allegiance to an undefined entity. I’ll sell you the idea for a couple of jerseys.
So now we have several interlocked problems: Who will Club 12 be, if not the Rangers? Where will the Rangers play? The Scottish Football League (which administers the three non-Premier divisions of Scottish football) will vote in a week on that issue. One option will be to place the Rangers in the First Division, on the premise that they really are a Premier-level club, and it would be a foolish loss to place them anywhere else. Plus, although people might sustain their loyalty and television ratings while the Rangers play one season in Division One (assuming that they will be promoted to the Premier League at the end of their first Division One season), it might injure the team and Scottish football in general too much if Rangers were relegated all the way down to Division Three. But the Division One teams are none too pleased with the prospect of Rangers just swooping in and claiming their Division championship next year; if Rangers are to be made to pay a penalty for their overspend, why should that punishment come at the expense of good Division One clubs that will (presumably) fare more poorly in the standings at the hands of the carpetbagging Rangers? So Division One doesn’t want the New Rangers. But if the Rangers are admitted to Division Three, the normal point of entry for a new football club, they’d spend years climbing back up through the ranks, losing thousands of pounds of spotlit revenues (and quite possibly many fans and season ticket-holders) along the way.
And the SPL has to decide whether to award Club 12 status to Dunfermline, who were relegated to Division One at the end of last season, but who arguably ‘belong to’ the SPL more than any other contender, or Dundee, who were the Division One runners-up last year, who would ordinarily be promoted to the SPL if there were another vacancy.
Pretty exciting, eh?
So with the season beginning in a few weeks, we don’t know who the constituent teams will be for three of the Scottish Leagues (no one has suggested adding Rangers to Division Two — yet). Rangers don’t know who’ll be playing for them next year, or what level they’ll be playing in.
So that’s taking my mind off ECUSA’s General Convention for the time being. I’ll go look at the Twitter feed sometime, but when I’m tempted to hyperventilate about the actions of the US Episcopalians, I’ll distract myself by wondering about Rangers again. Go, Jags! And hey, tomorrow we’ll be visited with Orangemen marching to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne. That’s plenty of distraction for me.

2 thoughts on “Now For Something

  1. Div 1 or 2 teams would be lucky to have Rangers for a year. The revenue created by such games would be a major boon.

  2. You should also consider selling your Club 12 shirts to the Orangemen when they come through.

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