With the hype already under way for Celtic’s Scottish Cup semi-final against the Sevco club a light may be shone into an area of the match that Scottish football would rather avoid.
The usual warnings about sectarian singing will be issued- and ignored by supporters, Police Scotland and the football authorities during and after the match- but ticking along in the background is the issue of club licensing with the date of the match highly significant.
March 30 is the date for the SFA to present to UEFA the list of clubs looking to participate in next season’s European competitions- a list of clubs that meet the strict licensing regulations- clubs that have audited accounts that they are in good financial health.
As Galatasaray recently discovered UEFA are cracking down in this area and are no longer prepared to see other clubs suffer as a financial basket case spend way outwith their means on the speculate to accumulate business model.
If Dundee had built a state-of-the art training academy and created a budget that involved spending £10m more than they were likely to bring in on the basis of playing in next season’s Champions League they’d have been slaughtered by one and all.
No one in Scotland is likely to take issue with the budget set by South African based criminal Dave King but someone within the SFA will have to decide which clubs can be put forward for UEFA to examine.
Celtic, Aberdeen, Dundee United, Inverness Caley Thistle and Hibs will be fine, it’ll be rubber stamp time. Hearts and Sevco are a different matter.
Having agreed a CVA with creditors there is a case for the Tynecastle club being nominated- with a £2.5m going concern warning in their accounts to June 2015 there is no case for Sevco being proposed for European football next season.
The SFA and SPFL may have no interest in Financial Fair Play with the Ibrox side refusing to pay a £250,000 fine that is overdue by two years but UEFA cares.
Having planned to overspend to see out the season every club in The Championship has suffered for living within their means, in the Scottish Cup Dundee, Kilmarnock and Cowdenbeath have also been penalised.
Despite the best efforts of auditors Campbell Dallas to avoid the issue they do concede that ‘a material uncertainty would exist which may cast doubt over the Groups ability to continue as a going concern.’
According to their accounts produced by Renfrew based Campbell Dallas: “The forecast identifies that the group will require up to £2.5m by way of debt or equity funding by the end of season 2015/2016 in order to meet its liabilities as they fall due. Further funding will be required during the 2016/17 season, the quantum of which is dependent on future football performance and promotion to the SPFL Premiership.
“The forecast indicates that an initial tranche of funds will be required in December 2015. The Board of Directors has received undertakings from certain shareholders that they will provide financial support to the Group and have satisfied themselves as to the validity of these undertakings and that the individuals have the means and authority to provide such funding as and when it is required.
“The Board acknowledge that had these assurances not been secured then a material uncertainty would exist which may cast doubt over the Groups ability to continue as a going concern and therefore it’s ability to realise its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business.”
Verbal promises don’t cut any ice with the UEFA accountants.
Also included among the accounts is the £250,000 fine owed by the Ibrox club that the SPFL seem unwilling to tackle, a registration ban would surely bring the issue to a head.
According to the accounts: “EBT Fine In 2012, the SPL raised proceedings against The Rangers Football Club plc (Oldco) in relation to the use of EBTs and following a hearing in February 2013 a fine of £250,000 and costs of £150,000 were levied against Oldco.
“As part the agreement to allow Rangers to participate in Scottish Football, there was a clause inserted where it was agreed that Rangers would become liable and responsible for the imposition of any sanctions by the SPL for any breach of SPL Rules and or articles by Oldco/Rangers FC (i.e. the £250,000 fine).
“The Club believes that the SPFL has, through documents and actions, waived all and any right it may have had to insist upon payment under the clause, thereby holding the Club harmless in relation to the sanctions. This is disputed by the SPFL. Within the current SPFL rules there is a provision (known as the offset rule) whereby if any amounts are due to the SPFL, the Board of the SPFL are entitled to withhold amounts due to the Club up to the value of the amount outstanding. The Board of the SPFL have determined that it shall use the offset rule to recover the £250,000 fine from the Club.
“As a result of this decision, the Club has invoked Article 99 of the SFA Articles seeking a determination by an Arbitral Tribunal appointed by the SFA that the sum is not due to the SPFL. The matter will proceed to full hearing on 29th and 30th October. Whilst the Board of Directors based on legal advice are confident that the case will be settled in its favour, should the Club lose the case, then the Club will be liable for the £250,000 fine plus interest and associated costs.”
News of the licensing issue will come from UEFA not Hampden after March 30 with the SFA refusing to inform a group of Celtic shareholders why their club weren’t nominated for the 2011/12 Champions League qualifiers while Rangers (IL) ignored a £5.8m overdue tax bill were.