A report in The Sun claims that a decision on the 2011 UEFA licence issued by the SFA to Rangers could be made ‘in a matter of weeks’.
In September 2017 Stewart Regan referred the issue to the SFA Compliance Officer after overwhelming evidence at the Craig Whyte trial proved that there was a £2.8m tax bill overdue when the licence was granted.
For five years the former SFA Chief Executive had claimed that the tax bill was in dispute.
A group of Celtic shareholders gathered the evidence to demonstrate that the tax bill was overdue and that there was enough evidence in the public domain to merit an investigation.
Strangely there seemed little enthusiasm from Peter Lawwell for this course of action despite Celtic being denied the opportunity to play in two rounds of Champions League qualifiers that could have earned the club over £20m. The following season, 2012/13 Celtic reached the last 16 of the Champions League after getting through two qualifying rounds.
The SFA have been incredibly slow moving on the issue, in June 2019 after the SFA AGM Ian Maxwell, Regan’s successor, said ‘I don’t think we would let it go for ever’.
After eight months of silence The Sun reports:
AN SFA decision on whether or not to take the matter of Rangers’ 2011-12 European licence to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) could finally come in a matter of weeks, SunSport understands.
It will be two years this May since then compliance officer Tony McGlennan issued a fresh notice of complaint against Rangers for alleged breaches of Uefa’s rules relating to their application to play European football that season.
Rangers refused to accept the two charges, which accused them of failing to observe the principles of sportsmanship and “behaving towards the Scottish FA and other members with the utmost good faith”.
The Ibrox side’s legal team successfully argued back in a preliminary hearing in June 2018 that – due to the terms of the five-way agreement between the SFA, SPL, SFL, Rangers (in administration) and Sevco which allowed the Ibrox side to restart in Scotland’s bottom tier – the matter must be referred to the Swiss-based court.
Clauses in that document defined exactly what alleged misdemeanours of the Craig Whyte era the new entity can and cannot be held liable for.
And this is where the issue has sat for the last 20 months, with a number of differing legal opinions being sought on the wisdom of referring the case to CAS.
Despite efforts to create an Old Firm row the Celtic shareholders have placed their spotlight on the SFA.
While those involved in stating that there was no unpaid tax require to be banned from football the focus has been on the SFA who failed to follow UEFA protocol on the matter.
Current SFA President, Rod Petrie was on the Licence Committee as was Andrew Dickson who is currently on a number of SFA committees.
At the 2019 Celtic AGM Lawwell turned down a request from shareholders to take the issue to UEFA, telling the meeting that he had faith in the SFA to deal with the issue after two years waiting.
Lawwell also told the AGM that he had never seen the Five Way Agreement of 2012 and had no reason to view it.