Opened on May 23, 2012
We would like the SFA to censure Neil Doncaster for bringing the Scottish game into disrepute. The following is an email I sent to the SFA. Feel free to send your own copy, adding your own words as you see fit.
To whom it may concern,
I would like firstly to congratulate the SFA on its expedient application of the judicial panel protocol in the case of Rangers F.C., and secondly to inquire as to whether the SFA has any intention to take action against the SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster on a similar charge of bringing the game into disrepute.
Some of the statements Mr. Doncaster has made in recent weeks have been simply untrue. He has stated that Plymouth Argyle, Crystal Palace, Rotherham and AFC Bournemouth all failed to agree a CVA, yet retained their league place. In fact all of those clubs did agree a CVA. This means that either Mr. Doncaster has neglected to check the veracity of his claims, which constituted the factual basis of an important argument he was putting forward, or he was simply lying. Either would be completely unacceptable from a man in his position.
A quick look at the comment thread on the bottom of the following Scotsman article will illustrate the strength of feeling among fans regarding his recent public comments. Every single comment is critical of him, and not one person expresses support for his views.
Another contentious claim of his can be found in that article. He claims that
"All I can say is that we will continue to deal with clubs equally under the rules. Our job is to apply those rules, equally, without fear or favour to every single one of the 12 member clubs. It’s our job to explain that what we are doing is treating people equally. If everyone understands that then, what will be the reason to be aggrieved about the outcome? Every club will be treated exactly the same. I can’t get into ‘special cases’."
Now these would be admirable sentiments indeed if he meant them, but I very much doubt that he did. A couple of weeks previously he had said that
"Given how fast moving the [Rangers] situation is, the view was that the best thing to do at the moment, rather than rush through rules that may have unintended consequences, is to have a further period of reflection and a further discussion of those rules."
The SPL's repeated delaying of a meeting discussing possible changes to the relevant rules, combined with Mr. Doncaster's comments about "unintended consequences", make it clear in my view that Mr. Doncaster is intent on engineering a particular outcome from the Rangers situation - namely that Rangers will be competing in the SPL next season, as a NewCo if necessary. Given that his priority is to secure a particular outcome, rather than to apply the rules equally and fairly, it is clear that Rangers are indeed being treated as a "special case".
While Mr. Doncaster has a legal duty to protect the commercial interests of the SPL, and in his view this is best done by ensuring that Rangers do compete in next season's SPL, it is extremely doubtful that this would be in the wider and long-term interests of Scottish football. Whatever benefits might be felt by the twelve elite clubs, the rest of Scottish football will not be well served if a newly formed company, with no footballing history and no sporting right to compete in Scotland's top league, is admitted to the SPL.
A NewCo Rangers building up from Division Three would bring much-needed media attention and revenue to the SFL, but a NewCo Rangers being admitted directly into the SPL would send a clear message that sporting integrity is for sale in Scottish football. Many fans have expressed an intention to boycott the game if this should come to pass. This would cause damage not just to the twelve member clubs of the SPL, but to the thirty SFL clubs as well, and although the media seem intent on ignoring this point, those clubs - the majority of Scotland's league clubs - have never felt any financial benefit from Rangers' participation in the SPL.
Now I know that no-one is going to blame Mr. Doncaster for pursuing what he believes to be the commercial interests of his organisation, but I feel that his behaviour in recent weeks - in publicly making claims which can be shown to be false, and in displaying a determination to bend rules in order to engineer a desired outcome - is unacceptable and potentially damaging to our game. It is for this reason that I enquire as to whether the SFA has any inclination (and indeed any jurisdiction) to censure him for his actions.
A committed fan of Scottish Football