In 1999, then-Scottish FA chief executive Jim Farry was sacked after he was found to have delayed striker Jorge Cadete’s transfer to Celtic in time for their Scottish Cup semi-final game against Rangers in 1996, which Celtic lost 2-1. For three years, the then-Celtic owner Fergus McCann battled for the truth and took it all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, before the Scottish FA held their hands up before the case was concluded.
Farry was sacked for gross misconduct soon after, never revealing why he deliberately delayed Cadete’s transfer to Celtic.
18 years later, could we be seeing another ‘Jim Farry’ moment?
Celtic brand Scottish FA refusal of review ‘disturbing’
Following the SPFL passing the buck and calling on the Scottish FA to hold an independent review into Rangers’ liquidation and the handling of the scandal by the governing bodies, the Scottish FA refused to participate much to the angst of Celtic chief Peter Lawwell and a multitude of fans across the country.
Lawwell branded the Scottish FA’s refusal to review the case as 'disturbing' and subsequently released a plethora of letters between Celtic and the Scottish FA, before demanding an independent inquiry once again into events that led to Rangers’ liquidation and including the governance of the game’s rulers.
Regan, in his letters to Celtic, insisted that there must be closure on the issue and that a review would be a waste of time because senior counsel told them ‘there was a very limited chance of the SFA succeeding in relation to any complaint’ and even if it they were successful ‘any sanctions available to a judicial panel would be very limited in their scope’.
However, in the same correspondence, Regan admitted that former Rangers owner Sir David Murray’s evidence at the Craig Whyte Trial in the High Court could have blown a hole in Lord Nimmo Smith’s verdict that EBTs did not give Rangers a sporting advantage.
He wrote: “The report of evidence given by Sir David Murray at the Craig Whyte trial appears to contradict that finding and it might be appropriate for the SPFL to contact Lord Nimmo Smith to ascertain if he considers this development undermines his findings in any way. That is, of course, a matter for the SPFL.”
Celtic fired a broadside at the Scottish FA claiming that their refusal represented a ‘failure in transparency, accountability, and leadership'.
Their statement read: "In the light of all information that has now become available, Celtic has been in correspondence with the Scottish Football Association in pursuit of the club’s belief that an independent review should be commissioned to consider the events that led to the liquidation of Rangers Oldco and the governance issues arising from those events.
"This is exactly the same position as adopted by the SPFL board on behalf of all Scotland's 42 professional clubs.
"The club believes that such a review is essential if a line is to be drawn under this whole affair. On that basis, Scottish football could learn lessons and move on. The club considers, however, that failure to carry out a full review of these events and issues, which have been without precedent in Scottish football, would represent a failure in transparency, accountability, and leadership.
"Celtic was, therefore, disappointed to note that the Scottish Football Association board has confirmed that it does not intend to commission such a review. Throughout these processes, Celtic's consistent objective has been to establish the full facts, which is surely the least that all stakeholders in Scottish football - including the supporters of all clubs - are entitled to, and to learn the appropriate lessons. That remains our position."
Regan hits back at Celtic
Now it looks like Regan is trying to make this look like a Celtic v Rangers issue with his latest comments to the press.
In an interview on Monday, Regan claimed that Celtic was the only club wanting a review of the way the Rangers case was handled.
He said: "I have a very good relationship with Peter Lawwell. I was with him at the Champions League draw a few weeks ago when the various exchanges were taking place.
"I understand his position. He is doing what is right for Celtic Football Club, he has a fiduciary duty to his club so I don't think it is personal. I fully understand why Celtic have done what they have.
"I report to the board and as I said they are doing what is in the best interests of 108 members and none of those members bar one have come back to us to take any issue with any comment we have made.
"Closure is a difficult thing for some people. I don't ever think there will be truly closure on this issue. It is too emotive and too many issues have arisen over the years.
"All I can say is that we are acting on behalf of 108 members. I wrote to all of our members last week and invited them to discuss any aspect of my letter to them when we notified them of the board's decision.
"I haven't had a single email, a single phone call or a single letter from anyone other than clearly Celtic Football Club and the SPFL.
"So as far as the wider membership, 108 members, we are on the right track as far as those members are concerned. Our board made a decision that we felt we had gone as far as we can in dealing with all of the various matters which deal with Rangers since 2011.
"At every stage of the process we have had independent legal advice, some of the finest legal minds in Scotland; four QCs, three Law Lords supporting us, two independent directors on our board, an independent panel, a compliance officer that was actually dealing at arm's length with disciplinary matters, so at all stages of the process independence has been involved.
"We feel that we have arrived at the decision which is in the best interests of Scottish football."
Scottish FA to look into new information over 2011 UEFA Licence
Somewhat bafflingly, despite the Scottish FA and Regan deciding to ignore recent revelations in the Craig Whyte trial and the Rangers - EBT Supreme Court case, calling for closure. They are opening an investigation into the awarding of a UEFA licence to Rangers in 2011 on the back of information coming to light from the same Craig Whyte trial, that they are ignoring calls of an enquiry over.
They stated: "The Scottish FA has examined new information with respect to what is commonly referred to as the Wee Tax Case and the awarding of a UEFA Licence in 2011. This information came to light in the recent Craig Whyte trial and concerns the testimony in Court of two former directors of Rangers FC regarding “overdue payables” to HMRC and relating to a Discounted Option Scheme.
"The matter has now been referred to the Scottish FA’s compliance officer for further investigation following receipt of a written opinion from senior counsel.”
This decision to pick and choose what they want to look at from the Supreme Court judgement and the Craig Whyte trial has enraged Lawwell further, who blasted back: "What we find incomprehensible is why you refuse to apply the same principle to all the other new information that has emerged over the same period."
With a number of fan groups already issuing statements demanding an independent, including Aberdeen Supporters, Regan’s hope of turning this into solely a Celtic v Rangers issue is a mistake that could cost him his job sooner rather than later – especially if he decides to try to take Lawwell head on.
McCann’s words from the past haunt the Scottish FA
Fergus McCann’s comments in the wake of the decision to sack Farry over the Cadete transfer scandal in 1999 could come back to haunt our game’s governing body.
The former Celtic owner hit out at the SFA at the time, saying: "It is deplorable that a prominent member club should be disadvantaged in this way when on several occasions the SFA's chief executive had the opportunity to make the correct decision.
“Mr Farry's failure to properly and timeously register Jorge Cadete leaves the club in no other position than to ask for the office bearers of the SFA to recognise that Mr Farry's position is untenable. This case demonstrates clearly that Mr Farry cannot be allowed to hold and exercise such powerful authority."
In fact, today clearly paints a picture that not only are the Scottish FA and Stewart Regan looking to cover their own arses, they are also looking to give an advantage to a member club over others and that is also deplorable – even more so than the Farry incident.
Regan’s handling of the Rangers EBT scandal, the club’s liquidation and his attempts to use threats and bully boy tactics to force clubs to do the Scottish FA’s bidding was proof enough that the former Yorkshire County Cricket chief is not up to the job and it is baffling how he is still in his position at Hampden.
His ‘armaggedon’ threat to clubs was the line in the sand for many supporters, yet he is still in his position to this day? The firebrand Turnbull Hutton called his tactics out in front of the media – many of whom have done as much burying heads in the sand as the Scottish FA has over this issue – yet Regan remains.
When UEFA looked for a successor to the sacked Michel Platini, in the wake of the FIFA corruption scandal, Regan went against the SPFL and SFA member clubs by voting for Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin instead of Dutchman Michael van Praag – with the former a clear threat to our clubs qualifying for European club cup competitions with his ‘reform plans’.
Again I ask how this man is still in a job?
Is Regan a useful idiot and a convenient scapegoat for his puppet masters on the board?
Farry was sacked by the Scottish FA after nine years of tyrannical attitude to the game and supporters in particular, as he was handed his marching orders, SFA council member Hugh Scott [the then-Morton chairman/owner] "It is always disappointing to see someone of that quality no longer fulfilling that function. I would think that we have confidence in the office bearers to make sure natural justice is dispensed.”
Natural justice. Confidence in the office bearers?
What natural justice has Scottish football received for 11 years of Rangers rigging the game in their favour? What natural justice has Scottish football fans received for those 11 years of paying season ticket money in the hope [however small] that their club could win silverware or secure European football?
Where is the natural justice in the likes of Albion Rovers and Spartans being disqualified from Scottish club competitions for the likes of fielding an ineligible player to the improper registration of players because a form was not dated twice, yet a prominent member club can get away with 11 years of rigging the game in their favour when hiding side letters and tax avoidance payments to players?
Players that former owner David Murray admitted would not have signed for the club otherwise.
Scottish football fans have no confidence in the SPFL, Scottish FA, Neil Doncaster or Stewart Regan. Yet no justice has been meted out to Regan and Doncaster for their threats and rhetoric in 2012 which damaged the game significantly.
Where is the natural justice in that?
Scottish football fans will not move on until a root and branch review of the SPFL, the Scottish FA and their part in the handling of the Rangers liquidation/EBT scandal is investigated and we have full transparency of what went on and what was said between all parties involved.
Until then our governing bodies will be seen to do nothing more than safeguard their 30 pieces of silver from broadcasters and other commercial interests to the detriment and the integrity of our game.
Shame on them and shame on us for allowing it to continue.
Written by Andy Muirhead - You can follow him on twitter via @andymuirhd
Last Ditch Tackle is unashamedly passionate about Scottish football, with a heavy Celtic slant.