SFA Legal Eagles Check The Rules First
Updated Wednesday, 20th June 2012
Andy Mitchell worked for ten years at the centre of the ruling body so knows where a few skeletons are hidden. While their location remain guarded, he did offer some insight into how the SFA formulate and apply their rules
The message board and other media outlets have been filled with accusations against the SFA and SPL that they are out to get Rangers following the accusations over how the oldco ran their affairs. Claims of unfair treatment and unjustifiable punishment are regularly a feature of posts and articles. I mentioned on the board the other day that governing bodies most probably have contingency plans in place for unusual situation rather than relying on making up policy on the hoof. The SFA cannot afford to operate in a vacuum and wear blinkers to the inventive ways that some people are willing to operate. New rules may be required due to cases coming to light in other parts of the world but there is no way that every eventuality can be covered.
Andy Mitchell, former head of communications at the SFA (c) Ger Harley | SportPix
Today I took the opportunity of taking pictures of former head of communications at the SFA, Andy Mitchell, to see if I was wide of the mark. Mitchell confirmed that the SFA rule book, a hefty tome, was not the product of the various incarnations of the ruling bodies board fevered imaginations. All aspects of the rules are considered, when at the drafting stage, by the SFA's in-house lawyer to ensure that they are staying within the law of the land and the SFA's own remit. The SFA also have a legal firm on retainer to check the different aspects of the clauses and sub-clauses which make up the rule book. Some may conflict with each other or be so wide in possible interpretation as to be useless as originally drafted.
The rules take account of all known and thought of scenarios. For example, that is why there is the rule requiring all payments for football activity to form part of the contract information submitted to the SFA. However, there will always be new situations that come along which are not covered by the rules. This is where the in-house lawyer and legal team earn their money as they will be required to draft additional rules and possible punishments to deal with the newly discovered situation.
That is not to say that every rule is watertight. All rules are open to interpretation and the recent difference of opinion between two respected Scottish Law Lords over the punishment meted out to Rangers is a classic example of this sort of thing. Even if there was cast-iron proof of misdeeds, by any club, you can bet that there will be an appeal (or two) to see if any guilty verdict can be overturned.
The whole reason for the SFA being in existence is to promote and protect the game in Scotland. Mitchell could not conceive that the ruling body would go out of it's way to damage a high profile club, which is known world-wide and brings the spotlight onto Scotland, just for fun. No matter how you feel about Rangers, they have been a mainstay of the football landscape in this country for many years. Their forays into Europe have highlighted the Scottish game to a wider audience. This does not give them the right to ignore rules. It also does not give the right to the SFA to treat them differently if and when they break the rules.