Status and Transfer of Players & the Future of Rangers FC Players

It has been suggested that Rangers FC players are legally obliged to transfer their contractual responsibilities to a new company that would potentially participate in the competitions of the SFA and the SPL. I cannot stress enough how erroneous this contention is. I have recently explained, very clearly, the situation in an interview with the BBC and suggested that the Rangers players are fully protected not only by the law of the land, but also by FIFA's regulatory framework.

There is no point in repeating the same arguments again. With the completion of the liquidating event, all rights and obligations of those contracted to the old company come to an end. There is no such thing as 'transfer' of contracts to a new company and such contention is to say, the least, oxymoron. Even if we were to accept the term 'transfer', such term would require the parties to create new contracts, as the new agreements would have to be between the same players and the NEW company. This is the underlying and fundamental reason for the protection of employees and the CHOICE they are given by the law. It is also a fundamental principle of contract law that no alterations to a contract are allowed, unless both parties have given a valid consent and have agreed to such alterations.

The players could of course decide to create NEW agreements with the new company and they could agree to have the same or similar terms as before. But they have A CHOICE. They could reject any new agreement, they could accept a new agreement with the same terms as before, or they could accept a new agreement with new terms. They are, therefore, not obliged to sign a new agreement with the new company if they do not wish to do so. In terms of football law, they become free agents. The standard SFA and SPL contracts incorporate a series of implied terms in relation to contract and employment statutory instruments, capable of protecting the rights of such players. It would be unnecessary to cite Bosman and the other case law from the European Court of Justice, as well as the ones from the Court of Arbitration for Sport and FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber and the Players' Status Committee. 

This is the reason that I find public comments, to the effect that there would be legal action against the Rangers players if they do not sign for the new company, not only erroneous, but also prejudicial and illogical. Even if the relevant court was to hear the argument that liquidation has not yet been effected and the players have to honour their contracts, such argument, with respect, is flawed and has no merits whatsoever. The players are contracted with a club to offer services, in the form of playing football. Rangers FC is not playing any football at the moment and it is highly unlikely to play any football in the foreseeable future. There is no court in the land that would apply specific remedies against the players, either in the form of specific performance or an injunction. This would be in violation not only of the current law but it would go against public policy too. 

It follows, therefore, that any legal action [I would hate to think that any lawyers would advice in favour of such course of action] against the Rangers players is bound to fail, before it would even begin. It would be frivolous, without merits and it would only serve to indicate that the wrong decision was taken. My experience from appearing before CAS and FIFA on similar matters, suggests that much and it allows me to produce the present opinion with certainty, clarity and confidence. We can never be certain regarding the likelihood of success on a legal matter, but the present jurisprudence from the aforementioned legal forums, should allows us to be extremely confident.

Dr. Gregory Ioannidis

21 June 2012


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