Rangers ready to fight Norwich City for Steven Whittaker

New Norwich City signing Steven Whittaker. New Norwich City signing Steven Whittaker.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012
10:43 AM

New signing Steven Whittaker has been accused of moving to Norwich City purely for financial gain – and has been warned to expect legal action from the man behind the re-formed Rangers.

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The Canaries announced at the weekend that they had snapped up the 28-year-old Whittaker on a four-year contract, subject to international clearance.

The Scotland international defender believes he is a free agent as one of 10 players who rejected the transfer of his contract to the “newco” Rangers after the club’s takeover.

But Charles Green, head of the Sevco consortium that bought Rangers’ business and assets for £5.5m when the Glasgow club was consigned to liquidation, has vowed to pursue legal claims against the Rangers players who refused to join his new company.

And Green told Whittaker he had more chance of playing European football at Ibrox than at Norwich.

Carrow Road-bound Whittaker and Kyle Lafferty, who joined Swiss side Sion, are the first of the 10 want-away players to secure moves.

PFA Scotland and their lawyers believe they are free agents under employment law but Green vowed to fight for transfer money and revealed he had written to every league club in the UK warning them to stay away from the players.

Rangers failed to meet the financial criteria to take their place in the Champions League before they were consigned to liquidation and Green’s reformed Ibrox club will not be able to play in Europe for three years under UEFA rules.

The club face the prospect of Scottish Division Three football, next season but Green accused the players of being motivated purely by money.

Green told Sky Sports News: “Our lawyers will pursue these claims. We have written to every Premier League and Football League club in the UK telling them clearly that we see this as a breach of contract. We don’t accept the advice the players have been given.

“If their career is to play in Europe that’s never going to happen at the clubs they are signing for. If they are really looking at playing in Europe, they would stay at Rangers and play because the reality is that, before Norwich play in Europe, Rangers will be back in Europe.

“I don’t accept that this is a career move – it’s for financial gain, no other reason.”

The Scottish FA could, in theory, block any transfers and have sought FIFA guidance and backing amid fears of a court battle with Green. Privately, the governing body’s legal advice is that the players are free to go.

City yesterday declined to comment on the threat of legal action, not adding to their statement that they awaited international clearance before the deal could be finalised. But before Green’s TV interview, Whittaker said he was not expecting any late hitch in his move to Norwich.

“I think it will be OK,” he said. “As far as I’m aware, the SFA are holding my registration because the old club was liquidated and the new club hasn’t got the registrations yet. So the registration has been applied for and I hope now it will be granted and I can continue with my career.”

Whittaker admitted, however, there had been a lack of clear advice from the SFA.

“There was a lot of uncertainty about it all towards the end and not a lot of information coming our way,” he said, in a story appearing on the Daily Mail website. “We would try to find out stuff from the administrators and the SFA but no one was forthcoming with answers. I think that was because they didn’t really know. This is an unprecedented situation.”

Whittaker expects to start training with his new City team-mates next week, when they begin their pre-season preparations.

Reported to have walked away one year into a five-year contract with Rangers worth £20,000 per week, Whittaker admitted: “It was a bit of a risk for me. I had a long contract at Rangers and I could have changed it over. But we didn’t have any idea what level of football the club would be able to offer us. Privately, I was always confident and hopeful there would be something out there for me. So I was willing to take that chance.

“The competition in England will be harder than it was in the SPL. Every game will be as tough as the last one and it’s going to be a very different challenge to the one I’ve been used to with Rangers in Scotland. I have played in the SPL all my career and sometimes you can get a bit stale. In England, you play the other teams twice, home and away. That is definitely a very different challenge.”

33 comments

  • Football tends to be almost a law unto itself in many things but outside foorball, if a company goes into liquidation, the contract of employment is with the company and does not automatically transfer. Be interesting to see just what Green thinks he has bought and what the contract actually says. TUPE (transfer of undertakings) does not apply here as it is usually refers to governmental contracts (probably solely?) It occurs when an operation, ie waste collection, street cleaning, etc. goes out for tender and the contract is won by a new organisation - ie the undertaking is transferred. Under TUPE, the winner of the tender has to take on some or all of the existing workforce with only a few exceptions which often therefore ends up at an employment tribunal. This football issue is not a transfer of undertaking in my view.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Is it because I raised the spectre of Kneel Donkeystar and his stewardship of the SPL?

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • I think Green is running scared, clutching at straws. Yes, Scion do look a dodgy outfit, don`t they? I hope Lafferty knows what he`s doing. I looked Scion up on Wiki. I just hope the player will have the last Laff. How did they manage to stay in the Super League after being docked 36 points? Or is there a Super-Duper League above that? Or is it a retro-docking? I ask `cos I don`t know! Fun times. Can`t wait for the lawyers to finish gorging themselves on the carrion and let us get on with some football. I have a vision of bewigged and begowned lookalikes of Monty Python`s Mr. Creosote all exploding after the last `waffer thin mint`. ;-)

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • TUPE protections are in place to stop people being offered a poorer deal when their contracts are transferred so it looks like Adey has it about right and Rangers would appear to have a fairly weak case. Of course Scottish Law can have some quirks of its own. As others have said, it is a huge shame for the club, their supporters and the game.

    Report this comment

    Swiss Canary

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Silly season - can't wait for the footy to start...When is CH back?

    Report this comment

    JMH

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • The SPFA legal position on their website is that it does apply in this case and that Green and his team have agreed with the union that it does. No doubt we will see what comes out in the wash, in the meantime, OTBC.

    Report this comment

    Swiss Canary

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Kneel Donkeystar is Chief Exec of the SPL, Pondy. Carrying on where he left off at Norwich. He must be another candidate for a remake of Monty Python`s Meaning of Life... The Grim Reaper. :-(

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Green`s lawyers are gonna be busy boys. Another Ranger has roved today; BBC reports Jamie Ness is to sign for Stoke. Green seems to be Walter Mitty-ing a bit. If `newco club 12` are placed in Div 3 in Scotland, how long will it take them to get into European competition unless they win the Scottish Cup? Quite honestly, Scottish football has been a comfort zone for rangers and Celtic players, almost certain to win something most seasons. Judging by Whittaker`s remarks, he knows it`ll be different in the EPL. McGnarly v Green, Round 1, seconds out.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Steven Whittaker wants to play in the Premier League. As for the money I cannot see how City will pay him as much never mind more than the OLD Rangers did. City may well pay him more than the NEW Rangers. can afford. No one is obliged to take a pay cut to keep their job are they? I thought when a team went bust other teams were either promoted or avoided relegation. That there would be a place in the bottom league: namely Scottish Division Three. If a team not from the Old Firm had gone bust would they keep their place in the top division? No, I think..

    Report this comment

    Capri

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • You just have to feel desperately sorry for the fans of Rangers. Imagine if it was NCFC that was being ripped apart like this. The season starts in 5 or 6 weeks and they do not know what league they will be in or if they will even have any players. How could one of the best supported teams in the world, let alone Scotland, get in such a huge mess?

    Report this comment

    Kent Anglian

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Well this is all getting very interesting don't you think. Mr Green has shot himself in the foot by thinking he can simply "transfer" players contracts to a new company; I'm no expert on employment law but logic tells me you "join" a new company you are given a new contract; any previous contract is now null and void. In the meantime, we have bagged ourselves a bargain and a good all round versatile one at that!! And thank goodness we are being so sensible with our money. I'd rather we get good players for little outlay than pay millions for someone who is useless. Money does not always buy success; proper financial management does.

    Report this comment

    Canarygirl

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Green wouldn't have a problem doing it to any other club if he had the opportunity. If it happened to a bottom half of the table club in the SPL rangers would be straight in for any half decent players. The guy sounds like he's only saved rangers to raise his own profile.

    Report this comment

    green and yellow man

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • What does "TUPEd" mean zebbee? Pardon my ignorance, I`m not strong on acronyms- unless I make up my own! You`re right, KA. It must be dreadful for the Rangers fans - 46,000 attendances says it all. I wonder if we`ll ever understand the folly of a management team that completely ****ed up this massive Scottish institution. It beggars belief. Didn`t anybody at the top of the SPL notice that things were amiss? Kneel Donkeystar, for instance? Or maybe it`d all gone belly up before he took on what`s proven to be a poisoned chalice. That football club meant so much to so many people. What`s going to happen to the SPL next? Celtic "winning" everything every year against opposition of barely Championship standard and below. Oxymoronically, a pointless exercise?

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Employment law IS complex. Having been TUPE'd myself years ago (no comments please, my grey hair is all mine!), things dont always turn out as you first envisage. I'm sure this will drag on well into the season. But, what if he plays for us, maybe even scores, and then its decided he's legally been a Rangers Newco player all along? Hmmm. The mind boggles.

    Report this comment

    zebbee

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Adey: agree with you regarding TUPEE. It is there to protect EMPLOYEES from companies declaring themselves bankrupt and then sacking the workfoce to replace with cheraper options in anew company. There is little in it from the employers point of view. But remember it is Scotland and their laws sometimes differ, and in sport some contract arrangements are allowed that would not stnad up anywhere else

    Report this comment

    Pondlife

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • CovCan, Green`s company (one of many, probably) is Sevco. Not SEBCO, that`s Lord Coe`s company set up to profit from the Sebcolympics. The new "club" is regarded as a "Newco" aka a new company. Most people seem to think that employment law gives those under oldco contracts the option of accepting or rejecting an obligatory offer of a contract with the Newco. I think. If it really IS that simple, then Green should save his money and tell the law vultures to carrion their trade elsewhere.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Isn't this a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted ? Talking about bolting horses, it's all gone quiet on the Grant Holt front, except to say that Big Sam at West Ham seems to have given up the chase. I would expect to hear an announcement on Grant Holt's future within the next 72 hours.

    Report this comment

    Dubai Canary

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Ethered X 4

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    Dubai Canary

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • First attempt ethered... A company buys another company along with all its assets. Has a contract been breached with those assets by virtue of this? No idea. But Football plays by it's own rules - only have to look at work permits. You wouldn't get a work permit in the UK if you were a plumber from, say, Ghana; but a footballer, that';s something else. Even though there are probably more footballers than plumbers here in the UK...

    Report this comment

    Surrey Canary

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Of course it's for financial gain and to improve their career...there's no reason why they shouldn't. The league is a joke so league 2 is a step up for these guys...just being an honest Scot. It's like the Spanish league, just uncompetitive and bordering on the ridiculous.

    Report this comment

    JimBob

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Talking of GH: Sky sports have reported on their transfer centre that he has signed a 3 year deal...

    Report this comment

    CovCanary

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Shock, horror revelation; footballer accused of acting purely for financial gain by bankrupt club owner. Looks like the legal department XI will have a busy season ahead with fixtures against Aston Villa, Barnsley and Rangers already booked. It seems that Rangers are not getting the support they need from their fellow clubs in Scotland to rejoin the SPL, or any other leagues and will be drawing the whole of Scottish football into a melee, as well as writing threatening all the English teams. I can't see anything other than them losing credibility the longer this goes on. At least he has a better home than Kyle Lafferty who has joined Swiss Super League bad-boys Scion and their 20,000 Stade Tourbillion ground. They were docked 36 points last season for playing illegal players.

    Report this comment

    Swiss Canary

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • It makes me laugh how Mr Green is complaining about clubs taking their best players - Rangers have been doing it for years. Ask any supporter of any club in Scotland outside the "big two" (now one!) and they'll tell you how over the last 20 years Rangers & Celtic have been buying the best talent from the rest of the Scottish clubs, paying better salaries, and leaving such players to kick their heels in the reserves. Such an activity (paid for ultimately by the Old Firm's separate TV deals) distorts the entire SPL - as other clubs can't compete without their best players, but don't have the money to keep hold of them. Hopefully these events may go some way to breaking up the monoply the two clubs have, and actually improve Scottish football. And, before half of Scotland complains, the EPL is not much better - spoilt by Sky. Gone are the days when a club could win the league simply because they had the best team - No-one outside the "big six" (Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Man City) will win the Premier League ever again - just look how many different teams have won it since it's inception.....

    Report this comment

    Eddie

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • As I asked before, to what extent are the players 'fixed assets' or 'employees'? Rangers FC was liquidated so went bust. Employees can transfer to the new Co if they wish. If the players are regarded as 'fixed assets' are they verging on being 'slaves' as Carlos Tevez suggested? This could open a new saga in football employment law a la Bosman.

    Report this comment

    Soglio Star

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Anyway, Newco 12 is debarred from European competitions for 3 years.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • I have gone through TUPE and I amjust about to go through it again.....I have been offered a job at the new firm under my current terms and conditions. I can either a) transfer to the new firm and carry on or b) decline to transfer and thus make my self unemployed and free to find work elsewhere. So the way I see it is that "The Rangers FC" aren't guaranteed all the current players and the ones that have said "no" to the new company have just made themselves unemployed. Unless I have missed something....there must be an employment law expert reading all this???

    Report this comment

    Adey

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Isn't Neil Doncaster something to do with the SFA or SPL in Scotland? I am sure he can advise Mr Green where to go! Perhaps Rangers should merge with Queens Park and become Queens Park Rangers

    Report this comment

    Pondlife

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • My words of genuine sympathy for the supporters of Rangers were ethered. Why?

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Perhaps there is some financial gane there but I doubt we're paying him much more than he was on in the first place before Rangers' liquidation. There is no guarantee that 'newco' will even be promoted from whatever league they are in, especially with players leaving left, right and centre. Whittaker has a chance to play for a good team in one of the (if not the) best league world football. Green surely can't deprive his players from swapping trips to Partick Thistle or Roith Ravers to Man City or Arsenal, surely? It's all a bit naff, if you ask me.

    Report this comment

    Mr. Livers

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Quite simply KA "be sure your sins will find you out" Whilst its not necessarily the fault of the new owner, he has not exactly endeared himself with the mess he has created through this new company of his. However the issues should have been addressed a long time ago and not allowed to get to this state of affairs. I hope it never does happen to our wonderful club!!

    Report this comment

    Canarygirl

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Wasnt it Rangers who tried to buy Grant Holt for £1 million a couple of days before they went into administration?

    Report this comment

    Sumo27

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Cheers Swiss, Pondy and Adey. Knew there would be some 'experts' reading this. It is as I thought, and this seems to be the view of SFA, and the players' lawyers solicitors. But as also stated, football employment law does seem to have odd clauses to tie things up in knots.

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    Soglio Star

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • My understanding is that Glasgow Rangers Football Club has been replaced with a new company Newco. All the original contracts that are not transferred over are now surely void as the contracts were for the old company, Glasgow Rangers not the new one. Green gave the players the option to transfer and some said no which, as far as I understand it, makes them free agents. What, then, has he got to complain about? Am I missing something here?

    Report this comment

    CovCanary

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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