Sunday, 19 February 2012


Cognisance - in law, is the action of taking judicial notice. (From the Oxford English Dictionary).

The First Minister used this word in his interview with Sir David Frost on Al Jazeera television.

Without trying to pretend to be a legal expert, judicial notice (from my interpretation) is where evidence is so strong it cannot be refuted or ignored. In this case, the First Minister means that Rangers is part of the very fabric of Scottish football.

Is he hinting that should Rangers be found to owe tax, that HMRC should somehow be lenient?

To be fair, he does have a point. If Rangers were to disappear from the SPL, which is certainly possible, then television rights for Scottish football could dry up, and that would have a huge impact. The Old Firm clash would cease to exist, and while Celtic would survive, they may not be able to attract big names to their club. Likewise, up and coming new players who come through the youth player schemes may be tempted to move elsewhere.

Football is an emotional subject in Scotland, but emotions cannot take priority over hard economic facts. If it turns out that the taxpayer is owed a considerable amount of money, then surely that comes first?

Even the sum of £9 million would be of benefit somewhere. How many youth employment and training schemes could that fund?

The First Minister was always going to be asked about the crisis, and he had to give a response. That is part of leadership. He cannot ignore such a question. He has to be shown to support Scottish sport.

But his answer was badly worded.

As First Minister of Scotland he cannot be shown to hint at favours. Not when it involves the public purse. The best course of action should have been to say that people should wait until all the investigations are complete, then assess the situation. Instead, we have hints that HMRC should be favourable to Rangers' case. It is little wonder that Celtic's Chief Executive attacked his comments.

Perhaps the First Minister could have shown the same level of interest to Donaghy Limited, and the 175 jobs that have been lost there.

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