Independent reviewer reopening case against Rangers FC ‘most successful football club’ claim

The Independent reviewer for the Advertising Standards Authority has confirmed that it has reopened the case which saw the ASA allow the statement that Rangers is ‘Scotland’s most successful club’ in an advertising campaign.

The original ruling has now been removed from the ASA website.

After the complaints were made, Rangers said in its statement to the ASA that the “panel of the London Stock Exchange” agreed that Rangers was the most successful Scottish club despite liquidation in 2012, leading to suggestions that the new club was only recently formed and therefore could not use previous successes.

However, the Stock Exchange has now said that it did not endorse Rangers, and has asked the statement to be removed.

Speaking to The Drum, the ASA said: “It is worth mentioning that the Independent Reviewer cannot overturn ASA decisions, he can make a recommendation. The ASA Council’s ruling on reviewed cases is final. Rulings that are revised following a review will be republished on our website.”

James Traynor, director of communications for Rangers, did not reply to a request for comment.

The full letter from independent reviewer Sir Hayden Phillips, sent to those who appealed the decision, can be read below.

ASA Case A13-224606: Rangers Football Club – Request for Review

I wrote to you on 13 June setting out the procedure I would follow in examining your request that I review this adjudication by the ASA Council. You should know that I also received similar requests from five other original complainants about these advertisements.

I am now writing to let you know that having considered your request, and the requests of the others, and having studied the ASA’s file on the case, I decided to make an interim report to the ASA Council. I said that I had concluded, inter alia, that it was a procedural flaw for the ASA to have relied on an extract only of a report sent to it by the advertiser, and that there was also the risk of a substantial flaw of adjudication in the distinction that had been made between ‘club’ and ‘company’, especially in the light of previous ASA decisions about companies that change hands and the circumstances in which the new company could or could not trade off the reputation of the old company. I recommended that in these circumstances the investigation should be reopened and the published adjudication should be withdrawn. The Chairman of the ASA, Lord Smith of Finsbury, has written to tell me that he has decided to reopen the ASA’s investigation into this case and to withdraw the published adjudication.

It will now be for the ASA Executive to carry out this further investigation consulting you and the advertiser about any revised new Draft Recommendation. When the further investigation is complete, the Council will have, in addition to its normal advice from the Executive, a final report from me as the Independent Reviewer. The purpose of that report is to ensure that the Council has my views as to whether the further work has adequately dealt with the issues which you, and the other complainants I have mentioned, raised in your requests for review.

I must emphasise that the ASA Council’s decision to proceed in this manner is entirely without prejudice to what the Council may conclude in the light of the further work that will now be undertaken.

Yours sincerely

Hayden Phillips

(Sir Hayden Phillips GCB DL)