The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a ruling in favour of Rangers FC following an advertising dispute over whether the club should be allowed to advertise using the ‘Scotland’s most successful club’ claim.
The ASA delivered its original ruling in June this year but after an appeal by complainants, the Independent Reviewer agreed that the case should be re-opened because a “valid question mark” had been raised over the adequacy of evidence submitted by the advertiser in the original investigation.
However, following further examination, the ASA stood by its original ruling not to uphold 82 complaints that Rangers were misleading consumers by using an advertising slogan that said: “Join Scotland’s most successful club at Ibrox… still going strong… 54 titles… Rangers then… Rangers now… Rangers forever”.
In a fresh adjudication, the ASA said it was confident that consumers would understand the claim was in reference to the history of Rangers Football Club, but did accept that that the club’s history was “separate to that of Newco”.
“We consulted with UEFA, which explained that its rules allowed for the recognition of the ‘sporting continuity’ of a club’s match record, even if that club’s corporate structure had changed,” the ruling stated.
“We also consulted with the SFA, which confirmed that its definition of a football ‘club’ varied depending on context, and could sometimes refer to an entity separate from the club’s corporate owner.
“The SFA further pointed out that, following RFC’s transfer to a new corporate owner, Newco did not take a new membership of the Scottish FA but rather that previous membership was transferred across to them so they could continue as the same member of the Scottish FA.
“We considered that consumer would understand that the claim in question related to the football club rather than to its owner and operator and therefore concluded that it was not misleading for the ad to make reference to RFC’s history, which was separate to that of Newco.”
The question of whether Newco Rangers should be permitted to trade on the history of the liquidated company has been a bone of contention in Scottish football since Rangers’ financial collapse in 2012.
The Drum understands that the ASA consider the decision final.