Directors of the Scottish Professional Football League have snapped back at allegations raised in a dossier issued by Rangers and urged clubs not to back calls for an independent investigation into the handling of a vote to abandon this season.
Rangers, who last month called for the suspension of the SPFL’s chief executive and legal adviser, distributed an extensive document to fellow league members on Thursday as they seek to win the 75% support needed at Tuesday’s extraordinary general meeting to trigger an inquiry. Rangers raised a series of questions over the conduct and governance of the SPFL, whose board was firm in its recommendation the season vote should pass.
A letter signed by eight of the SPFL’s nine directors – Rangers’ managing director, Stewart Robertson, was a notable absentee – said: “The vast majority of the SPFL board members continue to have complete confidence in our chief executive and legal counsel.
“Eight of the nine members of your board of directors continue to believe the demand for an open-ended, hugely time-consuming and expensive investigation to be wholly unnecessary, inappropriate and contrary to the interests of the company and Scottish football at what is such a critical time for every club’s survival. We therefore urge you to vote against the resolution at our EGM on Tuesday.”
Robertson, who has said he and Rangers have “lost confidence” in the individuals running the organisation, was also a target for his fellow directors. “It is enormously frustrating to see one of our number launch baseless, damaging and self-serving attacks on the board,” read the letter. The directors branded the current saga as an “unwelcome, self-serving distraction”.
“Every one of us has sat alongside Stewart Robertson and been privy to the information and procedures of the SPFL board. If anything had been untoward, we would have addressed it at the time. “Surely if things were so bad, so dysfunctional, he had a clear and compelling duty to speak out before now?”
The SPFL has shrugged off the sending of a letter to Uefa, claiming it had backing to curtail the season before a vote had been held. “The letter sent jointly by the SPFL and Scottish FA was based on feedback from clubs and club representatives on the SPFL board,” it said. “It was an honest and open assessment of what the vast majority of SPFL clubs were saying at that time.”
The directors also insist Rangers’ citing of a potential £10m liability to clubs from sponsors and broadcasters is erroneous. “What those behind the ‘Rangers dossier’ have failed to appreciate is that the potential for any claims against the SPFL does not result in any way from a decision by the members to permit the board to bring an end to the Premiership competition,” the letter added.
“Such a decision would result from a conclusion that the matches in question in the Premiership cannot now be played. Whilst it may be becoming more difficult to foresee the circumstances in which the remaining Premiership matches can be completed, no decision has yet been taken.
“There is no question of the board failing to advise the clubs of a potential £10m [or any other size of claim] arising because the Premiership is brought to a premature end because of a decision either of the members or of the board. That was not reported to you because it is simply not the case.
“The central complaint of Rangers is simply wrong and is based on a complete misunderstanding of the situation in which the league and its broadcast partners find themselves.”
Hearts face drop after restructuring plan abandoned
Plans to restructure the league system in Scotland have broken down following a meeting of Premiership clubs on Friday, leaving bottom club Hearts facing relegation when the Scottish season officially ends.
Proposals discussed at the meeting included a three-division setup, with 14 teams each in the Premiership and Championship and a 16-team third tier. That would have seen Hearts stay in the top flight, but the idea has failed to win favour among the country’s leading clubs.
Hearts will drop into the Championship if the Scottish top-flight season does not resume, while Partick Thistle and Stranraer’s relegations into League One and Two respectively are confirmed. Brechin City, who would have faced a play-off to stay in the Scottish League, now appear to be safe.
Brora Rangers and Kelty Hearts, winners of this season’s Highland and Lowland Leagues have voiced their “extreme disappointment” at being denied the opportunity of playing in promotion play-offs in a joint statement. “This represents a dark moment for the Scottish football pyramid,” they added.
The Aberdeen chairman, Dave Cormack, said the feeling to emerge from Friday’s talks was that “we must focus all of our energies on emerging from the crisis we face, on getting back to playing football safely and getting fans back into grounds”. He added: “While the group sympathises with the plight of the relegated teams … [we] concluded that this is not the right time to consider immediate reconstruction.”