Match 17

BBC Scotland Sports Desk reports


Rangers have called for an independent investigation of the SPFL’s handing of the members ballot – and the suspension of chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal adviser Rod McKenzie.  The club claim they have been given evidence that raises “serious concerns” over the league body’s voting process.  Rangers say Doncaster tried to “silence” their attempts to discuss these grievances. “Rangers will not be bullied into silence,” the club’s statement said. “The voting debacle and the evidence we possess raise serious questions concerning the corporate governance of the SPFL.”

The fate of the Scottish Professional Football League’s proposal to end the lower league season early because of the Covid-19 crisis rests with Dundee, who are the only Championship club not to have voted.

The league, which suspended play earlier this month, has the necessary backing of 10 of the 12 Premiership clubs and 16 of the 20 in Leagues One and Two.

As it stands, nine of the 10 second-tier clubs have voted 7-2 in favour.

But, with eight votes needed for the resolution to pass, Dundee have the decisive say, despite having missed the requested deadline.

The SPFL wanted responses by 1700 on Friday, but it later emerged clubs had 28 days to respond according to league rules.

Meanwhile, the SPFL has confirmed Rangers’ prize money resolution was rejected for being legally “ineffective”.

Rangers, who were to resubmit their proposal, claim they have had “numerous reports” from Scottish sides of “attempts to coerce and bully them” into backing the SPFL’s own resolution.

The SPFL denied Rangers’ claim they had stalled the club’s proposal.

As an alternative to the governing body’s resolution, Rangers had put forward the plan of prize money for current placings being released now, with no leagues declared.

Rangers said they “sought assistance from the SPFL executive on several occasions” on Thursday but received no reply before being told on Friday morning it was deemed “not competent”.

The SPFL, however, countered: “Only at 10.18pm on Thursday did the SPFL’s lawyer receive an email from Rangers seeking advice on the content of their resolution, which was put before the SPFL board first thing this morning.”

The league body added that Rangers did not take up the offer of help from SPFL lawyers to draft the resolution.

For the SPFL motion to be passed, it needs nine Premiership clubs, eight in the Championship, and 15 in Leagues One and Two combined to vote in favour.

That would also lead to the Premiership being called on the same points per game basis if the SPFL board – of which Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson is a member – “determines the games cannot be played”.

Rangers, Hearts, Partick Thistle and Falkirk are among the clubs to have publicly declared their intention to vote against the league’s proposal.

“Over the last 36 hours, we have received numerous reports from fellow Scottish clubs relating to attempts to coerce and bully them into voting for the SPFL’s own resolution,” Rangers added.

“We are proud that many fellow clubs will stand strong and not be swayed.

“Our resolution was simply intended to urgently address the financial hardship faced by clubs whilst allowing more time to discuss and evaluate all options for completing this season, in line with Uefa advice.”

On the wages front, Celtic’s first-team squad, manager Neil Lennon, backroom staff and club executives have taken a voluntary and “significant reduction” in salaries.

They have also agreed to defer “a significant proportion of their earnings”, with the money-saving measures in place from April to June.

The club hope these steps will help them emerge from the coronavirus crisis “on a stable basis”.

Chief executive Peter Lawwell praised “the willingness of everyone involved.”

Celtic, currently 13 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership in pursuit of their ninth successive title, posted profits of £24m for the final six months of last year, which they ended with nearly £33m in the bank.

Lawwell acknowledged the Scottish champions are in a strong financial position but “not immune to this unique set of circumstances”.

He added: “I would like to pay tribute to Neil and the players for their desire to play their part and the outcomes achieved.

“I am also grateful to my own executive team for the commitment they have devoted to this outcome in very difficult working circumstances.”

Lennon says the club’s “solidarity on and off the park” will help them through the crisis, with the resumption of the Scottish season having been pushed back to 10 June at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the SPFL has confirmed Rangers’ prize money resolution was rejected for being legally “ineffective”.

Hearts v Hibs

A crowded penalty box at the Heart of Midlothian versus Hibernian match.


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