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Rangers risk ‘bringing the game into disrepute’ – SPFL chairman

Rangers v Ross County – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Scottish Professional Football League chairman Murdoch MacLennan claims Rangers risk “bringing the game into disrepute” after making allegations against league executives without providing evidence.

MacLennan urged clubs to reject a formal request from Rangers, Hearts and Stranraer for an independent investigation into the vote which ended the season for the three lower divisions and handed the SPFL board the authority to do the same for the Premiership.

Rangers previously alleged clubs had been “bullied”, claimed they had “alarming” evidence and called for SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal advisor Rod McKenzie to be suspended. They later promised to divulge their dossier to clubs “well in advance” of the May 12 general meeting.

In a lengthy open letter, MacLennan wrote: “If Rangers or any other club genuinely believes that it has been bullied by any member of the SPFL team, it has a duty to report that to me, as chairman of the board of the SPFL. I will then investigate any such allegations fully and thoroughly.

Murdoch MacLennan defended the SPFL board

Murdoch MacLennan defended the SPFL board (PA)

“In the absence of any such report, those alleging ‘bullying and coercion’ risk bringing the game into disrepute and sowing further unnecessary division.”

MacLennan argued it was entirely appropriate for board members to give guidance and clarification when contacted by clubs.

He added: “I see nothing wrong whatsoever with board members seeking to persuade clubs to ‘adopt’ a resolution that the vast majority of board members consider to be in the best interests of the league as a whole.”

MacLennan defended the information given to clubs, claimed there were “simply no other viable options” and described Rangers’ suggestion of handing out loans instead of end-of-season payments as “deeply flawed”.

Dundee changed their mind

Dundee changed their mind (PA)

He also denied handing out “sweeteners” to Dundee in between their ‘no’ and ‘yes’ votes and defended the decision to publish interim results which confirmed a Championship club had a casting vote, claiming the league would have been accused of “unwarranted secrecy” if it had withheld them after the time clubs were asked to vote by.

On the subject of Dundee’s vote, which an independent review confirmed went missing in the SPFL’s email system, he stated there was “little if anything we could have done differently”.

“The situation was not our making and Dundee FC are fully entitled to have a change of heart from reject to accept,” he said.

“However, with the benefit of hindsight, we probably should have given clubs a few more days to respond to the directors’ written resolution.”

Partick Thistle face relegation

Partick Thistle face relegation (PA)

The fact clubs only had 48 hours to decide and the failure to express concern to relegated Partick Thistle and Stranraer were the only two regrets MacLennan expressed.

He urged clubs to reject the call for a “hugely time consuming and expensive investigation”, which he claimed was “wholly unnecessary, inappropriate and contrary to the interests of the company”.

He added: “At this hugely challenging time, distractions, scapegoating and sideshows are our enemy.

“We currently have a very small executive team comprising only five senior members of staff who are working tirelessly in the interests of Scottish football. Two of them are the subject of unexplained calls for their suspension.

“I therefore sincerely hope that I and your board of directors can rely on your support so that we can be allowed to focus completely on helping all clubs survive the crisis caused by Covid-19, rather than spending extensive and unproductive time and expense on rebutting unknown allegations against directors and long-standing and hard-working members of the SPFL team.”