Rangers claim SPFL tried to ‘influence’ Uefa into allowing early end to season | Football

A letter from the chief executives of the Scottish Professional Football League and Scottish Football Association to Uefa, claiming majority club support to end this season before a vote had been taken, forms a key part of a much-anticipated dossier distributed by Rangers to fellow clubs.

Rangers are also adamant SPFL members were not informed of a potential £10m liability to broadcasters and sponsors if they voted to curtail the campaign.

Rangers want an independent investigation into circumstances surrounding a controversial resolution, passed last month, which ended the season in Scotland’s bottom three tiers and gave the SPFL’s board a mandate to do likewise in the Premiership.

The club has distributed paperwork to the other 41 members of the SPFL before an extraordinary general meeting scheduled for Tuesday at which the call for an inquiry will be voted on.

In a cover letter the Rangers managing director, Stewart Robertson, writes: “Our legal counsel advised that a strong case can be made in the court of session for a breach of directors duties. However, it is our clear preference that this matter be resolved by members through an independent investigation to protect clubs from the higher cost of such a route.”

Included in Rangers’ documentation is reference to a letter dated 4 April and signed by Neil Doncaster and Ian Maxwell, the chief executives of the SPFL and SFA respectively. Rangers insist “the letter was clearly intended to influence the Uefa executive committee that a dispensation should be provided to permit the SPFL to end the 2019-20 season prematurely”.

A quote from the letter in Rangers’ report reads: “We are writing as discussed to explain why the vast majority of SPFL clubs are calling for curtailment of the 2019-20 season in Scotland.”

The SPFL, although confident they could return a successful vote after canvassing clubs, did not issue ballot papers until 8 April. The SFA’s 2019-20 competition, the Scottish Cup, has been postponed indefinitely at the semi-final stage. The governing body has explained that Maxwell signed the letter because the SFA is Scotland’s natural communications route to Uefa.

Rangers also point towards legal advice they claim was delivered to the SPFL regarding penalties, primarily from Sky and BT Sport, associated with ending the season before standard commitments had been met. The value quoted is “around £10m” with Rangers insisting this information was not given to clubs before the vote.

Rangers’ grievances relate mainly to corporate governance and include allegations of threats made by club chairmen who favoured ending the season to some of their counterparts. Circumstances attached to Dundee’s resolution vote, which landed in a quarantine folder and was subsequently reversed, are raised.

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The SPFL has been asked for comment regarding the Uefa letter, whether it informed clubs about the potential for a £10m liability and allegations of threatening behaviour. It said a full response would follow.

Little over an hour after Rangers’ dossier was released to clubs, the SPFL issued a forceful statement focused on an earlier call from Ibrox for the SPFL to suspend Doncaster and Rod McKenzie, the league’s legal adviser.

“It is now a month since Rangers accused the SPFL of bullying and corruption relating to the Dundee FC return,” said a spokesman. “At last, Rangers have issued their ‘dossier’ and we will now take time to review it before responding to all 42 clubs.

“Since Rangers publicly demanded the suspension of the SPFL’s chief executive and legal counsel, everyone in Scottish football has waited patiently for them to present their case.

“However, an initial examination of their ‘dossier’ has failed to identify a single shred of evidence to support Rangers’ vociferous claims of corruption, bullying and coercion by SPFL staff. If Rangers have any good reason for Neil Doncaster and Rod McKenzie to be suspended, we have yet to see it.”

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