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Celtic chief Lawwell blasts Scottish FA over Rangers tax case

 

By Andy Newport

Celtic have accused the Scottish Football Association of showing a "failure in leadership" after the governing body rejected calls for an independent review into the Rangers tax case.

The SFA wrote to member clubs on Thursday to announce it would not take part in any review proposed by the Scottish Professional Football League, claiming "raking over the coals" would damage the game.

But in a scathing statement, Celtic insist supporters across Scotland are "entitled" to answers over the authorities' handling of the financial collapse of oldco Rangers.

A statement read: "Celtic has been in correspondence with the Scottish Football Association in pursuit of the club's belief that an independent review should be commissioned to consider the events that led to the liquidation of Rangers Oldco and the governance issues arising from those events.

"This is exactly the same position as adopted by the SPFL board on behalf of all Scotland's 42 professional clubs.

"The club believes that such a review is essential if a line is to be drawn under this whole affair. On that basis, Scottish football could learn lessons and move on. The club considers, however, that failure to carry out a full review of these events and issues, which have been without precedent in Scottish football, would represent a failure in transparency, accountability and leadership.

"Celtic was, therefore, disappointed to note that the SFA board has confirmed that it does not intend to commission such a review. Throughout these processes, Celtic's consistent objective has been to establish the full facts, which is surely the least that all stakeholders in Scottish football - including supporters of all clubs - are entitled to, and to learn the appropriate lessons. That remains our position."

The SPFL claimed in July it did not have the legal powers to reopen disciplinary action against Rangers despite the Supreme Court ruling the club should have paid tax on about £50million of payments to ­players and other staff in the first decade of the century. Rangers were fined £250,000 in 2013 over non-disclosure of the payments.

The league urged its counterparts along the corridor in Hampden to set up a review but its request was turned down, although the SFA has confirmed compliance officer Tony McGlennan will investigate whether Rangers should have been granted a licence by UEFA to enter European competition in 2011.

But Celtic maintain a wider review is required and also released a series of letters sent between Parkhead chief executive Peter Lawwell and his SFA counterpart Stewart Regan. In one correspondence sent on July 25, Lawwell claims the fall-out from the Rangers EBT saga had been allowed to "fester for over six years, creating distrust and a disconnect between supporters, clubs and governing bodies".

He added: "We believe Scottish football needs closure on these issues and the governing bodies and the clubs need to work together to restore trust in the game in Scotland."

Regan subsequently claimed a review would "serve no meaningful purpose and, indeed, could negatively impact upon the ongoing investigations (by the compliance officer)."

But Lawwell hit back strongly, claiming the SFA's position would "inevitably be interpreted as a failure in transparency, accountability and leadership, which will be damaging not only to the Scottish FA but also the game in Scotland".

Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, says his side's 4-1 win over Hamilton on Friday night was "great preparation" for the visit of Paris St Germain tomorrow.

"We made the game look very simple but we worked very hard," he said.

"The constant moving of the players, the pressing and the scoreline of course always gives you that confidence.

"Now we go on to take on one of the best teams on the planet and that is going to be a really exciting game for us.

"It was a great preparation mentally and physically and we will prepare well for it.

"There might not have been so many people watching on Friday night.

"The world will watch on Tuesday but that was our biggest game because it was our next game and we had to win and perform well and take the confidence into Tuesday."

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