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Former Rangers director Murray may fall foul of SFA rule

By Lisa Gray

Former Rangers director Paul Murray last night stepped up plans to launch a buyout of the club — but he might not be allowed to join the board if his consortium succeeds.

Murray's previous involvement in the club appears to be in contradiction with criteria laid down in the Scottish FA's rules over 'fit and proper' club officials.

Although Murray left the Rangers board nine months before they went into administration on February 14, the insolvency raises doubts over him playing an official role in any Scottish club.

The SFA's rule 10.2(j) in their Articles of Association appear to exclude anyone who has been a “director of a club in membership of any national association within the five-year period preceding such club having undergone an insolvency event.”

However, it is understood the SFA's legal team are unsure whether the specific rule would be enforceable given Murray had already left. Any individual also has the right of appeal.

Although the clause is clear, the rule states the board “reserves its discretion” as to whether a person is fit and proper after “due consideration of all relevant facts”.

Even if he were deemed unfit, Murray could still play an active role in takeover talks and any new ownership structure, although his ongoing influence might have to be unofficial if he succeeds.

Murray was removed from the Rangers board on May 24 last year, weeks after failing to prevent the takeover of Craig Whyte. The club's failure to pay £9m in VAT and PAYE accrued under Whyte saw Rangers forced into administration.

The SFA last week deemed Rangers chairman Whyte not fit and proper — he had been previously disqualified as a company director.

A current Rangers director, Dave King, is backing Murray's ‘Blue Knights' consortium, and has written to the SFA seeking clarification on whether he meets the criteria given he has been involved in a tax dispute in South Africa.

King said last week: “I intend to remain involved with the club post-reconstruction if that is at all possible under the new ownership structure.

“I am, however, alert to the raw sentiment around the need for Rangers to have ‘fit and proper' persons at its helm.

“In view of my own well-publicised and acrimonious legal disputes with the authorities in South Africa I have taken it upon myself to approach the SFA in that regard in advance of considering an increased role in the club going forward. I will be guided by the SFA's response in that regard.”

Given King was on the Ibrox board when they went into administration, he too might be unable to continue in his role under the same SFA rule, which was introduced in 2004 after the likes of Motherwell went into administration.

Late Motherwell chairman Bill Dickie continued in his role until 2008 despite being on the board when the club went into administration in 2002.

The SFA's definition of a club official includes “all office-bearers, secretary, directors or members of the board of management or committee.”

Murray earlier revealed some of the individuals who have expressed interest in joining his consortium. They include motoring tycoon Douglas Park, fund manager John Bennett of the Henderson Group and property adviser Scott Murdoch of CWM.

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