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Stephen Craigan

Rangers risk humiliation in high-stakes fight with SPFL

Stephen Craigan


 

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Standing firm: Neil Doncaster has defended himself and the SPFL

Standing firm: Neil Doncaster has defended himself and the SPFL

PA

Standing firm: Neil Doncaster has defended himself and the SPFL

Scottish football is never far from the headlines, and this week has been no different as the soap opera continues.

 

In the early part of the week, Rangers, Hearts and Stranraer collaborated to get the three clubs required to activate an EGM vote for the SPFL to look into the wider probe of their actions in their recent resolution.

The aforementioned clubs clearly aren't happy with how the board conducted itself. They want to see if there is an appetite for an external investigation, and 32 of the 42 member clubs will have to back their concerns at the EGM for that investigation to begin.

It has to be said that the SPFL board have been on the front foot this week - in fact, they've released three different statements in the last seven days.

For a start, they are exonerating themselves of any blame for the recent car crash of a resolution when Championship club Dundee emailed in their vote, yet it wasn't received.

Dundee then proceeded to retract that vote and change their mind once they were made aware it hadn't arrived and that they had the crucial say. That vote eventually got the board's proposal over the line, which essentially ended the lower leagues and potentially the Premiership as they stand.

A few clubs naturally showed their dismay and concern at what they felt was underhand tactics by the league's leaders to force the resolution through.

Rangers certainly haven't taken the decision lying down and have already requested the instant suspension of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal advisor Rod McKenzie, without success.

They backed that up by stating they've got substantial evidence of bullying and coercing of other member clubs during the initial voting process, however have yet to reveal it.

Throughout the week, though, Doncaster defended his own stance and that of the board vigorously and has called for Rangers to bring any evidence they have to the fore. He said the complaints made by the Ibrox club have been vague and generalised.

On the call for him and McKenzie to be suspended, he questioned how that could happen without credible evidence - and it's hard to disagree with him.

His colleague and chairman of the SPFL, Murdoch MacLennan, backed up Doncaster's view and also penned a detailed public letter.

It covered everything from Rangers' claims, the events surrounding the Dundee debacle, the board's integrity and what they possibly could have done better.

Now, whether people fully agree with MacLennan's judgment is up to them, but the SPFL have played their hand and have passed the baton to Rangers for the next move.

They firmly believe they've done nothing wrong and acted in the best interests of clubs overall. Only time will tell if that is the case or not.

As for Rangers, they potentially hold all the aces. They have said their compelling proof of misdemeanours will be readily available for clubs ahead of the EGM on May 12.

They say they have support of some clubs who also don't like the direction the SPFL board took at a crucial time.

There is no doubt if there has been interference and coercion then people will have to front up and take responsibility.

However, until that evidence is in the public domain then everyone will be left wondering and speculation has been rife.

The risk Rangers are running is they could end up humiliated if what they have isn't plausible. They are putting their reputation on the line. If, on the other hand, it is explosive then the SPFL and their board are at the point of no return and the Gers will be fully justified.

At a time when there are bigger issues going on around us, let's hope this concludes soon and amicably - although I wouldn't bet on it.

Belfast Telegraph