RANGERS chief executive Charles Green apologised “unreservedly” last night for making alleged racist remarks about a former Ibrox director.
Green, who was quoted in a newspaper report at the weekend referring to Imran Ahmad as his “little Paki friend”, released a statement on Rangers’ official website which read: “I apologise unreservedly if any offence has been taken by my remark.
“I was actually trying to make the point, albeit clumsily, that I am not a racist.
“Imran Ahmad is a close friend and business associate and I would certainly have no cause or wish to offend him.”
Former Sheffield United chief executive Green is facing an SFA charge after being served a notice of complaint and has been given until 17 April to respond.
In an article in a Scottish tabloid on Sunday, Yorkshireman Green was reported as saying: “I was brought up in a mining community where whether someone was black, white, Catholic, Salvation Army, Protestant, made no difference.
“When I played at Worksop Town, the other striker was ‘Darkie’ Johnson. Now if I say that today I could go to jail. You know, Imran will come into the office regularly and I’ll say ‘How’s my Paki friend?”’
Following the publication of those comments, Green released a statement insisting that he “deplores” racism and sectarianism, while accusing Show Racism the Red Card – which reported him to the SFA – of a “knee-jerk reaction”.
Yesterday Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan branded the
alleged racist remarks by his Rangers counterpart as “surprising” and “frustrating”. At the same event where European football’s governing body Uefa revealed an unprecedented crackdown on racism by players and officials with ten-game bans from next season, Regan said his organisation had no choice but to sanction Green.
“The Scottish FA have got a very clear policy when it comes to racist or discriminatory behaviour,” Regan told The Scotsman on the fringes of the Soccerex conference being held in Manchester. “We saw Mr Green’s comments at the weekend … and have written to him asking for the background to those comments. I can’t speculate on what happens next.”
Regan admitted that a leading figure in the game coming out with such remarks, racist or otherwise, did not help Scottish football’s drive towards inclusivity. “It’s very surprising and very frustrating when we are all trying to build a stronger and more positive game for the future,” added the SFA chief executive.
“It’s not helpful for anybody, irrespective of who it is, to be using the kind of remarks that were used at the weekend but we need to give Mr Green the chance to explain himself and that’s what we have done.
“The Scottish FA have a very clear policy about dealing with any racist or discriminatory behaviour and it’s in our strategy Scotland United. It’s our job to engage with black and ethnic communities to build stronger relationships for the game therefore anything that challenges that is something that we take very seriously.”
The notice of complaint refers to the disciplinary rule 66 and disciplinary rule 71 which guard against comments which bring the game into disrepute and those which are not in the “best interests” of the SFA.
Green issued his apology before attending last night’s match at Ibrox, where he saw Rangers defeat Belfast club Linfield 2-0. Manager Ally McCoist put out a formidable starting line-up and the Ibrox side proved too strong for the Northern Irishmen as they secured victory with goals from Chris Hegarty and youngster Andrew Murdoch.