STEWART Regan insisted yesterday that he will not stand down as chief executive of the Scottish Football Association and called on his critics to stop putting personal agendas and animosity ahead of the overall good of the game.
Regan was left to deal with the fall-out from an independent commission chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith which last week found Rangers guilty of breaching SPL rules regarding non-disclosure of payments to players. The Rangers Oldco was fined £250,000 but the commission did not strip the club of titles won during the period that they operated controversial Employee Benefit Trust schemes.
The commission’s verdict sparked further angry debate and there have been renewed calls for the resignation of high-ranking personnel, including both Regan and the Scottish Premier League chief executive, Neil Doncaster.
But speaking after yesterday’s annual general meeting of the International Football Association Board in Edinburgh, Regan said it was time for all parties to put the grievances of the past year behind them and start working together.
“When you look at the bones that have been picked over, it’s not particularly helpful for the game,” Regan said. “If we were as good at promoting the game in Scotland as we are at picking at the negative issues, the animosities and the conspiracy theories, we’d be world-class. It’s time for all parties, once and for all to say, right, line in the sand, let’s look forward and work together to address some of the outstanding matters that still need to be dealt with.”
Stating he would not be standing down, he dismissed the notion that SFA president Campbell Ogilvie’s position should also be questioned, given his involvement with Oldco Rangers as club secretary and director, saying he was delighted that Lord Smith had ruled that Ogilvie played no part in the management and organisation of any element of the Murray Group Management Remuneration Trust. “That is categoric enough,” said Regan.
“Over the past 12 months, the Scottish FA, along with the leagues have focused on trying to put in place solutions and still allow Rangers, as a Scottish institution, to operate within the Scottish game and prevent the rest of the game becoming collateral damage. All that has ever been done is for the good of Scottish football and my inbox over the past 12 months has been full of messages on the one hand saying that Rangers have been treated too harshly and on the other hand saying they hadn’t been treated harshly enough.
“All you have to do when you are doing a job like mine is focus on what you believe is right for the good of the game and that’s what I have done.
“It was an incredibly difficult situation where you have a club the size of Rangers getting into financial difficulties and, if the authorities hadn’t fully investigated the situation, and that situation involved a number of matters including bringing the game into disrepute and a number of then unknowns which involved tax matters and EBTs, if they hadn’t been treated seriously and fully investigated then the same people who are criticising the leadership now, would be criticising the leadership for not taking things seriously enough.”
Regan admitted it was highly unlikely any of the fine imposed on Oldco Rangers would be recovered. He also insisted that the SFA had not acted inappropriately by raising the possibility of titles being stripped with prospective buyers.
“When the consortium approached the SFA interested in buying Rangers Football Club, the leader of that consortium asked us through Imran Ahmed to outline what the worst possible punishments could be if they were found guilty of a number of crimes to football, for want of a better expression. They asked because their investors wanted to know what the implications were in investing in RFC. What came on to the table was literally every possible sanction and issue that could be raised, from bringing the game in to disrepute or the unknowns as we called them, which were still being discussed at the time.
“None of us knew what the investigation into the Big Tax Case was going to be or what the outcome of the SPL’s commission was going to be. So there had to be certain assumptions made and, at the request of the club, everything that could have been levied on the club was put on the table. A number of drafts of the agreement were made and, as part of that, a number of parts of it were negotiated out. That was part of an ongoing process involving the SFA, the Football League, the SPL, and both Oldco and Newco.”
He added: “it’s crucial, with league reconstruction being such an important issue for the game, that we seek to work together collaboratively and seek to build a stronger game for fans to watch.”