RANGERS and Celtic became embroiled in a row tonight after Parkhead chief executive Peter Lawwell mocked Rangers’ assertions to be the same club post-liquidation.
At Celtic’s agm, Lawwell was asked by a supporter from the floor about the reporting of Rangers in the media as a club founded in 1872, rather than a new club following liquidation last summer. The Celtic chief replied drily: “Rory Bremner can pretend to be Tony Blair” – a comment he later claimed was “just to inject a wee bit of humour into proceedings”.
Lawwell’s joke led Rangers to issue a statement in which they expressed their “disappointment” and the Ibrox club now look set to complain to the Scottish Football Association about the quip.
“The club are disappointed with the comments attributed to Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell earlier today,” said the Rangers statement. “Rangers Football Club, now in its 141st year, has a proud history which has been recognised by the football authorities and was noted in a recent SPL Commission determination. The club will now take this matter up with the
relevant football authorities.”
Celtic’s agm had proved to be no cordial affair, with Lawwell defending the board after their rejection of a proposal to make the club a living-wage employer was denounced as shameful by one shareholder.
Jeanette Findlay of the Celtic Trust launched a measured but scathing attack, describing the club’s decision not to back Proposal 11 – which it was claimed would cost the club £5000,000 a year for the upgrade of 178 workers – as “the grubbiest” ever made by a board which “shames you and shames us”.
Chairman Ian Bankier confirmed that the board recommended that shareholders vote against the resolution to implement the living wage rate, which is set to rise to £7.65 per hour next year, and a poll was called for which, with the proxy votes held by him, means it is almost certain to be rebuffed.
“It was very emotional and you have to respect the points of view but it is a very complicated issue,” said Lawwell afterwards. “We are doing well at the moment but football can be up and down. I don’t think any other football club in Scotland does it, and few companies do it, so we are not alone.”
The other expected contentious issue was a resolution from supporters asking the club to report the SFA to Uefa for granting Rangers a licence to play in the Champions League when they owed £2.8 million in the then crystallised “wee tax case”. Before that could be voted on, an indefinite adjournment was sought by the requisitioners, who had been satisfied by meetings with the club. “They will remain private,” said Lawwell.
Manager Neil Lennon, meanwhile, confirmed at the agm that a fee has been agreed for Icelandic striker Holmbert Fridjonsson, believed to be £150,000, “and it is now up to the player and his representative to agree personal terms”. Lennon added: “It is not far away.”