Rangers newco: Late-night agreement gives go-ahead to kick off season
RANGERS were last night finally given the go-ahead to start the new season this weekend after often tortuous negotiations between the newly constituted Ibrox club and the Scottish football authorities reached an agreement.
Shortly after 9pm, a joint statement was released by the Scottish Football Association, Scottish Premier League, Scottish Football League and Rangers chief executive Charles Green’s Sevco consortium confirming that SFA membership will be transferred from the oldco to the newco.
The membership is conditional initially, allowing Rangers to begin their new era against Brechin City at Glebe Park tomorrow afternoon in a Ramsdens Cup first round tie. Full membership will then be completed when Rangers’ share in the SPL, still held by their
administrators Duff and Phelps, is transferred to Dundee next week. It will allow Dundee to begin the new SPL campaign on 4 August, while Rangers will start life as a Third Division club the following week.
The final sticking point in negotiations over the SFA membership transfer, which have been ongoing since Rangers were voted into the SFL two weeks after the SPL’s refusal to accept their continuing presence in the top flight, was the SPL inquiry into the Ibrox club’s use of an Employee Benefit Trust scheme from 2001 to 2010.
Last night’s statement confirmed that the SPL have reserved their position in relation to their ongoing investigation in which one of the potential sanctions for Rangers could be the stripping of titles won when EBTs were in use.
Rangers have agreed to accept all previous punishments imposed for charges of bringing the game into disrepute last season during Craig Whyte’s ruinous ownership of the club, including the 12-month transfer embargo which they had successfully challenged at the Court of Session. The signing ban will kick on 1 September. Green has also agreed to settle all outstanding debts to other clubs, including Hearts who are owed £800,000 for Lee Wallace.
It was also confirmed last night that the SPL and SFL and reached agreement on a new broadcasting deal which will allow Rangers to be included as part of the package with BSkyB and ESPN.
“We are pleased for everyone involved in this process, and indeed the whole of Scottish football, that a conclusion has been reached,” said SFA chief executive Stewart Regan last night. “There were a number of complex and challenging issues involved, but, primarily, the Scottish FA had to be satisfied that the new owners of Rangers would operate in the best interests of the club, its fans and Scottish football in general.
“We have reached agreement on all terms and conditions attached to the transfer of membership and are able to grant conditional membership, ahead of the formal transfer of the SPL share a week today. This will allow the season to kick-off as planned this weekend.
“This has been a difficult period for Scottish football, but with this agreement now in place, and with the new season upon us, it is essential that we all focus our energies on football once again. In the months ahead, the Scottish FA will resume discussions on the subject of league reconstruction.
“We remain committed to this process in order to re-energise the national game and will work closely with the SPL, SFL and all other relevant
affiliated bodies to provide a
dynamic product appealing to our supporters.”
Green also welcomed the developments and looked forward to the focus at Rangers returning to matters on the field of play.
“The agreement signed today allows Rangers to be granted membership by the SFA and
finally enables the club to move forward,” said Green. “The board, the manager and senior executives have been working tirelessly over the last few weeks to secure the future of the club and today is the start of that process.
“The board has had to take some very difficult decisions to gain SFA membership, including accepting the delayed transfer ban and paying outstanding financial penalties. But we are now able to get back to playing football and plan for the new season, starting this Sunday with our match against Brechin.
“There remains, however, an outstanding issue with the SPL regarding EBTs. As we have proved in the past couple of months we will stand up to any challenges that face Rangers and will continue to fight for the club’s best interests.”
The SPL board are due to meet on 10 August to consider the next step in their inquiry into Rangers’ EBT scheme.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the parties concerned,” said SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster. “Discussions will now continue with our broadcast partners and we expect to be in a position to make a further announcement next week on broadcasting rights and the on-going EBT
Part of the SFA membership agreement allows the SPL the continue its investigation into alleged contractual issues.
Green said: “Like all of the other issues we will deal with this full on. This is something that Sevco has put itself in the firing line for when it is clearly an oldco issue.
“However, this has still to be played out. HMRC has still to reach a decision or announce their decision.
“I understand the SPL has put a panel together to look at this issue and we will contest it every inch of the way.
“The view of the club, the fans and indeed newcomers like myself is that those titles and those games were won fairly and belong to this club.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east