RANGERS striker Kris Boyd will be free to play in his club’s forthcoming games against Raith Rovers and East Fife after the Scottish Football Association compliance officer’s charge of violent conduct against him was found “not proven” by a disciplinary panel.
The 31-year-old had been offered a two-match ban for an alleged breach of Rule 200 – “violent conduct by headbutting or attempting to headbutt an opposing player” – in his club’s league match against Hibernian last week.
The not proven verdict of the three-person panel comes just two weeks into the tenure of new compliance officer Tony McGlennan, who had alleged that Boyd breached the rule in an incident involving Hibs defender Jordon Forster. Boyd’s team-mate Bilel Mohsni accepted a two-match ban for violent conduct in a separate clash with Forster in the same game.
Photographs posted on social media last week highlighted the similarity of the Boyd incident with one involving Hearts’ Jamie Walker and Hibs’ Lewis Stevenson at the end of the last Edinburgh derby. Both players were suspended for two games, Walker for a breach of rule 200, Stevenson for serious foul play, after their clubs did not contest the charges.
Maintaining its policy of refusing to comment on individual cases, the SFA declined to give details of the evidence offered by either side in the Boyd case, or to explain how it might have differed from the Walker case. But, while the wording of the disciplinary code is very precise, judicial hearings are not an exact science. Decisions in each case are made on the basis of evidence led, different individuals comprise the panel in different cases, and majority verdicts are accepted. Findings of not proven are common.
McGlennan has succeeded Vincent Lunny, the SFA’s first-ever compliance officer, whom he shadowed for a short time before taking sole charge of the post last week. A Glasgow-based lawyer, McGlennan is now a full-time employee of the national governing body, having previously worked for city firm Penmans.
Meanwhile, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley’s intervention in Rangers has breached rules on dual ownership of clubs, according to the Union of Fans. The umbrella body of Rangers supporters has accused Ashley of deliberately discouraging investment in the Ibrox club, and has urged the Scottish Football Association to take “appropriate action”.
Sports Direct founder Ashley, who has an estimated net worth of several billion pounds, currently owns nearly 9 per cent of the shares in Rangers, as well as naming rights to Ibrox. Earlier this week he called for an emergency general meeting to be held, with the aim of ousting chief executive Graham Wallace and director Philip Nash. The Rangers board responded by offering the two men its backing, and calling Ashley’s move wasteful and needless on the grounds that an annual general meeting must in any case be held by the end of this year. “The move by
Mike Ashley to grab power in the Rangers boardroom is extremely concerning,” last night’s statement from the Union of Fans began. “The SFA’s special dispensation, which allowed
Mr Ashley to purchase up to 10 per cent of the club, was clearly designed to mirror Uefa rules on dual ownership.
“These rules do not allow anyone to exert a ‘decisive influence’ over the decision-making of two clubs. There can be no more obvious attempt to exert ‘decisive influence’ over another club than to try to remove its executive directors.
“Charles Green and the previous board, as place men for shareholders currently represented by Sandy Easdale, have already allowed Mr Ashley to plunder the club for onerous merchandise contracts and virtually free stadium-naming rights. He also has full control of the club stores.
“We firmly believe that it is Mr Ashley’s intention to now attempt to grab ownership of the club’s trademark rights including our name and badge. We believe he is deliberately attempting to hamper the efforts of others to invest in the club so that he can provide a loan on terms which will allow him to demand these trademark rights.
The statement went on: “The SFA has a duty to Rangers to rigorously enforce both its own and Uefa rules on dual ownership. We believe Mr Ashley’s EGM call is a breach of those rules and we have written to the SFA calling on them to take appropriate action.”