SFA chief defends handling of Rangers’ European licence

Chief executive Stewart Regan outside the Scottish FA annual general meeting at the City Chambers, Glasgow. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

Chief executive Stewart Regan outside the Scottish FA annual general meeting at the City Chambers, Glasgow. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

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Stewart Regan insists the Scottish Football Association has nothing to fear over its handling of Rangers’ licence to play European football in season 2011-12.

A group of Celtic shareholders have demanded answers on why the Ibrox side was allowed to compete in the Champions League that season despite having an outstanding tax payment.

Uefa rules state clubs taking part in their competitions must declare any “overdue payables” to the taxman and reveal details on whether there is a commitment to repay amounts, or a dispute over any bill.

Rangers were allowed to take part in European action in 2011 despite having an outstanding £2.8 million payment to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs over their use of Employee Benefit Trusts, also known as the “wee tax case”.

The Celtic shareholders – known as the “requisitioners” after attempting to force the Celtic board to address the matter at the Parkhead club’s 2013 AGM – argue Rangers should not have been allowed to represent Scotland in the Champions League in 2011.

They say by allowing them to do so, the SFA denied Celtic – who would have taken their place – millions of pounds in potential prize-money payouts.

They have held talks with the SFA on the matter, while another set of Celtic supporters even took the step of placing an advert in a Swiss newspaper on Wednesday as they urged Uefa to intervene.

But responding to the row - which has been dubbed ‘resolution 12’ - SFA chief executive Regan insisted Hampden chiefs had followed Uefa rules.

Speaking after the governing body’s AGM in Glasgow, he said: “There has been a reply. We’ve been in dialogue with Celtic Football Club on the matter.

“My understanding is that the requisitioners have accepted that they have no issues with the granting of the licence to Rangers in 2011.

“What they do have an issue with is the monitoring period immediately following that licence in March 2011.

“Our position on that is that we have complied with Uefa requirements in the period immediately following March 2011 and clearly if there is still an issue with the requisitioners then that’s for them to take up with Uefa.

“We’ve said if they do that then we’ll fully cooperate and comply with any requests for information from Uefa and we’ve provided details at Uefa for the requisitioners to make contact.

“So we believe that the matter has been communicated to those involved and they will deal with it as they see fit.”

Asked if the SFA had anything to fear, he replied: “No.”

Rangers qualified for the Champions League after winning their third straight league title in 2010-11 - but crashed out of the competition after defeat to Malmo in the third qualifying round.

They then suffered another disappointment when they lost to NK Maribor in the Europa League preliminary stage.

Celtic secretary Michael Nicholson declined to comment as he left the SFA AGM, while Uefa have also failed to respond to questions on the matter.

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