THE battle between PFA Scotland and Rangers chief executive Charles Green continued last night, with both sides issuing statements following Monday’s revelation that the players’ union had raised an employment tribunal claim against the Ibrox club on behalf of 67 unnamed players.
In their share issue prospectus, Rangers confirmed that PFA Scotland had raised the claims, which are to be “robustly” defended, and that former Ibrox players Sone Aluko, Kyle Lafferty and Jamie Ness have raised constructive dismissal claims.
The three players were among nine who refused to transfer their contracts over to Green’s company, which bought the club’s assets and business after oldco Rangers, now called RFC 2012, were consigned to liquidation in June. Amid much confusion on Monday night, Rangers captain Lee McCulloch was the first player to distance himself from any employment tribunal via his Twitter account.
Last night’s PFA statement explained the basis of the claim for a Protective Award “raised in the name of PFA Scotland only”, saying that administrators Duff and Phelps “failed to enter into any consultation whatsoever with the players and PFA Scotland”.
However, the players’ union say they will drop their claim if Rangers abandon their breach of contract proceedings against their members, which will be decided by the Scottish Football Association.
The statement read: “It may be that no player will pursue this. That will simply be a matter for each player and in fact many of the players have already stated that they will waive any such entitlement. It must be stressed that the motive for PFA Scotland in pursuing this claim has never been financial. As well as being a response to the SFA Arbitration claims, the Protective Award claim involves an important point of principle since our rights as representatives of the players were wholly disregarded by those involved in the TUPE transfer. PFA Scotland instructed our solicitors to write to the solicitors for the administrators and Rangers newco on 19th July 2012, stating that whilst PFA Scotland had the right to lodge a Protective Award claim it had no desire to do so and would abandon the claim provided certain undertakings were given, including withdrawal of the SFA Arbitration.
“The offer to withdraw the Protective Award claim still stands in the event of the SFA breach of contract proceedings being withdrawn against our members.
“Once the SFA arbitration process and Protective Award proceedings are complete we will as always take direct instructions from individual members.”
However, Green shows no sign of backing down.
The Ibrox chief executive hit back at PFA Scotland when he responded in his own statement, which read: “The fact that many of the supposed 67 players are still at Ibrox and have indicated they have no part in this action begs the question why it is being raised at all.
“Further, it appears that a number of players whose contracts were due to terminate at the end of last season and who were never in line to transfer under TUPE have been included in the numbers.
“Also, a number of former players have already signed agreements with the club waiving any right to participate in this claim.
“In reality, we are talking about six players who have some form of dispute rather than 67. Rangers fans will note how the club captain Lee McCulloch and a number of other players have quickly dissociated themselves from this action.
“I have also had the father of one player calling, quite furious that his young son has been attached to an action he knew nothing about.
“PFA Scotland has confirmed as much in its statement earlier today. That statement confirms that the failure to consult claim apparently lodged for the benefit of 67 players will be withdrawn if the club’s SFA damages claim against the six players is dropped.
“The purpose of the failure to consult claim is therefore not to safeguard the rights of the 67 players but to attempt to persuade the club to abandon its legitimate pursuit of compensation from players who, in the club’s view, walked out on their contracts of employment.”