Rangers shareholders Club 1872 to report SNP councillors to watchdog

The second largest shareholders in Rangers Football Club are to report Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken and deputy David McDonald to Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.

Club 1872 confirmed they will also report Glasgow councillor Stephen Dornan to the watchdog.

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The group, which owns more than 10 per cent of the shares in the Ibrox club, are irate over a proposed fan zone at Ibrox and the subsequent fallout.

Ibrox. Picture: SNS/Gary Hutchison

Rangers had a bid for a fan zone denied. It would have seen the club use an area on a council-owned football pitch near the ground to host around 2,000 fans each matchday.

The fallout has seen a number of councillors and politicians have their say with Ms Aitken claiming on Twitter that some have exploited “sectarian division” and are to blame “for stoking the abuse directed at me, David McDonald and his family and council officers”.

One of the politicians criticised by Ms Aitken was Scottish Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins. He has already reported the trio to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland over an alleged breach of the Councillors Code of Conduct.

A letter Ms Aitken sent to Rangers in response to one from the club was revealed by The Sun. She hit out at the club’s managing director Stewart Robertson for the tone of the letter she received from Rangers and called it “reprehensible” that “there was considerable concern that individuals employed by Rangers should take to social media to endorse and amplify claims that any decision on this issue is a result of footballing bias”.

Ms Aitken said that she welcomes the inclusion of “fan zones as a growing part of the footballing landscape”.

In a statement published on their website Club 1872 wrote: “Following the disingenuous and irresponsible behaviour of Glasgow City Councillors, Susan Aitken and David McDonald over the past few days, Club 1872 has been left with no option but to report them, along with Councillor Stephen Dornan, to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.

“Despite finding the time to construct a letter to Rangers which was littered with inaccuracies, immediately leaking that letter to the press and then posting carefully selected confidential emails including private information on social media, neither Susan Aitken nor David McDonald have managed to respond to simple questions from Rangers, Club 1872, MSPs, fellow councillors, the general public or indeed their own constituents.”

“Incredibly, despite David McDonald publishing these emails and Susan Aitken confirming in her leaked letter that she had been briefed on the Fanzone proposal, Glasgow City Council has replied to our FOI request claiming they do not hold a single piece of information on this matter. We have immediately asked for a review of this response and if necessary will then refer our request to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

“It comes as little surprise to us to see the pair attempt to characterise the wish for transparency and accountability as sectarianism. Playing this card is the go-to move for anyone who is taken to task over their own questionable actions towards our club and supporters. Doing so immediately ahead of an Old Firm game was beneath contempt.

“Given the array of political views, religions and football allegiances represented by those who have publicly questioned them, their tactics in this instance can only be categorised as a desperate attempt to deflect from the simple issue here. Why did they intervene, outside of due process, to instruct Glasgow Life to remove their consent to use the Ibrox Complex pitch for a match day Fanzone?

“The issue of the objections by Stephen Dornan and the Ibrox and Cessnock Community Council is a complete red herring. The correct forum for these objections to be considered was the licensing hearing. We do not believe that the objections had any merit – and in the case of the community council were lodged due to misinformation provided by Stephen Dornan – but the place to address them was the hearing, where Rangers would have had the opportunity to respond directly to any concerns. This hearing was stopped only because of the intervention of the Council Leader and her deputy.

“There is nothing in the emails leaked by David McDonald, which pre-date the incident in question by over 2 weeks, that disproves what we know to have happened. 
“Their tactic of trying to muddy the waters by releasing carefully selected emails, whilst FOI requests are refused, is a clear attempt to mislead the public as to their role in this matter. 
“We will not breach confidentiality by posting emails on the internet but for the avoidance of doubt there is clear, documentary evidence that they intervened.

“We look forward to the truth of this matter emerging after a thorough investigation into these councillors and the receipt of FOI material so far denied to us.”

A Council spokeswoman said: “It was made clear to Rangers on a number of occasions by Glasgow Life that support from the local community was essential for its proposed fan zone. They were unable to secure that support, and opposition from the local community council to this proposal still remains. The Council Leadership supported Glasgow Life’s decision, intimated to Rangers on 13th July, that they would not be able to use the facility unless they secured community support.

“As has also been repeatedly stated to Rangers, neither the council nor its political leadership has any objection in principle to the development of fan zones at any stadium, including Ibrox. Indeed we see them as a vibrant part of the fan experience and will continue to support them, without fear or favour, where buy in from the local community exists.”