Claim: £10m of potential liabilities were not disclosed to members
SPFL response: As is well understood, it may not possible to complete Season 2019/20 in the Ladbrokes Premiership by the end of June 2020, due to the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, the suspension of all football by the Scottish FA and the range of legal restrictions on training and the playing of football imposed by the Scottish Government. By 30 June, a huge number of professional player contracts entered into by SPFL clubs will have expired, rendering it practically impossible for many clubs to field a team after that date, far less the same players who have so far participated in the Season 2019/20 Competition.
It is also well understood by SPFL clubs that curtailment of the Ladbrokes Premiership season 2019/20 could lead to claims being made against the SPFL. The SPFL Board has received detailed legal advice on the potential for claims – and indeed the likely cost, if any, arising from such claims. Analysing that advice, together with making recommendations to member clubs and putting into place detailed measures to address such claims, is a fundamental part of the role of the Board. It would be entirely inappropriate for the Board, and against the interest of every SPFL club, to publicise where such claims may come from; what legal defences the SPFL may have available; and the potential amount, if any of successful claims (which can only ever be conjecture at this stage).
We simply cannot understand why anyone would wish to talk up the possibility of claims – and, in doing so, prejudice the position of every single SPFL member club.
What those behind the ‘Rangers dossier’ have failed to appreciate is that the potential for any claims against the SPFL does not result in any way from a decision by the members to permit the Board to bring an end to the Premiership Competition.
Such a decision would result from a conclusion that the matches in question in the Premiership cannot now be played. Whilst it may be becoming more difficult to foresee the
circumstances in which the remaining Premiership Matches can be completed, no decision has yet been taken.
There is no question of the Board failing to advise the Clubs of a potential £10m (or any other size of claim) arising because the Premiership is brought to a premature end because of a decision either of the Members or of the Board. That was not reported to you because it is simply not the case.
The central complaint of Rangers is simply wrong and is based on a complete misunderstanding of the situation in which the League and its broadcast partners find
Claim: clubs were erroneously told they could only receive cash by voting for the SPFL resolution
SPFL response: As our Chief Executive explained on the radio last weekend, making fee payments to clubs based on their final league standings was the only realistic and practical way of the SPFL getting substantial monies into the hands of Ladbrokes Championship, League 1 and League 2 clubs. That remains the case, irrespective of the erroneous claims in the Rangers dossier.
Those who continue to suggest that there were other ‘simpler’ means of getting money into clubs’ hands are being either economical with the truth or are once again demonstrating a lamentable lack of understanding of the current reality of Scottish Football.
If the SPFL were to lend substantial sums out of the funds to be paid out as fees, based on final League position, how would struggling clubs repay overpayments where they do poorly in the next few games? How would we be able to pay the additional sums due to clubs which had done better than during the earlier part of the Season? And how would we deal with any clubs which became insolvent or were not entitled to have been paid anything?
The fundamental problems with making loans to clubs, and the possibility of clubs defaulting on those loans, are well understood by those clubs who lost money as a result of the insolvency of Gretna.
Claim: Aberdeen FC negotiated a concession from Neil Doncaster prior to voting, that Premiership clubs would be consulted prior to the SPFL Board calling the Premiership
SPFL response: This is categorically false. No commitment was made to any club, which was not made to all 42 clubs in the legal briefing note sent out on 8 April. It is the case that Aberdeen FC were seeking such a commitment. There was a discussion, during the afternoon of 10 April, about the possibility of Neil Doncaster taking a request to the SPFL Board during the afternoon. However, by the time the SPFL Board met, at 5pm that day, Aberdeen FC had made it clear that they did not wish Neil Doncaster to take such a request forward. As a result, no such request was brought to the SPFL Board.
Claim: Rod McKenzie issued four ‘cease and desist’ requests to the Rangers chairman on 10 & 11 April. This is what Douglas Park was referring to when he said that “Rangers will not be bullied into silence”
SPFL response: In a phone call on the evening of 10 April, Rangers chairman Douglas Park made a very serious allegation and threat to act in a particular way to the SPFL Chief Executive.
This allegation has been entirely unsupported by any evidence, either then or since. The allegation was so serious and defamatory that the League’s Legal Counsel, Rod McKenzie immediately sought a commitment from the Rangers Company Secretary that it would not be repeated. This was a wholly appropriate and proportionate legal response to an entirely unfounded and damaging allegation. That was the only respect in which Rangers was called upon not to repeat what had been alleged and what had been threatened. On no conceivable basis could this be considered as ‘bullying Rangers into silence’.
It is noteworthy that there is not a shred of evidence in the so-called dossier to support the allegation made or to justify the threat.
Claim: Rod McKenzie offered no meaningful assistance in drafting a members’ resolution that would be effective
SPFL response: The SPFL had received very clear legal advice that the resolution submitted by Hearts, Rangers and Inverness Caledonian Thistle was not effective and could not be circulated to members. Rod McKenzie engaged actively with the Rangers Company Secretary with a view to a resolution being redrafted in a way which would be effective. However, the essence of the resolution sought by Rangers remained ineffective throughout. Rangers were advised that this remained Rod’s opinion, but if Rangers considered he was wrong that it could be taken to a QC for his opinion. Rangers declined that offer.
No effective members resolution has yet been submitted to the SPFL Board.
Claim: the SPFL and Scottish FA sent a letter to UEFA on 4 April in which it was stated that “the vast majority of SPFL clubs are calling for curtailment of the 2019/20 season in Scotland”
SPFL response: This is correct. The letter sent jointly by the SPFL and Scottish FA was based on feedback from clubs and club representatives on the SPFL Board. It was an honest and open assessment of what the vast majority of SPFL clubs were saying at that time. Part of the job of the Chief Executive is to gauge the views of Clubs on important issues from the many conversations he has with his SPFL Board colleagues and the directors of individual clubs.
The fact that over 80% of SPFL clubs voted in favour of the directors resolution underlines that the assessment of Neil Doncaster and Ian Maxwell was accurate.