Charles Green goes after players who refused to join Rangers newco
RANGERS chief executive Charles Green has warned six players who left Ibrox last summer that they could be forced out of action for their new clubs by his bid to secure compensation for their departures.
Green has been encouraged by the outcome of a preliminary meeting at Hampden on Monday that has allowed Rangers to continue their breach of contract claims against the players through SFA arbitration.
Allan McGregor, Steven Naismith, Steven Whittaker, Kyle Lafferty, Jamie Ness and Sone Aluko are all being pursued for leaving Rangers in the wake of the club’s failure to come out of administration and Green’s purchase of its business and assets.
The players declined to have their contracts moved to Green’s new company under TUPE legislation. Goalkeeper McGregor joined Turkish club Besiktas, while his fellow Scotland internationals Naismith and Whittaker moved to the English Premier League with Everton and Norwich City respectively.
Northern Ireland striker Lafferty signed for Swiss club Sion, Scotland under-21 international midfielder Ness joined Stoke City and Nigerian winger Aluko moved to Hull City. In addition to claiming financial redress from the individual players for breach of contract, Rangers are also seeking fees from the clubs they joined.
According to Green, the arbitration process is set to have a disruptive effect on the new careers embarked upon by the six players.
“What these players and their clubs need to realise is that, when we go to the next level, this is going to be a number of days, not just an afternoon at Hampden,” said Green.
“These players won’t be training or playing, they will sit in Hampden waiting to give evidence or to make statements. We are not going to let this drop, as I have said since June.”
PFA Scotland have raised a Protective Award claim in response to the situation, insisting Rangers’ administrators Duff and Phelps failed to enter into any consultation with them in advance of the TUPE transfer of players’ contracts.
The union offered to abandon its claim if the breach of contract proceedings against its members were dropped by Rangers but a lengthy battle seems inevitable.
Green, speaking to Rangers TV, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the initial meeting at Hampden, which representatives of PFA Scotland also attended.
“From our side, it went as well as we could have expected,” said Green. “From the other side, I’m sure they will be disappointed. Clearly, they wanted the commission to throw it out and rule that the SFA had no jurisdiction, because the whole process of the first meeting was about jurisdiction. What we stated at the meeting was that newco wants to continue where oldco was. We have this slight anomaly where, for a period, newco were not members of the SFA from 14 June until being granted membership on 3 August. It was those technical issues which caused some consternation but I was very encouraged with the meeting. It is still my position that these players breached their contracts and we are going to pursue them.
“Both parties were asked to go away and discuss various issues. We have been given until 21 January by the chair of the commission to come back to him. In the absence that the parties can’t agree or cannot come up with a view, he will make a judgement.”
Rangers were able to negotiate payment for three other players who declined to have their contracts switched to the new company last summer – former captain Steven Davis, midfielder Rhys McCabe and forward John Fleck who moved to Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City respectively. American midfielder Maurice Edu agreed to have his contract moved to the newco, enabling Rangers to receive a transfer fee when he moved to Stoke City.
The lawyer representing the majority of the players last night responded to Green’s comments about Monday’s meeting. In a statement, Margaret Gribbon of Bridge Litigation, said: “It remains our firm legal view that the breach of contract claims against the players are without legal merit.
“The proceedings before the SFA are, and should remain, confidential, otherwise the integrity of the arbitration panel and the entire process risks being undermined.”