Rangers’ Douglas Park seeks clarity from SPFL on Private Eye comments

Ibrox chairman doubles down on need for independent investigation

Rangers chairman Douglas Park, with SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster on his left. Picture: SNS

That hostilities between Rangers and the SPFL aren’t close to abating is the unmistakable message delivered by Ibrox chairman Douglas Park.

Concerns over governance have come to the fore amid the fall-out from the circumstances surrounding the vote to curtail the lower league season, and pave the way for the Premiership to be called in similar fashion.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

However, as Park doubled-down on the need for an independent investigation that Rangers are urging the 42 clubs to support at an egm on Tuesday, the Ibrox chairman himself danced around questions raised by his club’s confrontation with the SPFL over the past month.

It is plain to all that there are no means to complete the season on the pitch, and it would strengthen the belief that Rangers’ recent crusade is all about better SPFL governance and not denying Celtic a title were the Ibrox club willing to acknowledge that there is no option but to employ a points-per-game calculation to settle all outstanding issues. Park is unwilling to do that, though.

“That’s not entirely in the gift of the clubs,” he said. “We need to work with various stakeholders, including the government, the medical profession and the players and try to come up with working solutions.”

Park, in a written Q&A forum with Sunday newspapers, showed no change on his stance towards SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and the league’s legal advisor Rod McKenzie – the two men that Rangers have called to be suspended while an independent investigation is conducted. The pair, and SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan, who is alleged by Private Eye to have made a derogatory remark about Rangers in the 1990s – remain firmly in the sights of the Ibrox club.

It has been claimed by the SPFL that, on the night of the Dundee vote fiasco of 10 April, Park made “a very serious allegation and threat to act in a particular way” towards Doncaster, that was “defamatory”. This led to four “cease and desist” notices being made to Park by McKenzie. The Rangers chairman was asked about this and why there was no mention of it in Rangers’ dossier about the SPFL which was sent to clubs on Thursday.

On Saturday, he issued an outright denial. “I started my own business in 1971, and it’s the first time I can recall having been accused of making a threat. It’s offensive, crass and downright wrong,” Park stated. “Anyone who knows me will know it’s a fabrication. I have made no secret of the fact that I tried to raise some serious concerns with Neil Doncaster and was given short shrift. Following that, it’s well documented there were repeated demands for us to withdraw our concerns by Rod McKenzie. I find that odd. Subsequently, both Murdoch MacLennan and Neil Doncaster have publicly stated anyone with concerns should raise them with Mr MacLennan. Why didn’t Neil Doncaster suggest that when I called him? Why did Neil Doncaster follow a completely different route to the one he has publicly suggested was the appropriate one?

“Our report prepared for the other clubs provides clarity on a number of issues that should be a concern for all stakeholders. I also find it extremely odd that Murdoch MacLennan wrote to me the next day regarding my statement on the Rangers website and raised the fact I had made allegations in that and then referenced the call to Neil Doncaster. It’s clear from his letter that his response is in relation to Rangers releasing a statement rather than my attempts to raise concerns with Neil Doncaster. He certainly didn’t mention a threat. It’s rather strange and perhaps convenient that it gets thrown in to the mix weeks later. It’s categorically untrue.

“I also replied to the SPFL chairman and referenced the previous complaint the club had made about comments attributed to him by Private Eye magazine. I asked for clarity on whether he made those comments or not. No assurances were forthcoming, which I find odd given the allegation has dogged him since he arrived at the SPFL [in 2017]. If the comments were made it would certainly give cause for concern about his ability to treat any complaint we took to him. Perhaps this is a question he could answer the next time he sits down with himself for a Q&A.” Park maintains Rangers were not guilty of any “misunderstanding” over the failure of the SPFL disclose potential £10 million liabilities potentially arising from failing to play out the season in the briefing paper clubs circulated to clubs before the season-ending vote - as they were accused of in a letter sent to the clubs by the SPFL board two days ago. Although a central plank of their case against the SPFL in their report this week, it would appear a moot point. It has been estimated that the English Premier League will face a £10m bill to fund the testing regime and bio-secure neutral stadia required to complete their season across the next two months. There was no mention of such costs in the SPFL briefing paper either.

“There is no misunderstanding on our part and we have received the opinion of legal counsel which confirms our understanding is correct.” Park said. “The SPFL directors are being extremely patronising to the 42 member clubs if they think they are incapable of reading and understanding the documents provided by us, in particular Appendix 1 which includes the SPFL board paper and Appendix 3 which includes the briefing note to members.

“The central point which the SPFL directors are deliberately avoiding is that the briefing paper to clubs specifically referred to ‘significant commercial risks’; and refund claims from broadcasters in the section relating to ‘voiding the season’. However, no mention of these risks and refunds in relation to the SPFL proposal was contained in the briefing paper.

“The argument made in the SPFL director’s letter that no decision had yet been taken to bring an end to the competition applies equally to ‘voiding the season’ and calling the season on a ‘points per game basis’. Yet they mentioned the liabilities as arising only in relation to the option they were rejecting and omitted it completely in the option they were proposing. This is serious misrepresentation.”

There is a lot of it about.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.