8 May 2020
To: All SPFL Clubs
Sent by email only
In recent days, Rangers’ managing director Stewart Robertson has launched a series of attacks
on the SPFL Board, its corporate governance and its office-bearers.
As Board members, it is our duty to respond to these allegations on behalf of Scottish football
and we are united in firmly rejecting his false characterisation of SPFL governance.
We are all professional people, with many decades of business experience between us and
we take our duties as your representatives extremely seriously, including holding the
executive to account and acting in the wider interests of the 42 clubs at all times. These duties
are often complex, often demanding, but they are a privilege and we fulfill them with great
care and responsibility on your behalf.
It is therefore enormously frustrating to see one of our number launch baseless, damaging
and self-serving attacks on the Board. Every one of us has sat alongside Stewart Robertson
and been privy to the information and procedures of the SPFL Board. If anything had been
untoward, we would have addressed it at the time.
It’s in that context that we have examined his dossier carefully and have given responses
below to some of his more prominent claims.
In answering them, one key question comes to the fore: Having served on the Board for
Season 2017/18 and again since July 2019, if he actually believed these serious, wide
-ranging and numerous claims, why has it taken him until now, just five days before Rangers’ resolution comes before the EGM, to make them public?
Surely if things were so bad, so dysfunctional, he had a clear and compelling duty to speak out
That EGM has been called to consider a resolution put forward by Hearts, Rangers and
Stranraer, which calls for an open-ended investigation to be carried out by a senior QC into a
variety of matters related to the directors written resolution, recently approved by over 80%
As everyone now knows, Rangers have made several false allegations about corruption,
coercion and bullying on the part of the SPFL. They have also called, without good reason, for
the suspension of the SPFL’s Chief Executive and Legal Counsel.
On 7 May we received a document from Rangers, which they claim – and we categorically
reject – provides evidence to back up these attacks on the executive and the wider Board.
Given the very tight timescale before the EGM, we have had to provide a brief initial response
to their claims.
We trust the answers below will help inform you and your club on these matters, which we
consider to be an unwelcome and self-serving distraction from the critical issues at stake –namely the future of Scottish football.
If you should have any questions on any of the issues below, as Board members and your
representatives, we are very keen to hear from you.
Several of us have also been asked by a number of clubs what action the SPFL intends to take
in relation to the gross breaches of confidentiality that have been committed by the
circulation of the Rangers document, including copying and publishing commercially sensitive
information from the SPFL’s confidential Board report server. It is not appropriate, in advance
of the EGM, to comment further, but we will return to this important issue in due course.
The vast majority of the SPFL Board members continue to have complete confidence in our
Chief Executive and Legal Counsel. Eight of the nine members of your Board of Directors
continue to believe the demand for an open-ended, hugely time consuming and expensive
investigation to be wholly unnecessary, inappropriate and contrary to the interests of the
Company and Scottish football at what is such a critical time for every club’s survival.
We therefore urge you to vote against the resolution at our EGM on Tuesday.
It is vital that we devote our time and attention to working together, tackling the existential
problems that Scottish football faces as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Only by doing so
can we protect our 42 clubs, the dedicated people they employ and the game we all love.
Karyn McCluskey, independent non-executive director
Alan Burrows, Motherwell FC
Ewen Cameron, Alloa Athletic FC
Peter Davidson, Montrose FC
Ken Ferguson, Brechin City FC
Les Gray, Hamilton Academical FC
Ross McArthur, Dunfermline Athletic FC
SPFL RESPONSES TO CLAIMS MADE IN RANGERS’ DOSSIER
Claim: £10m of potential liabilities were not disclosed to members
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
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
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.