Rangers to snub SPL hearing

  • Last Updated: September 11 2012, 16:43 BST

Rangers have refused to co-operate with the Scottish Premier League inquiry into alleged undisclosed payments to players by a previous Ibrox regime.

Rangers to snub SPL hearing

Chief executive Charles Green has announced the club will not attend the opening hearings of the SPL-appointed independent commission into the matter, due to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Green said in a statement: "The club cannot continue to participate in an SPL process that we believe is fundamentally misconceived."

In a lengthy statement, Green accused the SPL of hypocrisy and insisted they had no legal authority over his Irn-Bru Third Division club.

Green questioned the independence of the three-man panel, which is chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith and includes two QCs, and threatened legal action if SPL titles are stripped from Rangers.

The commission, due to hold procedural hearings this week but not hear evidence, was appointed following initial assessment of Employee Benefit Trust transactions to Rangers players from 2000 to 2011, which could breach SPL rules over declaring payments in contracts.

Green's company bought the assets and business of the soon-to-be liquidated oldco Rangers and secured the club's SFA membership but was denied entry to the SPL.

"The club ceased to be subject to the SPL's rules when it was ejected from its league," he said.

"Our lawyers have made that point repeatedly to the SPL in correspondence and yet our requests for an explanation from the SPL have been completely ignored. The SPL's silence on these issues is deafening.

"The outcome of the SPL's process will have no legal effect."

Green, who said the decision was approved unanimously by the board and manager Ally McCoist, added: "Despite this, the SPL now see the new owners of the company, and the new company itself, which owns all the assets of Rangers FC - including SPL championship titles - as fair game for punishment for matters that have nothing to do with us at all.

"And let's be very clear about what this commission is.

"Although the SPL goes to great lengths to emphasise the independence of its commission, the commission is not independent of the SPL.

"It has been appointed by the SPL. It follows SPL rules and its process is managed by SPL staff.

"I don't question the impartiality of the individual panel members but whatever decision they reach is a decision of the SPL."

The former Sheffield United chief executive added: "To make it crystal clear, the new owners purchased all the business and assets of Rangers, including titles and trophies.

"Any attempt to undermine or diminish the value of those assets will be met with the stiffest resistance, including legal recourse."

Green claimed Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs approached the SPL about EBTs, which remain the subject of a tax tribunal, in October 2010 and questioned why the football authorities did not act then.

Green added: "What compounds the breathtaking hypocrisy of the SPL in this whole saga, is that the SFA, the SPL and us - as the new owners - took part in numerous discussions regarding the new company's league status during which it was made clear that a deal was there to be done where 'the EBT issue' would be dealt with as part of a package of sanctions which would be implemented in return for membership of the SFA and a place in either the SPL or Division One.

"We do not accept that people who are willing to come to an agreement on such matters then have a right to instigate a full blown inquisition when matters do not unfold as they thought they would.

"In our view, it beggars belief that an authority which can be heavily involved in these discussions to the point that the chief executive Neil Doncaster repeatedly stated he was not interested in stripping titles from Rangers can lurch from that position to setting up its own commission under the chairmanship of Lord Nimmo Smith."

Green questioned the wisdom of pursuing the inquiry in the absence of a ruling from the tax tribunal.

And he added: "Rangers was not the only club in Scotland to use EBTs yet nothing was done and little has been heard about it."

Green added: "There are powerful representatives from clubs within the SPL - not all of them by any means - who appear hell bent on inflicting as much damage on Rangers as possible.

"Furthermore, as a club we are not satisfied that the issue of conflict of interest relating to advisers to the SPL has been satisfactorily dealt with."

Green finished by saying: "As far as I am concerned, Rangers Football Club has won a world record 54 league titles, and, whatever the decision of the SPL commission, these titles cannot and will not be taken away from us and our Manager Ally McCoist is in total agreement."

The announcement was quickly followed by a statement from Duff and Phelps, who remain as administrators of the original club, now called RFC 2012 PLC.

Duff and Phelps, whose lack of co-operation in providing documents held the probe up for three months, also stated they would have no involvement with the commission.

The statement added: "Our primary role as administrators was to rescue the business which has been achieved by Charles Green and his consortium and whilst any sanctions the Commission may levy will not affect RFC 2012 PLC, this process would not appear to us to be helpful to the ongoing revival of Rangers."