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UEFA must now step in and investigate those running the Scottish game

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One of the most scathing attacks has come from Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton who has hit out at the way his club and others are being treated.

He said: “(We are being) bullied, rail-roaded, lied to. We have been threatened and bullied. It’s not football as I know it. It was a ridiculous document that came out last week, whereby that threat was there if we don’t vote for an acceptance into the First Division a breakaway SPL2 will come along and all those clubs that didn’t vote won’t be invited. What kind of a game are we running? Corrupt.”

It has also been reported that three significant members within the game are shareholders of Rangers Football Club. SFL President & Airdrie United chairman Jim Ballantyne, SFA President Campbell Ogilvie (who also profited from the club’s controversial EBT scheme) and Cowdenbeath chairman Donald Findlay QC. The latter is even helping John Brown and his consortium in trying to buy out Charles Green & co.

Straight away these individuals must be kept out of the negotiations and discussions given their conflict of interest, for it may be seen that they could have influenced the vote in favour of Rangers. But that is all hypothetical.

I wrote a piece on the 28th June on the goings on in regards to forcing, threatening and trying to bully the lower league clubs in voting the Rangers newco into the First Division.

Safe to say that Hutton’s comments now give the picture that there is a significant amount of work going on behind the scenes to force Rangers into the First Division by any means necessary.

Why have I intimated that UEFA get involved in the issue now? Given that there is significant conflicts of interest going on and a total lack of leadership throughout our game, an independent body must investigate the goings on and take charge. Certainly no football body in Scotland should be tasked with the case and neither the SPL, SFL nor the SFA have shown any signs of doing the right thing for the game, just the right thing to keep a TV deal.

The SFA is currently attempting to broker a deal between the SPL and SFL which could allow Rangers entry to the first division, therefore minimising the amount of financial damage caused on top-flight clubs by Rangers’ absence. But the Scottish FA should be the body that remains neutral – but how can it when one of its top execs was not only a former director of the club but also a current shareholder?

Hutton added that the SFA and the SPL have lied during this fiasco and if that is the case then the question is why? Even if UEFA don’t get involved in the Rangers issue – the governance of the Scottish game as a whole must be audited and investigated by Europe’s football body.

Questions must be asked of SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster and SFA chief executive Stewart Regan. UEFA must be the ones asking the questions.

Doncaster, who had proudly boasted the £80 million TV deal with SKY and ESPN yet failed to get the contract signed, has been publicly stating that SKY and ESPN would pull out of the Scottish game if Rangers were not voted into the Scottish Premier League. Currently EIGHT clubs have stated their intentions to vote against a Rangers newco entering the SPL – certainly a slap in the face for Doncaster who had tried to force the SPL club chairmen to choose finance over sporting integrity. The threat of a mass fan boycott across the board spelled the end of Doncaster’s ‘financial disaster’ threat.

Now the plan is to get Rangers voted into the First Division, with more intimidation, bully boy tactics and bribery thrown at the wee clubs in the lower leagues. If the provincial clubs don’t vote in Rangers then there was also the threat of an SPL2 being created which would according to those peddling the threats have serious repercussions for those clubs not ‘invited’ in.

The Scottish FA throughout all of this have failed to hold those people making the threats and what not, accountable for their actions and words. In big business if a chief executive of another organisation was offering bribes, making threats and intimidating others he would be held accountable for his actions. There in lies the problem with the Scottish FA a serious lack of leadership or is there another reason why they are turning a blind eye to threats and bribery?

At today’s meeting, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan stated that the SFA would not allow Rangers back into the SPL. According to STV Sport, Livingston chairman Gordon McDougall stated that Regan had indeed addressed the SFL members in regards to the Scottish FA standing in the way of Rangers entering the SPL.

However earlier tonight, the Scottish FA chief executive back tracked over comments attributed to him. Regan said: “The Scottish FA was invited to participate in today’s meeting of the Scottish Football League’s members at Hampden Park. During a positive and productive meeting, a number of detailed scenarios were discussed regarding the future status of Rangers FC as a newco club.

“Unfortunately, a comment relating to one potential scenario – Rangers FC’s readmission to the SPL – was distorted, taken out of context and leaked to the media by a member.

“For the avoidance of doubt, any decision regarding the future status of Rangers FC requires not only the transfer of the SPL share but the transfer of the Scottish FA’s membership. The Scottish FA Board will approve this only when all relevant information has been provided and the directors are satisfied that the solution presented is in the best interests of Scottish football.”

The new season is just over a month from starting and we are no nearer to a conclusion to this affair than we were when it started back in February. The governing bodies in Scotland are now looking weaker than ever before and as for the Scottish game itself. Clubs are in limbo, they don’t know if they have to cut their cloth accordingly or if they will be able to strengthen their sides ahead of the new season. Come the start of the season will we see Rangers playing competitively or being left out of the game for one year playing friendlies and nothing more?

The threats, the intimidation, the bribery, the bully boy tactics MUST end and real leadership must take shape for our game to survive. The game will survive without an unsigned £80 million TV deal with SKY/ESPN, the game will survive no matter what league Rangers are in and the game will survive without a strong Rangers.

If it means that clubs go out of business because of their own financial mismanagement as they rely on money from one or two clubs to trade then so be it. In fact they deserve to go bust if they cannot manage their business model correctly.

Now is the time for all relevant parties – including SKY – to come out and take the bull by the horns and take ownership. Scottish football needs leadership – who will stand up and be counted?

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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