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SPFL EGM vote: Clubs reject Rangers’ calls for independent inquiry

SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster
SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster

SPFL clubs have not given their backing to an independent inquiry into the early ending of the lower-league season amid the coronavirus crisis.

At an EGM today, forced by Rangers with support from Hearts and Stranraer, 27 clubs voted against the Ibrox side’s motion for an inquiry, with 13 in favour and two abstentions.

Concerns had been raised over how the vote to call a halt to the lower-league seasons, with the option to end the Premiership season, had been undertaken.

It led to a war of words between Rangers and the SPFL, as well as various statements from member clubs.

The Ibrox side released a dossier of evidence after calling for the suspension of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal adviser Rod McKenzie.

An internal SPFL inquiry, conducted by Deloitte, said there was no wrongdoing on their behalf, but a number of clubs pushed for an independent investigation.

Tuesday’s meeting, held over video call, involved all 42 member clubs.

To go ahead, the inquiry required 75% backing from Premiership clubs, the same backing from the Championship and also from League One and League Two combined.

The resolution got the support of four clubs in the Premiership and one from the Championship, plus eight in the two lower divisions.

Another two teams from the combined ranks of League One and League Two abstained.

The SPFL had written to member clubs last week to urge them to vote against the resolution.

Earlier today, Stenhousemuir joined Aberdeen, Partick Thistle and Inverness in announcing their intention to vote in favour of the resolution put forward by Rangers, Hearts and Stranraer.

Representatives from several clubs, including the requisitioners Rangers, spoke at the meeting.

There was also a comment from Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell.

In a statement following the EGM, SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan urged all clubs to respect the democratic process.

He said: “The last few weeks have been bruising ones for many people in our game. Far too many words have been spoken and written which have sown anger and division amongst clubs. That is a matter of the deepest regret to very many people in our game, myself included.

“I know those who proposed this resolution will be disappointed, but I trust that everyone involved, on both sides of this argument, will now respect the clear, democratic and decisive result we have seen today and allow our game to move forward together. The overwhelming majority of clubs voted to oppose this resolution and it’s now incumbent on all clubs to put their differences aside, otherwise we will all suffer together.

“I have taken careful note of the concerns expressed by the minority of clubs which voted in favour and when we are back to playing football in a safe environment, I will bring clubs together to discuss the lessons learned.

“Every single one of us understands that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought huge challenges for our game, which we must overcome soon if we are to save all 42 clubs and restart the sport we all love.

“That is a daunting prospect in its own right – one of the gravest our sport has faced and it’s no exaggeration to say that it threatens the very existence of many of the SPFL’s clubs if we get it wrong.

“If Scottish football is to survive this, we simply must unite and use the enormous talents, resources and creativity at our collective disposal to rescue our game.

“Time is short. In reality, we must do everything humanly possible to get games back up and running by the end of July.

“We simply cannot afford the distraction of further infighting or legal challenges.

“I’m sure we can all agree that the quicker we get back to playing football, the better.”