Rangers are at risk of ‘bringing the game into disrepute’ after making allegations against Scottish Professional Football League executives without providing evidence, according to league chairman Murdoch MacLennan.
MacLennan wrote in an open letter that the club should provide any evidence and he will then investigate thoroughly.
MacLennan urged clubs to reject a formal request by Rangers, Hearts and Stranraer for an independent investigation into the decision to end the season in all four division of Scottish football.
Rangers had alleged clubs had been ‘bullied’, claiming they had ‘alarming’ evidence and called for SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal advisor Rod McKenzie to be suspended.
They later promised to divulge their dossier to clubs ‘well in advance’ of the May 12 general meeting.
In a lengthy open letter, MacLennan wrote: “If Rangers or any other club genuinely believes that it has been bullied by any member of the SPFL team, it has a duty to report that to me, as chairman of the board of the SPFL. I will then investigate any such allegations fully and thoroughly.
“In the absence of any such report, those alleging ‘bullying and coercion’ risk bringing the game into disrepute and sowing further unnecessary division.”
MacLennan argued it was entirely appropriate for board members to give guidance and clarification when contacted by clubs.
He added: “I see nothing wrong whatsoever with board members seeking to persuade clubs to ‘adopt’ a resolution that the vast majority of board members consider to be in the best interests of the league as a whole.”
MacLennan defended the information given to clubs, claimed there were ‘simply no other viable options’ and described Rangers’ suggestion of handing out loans instead of end-of-season payments as ‘deeply flawed’.
He also denied handing out ‘sweeteners’ to Dundee in between their ‘no’ and ‘yes’ votes and defended the decision to publish interim results which confirmed a Championship club had a casting vote, claiming the league would have been accused of ‘unwarranted secrecy’ if it had withheld them after the time clubs were asked to vote by.
On the subject of Dundee’s vote, which an independent review confirmed went missing in the SPFL’s email system, he stated there was ‘little if anything we could have done differently’.
“The situation was not our making and Dundee FC are fully entitled to have a change of heart from reject to accept,” he said.
“However, with the benefit of hindsight, we probably should have given clubs a few more days to respond to the directors’ written resolution.”
The fact clubs only had 48 hours to decide and the failure to express concern to relegated Partick Thistle and Stranraer were the only two regrets MacLennan expressed.
He urged clubs to reject the call for a ‘hugely time consuming and expensive investigation’, which he claimed was ‘wholly unnecessary, inappropriate and contrary to the interests of the company’.
He added: “At this hugely challenging time, distractions, scapegoating and sideshows are our enemy.
“We currently have a very small executive team comprising only five senior members of staff who are working tirelessly in the interests of Scottish football. Two of them are the subject of unexplained calls for their suspension.
“I therefore sincerely hope that I and your board of directors can rely on your support so that we can be allowed to focus completely on helping all clubs survive the crisis caused by Covid-19, rather than spending extensive and unproductive time and expense on rebutting unknown allegations against directors and long-standing and hard-working members of the SPFL team.”