Rangers' resolution for SPFL independent investigation voted down by fellow clubs

SPFL, Rangers and Celtic statements below

Corner Flag at Ibrox Stadium

Scottish clubs have voted against Rangers' bid for an investigation into the SPFL's conduct surrounding the vote to end the lower league seasons, and potentially that of the Premiership.

The resolution proposed by the Ibrox side required at least 32 votes from the 42 members across the four professional divisions, but only 13 clubs voted in favour of the independent investigation following weeks of infighting and uncertainty in Scottish football.

Four clubs in the Premiership, one from the Championship, plus eight in the two lower divisions voted in favour of the resolution. Another two teams from the combined ranks of League One and League Two abstained, with 27 teams voting against.

Aberdeen, Hearts, Stranraer, Partick Thistle and Stenhousemuir had all given the resolution their public backing while Inverness and Falkirk had launched scathing attacks against the league hierarchy in recent days.

Interim Rangers chairman Douglas Park had previously said the club were willing to fund an independent investigation into the recent vote to end the lower league seasons, and potentially that of the Premiership, with the process shrouded in controversy following Dundee's change in vote which saw the SPFL's resolution passed.

A view of Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland 1:11
Charles Paterson reports as 27 of the SPFL's 42 clubs vote against an independent investigation into the organisation's handling of a previous vote on whether to end the Scottish football season early

SPFL chairman MacLennan: 'The last few weeks have been bruising'

Speaking after Tuesday's extraordinary general meeting, SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan urged all clubs to respect the democratic process and unite behind efforts to restart football when it is safe to do so.

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.

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"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.

Murdoch MacLennan says Dundee have not yet submitted their crucial vote on the SPFL's proposal.
Image: Murdoch MacLennan has called for unity among SPFL clubs

"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.

"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."

Neil Doncaster says clubs need to be vigilant about the threat of a coronavirus outbreak 0:42
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster says member clubs have given a 'very clear steer' that they want to move on after a majority voted against an independent investigation into the organisation's handling of the vote to end the season early last mont

Rangers statement

Rangers said in a statement after the decision: "We note the result of the vote taken at this morning's General Meeting and wish to thank all clubs for listening to our concerns, giving up their time to read our report and for voting.

"We also wish to place on record our thanks to our fellow requisitioners, who showed courage and acted with dignity throughout. Furthermore, to those clubs who voted in favour of the resolution, we appreciate your support and recognise your desire for increased accountability at the top of our national sport.

"Today's vote has erased the false narrative of this issue simply being a conflict between one club and the SPFL. All we sought was urgently required scrutiny, respect for all member clubs, fairness and transparency.

"Significantly, support for the Hearts, Stranraer and Rangers requisition spanned the four professional divisions. Member clubs, recognising the need for Scottish football to improve its governance and professionalism, have moved beyond sporting rivalries and it would be unwise to regard this result as any kind of endorsement of the SPFL executive.

"A light has been shone on the SPFL's governance and regardless of the attempts to debunk our report, there is widespread acknowledgement that it highlighted serious issues and failings which remain to be addressed.

"A management culture which not only fears accountability and scrutiny, but which actively campaigns against it, is unhealthy and breeds continued mistrust. This culture, so deeply embedded, must be addressed if Scottish football is to flourish.

"It is clear that many members have lost confidence in the SPFL leadership and the need for change will not diminish.

"The status quo cannot hold."

SPFL chief exec Doncaster: Hope we can 'draw a line under the issue'

Before Tuesday's vote, Rangers had called for SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal adviser Rod McKenzie to be suspended after claiming they had received "alarming" evidence from a whistleblower, further alleging clubs were "bullied" into voting for the SPFL.

Doncaster said after the vote that the game's stakeholders must work collectively to safeguard the future of Scottish football.

"The league's members, the 42 clubs, have given a very clear steer that they want to move on," the SPFL chief executive told Sky Sports News.

"And I hope that everyone - including the 13 that voted in favour of the resolution today - are happy to draw a line under the issue and move forward together, because if we remain of different opinions then we are going to struggle to get the game back up and running as soon as possible.

"It's vital that we come together, that we move beyond where we have been, and we start to move forward together."

Celtic statement

Celtic welcomed the result of Tuesday's vote and declared they were satisfied there was "no evidence of any wrongdoing by the board or executive".

A club statement read: "We greatly regret the denigration of named individuals who have, on every occasion, acted upon decisions which were made by the board of the SPFL, representing all 42 clubs.

"The board and executive of the SPFL have operated under circumstances of unique difficulty in dealing with challenges of an unprecedented nature."

Tynecastle 1:37
Luke Shanley explains why Hearts will be relegated from the Scottish Premiership unless the season resumes

Celtic added: "We now appeal to all clubs to look to the future in the knowledge that the threats which exist to the fabric of Scottish football are grave and unprecedented.

"All of our energies should be applied to planning for the return of the game in season 2020-21 and to the financial survival of all our clubs."

An internal inquiry, conducted by Deloitte, in the aftermath of the voting fallout, found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the SPFL.

However, Rangers sent a dossier, which focused on complaints around process and governance of the SPFL, to fellow clubs last week, which the body dismissed as "baseless, damaging and self-serving attacks".

The SPFL had previously warned about the financial implications for all Premiership clubs of undertaking an independent investigation, and recommended all members vote against it at the EGM.

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