Glasgow & West Scotland

Rangers 10-point penalty 'meaningless' says Neil Doncaster

The 10-point penalty applied to Rangers for going into administration was "relatively meaningless", the SPL chief executive has said.

In a BBC interview, Neil Doncaster admitted the SPL had no powers to vet Rangers prospective new owner Charles Green and knew nothing of his backers.

He also said Rangers administrators had not given the co-operation hoped for over the dual contract investigation.

The interview will be shown on Newsnight Scotland on BBC2 at 23:00.

During the BBC interview, Mr Doncaster denied that the SPL was conflicted between its roles of promoting the commercial interests of member clubs and safeguarding the sporting integrity of the competition it administered.

Integrity 'paramount'

"It's paramount that people believe in there being effective real competition and the integrity within the league," he said.

The SPL chief executive said that sporting integrity had not been compromised by Rangers' administration.

He added: "They're (Rangers) having to deal with issues that arise for them. We're then having to respond and react to issues that arise that affect Rangers. In responding to those issues, the integrity of the competition remains paramount."

Mr Doncaster agreed that the 10-point penalty applied to Rangers for going into administration following non-payment of taxes was "relatively meaningless".

He stressed, however, that it was the only penalty that could be applied under the current rules, a situation which clubs had begun to address with new sanctions being agreed at a meeting at Hampden on Wednesday.

The new "hard-hitting" sanctions, Mr Doncaster said, would see the greater of 10 points, or a third of the previous season's points tally, deducted from clubs going into administration from next season.

On Tuesday, Rangers administrators Duff and Phelps issued an offer to creditors for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

They hope will be accepted and allow the club to exit administration by 12 July, under the control of a consortium fronted by businessman Charles Green, which currently has preferred bidder status.

If the CVA proposal fails, it is Mr Green's intention to purchase Rangers assets and set up a new company or newco to take the club forward.

This would involve the SPL approving a transfer of Rangers share and setting any conditions for entry. Approval would also be needed from the SFA as the licensing body.

'Appropriate sanctions'

Mr Doncaster told BBC Scotland that he was not expecting a Newco application from Rangers as it was the administrators' view that the CVA proposal "had a reasonable chance of success".

If one did come forward, he said, "it is for the clubs to determine that decision and for them to impose appropriate sanctions as they see fit at that time".

The SPL chief executive said that clubs had turned down a proposal to vote through fixed penalties for a newco as they preferred the flexibility to deal with any application on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Doncaster said that the SPL investigation into allegations of dual contracts at Rangers, related to the club's use of employee benefit trusts (EBTs), "hadn't had the co-operation that we would have been hoping for" from the club's administrators.

"I think it was their view that any investigation was more appropriate to take place after the outcome of the big tax case (related to EBT use)," he said.

"Our view, is that we needed to get on with the investigation."

The SPL confirmed on Thursday that the lawyers appointed to oversee the probe had received documents requested from Rangers.

Mr Doncaster said that he thought the "full information" on dual contracts would "only emerge on the outcome of the big tax case".

"Ultimately, our board may have to make a decision prior to then, as to whether they have sufficient information at that point to conduct a disciplinary process," he said.

"What they have made clear though is that any such prosecution which arises from the investigation would be in front of a wholly independent panel and that would be made up of eminent lawyers without any association to any SPL club."

Fit-and-proper test

The SPL chief executive also said that it was extremely difficult to design a fit-and-proper test for prospective new owners of clubs.

"If you talk about past criminal record, then arguably Ghandi I think had a criminal record, and ultimately he's be a fit and proper person to run a premier league club in Scotland but he might be forbidden by such an objective test."

Mr Doncaster said the SPL's rules did not allow them to vet potential owners and as such no vetting had been carried out on prospective new Rangers owner Charles Green.

He said the SFA did have such a test and that would be an issue for them.

Mr Doncaster also said that he did not know who any of Mr Green's investors were and admitted that he had not asked either.

"It's not for us to be involved", he said, "we deal with the club, not the underlying owners of those clubs."

The SPL chief executive said that despite headline-grabbing difficulties within the league this season it "remains the best supported league per head of population anywhere in Europe".

He also rejected claims that the SPL was not for purpose, saying league was "in rude health" and clubs were doing "incredibly well".

The Neil Doncaster interview will be broadcast on Newsnight Scotland at 23:00. The full version will be available online afterwards.

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