Anxious top-flight clubs fear the simmering feud between Rangers and the SPFL could be about to go ‘nuclear’ as they brace themselves for urgent crisis talks.
Record Sport understands fears are growing that the long running dispute is set to escalate with the potential for huge financial ramifications – despite last week’s announcement that the Ibrox club can continue to pocket cash from a sponsorship deal with cinch while refusing to promote the car dealer’s branding. Rangers immediately called for a meeting of all 12 Premiership clubs and a showdown with league chief executive Neil Doncaster.
No date has yet been agreed for those emergency talks but while rival clubs are hoping that some sort of peace deal can be brokered between the two parties as quickly as possible, they fear the relationship has deteriorated further over the course of the last few days. In fact, they have all been copied in on an ongoing email exchange between Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson and SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan in which the parameters of the discussion are still being thrashed out.
Rangers are demanding the SPFL disclose what they describe as the ‘full facts’ behind the bitter cinch dispute which has been raging since the start of last season, when the five year sponsorship package was first secured.
The Ibrox club have successfully argued that agreeing to take part in promoting the online firm will breach the terms of an already existing partnership with chairman Douglas Park’s own car company Park’s of Hamilton.
Their refusal to take any part in promoting the cinch brand led to fears that the entire £8m deal could collapse.
But the agreement will stay in place for the next four years after Doncaster negotiated a ‘revised’ deal which does not require any future Rangers participation.
That new agreement was signed off by the other clubs last week but it has now sparked concern Rangers may also be exempt from promoting any other commercial deals secured by SPFL bosses.
Record Sport understands – with the value of those tie-ins potentially at risk – both Hearts and Aberdeen have asked for urgent clarification on the matter.
One worried club boss told us last night: “The whole revenue structure of the game in this country could be at stake if Rangers were effectively to opt out and go it alone.
“That’s the kind of nuclear option that most of the other top flight clubs are anxious to avoid and that’s why these talks are so significant.
“It’s already a bad situation because enormous damage is being done to the reputation of the Scottish game. It’s hard enough to attract sponsorship money in the current climate but seeing Rangers and the SPFL roll around in the mud is helping no one.
“The hope is we can finally put it all to bed and move on.
“But the nature of the ongoing email tennis between Hampden and Ibrox suggests this dispute is, if anything, more likely to escalate than be defused.”