A company owned by Rangers chairman Douglas Park has accused the SPFL of trying to bully the Premiership club in a row over a sponsorship deal.
The league body announced on Wednesday that it had renegotiated the title sponsorship deal with online car dealership cinch after Rangers had refused to display the company’s branding on their shirts and in the stadium throughout last season.
The Ibrox club said that the deal was in conflict with their own relationship with Park’s of Hamilton Motor Group, and that they were acting within the rules in refusing to advertise cinch.
The dispute was taken to an arbitration process facilitated by the Scottish FA, and went to court, with Rangers winning a ruling in their favour.
After the SPFL revealed that their new deal with cinch allowed them to keep the value of the original deal with cinch, but excluded any requirement for Rangers to participate, Park’s of Hamilton accused the organisation of behaving improperly throughout the dispute, and alleged bullying.
Park’s has now called for an independent investigation into the handling of the matter. They also alleged that Rangers had been insulted and other, included cinch and the SFA, had been misled over the last year.
A spokesman said: “We were not surprised to learn from the media announcement last night that the SPFL have finally acknowledged Rangers legitimately engaged rule i7 in June of last year and thus, vindicated the stance held by the club for over a year.
“It is not for us to speculate as to why the SPFL leadership sought to ignore their own rules for so long.
“The fact that the SPFL prevaricated and continued to stall an arbitration process they themselves initiated in August last year, and which was ruled upon by the court of appeal in October, underlined the weakness of the case they truly had. Were it not for our interim interdict, it is clear their strategy was to try and bully one of their members and shareholders; a strategy which they have employed on numerous occasions.
“Throughout the last year, Park’s have kept their counsel as the SPFL leadership insulted us and misled the SFA, their member clubs, their title sponsor, and various other stakeholders in Scottish football.”
Park’s called for action to investigate why the SPFL acted in a way they believe “brought the game into disrepute” and said that the expenses involved in the dispute would cost member clubs. They also said that an apology was needed to all affected by the decision.
“We have a long standing and proud association with Scottish football, and it was entirely wrong that we were compelled to take the SFA to court because the SPFL decided to abuse the SFA’s arbitration process. We believe that the SPFL and members of its leadership have brought the game in to disrepute and have failed, as have the SPFL as an organisation, to act with the utmost good faith towards their members.
“The SFA must carry out an independent investigation into this issue which has cost all parties involved hundreds of thousands of pounds. Despite being awarded expenses in court, Park’s will not recover all their legal fees nor be compensated for the reputational damage caused by the SPFL.
“Finally, the glaring omission from the SPFL’s statement was an apology. The SPFL leadership owe their members an apology, they owe Park’s an apology, they owe the SFA an apology and they also owe an apology to Rangers. Unfortunately, they seem to lack any accountability and would rather spend their members money than admit their failures.”
A spokesperson for the SPFL said: “We note with interest Park’s version of events.
“We are currently bound by the confidentiality of the legal process. Frustratingly, we have had to keep our counsel throughout.
“However, we have written to Rangers and Park’s seeking confirmation that this confidentiality no longer applies, following yesterday’s announcement of our revised title sponsorship agreement with cinch.
“If they agree to our proposal we will be able to provide a full and frank narrative to our member clubs. We very much look forward to the opportunity to set the record straight.”