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SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell: Row between SPFL and Rangers 'damaging to the game'

The Hampden chief also reflected on Scotland's failed bid to reach Qatar 2022.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell: Row between SPFL and Rangers ‘damaging to the game’ SNS Group
Maxwell says ongoing disagreements should be avoided at all costs.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell believes disputes like the sponsorship battle between the SPFL and Rangers can only be damaging to the game.

The league body and the Ibrox club were locked in disagreement over the title sponsorship deal agreed with online car dealers cinch, which Rangers believed was in conflict with their own agreement with Park’s of Hamilton Motor Group, owned by club chairman Douglas Park.

The dispute was going to arbitration and ended up in court before the SPFL re-negotiated the terms of the deal with cinch, allowing Rangers to continue with their refusal to display the company’s advertising.

Park’s then accused the SPFL of attempted bullying and Rangers have previously made their concerns about the leadership of the league known, saying the organisation is in need of change.

Maxwell confirmed that the SPFL’s request for arbitration of the sponsorship dispute had been withdrawn, and reflected that any public battles between major bodies in Scottish football was detrimental to the game.

“The arbitration that was raised by the SPFL, they’ve written to us to conclude that,” the chief executive told STV. “So that matter is now closed.

“If there’s a disagreement between the league body and one of their member clubs then that’s for those two parties to be try and sort out. I’ve got more than enough to be dealing with at this end of the corridor.

“Any arbitration and any dispute, and there have been a few over the years but not too many, thankfully, none of them can be positive. They’re all damaging in their own way and we should be trying to avoid them at all costs.

“I’m glad that one is over and there seems to be a resolution.”

Speaking after the governing body’s AGM, Maxwell also looked back on the men’s national team’s failed attempt to qualify for World Cup 2022. He agreed that it was right for fans to expect the current group of players to be reaching major tournaments and said that everyone was disappointed that the side had slumped to play-off defeat against Ukraine.

“We have a really good squad, there’s no doubt about that,” Maxwell said. “I think the disappointment that was felt after the Ukraine game highlights the fact that people now expect us to qualify in those games, and that’s where Steve and the players want to be.

“They said after 2020 that they wanted to have that feeling of qualifying for major tournaments and everything that comes round about. It’s the pinnacle for any footballer to compete in World Cups or Euros, and the players want to get there.

“We have a good squad at a good age and there’s promising players coming through and there should be an expectation that we should be qualifying for major tournaments on a regular basis.”

During the last international break, Steve Clark had voiced the opinion that he might have to ensure qualification for the Euros to continue as manager. He got full backing from his boss, who believes the former Kilmarnock manager has been a real success in the role.

“Steve Clarke is the manager and we’re delighted he is,” Maxwell said. “He’s obviously been responsible for a significant improvement in the playing squad.

“The expectation that we’ve now got shows that. We are fully focused on doing everything that we can to qualify for Germany in 2024 and take things from there.”