Six Scottish Premiership clubs have raised “serious concerns” over the handling of an independent report into the governing body in an unprecedented attack.
Aberdeen, Motherwell, Livingston, Rangers, St Johnstone and St Mirren sent a letter to the Scottish Professional Football League executive on Thursday.
The clubs claimed “serious concerns” regarding the report’s independence, transparency, and the overall governance of the SPFL.
Aberdeen FC is the only SPFL club that has been part of the audit process, STV News understands.
The letter “seeks full clarity on numerous issues so that the clubs, as shareholders of the SPFL, can determine if further action is necessary”.
The joint statement continued: “In conjunction with a draft report being made available to the SPFL Board, SPFL Chairman Murdoch McLennan hastily released a statement that did not reflect the full findings of the report.
“Additionally, the statement was issued without the approval or knowledge of members of the SPFL Board or SPFL member clubs.
“The SPFL Board is to meet at a future date to discuss the draft report’s contents, making it highly inappropriate for the SPFL Chairman to have made any public comment ahead of that meeting.
“Regarding the report itself, the clubs and others are deeply concerned about its independence, given that the SPFL Executive received the first draft of the report and made changes to it prior to sending it to SPFL Board members.
“Of the 42 member clubs, only one had the opportunity to input into the report’s investigation, outside of current or previous SPFL Board members.
“Despite several requests from the clubs, the report has yet to be released to any of the member clubs despite the clubs footing the bill for its creation.
“The handling of the Independent Governance report has brought the clubs governance concerns to a head, and it is now incumbent on the SPFL Board and Executive, for the sake of trust in those running our game, to provide clarity over these clear and deeply troubling concerns as a matter of urgency.”
While the problem originated with the dispute over sponsorship, STV understands that the concerns from clubs are not just related to that issue but are centred on the review and overall governance of the SPFL.
The SPFL has been approached for comment.
Questions over the governance of the SPFL began when the league body fell into dispute with Rangers over a commercial deal.
Car firm Cinch was announced as the title sponsor for all four divisions of the SPFL in 2021 but Rangers refused to promote the company.
The Ibrox club said they had an existing agreement with rival car retailer Park’s of Hamilton, owned by former Rangers chairman Douglas Park, and could not undertake any sponsorship duties because of that conflict.
The argument ended up in court and the SPFL issued an apology to the club, as well as making a contribution to costs.
At the time SPFL chairman MacLennan said that the league was delighted to be “drawing a line under the dispute”. He also announced the commissioning of the independent review, which was to begin in October 2023.
The league later announced details of the review, appointing Celtic’s Chris McKay and Ross County’s James MacDonald to a sub-committee, with SPFL independent non-executive director Karyn McCluskey as chair and an external auditor to be put in place.
The scope of the review was to take in the league’s corporate governance policies and procedures, look at the effectiveness of the board and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and also to make sure that the organisation had systems in place to minimise risk.
At the time, an SPFL spokesperson said: “Given the increasing scale of the SPFL and its ambitious targets for further growth, the board has welcomed the opportunity to carry out a comprehensive and independent review of governance, ensuring that the league embraces the latest developments in best corporate practice.”
Last month, the governing body said it had begun addressing recommendations from the review, which was conducted by external auditors Henderson Loggie.
SPFL Chairman Murdoch McLennan said in a statement at the time that the review was “an extremely valuable and constructive exercise” and added: “Having reviewed the draft report in detail, I am reassured but not complacent.
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