SPFL apologises to Rangers over cinch and Park's sponsorship row

The league governing body said it would launch an independent review into its own governance following the two-year dispute.

SPFL apologises to Rangers over cinch and Park’s of Hamilton sponsorship row SNS Group

Scottish football’s league governing body has apologised to Rangers and one of the Ibrox club’s main partners following a dispute over the league’s main sponsor rights.

SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan announced an “independent review into [its] governance” following the long-running dispute over cinch’s sponsorship of the league.

Rangers objected to the sponsor’s logo being displayed within their stadium or on their strips as they claimed it conflicted with a commercial agreement they already had in place with chairman Douglas Park’s firm, Park’s of Hamilton.

The car retailer began a five-year agreement with the SPFL to sponsor every division from the top flight to the fourth tier in 2021, but a revised version of that deal, which excluded Rangers’ commercial requirements, was signed a year later.

However Rangers and Park – who served as club chairman until April this year – argued that constituted an admission the league was wrong to oppose their position and won the right to take the SPFL to court to pursue damages and an apology.

The SPFL has now said sorry and vowed to “draw a line under the dispute”.

All three parties have now agreed to withdraw the resulting Scottish FA arbitration, with the SPFL making a contribution to the costs of Rangers and Park’s.

That will be donated to charity, the SPFL said.

MacLennan said: “We are delighted to have finally drawn a line under this dispute following discussions between ourselves and Rangers, and we are keen to do all we can to learn from this protracted disagreement.

“I am particularly grateful for the constructive approach shown by all parties in helping resolve this long-running situation and am very happy to apologise if there has been any damage to the reputation of Rangers FC or Park’s of Hamilton.”

He added: “I am pleased we have put this matter to bed at last and am now looking forward to working constructively with Rangers and our 41 other clubs at what is a hugely exciting time for Scottish football as a whole.”

A review will commence in October 2023, carried out by an independent party and commissioned by the league itself.

A sub-committee, chaired by SPFL independent non-executive director Karyn McCluskey, will lead the process under a specific remit.

She will be joined by SPFL Audit Committee members James MacDonald of Ross County and Chris McKay of Celtic.

The review will explore SPFL corporate governance policies and procedures, SPFL board meetings to assess the Board’s effectiveness and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and a review of SPFL internal control systems, to ensure they are effective in mitigating risks to the league.

All processes will be carried out within the SPFL’s current articles, rules and regulations.

A spokesperson for Rangers commented: “Rangers acknowledges the apology from the SPFL and is pleased that this long running dispute has been brought to a conclusion.

“In welcoming the independent review of SPFL governance, the Club wishes to give thanks for the efforts and patience of those who have driven this to a satisfactory outcome.”

An SPFL spokesperson added: “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.”

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