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  1. Mysterious owners and main shareholders behind Scottish football clubs must be revealed, a government report has said. A group set up to examine the involvement of supporters in the running of football clubs in Scotland has published its final report. The report, ordered by the Scottish Government last year, has called on clubs to reveal their owner and main shareholders to fans to increase transparency. Another main recommendation is that details of directors and board meetings are made available to fans of all clubs. There continues to be challenges in identifying the owners of some clubs in Scottish football and this should be resolved, the report stated. The report said: "While the ownership of most Scottish clubs is readily apparent, there have been and continue to be challenges in identifying the owners of some clubs. "Given the contribution these clubs make to communities and to the nation it is clear that supporters and others in a community should have the right to know who owns their football clubs." The group involved in writing the report, which involved senior figures in the SPFL, SFA and sportscotland, recommended that the identity of the "ultimate beneficial owner of a club" should be declared. It added that if the owner was a trust involving a group of people, then the individuals should also be identified. This recommendation is relevant to the situation at Rangers where a number of mysterious trusts and firms hold major shareholdings without fans knowing who they are. The report said: "To participate in the Scottish Professional Football League, a club must declare to the SPFL and to the SFA, and publish, the identity of the ultimate beneficial owner of the club. "Should that owner be a trust, the club must disclose the ultimate beneficiaries of the trust and the name of the trustees. "Of fundamental importance to supporters are the risks to their club where an owner does not have, or does not appear to have, that club’s best interests at heart." The report also recommended: "That further consideration is given as to how best to protect supporters and communities, in circumstances where an owner may be seeking to exploit the value of a club’s assets for personal gain. "Naturally supporter interest in club ownership is concerned with clubs’ financial sustainability, and hence tends to be intensified where a club has financial difficulties. "Indeed in the majority of recent Scottish football club financial failures, supporters have been involved in one form or another in the ownership structure which allowed their club to exit administration." The implementation of these recommendations will be overseen by the working group and taken forward by the clubs and governing bodies. Jamie Hepburn, minister for sport, said: "Supporters should be at the heart of their football clubs, but too often they have felt marginalised and excluded. "We established this working group because we wanted to find ways of making supporter involvement easier, and of strengthening the relationship between clubs and the communities they represent. "The group has come up with some interesting recommendations and it is now dependent on everyone involved, including the Scottish Government, to make these work. "These are challenging times for Scotland’s football clubs. The Scottish Government agrees with the working group that a legislative approach to addressing many of these issues is simply too prescriptive and not desirable or necessary at this stage." Stewart Regan, Scottish FA chief executive, said: "The Scottish FA acknowledges the need for greater supporter involvement in the national game. It is also supportive of the need to enhance fan engagement, not just in-stadia but expanding our digital provision. "We have been pleased with the commitment shown by our colleagues in the working group and look forward to working together to implement the recommendations contained in the report." Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, said: "Supporters are the lifeblood of the game in Scotland. We welcome initiatives that are designed to increase fans’ engagement with their clubs." http://sport.stv.tv/football/clubs/rangers/308495-football-club-owners-and-shareholders-must-be-revealed-says-report/?
  2. ...from SFA panel that includes.. Celtic boss Peter Lawwell. Dec 22, 2014 22:30 By Gary Ralston THE Ibrox club's new chief executive will have to set out the blueprint for the future of the club for an SFA group that will include his opposite number at Parkhead. DEREK LLAMBIAS will seek approval for Mike Ashley’s vision for the future of Rangers today from an SFA group that includes Peter Lawwell. The Celtic chief executive is a member of the SFA board that will meet with the new Rangers frontman at Hampden for talks on the way forward for the cash-strapped club. Rangers have been asked to detail the business plan and strategy behind any future investment from the Newcastle United owner. Llambias, who denied he’s on Ashley’s payroll at a stormy Rangers agm yesterday, declined to offer clarity on the Sports Direct tycoon’s involvement at Ibrox. He said: “I’m seeing the SFA and a clearer picture should emerge then.” The SFA board, which also includes chief executive Stewart Regan, president Campbell Ogilvie, Hibs chairman Rod Petrie and SPFL chairman Ralph Topping, have the power to veto any plans. They will be keen to hear if Ashley has ambitions to increase his shareholding or if he or any of his representatives plan to take up positions on the Ibrox board. There has been disquiet among fans about the involvement of Ashley under “dual interest” rules, which frown upon individuals holding key positions at two or more clubs. Strictly speaking, however, Article 13 of the SFA does not forbid Ashley having a sizeable stake in Rangers and Newcastle United, but he would require “prior written consent of the board” to increase his influence at Ibrox. The SFA board will hear Llambias’ blueprint and may ask for further details before giving their judgment on Ashley in the new year. The meeting today has been described as informal, but Llambias will be expected to shed light on a range of issues. He is likely to be asked, for example, why the Rangers board felt they had no option but to accept Ashley’s recent £2million loan when Brian Kennedy and Dave King had also come to the table with investment proposals. Lawwell’s involvement is an intriguing sideshow and, as talks progress, he may decide he is conflicted and step away from discussions. He recently admitted the absence of Rangers from the top flight of the Scottish game was costing his club £10million a year. However, an under-strength and under-funded Rangers effectively gives Celtic a free run at the Champions League each season and the riches it can provide. The talks with the SFA board are separate from the notice of complaint recently issued to Ashley and Rangers by an SFA judicial panel. Ashley and Rangers are accused of breaching an agreement he would not take control of the club and compliance officer Tony McGlennan acted after Ashley’s recent loans, totalling £3million, led to accusations he had been handed the keys to the door. Meanwhile, Rangers fans have urged Ashley to turn to Dave King or other wealthy Bluenose backers after supporters vetoed plans to open the club to £8million of fresh investment from non-shareholders. Only 45 per cent of shareholders backed a resolution aimed at inviting new investors into the club and it’s believed Ashley and the Easdale block voted against the proposals. Chris Graham of the Union of Fans said: “It’s disingenuous for the top table at the agm to recommend the resolution, only to apparently vote against it. “They clearly don’t want others to buy in without them having first interest. Legally, Dave King could still underwrite a new share offer and other backers, such as George Taylor in Hong Kong, have invested heavily recently. “I only hope Derek Llambias acknowledges the scale of the disconnect between club and fans displayed at the agm. He can have Ibrox half full for the foreseeable future or turn it round the other way. “Mike Ashley will still make money if outside investors come into the club.” Sandy Easdale refused to rule out involvement in future from the likes of King and Brian Kennedy. He told shareholders: “I’ve never dismissed any of these guys, they may yet be part of the future of this club.” Llambias, who stepped down as Newcastle managing director in June 2013, told shareholders he was committed to returning the club to the top of the Scottish game. Llambias added: “Not everything I do will be popular but everything I do will be in the club’s long-term interests. “We need financial stability off the pitch and great football on the pitch. We want to get Rangers back into the top flight and the Champions League. “That is our aim and hopefully next year I will give a much better speech.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/rangers-chief-derek-llambias-must-4859995?
  3. Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan is being considered for the Football Association's general secretary role, the BBC has learned. Alex Horne will leave the post on 30 January after four years in the job. The position was advertised last weekend and Englishman Regan, 50, is under consideration. Regan joined the SFA in July 2010 after four years working in a similar position with Yorkshire County Cricket Club. He succeeded Gordon Smith, who ended his three-year spell in the role for personal reasons. At the time, Regan said he aimed to "achieve the obvious common goal of improving the overall standard of the number one sport in this country". Then SFA president George Peat, who appointed Regan, said at the time: "Stewart's got a business background and that's what we're looking for. The SFA has a £30m turnover - it's a business we're running here." Regan has indicated previously that he would stay in the SFA chief executive role until Henry McLeish's report into the Scottish game has been implemented. Former first minister McLeish's two-part report in 2010 advised on changes to youth development and the governance of Scottish football. Since then, the SFA has implemented a performance strategy spearheaded by Dutchman Mark Wotte. However, Wotte left his performance director post in October, indicating he could do no more in the role. Scotland's national team have experienced improved results since Regan and the SFA board appointed Gordon Strachan to replace head coach Craig Levein in early 2013. The Scots remain in contention for qualification from Euro 2016 Qualifying Group D. The closing date for applications for the FA role is in mid-January. Horne spent 11 years in various roles at the FA and oversaw the opening of the £100m National Football Centre at St George's Park. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/30470328
  4. Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan has expressed concern over Rangers' financial position, saying it is "concerning for the Scottish game". The Ibrox club have admitted they may not have enough cash to meet costs between now and the end of the year, having taken £3m in secured loans from Mike Ashley for short-term working capital. "Well obviously it is concerning for the Scottish game," Regan told STV. "We would all like to see Rangers improve their financial position in order to bring money to the game of football in Scotland. "Rangers have got a strong economic impact, not just for Glasgow but for Scotland generally. "In that regard I know the fans are desperate to see success again. They are desperate for stability. "They've had a number of years of ups and downs now and I think they are hopeful they will get some certainty and stability in the future." In a statement to the Stock Exchange earlier this month, Rangers made clear their dire financial situation. "During the autumn, the club has suffered from lower than expected match attendance which has exacerbated the financial condition of the business. "The directors have begun a cost cutting exercise, but further working capital in addition to the facility will be needed before the end of the year." http://sport.stv.tv/football/clubs/rangers/301050-regan-rangers-financial-position-is-concerning-for-scottish-game/
  5. A minute's applause will precede Scotland's friendly against England on Tuesday in tribute to the Scotland fan who died following their victory over the Republic of Ireland on Friday. Nathan McSeveney, 20, died when he fell in a Celtic Park stairwell. Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said: "We have all been extremely saddened. "It is fitting that Scotland supporters have an opportunity to pay tribute to one of their own at Celtic Park." The tribute was announced after consultation with McSeveney's family, from Cumnock in Ayrshire.
  6. ALLY MCCOIST considers what he interprets as the clamour for Rangers and Celtic to be drawn together in the League Cup later today to be proof of how much the Ibrox club have been missed by Scottish football’s top flight. The Ibrox manager was in impish form yesterday as he pondered the prospect of Rangers meeting with Celtic for the first time in nearly three years. The semi-final draw for the League Cup will be shown live this evening at 5:05pm on BBC 1 Scotland. Although Aberdeen and Dundee United make up the four teams involved, McCoist believes “everybody would look forward to the game” if Rangers and Celtic come out of the hat together. The clubs last met in April 2012, shortly before Rangers were forced to begin a trek back up the leagues after liquidation. McCoist has on several occasions talked of Rangers having to take their medicine. However, there is still clearly a sense of grievance being nursed by the Ibrox club. This was certainly discernible yesterday as McCoist claimed that few people would now argue the Ibrox club’s plight has not been detrimental to the Scottish game. “Gone are the days of this ‘we don’t need Rangers in the top flight’,” he said. “Sadly, because it’s too late, there is now a little bit of common sense being shown. It’s clear we do need Rangers, Hearts and Hibs in the top flight. “Gordon [strachan] is doing a fantastic job for the national team, but in the best interest of Scottish football we need our big clubs in the top flight. With Rangers being in the lower divisions there was clearly going to be no scope for an Old Firm game unless we drew each other in the cup. The majority of people, if we do draw each other, can actively look forward to an Old Firm game and I more than anyone can appreciate that.” “I’ve missed them and I think Scottish football has missed them,” he added. McCoist reckoned that “pig-headedness” would be behind some club officials involved in the events of 2012 refusing to acknowledge the damage caused to the game. During that bitter summer, Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan envisaged something he described as “Armageddon” for the Scottish game in the event of Rangers being voted out of the top flight. The other 11 then SPL clubs rejected Rangers’ application to rejoin the top tier by a unanimous majority. Later 29 of the 30 SFL clubs accepted Rangers as an associate member of the Scottish Football League but 25 voted for placing the newco club in the bottom tier, as opposed to the First Division. The Ibrox club started their journey back through the divisions with a 2-2 draw at Peterhead in August 2012. There has been no Old Firm clash since Rangers lost 3-0 to Neil Lennon’s Celtic side in April of the same year. The League Cup semi-finals are scheduled for the weekend of 31 January/1 February. “Knowing the pig-headedness of some of the people involved, no they won’t,” answered McCoist, when asked whether he felt some now regret how the the situation was handled. “But let’s be honest, was it for the greater good of Scottish football? Of course it wasn’t. It absolutely wasn’t. But we are where we are and things have happened. There is no use in looking back the way because we can’t change anything.” With his side having again made it into the last four of a national cup competition – they reached the Scottish Cup semi-final last season – McCoist clearly felt justified in adopting a pugnacious bearing. Rangers also currently sit in second place in the Championship and begin their latest Scottish Cup campaign away to Dumbarton in the third round this afternoon. He has, though, emerged from a week when his future was placed in question following the Rangers board’s acceptance of a £2 million emergency loan from Newcastle owner Mike Ashley. The decision led to the departure of one of McCoist’s chief allies in chief executive Graeme Wallace. Ashley’s increased influence led to the arrival of former Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias at Ibrox as a “football consultant”. McCoist said he had spoken to current executive chairman David Somers on Thursday and he had “kept him up to speed” about the changes on the board and the search for a new chief executive. He has not spoken with Ashley. But the manager seemed more vexed by the larger issue of the state of Scottish football. McCoist pointed to the thousands of empty seats at both Ibrox and Parkhead in midweek to illustrate how Rangers’ exile from the top tier has harmed the Scottish game. He proposed the notion that a Rangers v Celtic game would “fill the Maracana”. In contrast to comments made following his side’s victory over St Johnstone on Tuesday, McCoist appeared to will a clash with their rivals in the last four. In midweek he was quoted as saying he would prefer to avoid Celtic in tonight’s draw, comments that were interpreted in some quarters as Rangers running scared of Ronny Deila’s team. The Rangers manager welcomed the opportunity yesterday to clarify what he meant. “I need to explain myself because there have been one or two things written and said,” he said. “I am certainly not running scared or hiding behind the couch. I thought it was common sense what I was trying to say and I stand by that. “As everyone can see from the bookies, Celtic are 4/5 favourites, everybody else is 9/2,” he added. “Because the bookies are very rarely wrong I thought it was common sense that you’d like a shot at one of the teams at 9/2 in terms of enhancing your chances of making the final. There is no ‘I want to avoid Celtic at all costs’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.” Deila observed that Rangers were the weakest team left in the League Cup because they were the only non-top-flight side left in the competition. This comment, too, was given some consideration yesterday by McCoist. “I don’t necessarily agree with that but I can understand his point,” he said. “In normal circumstances he would be right. But in the last few years nothing has been what it seems in Scottish football. “You have three of the five biggest clubs in the country playing in the Championship. I understand Ronny but I don’t necessarily agree with him.” There was a glint in McCoist’s eye as he moved on to deal with John Guidetti’s comments after the Celtic striker scored three times in the 6-0 win over Partick Thistle. The on-loan Manchester City player was portrayed as issuing a brazen warning to Rangers, who he said were “going down” in the event of the teams meeting in the semi-final. McCoist noted his feat of scoring three times against Partick Thistle, who had defender Stuart Brannigan sent off just before half-time. He put Guidetti’s comments down to giddiness. “With the greatest of respect to John, I remember getting excited about my first hat-trick, but that was against 11 men,” smiled McCoist, who scored 28 hat-tricks for Rangers, the first coming in a League Cup final victory over Celtic at Hampden Park in 1984. “He’s entitled to his opinion and that’s the way it is. But maybe, just maybe, he’s got caught up in the excitement of scoring his first hat-trick for Celtic – which, of course, we congratulate him on.” http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/spfl/ally-mccoist-insists-the-top-flight-miss-rangers-1-3590826
  7. Some words on recent events from yours truly via TRS: http://www.therangersstandard.co.uk/index.php/articles/current-affairs/330-the-fog-on-the-clyde
  8. keith jackson @tedermeatballs · 9s 10 seconds ago OK bed time. Back page will be up soon. Suffice to say a multi million pound bailout offer has been made by a three man consortium. https://twitter.com/tedermeatballs/with_replies
  9. If this can be corroborated then Regan must go ... http://vanguardbears.co.uk/stewart-regans-succulent-lamb.html Stewart Regan's Succulent Lamb Written by: Admin Thursday, 21st of August 2014 The date was 27th of July 2012 and Scotland's biggest and most successful football club faced oblivion. Just two days before the club were due to face Brechin City in the Angus town, Rangers FC had no licence to play football. This doomsday scenario had been created by twisted individuals representing the SFA, SPL and others. Their determination to see Rangers punished to the full for an as yet unproven "charge" (a charge which the club was subsequently found not guilty) was matched only by an underlying driven agenda to see Rangers damaged as much as possible, perhaps beyond repair. The club had been given a stark choice - accept sanctions and trophy stripping or be granted no licence to play football, in any league, anywhere. Rangers, with Ally McCoist and Charles Green representing, had fought bravely to retain the clubs' history, heritage and sporting record in the face of those determined to steal it away at any cost. In defiance of the Scottish Football authorities equivalent of a firing squad they fought valiantly for a club that had already lost most of its first team squad following SPFA and agent interference allied to greedy individuals who saw a fast buck. The future of the Scottish game lay in the hands of those men sat round a table. Their dirty game of chess had reached stalemate; their attempted "Five-Way Agreement" had morphed into a carefully contrived monster that included: •stripping of 5 SPL titles •stripping of 6 Scottish Cups •a signing embargo The message delivered was loud and clear. Accept "guilt", and accept our punishments or we put you out of the game. We feel it's necessary to repeat this; no ruling had yet been made on EBTs from Lord Nimmo Smith, and two years and two appeals later, the EBTs are still judged in law to be loans that did not give Rangers any footballing advantage in the years the scheme was in use. Whilst SPL Chief Ralph Topping was regaling anyone who'd listen with tales of Armageddon and insisting the SFL accept a club the SPL had thrown to the wolves, the SPL looked to maximise revenue from that same club they had just kicked out. So, on that day 27th of July 2012, the last possible day that agreement could be reached, the SFA's lawyers Levy & Macrae hosted all senior stakeholders in the Rangers issue to their office in St Vincent Street, Glasgow. By this stage, Rangers had forced the title stripping off the agenda, however, they were not to be meekly handed a punishment free passage in to the SFL. Other measures were being quickly discussed. The determination of some to punish the club as much as possible at a late stage where desperation saw them more likely to accept to get the licence and keep the club alive hadn't waned. The presence of Duff and Phelps could not help the Rangers cause; they were now bystanders only interested that the business entity they were representing wouldn't have any financial liability thrown in its direction. With a draft agreement on paper and separate signature pages at the back (to be signed upon all attendees reaching agreement on the conditions of Rangers re-entry in to the SFL and SFA), talks got underway. All in attendance agreed that a conclusion had to be reached and papers signed off that day, no matter what. The future of Scottish Football and that of its biggest member club was at stake. Reaching agreement on any issue was difficult, and the meeting was interrupted several times as Stewart Regan answered his mobile phone and left the room. An expectant wife was calling from Yorkshire. Mr. Regan was reminded he had a dinner date that evening. With no indication that middle ground could be found regards the many sticking points and Scottish football facing disaster the SFA Chief Executive took a remarkable and shocking decision that reinforced the belief of many that he is inept and has zero interest in the welfare of the beautiful game here. At 5pm, with the document far from finalised and even further from being agreed, he took the SFA signature page from the table and signed it, informing all of those present that he would put his name to whatever was agreed, had a dinner engagement with his wife and friends in Leeds, and wasn't going to cancel. In essence, Regan signed a blank piece of paper. The Chief Executive of the SFA, with overall responsibility for the game in Scotland, was more interested in having dinner, than leading the decision makers to reach an agreement to safeguard the future of both Rangers, and Scottish Football. The meeting lasted approximately another four hours before a conclusion was reached. Rangers were forced to accept their second transfer embargo in 4 months, and various other financial penalties including the signing over of television rights, and the payment of football debts, on the agreement that they wouldn't have rights to SPL prize money, or debts owed to the club. There were a number of revisions to the draft document in Regan's absence which already had his signature, as he travelled to Leeds and made his way out to dinner. To the best of our knowledge Regan didn't phone anyone in attendance after his departure for a progress update. Regan's signature page was simply inserted into the final document and issued as the Five-Way Agreement. This absolute disdain for the future of Rangers and Scottish football has never left that room, until now. One month earlier, Mr Regan had shown a similar lack of interest when an email written by him had been leaked to the press. In his email, amongst a bunch of 'decisions' he had pre-determined, Regan revealed that while Scottish Football was in disarray, he was off on holiday. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/Regan-controversial What would Regan have done the following day if any of the people in the room had simply scribbled 'I, Stewart Regan, knowing that I am unfit to hold the position of Chief Executive of the SFA, hereby tender my immediate resignation.' Vanguard Bears henceforth ask that members of the SFA, SPFL and SFL demand Stewart Regan's resignation. This man should not be heading up Scottish Football, especially at this very crucial time where attendances are dwindling and sponsorship is drying up. The phrase "NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE" has never been more apt.
  10. 2013 - European transfer deadline 11pm on Monday 2nd September as the 31st August fell on a weekend. 2014 - European transfer deadline 11pm on Monday 1st September as the 31st August fell on a weekend. 2014 - SFA follows other European countries without any fuss, statements or similar. 2013 - SFA closes deadline on Sat 31st August, as to extend it to Monday in line with the rest of Europe was not following "Sporting Integrity" Whats the difference I hear you ask? In 2013 Rangers illegal transfer embargo finished on 31 August 2013, therefore giving our club a very short window to sign players before the European deadline passed on the Monday. It was nothing to do with the Rangers situation according to the SFA it was to do with sticking to the Sporting Integrity of the deadline. Seems nobody in Media-land has the balls to bring up this clear breach of their own Integrity laws. Rhegan must be pissing himself all the way to Yorkshire with another pay cheque successfully banked.
  11. http://www.rangers.co.uk/news/headlines/item/7516-ice-bucket-challenge
  12. (Tom English – The Scotsman 25.11.2012) (Tom English - Twitter 21.08.2014) Its good to know that Tom English has found some sort of journalistic morality of late, however it may present a conflict of interests with his new employer, BBC Scotland. Or does the morality of source over story only apply in certain circumstances ? After all, Tom is now working for an employer who were happy to utilise not just stolen property, but stolen evidence from the Rangers Tax Tribunal, if Lord Nimmo Smith's conclusions are correct. But in his new found morality Tom has excluded himself from the knowledge that Vanguard Bears appear to have successfully cultivated a mole, perhaps within the SFA itself, as previous revelations, including documentary evidence, suggest. And could this latest expose, while perhaps lacking in documentary evidence, be a clear signpost to of a course of unedifying, unprofessional and negligent conduct involving our footballs higher echelons of administration ? Especially when viewed in the context of previous disclosed e-mails and agreements. Nope of course not – nothing to see here – move along please. But should we really be surprised ? After all there seems little excitement in journalistic circles that those in charge of Scottish Football were prepared to find Rangers guilty prior to trial as well as inflict draconian type punishments on a club which had yet to be found guilty. Morality ? Perhaps some of those journalists, and there have been many of late, who remind us of the impoverished state of our game via their daily columns, care to consider if perhaps they have a role to play. After all if the head of our game is more worried about being on time for a dinner date rather than what was probably one of the most critical meetings in the history of our game, is there not something fundamentally wrong ? What is particularly alarming in this whole episode are those gleefully re tweeting Tom English's original tweet. It does not matter that journalists will ignore story over source, it does not matter that it contains allegations of incompetence, of lack of prioritisation, of utter disdain for the game of football in Scotland (ironically affecting their own clubs) – so long as Rangers or Rangers fans get it in the neck - then that makes it okay. But let's not be too harsh on Stewart Regan – I’m told there is a certain restaurant in Leeds which does a succulent lamb to die for. It looks like football in Scotland will be the sacrificial lamb.
  13. Some thoughts on yesterday's HMRC appeal result: http://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/latest-news/256-rangers-v-hmrc-a-pyrrhic-victory
  14. DEREK JOHNSTONE today demanded an apology from some of the most high-profile names in Scottish football in the wake of Rangers' victory over the taxman. He said: "A lot of people in the game should hang their heads in shame. Rangers are owed a huge apology." HM Revenue and Customs this week lost their appeal to the 'big tax case' verdict that ruled Rangers were not guilty of wrong-doing during Sir David Murray's time at the helm. The spectre of the case cast a huge cloud over the club before a disastrous chain of events unfolded that led to Ally McCoist's side dropping down to the Third Division two years ago. On Wednesday, the Union of Fans hit out at SFA chief Stewart Regan, Neil Doncaster of the SPFL, Stephen Thompson, Rod Petrie, Peter Lawwell and lawyer Rod McKenzie for their actions and comments during Rangers' troubles. DJ told SportTimes: "They all came to the conclusion that Rangers were guilty before anything was proven. "They all had their say and every one has been proven wrong. "The most famous two words that were spouted was 'sporting integrity'. Well, where is the sporting integrity in what has happened to Rangers? The club and the fans have been proven right. "I hope the club are recompensed for everything they have missed out on in the last two years." Despite being cleared for the second time in the courts, the ruling is a bitter-sweet one for Rangers fans and the club as Ally McCoist's side look to complete their journey back to the top flight this term. But Johnstone insists the actions of some should never be forgotten after Rangers and the Light Blue legions were vindicated once again. He said: "A lot of people in the media jumped on the bandwagon as well. It was all built on ifs, buts and maybes, and too many people lined up to stick the boot into Rangers. "It was absolute rubbish. I think there should be many, many apologies sent to Rangers in the next few days. "It is good that it has all come out and Rangers have been vindicated. That is fantastic. "But there are a lot of people who will have their heads buried in the sand and will be keeping a low profile in the next few weeks." http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/rangers/rangers-legend-demands-apology-over-ebt-debacle-170696n.24723784
  15. The members of the Scottish FA today agreed that any clubs seeking full membership are required to satisfy at least entry level Club Licensing criteria. In addition, from the start of season 2016/17, all existing members are required to maintain their Club License in order to retain their full membership of the Scottish FA. This reflects the work that the Scottish FA has undertaken in recent years through the Club Licensing system to improve standards across the game. National Club Licensing operates a Gold, Silver, Bronze and Entry level system. Clubs are granted an overall award reflecting the lowest level that the club achieves in the four sections of criteria (Ground, First Team Football, Youth Team Football, Legal, Admin, Finance and Codes of Practice). Among the other significant resolutions at today's 2014 Scottish FA General Meetings, the Professional Game Board will be offered a second seat on the Scottish FA Executive Board, reflecting the impact which the professional game has in generating revenues for Scottish football. A resolution designed to reduce the length of service required in official Scottish FA positions for potential candidates as office bearers was not approved. A resolution to require all participants in the Scottish Cup to have a full license was not approved. Members spoke of the fairy tale nature of the cup competition, and the importance of participation in th Cup for both fans and the sustainability of clubs across the country. A further 35 resolutions were passed by the 87 members present at the General Meetings at Heriot Watt University, which will be the site of the new National Performance Centre for Sport, due to open in summer 2016. Scottish FA Chief Executive, Stewart Regan, said: "It's significant that Scottish FA members have recognised the importance of Club Licensing criteria, and the need to grow and subsequently maintain standards, which will benefit all stakeholders in the game, including supporters, broadcasters and sponsors. "We recognise the role that the professional game plays in generating revenue for Scottish football and it is understandable that more influence is sought on the Scottish FA Executive Board. We look forward to welcoming a new board director at the start of next season. "We were delighted to host this year’s meetings at Heriot Watt University, which will be the site of the new National Performance Centre for Sport, and give members an update on the progress of the Centre." The National Performance Centre for Sport, which will host all Scotland National Teams, the Scottish FA Performance Department and incorporate multi-sport involvement including rugby, volleyball, athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, fencing, handball, hockey, netball, shinty and squash. It will feature a replica of the Hampden pitch, a 500-seater indoor football stadium, two rugby pitches, three tennis courts and a nine-court sports hall on top of sports science and medical facilities. The £30 million NPC will be jointly funded by the Scottish Government, Edinburgh City Council and Heriot Watt University, and is is due to open in summer 2016. http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=2986&newsID=13442&newsCategoryID=1
  16. By Alasdair Lamont and Martin Conaghan BBC Scotland The Scottish FA is to look into moving away from Hampden Park. It is one of a number of proposals put forward following the hiring of a consultancy firm by SFA chief executive Stewart Regan. The SFA's lease on Hampden expires in 2020 and that could signal an end to international matches and cup finals at the national stadium. Its board will look at the practicalities of taking such games to other stadiums round the country. The proposals, which are at an early stage, also include exercising an option to renew the lease for a further 20 years or acquiring the freehold from current owners Queen's Park Football Club. BBC Scotland has seen documents circulated to key SFA figures last week. Celtic Park, Pittodrie Stadium, Ibrox Stadium, Easter Road and Murrayfield Stadium are all under consideration as venues for Scotland's home matches and Scottish Cup games. It would also mean the SFA finding offices elsewhere as well as moving the Scottish Football Museum and sports medicine facilities. The SFA has lodged a bid with Uefa to host group matches for Uefa's Euro 2020 competition, which will be staged across multiple European cities. It recently extended the lease to incorporate the Euro 2020 bid. The proposal document assumes there is no desire in the SFA to build an entirely new stadium or refurbish an existing ground. James Watson Consultancy has been engaged to assess the various options ahead of any announcement regarding Euro 2020. BBC Scotland contacted the SFA, who did not wish to comment at this stage. Hampden, which also houses the headquarters of the Scottish Professional Football League, has been temporarily converted to an athletics stadium for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Queen's Park, who play in Scotland's League Two, have been playing their home games at Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie during the conversion work and until the stadium reverts back to a football venue after the summer event. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/27774208
  17. .......for their silence over FIFA World Cup scandal in Qatar. JIM Murphy MP has called on the SFA to stand up and be counted amid more damaging revelations over bribes. THE SFA came under mounting pressure yesterday to end their silence over the Qatar World Cup scandal. Labour MP Jim Murphy called on Scottish football’s controlling body to stand up and be counted amid further damaging revelations over bribes. A leading investigator who exposed FIFA corruption also called for the SFA to make their position on Qatar clear. But SFA chief executive Stewart Regan refused to say anything when approached by a Sunday Mail reporter on Friday at his home in Glasgow’s West End. Regan would only say: “I’m just on my way out. Thanks very much.” The decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar has been embroiled in controversy over labour conditions for migrant workers and corruption. This year, the Sunday Mail exposed the abysmal conditions faced by men building the stadia and *infrastructure. And new evidence linking disgraced Qatari football official Mohamed bin Hammam to bribes have plunged the 2022 event further into crisis. Yesterday, Murphy urged the SFA to break their silence over the slave conditions in Qatar before FIFA’s annual congress in Brazil this week. The shadow international development secretary travelled to Qatar with the Sunday Mail in April to probe the working conditions of migrants. He said: “FIFA is engulfed in scandal. The time for real and decisive action is now. So many people, including UEFA president Michel Platini, the English FA, the British representative on the FIFA board and other football associations around the world have spoken up. “The SFA must now break their silence and stand up for what’s right. “The allegations of corruption must be fully investigated and, if found to be true, Qatar must be stripped of the World Cup immediately. “But FIFA must also seize this opportunity to force real change in Qatar and finally bring the industrial-scale abuse of migrant workers to an end. FIFA has two choices – change or rot from within.” Scots writer Andrew Jennings, who uncovered evidence about vote-rigging and bribery in his book Foul: The Secret World of FIFA, urged the organisation to put their house in order. He claims too many decisions are based on keeping FIFA delegates happy, rather than for the good of the game. He said: “You only have to look at the line-up for the 2014 World Cup to see that there just aren’t 32 great teams in the world. “Who would want to cross the road to watch Honduras, other than those with a Honduran passport? “The more teams you have in the World Cup, the more jollies for the officials. “Your team’s no good but Sepp Blatter looks after you by making sure you get a nice holiday in Brazil. You’ve got all these old guys in their declining years that don’t speak out but get a huge amount of money, World Cup tickets and first-class flights. “That’s the kind of men that Sepp Blatter approves of. “To get rid of him we need politicians and outside agencies like the UN and the European Parliament to get involved.” Jennings has been investigating FIFA for a decade and has been barred from Blatter’s press conferences since 2003. He has also researched and presented a string of Panorama exposés on the organisation including The Beautiful Bung, which probed bribery claims in 2006, and FIFA’s Dirty Secrets, which exposed alleged corruption among executive committee members. Last week, allegations emerged that former FIFA official bin Hammam *controlled a £3million slush fund which was used to buy the support of key *officials for the Qatar World Cup bid. This has led to renewed calls for FIFA to restart the bidding process. Even without the corruption allegations, there have been huge question marks over playing the World Cup in the Gulf state where summer temperatures can reach up to 50C. FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has admitted the Qatar World Cup will be switched to winter but Jennings says that would have a catastrophic financial effect on Scottish football. He added: “Poor old Qatar were trying to run a clean bid and the crooks of FIFA had their hands out. “Who wants to go to Qatar? The fans don’t want to go because you can’t get a beer. The players don’t want to go and the clubs don’t want to release them. “If you’ve just paid £10million for a fantastic pair of goal-scoring legs, you’re not going to risk them in the hot sands of Qatar. It’s time the Scottish FA and the other three home nations tell FIFA enough is enough.” Last week, documents were uncovered allegedly showing secret payments from Qatar’s top football official to influential figures. It was claimed the leaked papers revealed that disgraced bin Hammam had made *payments to football officials in return for votes for Qatar. UEFA president Platini, who initially supported the Qatar bid, now says the vote should be re-run and sanctions imposed if *corruption can be proved. FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has also said he would be in favour of re-running the vote for the 2022 tournament if the *allegations are proven. Yesterday, the day after we approached Regan, the SFA issued a brief statement on Qatar. They said: “We echo the comments of Jim Boyce. If any evidence of wrongdoing around the 2022 Qatar World Cup bid is proved, we would support a re-run of the bid process.” But Murphy said: “It’s not good enough for the SFA to meekly whisper a one-sentence comment. “The SFA seem to be one of the *quietest football organisations on the planet when it comes to the dreadful plight of World Cup *workers.” Meanwhile, angry Brazilians have launched an anti-FIFA graffiti campaign to protest at the cost of staging the World Cup. Powerful images – many showing hungry children – have been springing up all over venue cities. And the protests have the backing of World Cup legend Romario. Now a firebrand left-wing politician, he is fiercely critical of the staging of the tournament. He said: “There are far more important things that need improving in Brazil – like schools and hospitals – rather than staging the World Cup.” Brazilian police used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up violent protests just days before the start of the tournament Trouble broke out in the city of Sao Paulo where the opening game of the tournament will be played on Thursday. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/scotlands-football-chiefs-savaged-silence-3661362
  18. Would like to hear what fellow Bears expect next season. Obviously the journey back up the leagues was supposed to be a gimmie and we didn't foresee hearts and Hibs standing in the way. Hearts are on the rebuilding and Hibs are about to make changes.....An article on here a few weeks ago had Ally saying he fears Hibs, sorry but we should never be fearing them. We had a good Scottish cup run this year but id not worry about that this year and put all efforts into the league. Still cant believe we didt pick up the Ramsden's and I cant see there being big interest in that this year. I don't think Ally is the right manager, he should be at the club in some capacity but not on the training field and If im honest I don't think it will be easy next season.
  19. Alasdair Lamont ‏@BBCAlLamont 33m Rangers chief exec Graham Wallace on £320k pa + 100% bonus. Plus £25k salary increase as Rangers move up leagues. More to follow.
  20. IN THE standard media take on Rangers’ affairs, Graham Wallace is the big, bad bouncer barring entry to the club to Dave King, a man whose deep pockets would ensure everything went with a swing for those inside. Yet, Ibrox chief executive Wallace has tried to create the impression that King will be welcome to join the party. Just not take it over. “We have quantified a range [of investment, the figure being £30 million] where we think the club needs to be looking at in order to be competitive,” said Wallace, as the club published a damning 120-day business review which showed £70m had been haemorrhaged over 18 months. “Right now we don’t have the authority to issue a fresh batch of shares and say to Dave King ‘Here you are… £20m? In you come...’ “What we’ve said is we will go to the shareholders for authority in the autumn and the timing of that is important because it gives us time to demonstrate stability in how we’re running the business from an investor’s perspective. When we do that, the equity offering will be open to existing shareholders, it should probably also be open to fresh investors, including Dave King, and potentially others. There’s no one stopping Dave King or anyone else putting money into the club today other than the regulatory authority the board needs to have. “Dave has said before, there may be 15 per cent of the existing shareholders who may not want to participate further, in which case there’s a significant block of stock that would be available.” Wallace denies the current directors fear their power being diluted by King’s involvement. “When we met with him, when you look at his ambitions and his vision for what he would like the club to be, they’re not dissimilar to what we’re trying to do,” insisted the chief executive. “We want to be competitive, we want to be punching at the top of the Premiership and in order to do that we know the club needs investment.” Rangers supporters find themselves in an horribly invidious position. They are understandably contemptuous of the current board for the cash burn and calamitous contracts that Wallace excoriated in his review. However, through a gushing press for King, the only alternative being presented is a man who mismanaged his own financial affairs so profoundly he had to repay more than £40m to the South African tax authorities and lodge certain payments to 
prevent his convictions landing him in prison. “A wide cross-section of the fan base is looking for some form of guidance, some form of reassurance as to how their club has been run,” Wallace said. “I hope as they look at this review that they get a sense of where it’s been, where it is now, and more importantly where it can go. “People are worried about putting their money into the club and three months later it not to be there and they’ve lost their £400. I completely understand that, and I’ve been repeatedly asked if the club is under threat of another administration and I’ve said the same thing every time – no, it’s not. “The point about the fans is, yes, there’s a desire on behalf of a segment of the fanbase to support someone like Dave King, who’s offering up – on paper, at least – a potentially significant amount of money to invest in the club. I understand that. “We’re giving the assurance that if the fans continue to back the club in the way they have, then there is no threat to the financial stability of this business. That’s the single most important thing. If fans are really concerned about the financial health of their club, if they give us the support by behaving as they have done and renewing their [season] tickets, then we’re in a very very strong position.” That is tantamount to the emotional blackmail the supporters’ coalition the Union of Fans has railed against. Wallace might not be so tainted in the eyes of the wider support, and might have been perceived more as a figure to trust by them, were it not for the £1.5m loan at exorbitant rates the club required only months after he stated such an injection would not be needed to keep the club afloat. The chief executive now accepts his credibility was damaged. “It was an issue, yes. I responded to a question at the AGM about [whether there] ‘is sufficient cash to continue to trade in the near term’ and I said there was. That was an honest answer made on the assessment of what was available at the time. As we’ve gone through the review, there were certain assumptions made in the business plan which, when we went to push the button on them, we found they didn’t exist. So yes, we got to a position where we had to look at an alternative strategy for a very short, defined period of time. So yes, our credibility was questioned. “Subsequent to putting the deal in place there were offers of similar amounts at vastly reduced monies. I think we’re in a better place now.” A huge measure of sensible husbandry is required at Rangers, but with Wallace stating manager Ally McCoist’s playing budget for the Championship will be “comparable” to the indefensible £6m with which the club have bulldozed their way through two part-time lower divisions, questions can be asked about lessons learned. Perhaps in one sense they have been. Rangers announced in their review that they will appoint a chief football operations officer, essentially a director of football, who will “concentrate initially on developing player talent identification, scouting and recruitment capability”. In the past two years, Rangers have certainly been guilty of having a flawed recruitment strategy that has been the largest consistent drain on their revenue and resources. “In terms of building this club to be competitive back at the top level, the level of infrastructure is not there,” said Wallace. “So scouting, recruitment, talent identification, managing and driving value from sourcing players [needs to be addressed]. Bringing players in here, if they’re good enough to play for us great but if they’re not then they might do a season and move along and get some value. “We’ve no one looking at that. That’s what I see this particular role focusing on. It’s very much a support role for me, for the manager, at an overall level. The hunt for this person begins now and it’s about getting the right person, with the right skill set and the right experience. I’d hope over the course of the coming months to have someone.” Wallace maintains this new appointment did not reflect on McCoist’s job security. “I have never even had a thought about the manager’s future. We speak every day and meet two or three times a week. “He’s obviously interested in the financial budget. We’ve talked about it. He knows we’re going to make funds available for the summer. He doesn’t know the magnitude, the number. We will sit down and agree that.” http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/spfl-lower-divisions/rangers-open-the-door-to-dave-king-1-3390262
  21. WITH boardroom civil war on the horizon at Hampden, MailSport unearths secret hijack plot and asks 'Has the SPFL gone power crazy?'. The SPFL’s blindside run at the SFA’s powerbase is about two things – control and cash. But the clubs’ push for power could end up costing the game MILLIONS in grassroots sponsorships. The professional clubs would take complete control of the development budget for football in Scotland if they won the day with their resolution. They believe the money could be better spent under their own umbrella and have also made a play to take control of the main board of the SFA. However, big-money backers of the game – like Tesco Bank, McDonald’s, sportscotland and the government-backed Cashback for Communities scheme – base their contributions on the fact that they are all-inclusive and not aimed at the elite end. MailSport believes all of these relationships – plus others with local authorities – would be in jeopardy if the pro clubs took control and ran the game to their own ends. The two boards will meet on Tuesday, brought to the table for the first time in a year to discuss the proposals – and the pressure will be on to avert a civil war in Scottish football. Revealed: The secret copies of four explosive resolutions the SPFL have proposed for the SFA's AGM. Here’s everything you need to know about the resolutions: Q/ So what do the SPFL want? The resolutions in a nutshell: 1. The Professional Game Board (PGB) provides one representative – Celtic’s Peter Lawwell – to the seven-man main board of the SFA but the SPFL want this increased to two. 2. Currently the president and vice president of the SFA must have served a minimum of a year on the PGB or Non-PGB, as well as four years on the SFA Council and have attended a minimum of eight Council meetings in five years to qualify for a nomination. The SPFL want to do away completely with these criteria. 3. The SFA main board control the budget for football development, from Mark Wotte’s performance department to the grassroots programme for kids and coaches run by Jim Fleeting and Andy Gould in Scotland. The SPFL feel the professional game should control this entire pot and want the PGB – in other words, the senior clubs – to take control. 4. The main board currently control the ability to elect any club for full membership. The SPFL want that right to be passed to the clubs to approve or veto new members. Q/ What’s the grand plan behind them, then? Individually, the four resolutions wouldn’t be as threatening but it’s their cumulative effect that could have grave consequences. The end game? The clubs will have two from the PGB on the SFA board plus control of a hand-picked president and vice president – thereby controlling the seven-man board with a majority of four, thus controlling the SFA. The clubs would also have access to the money currently used to fund the development of the game. They would also control future votes by being able to stifle any additional membership requests which would jeopardise their power of veto if they vote as a group. Q/ Why shouldn’t the pro game be better represented rather than the juniors and amateurs having a disproportionate say? They probably should – but if there are no checks and balances of their powers, is it good for the game as a whole to have pro clubs with vested interests running the entire game from the national team down to the grassroots? If push comes to shove with money and power, who will they seek to serve other than themselves? Q/Okay, but the current system still allows long-term blazers gaining power on the back of nothing but good attendance. Also true, and the SFA main board IS weak – the system does need looked at to allow more appropriate talent to rise to the top. Q/So this resolution is a good thing? Yes – and no! If there’s no need for office bearers to be time-served, you could end up with flavour-of-the-month fly-by-nights parachuted in by the clubs without any examination of their bona fides or their intentions. It’s possible that we could see some real talent and acumen appointed – but you’re relying solely on the judgment of the clubs to find it. Q/ What do they need to pass the resolutions? Each vote requires 75 per cent approval from the 94 members. Q/ Will they get what they need? They’re not speaking for all 42 clubs because a cursory call round indicates they haven’t actually consulted the rank and file. It’s unlikely they would get universal membership approval for all of it – the perception will be that the top 12 clubs will stand to benefit the most. Q/ Hang on, it’s Mike Mulraney of Alloa proposing all of the resolutions, though? He was one of three lower-league chairmen elected to the SPFL board last summer along with Les Gray (Hamilton) and Bill Darroch (Stenhousemuir). The weight of the Premiership members – Stephen Thomson (Dundee United), Duncan Fraser (Aberdeen) and Eric Riley (Celtic) – will be behind this but having Alloa, Stenny and Accies involved lends it an ‘everyman’ look ... not just being driven by the big clubs for their own gain. Q/ What about the cash, then – how much is at stake? Hard to put an exact figure on it but so much of it is ring-fenced for specific grassroots and community use, it’s not nearly as much as they think. The irony is the biggest chunk of the performance strand of it – around £2m – is used for Club Academy Scotland. So the clubs already benefit. Just not to the extent they think they should. Q/Why do the clubs feel the need to control it then? A couple of reasons. They don’t like the way Wotte is running things, they don’t think the performance strategy is worth what it costs, they don’t like the lack of control and input they have over performance schools and, simply, they see money they don’t have and they want it. They still don’t have a sponsor and a lack of cash will see them struggle to fulfil their promise of jam for all down through the divisions. It’s ironic considering the SFA has underwritten the only decent thing they’ve achieved as a body – the Premiership play-offs – to the tune of £1.5m. Q/ Are they right about the performance strategy, though? It’s still early but there is evidence the strategy is having an effect. Scotland won the Victory Shield at Under-16 level for the first time in 15 years. The U-17s have made the UEFA Finals in Malta, winning all three games in their elite round. The U-19s are in the elite round in England next months. The women’s team are well on their way to the World Cup in Canada with a 100 per cent record from six qualifiers, a feat that could earn the SFA close to seven figures. Throw in the fact the national team are back up to No.22 in the world rankings and they have a decent claim to their strategy working. Q/ But what about the rest of the game outwith the clubs? That’s the big worry. The SFA has overarching responsibility for the game as a whole and its development from the ground up. At last count, there are 130,768 registered players in Scotland from the youths to the amateurs to welfare to the women’s game. Meanwhile, the SPFL’s development branch – Club Academy Scotland, for pro youths from 11 up – sits at 3,185. Throw in the first teams and the clubs account for around three per cent of the football players in Scotland. Q/ Surely they should be the SPFL’s focus? They are. A working group set up between the organisations is looking at streamlining Club Academy Scotland and clearing out the jersey fillers and creating more ‘best v best’ football at the elite level. However, the clubs don’t like the performance schools and that they have no say in their operation. What some of them do like, though, is the idea of regional academies like the Forth Valley experiment involving Falkirk, Stenhousemuir and East Stirling. Q/ What benefit is there in the clubs taking on responsibility for the rest of it? Very little, if any. All they see is a top-line figure and pound signs. The problem, however, comes with the fact that much of the money is simply used to leverage other funding. For example, £476,000 is budgeted for a community programme that helps fund 70 coaches across the country – however most of their salaries are paid by local authorities through partnerships with the SFA. These partnerships would disappear if councils thought they were simply funding the professional game rather than its community branch. Q/ What about the other backers of grassroots football? Their visions all involve inclusivity and community benefit. McDonald’s work with all the home associations and have invested more than £1m every four years over more than a decade committed to growing the game. Likewise Tesco Bank, with £1.2m over the past four years. The government’s Cashback scheme has pumped in £2.2m over three years. On Wednesday, Regan and Fleeting were in the Isle of Lewis to unveil a new facility at Back that has received nearly £500,000 from Cashback, sportscotland and the Big Lottery. These resolutions would leave the pro clubs responsible for this kind of commitment to remote communities. Would they be interested? The Movers and Shakers The looming SFA AGM is shaping up to be one of the stormiest in the organisation’s 141-year history. Delegates will consider the four resolutions that would effectively hand control of the SFA main board to the clubs. Alloa chairman and successful businessman Mike Mulraney (right) is the name on the resolutions. He wants clubs to elect an extra member to the board – in addition to Celtic’s Peter Lawwell (left). SFA chief executive Stewart Regan (far right) has a fight on his hands. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/scottish-football-looks-set-civil-3434596
  22. If they manage to stave off the liquidators that is! Hearts beat Partick Thistle 2-4 today, but St Mirren beat Motherwell 3-2 and Hearts are now relegated....
  23. BOBBY Madden has been appointed to referee the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final between Rangers and Dundee United. And the fixture at Ibrox on Saturday week will have a total of six officials. Madden's assistants for the game between the League One champions and the Premiership club will be Graham Chambers and Alastair Mather. The fourth official will be Calum Murray while the additional assistant referees will be John Beaton and Alan Muir. United have sold 10,500 tickets for the semi-final against Rangers. United had previously indicated they would seek up to 20,000 tickets for the encounter. United director Derek Robertson said: "We'll probably have to get back to the SFA in the next couple of days to let them know the numbers. I would urge anyone who has not yet bought their tickets to do so in the next few days." With Hampden Park being redeveloped for the Commonwealth Games, the SFA chose Rangers' stadium to host both semi-finals back in October. Robertson said it would be the biggest support the club had taken to a semi-final. He added: "We're very happy with the numbers so far." United were initially offered 11,063 seats for the match. But the club's representative said that "in order to ensure maximum attendance" United would prefer to only be allocated the 8012-seat Broomloan Road stand. The club had complained about Ibrox being chosen as the venue for the tie. But last weekend SFA chief executive Stewart Regan defended the move. "It was a planning decision," Regan said. "When you're putting a major cup competition together, you spend a lot of time discussing it with your sponsors. "We certainly did that with William Hill. "We needed to take the semi-finals and final to venues that would cope with the demand for tickets." http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/rangers/six-officials-at-ibrox-semi-final-158049n.23853839
  24. IF, LIKE me, you’re proud of the Scottish Cup being the oldest national football trophy in the world you might have issues with it copying other inferior johnny-come-lately tournaments. I’m thinking of the screeching pop music, the balsa-wood stage for the winners, the celebratory bouncing, even the foliage in the managers’ lapels. You were first, Scottish, do your own thing. Don’t be bullied by the Champions League into moving from sacred Saturday to Sunday. And – favourites of this column – let’s bring back the massed pipes and drums and the Alsatian obstacle-course. Some of those changes are modernisms and maybe we have to move with the times. But every year our clubs are writing the cup’s history, a dutiful task like that of the trophy’s engraver. And when future generations of football students and anoraks open up Wikipedia at season 2013-14, what will they see? That Rangers played their semi-final at Ibrox, their home ground. Seriously, that has to be a joke. What an all-consuming tale this is. Truly, our cup runneth over. There’s stupidity, arrogance, incompetence, intransigence, fatuousness, our-club’s-bigger-than-your-club juvenalia, delusions of grandeur, you name it. Let’s deal first with the delusions of grandeur. The Scottish Football Association, who announced as far back as last October that Ibrox would host both last-four ties due to Hampden being out of action, have in the midst of the rammy tried to cite Euro precedent. The Champions League final venue is confirmed a whole season in advance, they point out, and you’ve got to forward-plan. Who are they kidding? Without wishing to contradict myself, the Scottish Cup is not the Champions League. It does not need six months of planning. George Peat, the former SFA president, recalled seasons in the League Cup where the Scottish league would have less than a week to arrange all-ticket ties. Peat said that while the SFA would have signed a contract for Ibrox he couldn’t understand why they didn’t have a plan B in the event of Rangers reaching the semis. Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson reckoned he had a pretty good idea why: money. All current SFA chief executive Stewart Regan, pictured right, was interested in was the commercial benefits, he claimed. “Obviously looking after the sponsors is more important than it being a neutral venue.” Certainly Ibrox getting the semis and Celtic Park having the final sounds very SFA: a divvying up in the grand old tradition. But I do find it astonishing that no one in a blazer thought the cup could pan out like this. If no one did, requiring the plan B that Peat was talking about, then you have to wonder what kind of brains trust is running the game. The SFA have tried to pass the buck for being aware that Ibrox was the home of a club who potentially had semi-final aspirations back to the rest of Scottish football, saying that any concerns should have been raised at the time of the decision. It is here that the story becomes a bit murkier. You can find two different Dundee United responses. Yes, we had concerns and raised them then. No, we didn’t because it would have been presumptuous to suggest we’d be involved in the semis. But this isn’t the crucial aspect, and the second response would have been perfectly acceptable. The duty for organising one of the oldest club football competitions in the world, and avoiding the complete and utter embarrassment of one team having home advantage in their favour to reach the final, rests entirely with the SFA and it is both laughable and chilling that they appear not to have anticipated this could happen, or had a contingency plan, or were unprepared to change the venue when, as Peat says, they still had the best part of a month to do so. The bickering between Rangers and Dundee United was caused by the SFA, although the individual reactions of the clubs were fairly predictable. United laying into the game’s rulers, angry at the SFA’s tone, arguing that given the number of talented young footballers they were producing for the greater good they didn’t deserve such treatment. And Rangers, in the squabble over how many tickets United should receive, labelling their fans glory-hunters. Ally McCoist chose this moment to boast about Rangers’ bigger support. The last time United had been in a semi, against Celtic, Hampden was only half-full. His club’s fans didn’t just turn out for semis, McCoist said, but all games. Not true, of course – Ibrox wasn’t packed for the quarter-final against Albion Rovers – but the basic point hardly needed to be made: a lot of people like to watch Rangers do their special thing. The issue then became ludicrous with McCoist claiming no special benefits for his men from playing in the distinctive Govan air, with yon majestic Broomloan Stand rising up behind them and the classic criss-cross detailing by the great stadium architect Archibald Leitch so known to the team, like the tattoo on the back of a hand. “There’s very little to be taken from home advantage the higher you go in football,” he argued, before being quickly backed up by his striker Jon Daly. Sorry guys, but you’re talking tripe. Daly would not be saying “I don’t see Ibrox as being an advantage” if he was still a Dundee United player and McCoist would not be dismissing the venue as being of no significance if Rangers were facing a Scottish Cup final at Celtic Park against … Celtic. This too was among the scenarios of the SFA’s “planning” last October. They’ve avoided that, but a semi at the Big Hoose featuring its occupants is definitely happening. To be fair to McCoist and Thompson, they’ve toned down the language since the rumpus kicked off. But 12 April is currently shaping up as a dread day in the football calendar rather than one for families to enjoy. The SFA can still change the venue and they should. As things stand they’re doing no favours to Rangers save for stoking the defiance of their own fans and the conspiracy theories of the rest. They’re doing no favours to Dundee United who’ve been dealt a grossly unfair hand for sure but must be wondering if making such a stink could cause their young team to think their abilities to win are being doubted. Most of all, though, they’re discrediting the grand old Scottish Cup. http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/spfl-lower-divisions/aidan-smith-sfa-should-change-semi-final-venue-1-3350659
  25. ...............and staff were threatened... but Raith Rovers chairman Hutton says: I'd do it all again It's now 20 months since Turnbull Hutton stood up to be counted amid threats and warnings of the imminent 'slow lingering death' of the Scottish game. But the only thing dying around Stark's Park in March 2014 is the chairman's latest attempt at comedy on his club's website. With no victories for Raith Rovers in the Championship since mid-December, a tongue-in-cheek message from the 67-year-old to fans declaring 'Don't Panic' and signed by 'Captain Mainwaring aka Turnbull Hutton' has gone down like a lead balloon among the denizens of Kirkcaldy. 'Supporters of other clubs liked it but I've been accused by Rovers supporters of patronising them. I've even been accused of being on the sauce while writing it. I've not had a drink this year,' chuckles the Harvard University-educated former head of United Distillers. His point to the malcontents is that Rovers are, these days, in pretty decent nick. They reached the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup before crashing to St Johnstone and a Ramsdens Cup final against Rangers awaits at Easter Road next month. Grant Murray's team might be just four points from the relegation play-offs, but they are also sitting six points from fourth place in Scotland's tightest league. And, vitally, off the park, Raith Rovers turned a profit last year. After the fall of the SPL that Hutton so reviled, clubs like them are now earning four times as much as they did under the old set-up. It's certainly not the Armageddon chillingly forewarned by the SPL's Neil Doncaster two summers ago; an episode that saw Hutton endure a crash course in fan animosity that makes the current levels of disgruntlement at his Dad's Army stunt seem akin to a spot of love-bombing. In July 2012, Hutton led the fightback against what he saw as attempts by the SFA and SPL to 'blackmail' the SFL into solving an SPL problem, using 'a campaign of misinformation and disinformation'. SFL club reps like Hutton were told by SFA chief executive Stewart Regan that a 'slow lingering death' awaited the national game if newly-liquidated Rangers were sent all the way down to the Third Division. Hutton's impromptu Monty Python-inspired speech on the steps of Hampden, when he branded the SPL a dead parrot, saw him emerge as an accidental hero to a wider Scottish football public unimpressed by the authorities' attempts to give the fallen Ibrox club a softer landing in the old First Division. But the fallout also saw Hutton labelled Public Enemy No 1 by Rangers fans. He still maintains his motivation was to stick up for his under-fire director, Eric Drysdale, who was on the SFA's supposedly-anonymous panel that, in April 2012, handed Rangers a one-year transfer embargo and banned Craig Whyte for life from any involvement in Scottish football after he ran the club on to the rocks of ruin. Despite a particularly nasty backlash, however, the redoubtable Hutton says he would take the same stance if it happened again. 'There was all this talk about Armageddon and the slow death of Scottish football, but the best thing to come out of that whole episode was the death of the SPL,' he said. 'I didn't need or want that kind of profile. People forget that situation did not come about because of the Rangers financial situation. It was because of the involvement of Eric on that three-man panel. 'Ally McCoist's famous "who are these people?" speech kicked off a whole series of events that placed me to the fore. Eric was eventually outed, we had threats to our staff, supposedly viable threats to burn our stadium down. 'Eventually you think: "To hell with this!" How could I support the rule book being ripped up for Rangers? I came out on the steps of Hampden, had 25 reporters in my face and I told it like it bl**dy well was. 'But you stick your head above the parapet and suddenly you're all over the bl**dy internet and it spiralled out of control. I became "Turnbull The Tim", which I found quite amusing. But pro-Celtic - or anti-Rangers - had nothing to do with me taking the stand I did. 'I got some charming personal emails. One said: "I hope you die of cancer" and "The only slow lingering death I want to see is yours, Hutton". 'But there were far more supportive emails than nasty ones. I tried to answer them all but it got too much. I stuck them in a "love" file and a "hate" file on my computer and I've still got them to this day. 'Looking back, would I play it different if it started today? I don't think I could and I don't think I would. 'You've got to stand up for what you believe in. The consequences of speaking your mind are beyond your control but I'd do it all again. Everything that's happened since then suggests my view was the right one.' In a month's time, Rangers - still mired in a financial maelstrom - are due to cross paths with Raith Rovers for the first time since that fateful summer. Hutton expects a backlash. 'Ally McCoist is the only one from Rangers we've spoken to,' he nodded. 'He came to see us playing Dumbarton. Eric Drysdale and I passed the time of day with him, and it was fine. But the other faces at Rangers keep changing and we've never played them since. 'There's still a hangover from when that whole episode was at its peak, with the likes of Sandy Jardine mouthing off about boycotts and stuff like: "We won't forget". 'I don't know if we are still on a boycott list but I'd imagine the Ramsdens Cup Final won't be a happy family day, filled with brotherly love. 'I've been involved with the tournament from its inception and there have been some wonderful finals over the years, like Dundee United vs Stenhousemuir and Alloa vd Inverness. They were all happy family days out but I've a feeling this year's won't be.' This season also 'marks' the 10th anniversary of another dark episode in Hutton's colourful Stark's Park tenure. Not even his formidable 35-year business background could have prepared him for the crazy five-month tenure of Claude Anelka, brother of France's enfant terrible Nicolas. Claude's previous job had been as a DJ in a Miami nightclub and he arrived with a fearsome sidekick named Styx amid promises of luring a stream of 'new Thierry Henrys' to Kirkcaldy. 'It was Monty Python stuff, frankly,' says Hutton, who joined the Rovers board in 2000 and found himself increasingly 'sucked in' to becoming a 'reluctant chairman'. 'I took a stroke in April 2004 and I was out of the frame for around eight weeks, which was unfortunate, because at the same time Claude Anelka surfaced. He promised £180,000 per season for the playing budget and, as a struggling First Division club, the board had to look at that. 'He was going to be director of football, with Antonio Calderon staying as manager - but Antonio couldn't work with him and he packed up and returned to Spain. 'Claude became boss and, unknown to me, held a press conference and gave a line about making Raith Scottish football's third force. 'Then Styx arrived with all of his belongings stuffed in the back of a Peugeot van; a pile of soul records, 10 to 12 pairs of trainers and a heap of unwashed jeans. 'We had supposed "young superstars" turning up who had never played 11-a-side before. There were Czechs, Muslims, French players, English guys and the odd Scot. You name it. 'Raith at the time had more rented housing in Kirkcaldy than the Scottish Special Housing Association. That came back to bite us when they all disappeared and we were left to pay the outstanding council tax and electricity arrears. 'Anelka did put the money in, but the additional costs far exceeded his investment. It was a pretty big fiasco and, when it came to a halt, we were left to pick up the pieces. 'There were meetings with our local MP (and future Prime Minister) Gordon Brown, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, as the Reclaim The Rovers campaign gathered pace. 'But some investment failed to materialise and that rescue deal was seriously under-funded. We've been battling that legacy ever since. 'Ironically, it's only in the last two years we've seen a turnaround, helped by league reconstruction. Before it was £60,000 to win the First Division, now it's £60,000 per place.' Hutton has seen high times with Rovers, particularly when Jimmy Nicholl's team stunned Celtic to win the League Cup in 1994. He was also in the Olympic Stadium with his son and daughter the following year for a 'once-in-a-lifetime experience' when Danny Lennon's goal saw the famous, if short-lived, scoreline: Bayern Munich 0 Raith Rovers 1. Given the club's chequered financial history in the modern era, however, in typically blunt fashion Turnbull prioritises Championship survival over a potential first Scottish Cup triumph in Raith's 131-year history. 'If I had to make a call, I'd rather we stayed up,' he says. 'I don't want to be a Wigan and win the Cup and go down. I know some supporters would take a different view but balancing the books is paramount. 'Winning the Cup would be a fleeting moment of glory and then a short-lived trip to a Russian outpost. Cup success would also bring its own financial challenges in terms of stadium improvements for a one-off shot at European football. 'I'd be more excited about the St Johnstone game if we weren't on a disastrous run. St Johnstone's Tommy Wright and Callum Davidson came to see us against Hamilton last month and we were 4-0 down at half-time. I hope that lulled them into a false sense of security.' With that, the chuckling Hutton heads off to an appointment with his dentist. 'His name is Graeme Smart and he supports Hibs, who we beat 3-2 at Easter Road in the last round. His brother Gordon is married to Kate, daughter of (Dunfermline legend) Jim Leishman. If Graeme goes above the usual pain threshold this time, I'll go for him …' Whatever else has been said about this Burntislander, and there has been plenty, nobody would ever describe time spent in Turnbull Hutton's company as akin to pulling teeth. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2576251/Rangers-supporters-branded-Public-Enemy-No-1-stadium-staff-threatened-Raith-Rovers-chairman-Hutton-says-Id-again.html#ixzz2vs7DmEeS Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
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