Rangers battle set to continue

Sevco Scotland secured the right to field a Rangers team at Brechin tomorrow but their fight against the Scottish Premier League’s investigation into undisclosed payments to players looks set to continue.

Sevco were last night granted conditional membership of the Scottish Football Association following two weeks of discussions but there remains disagreement between the SPL and the Rangers newco.

The SPL launched their investigation, which centres on the employee benefit trust tax scheme that played a significant role in the downfall of Rangers, in early March.

The probe was held up for almost three months by a lack of co-operation from Rangers administrators, who hold the SPL share due to be given to Dundee, before the league’s lawyers decided Rangers had a case to answer.

An independent commission is due to rule on the matter, with one of the possible outcomes being the stripping of titles won by Rangers.

Last night’s deal demands the share is passed on no later than Friday, the eve of the SPL season, at which point the SFA membership transfer is complete.

Sevco, who bought the assets of Rangers last month, accepted a delayed 12-month transfer ban handed to Rangers in April as well as about £3m (€3.8m) in football debts.

But Ibrox manager Ally McCoist hit out at the SPL and Sevco board members vowed to challenge any SPL decision over the tax scheme, which could have left the old Rangers company with a £75m (€95.7m) bill.

McCoist claimed the SPL “seem determined to pursue as hostile an agenda as possible towards Rangers”.

“They kicked us out of the SPL – which was their right – and we acknowledge that – but that doesn’t seem enough for Neil Doncaster and some of his board,” he added.

“Not only as they withholding our SPL prize money for last season – they won’t tell us how much it is but we reckon it to be about £1.3m (€1.6m).

“And having said they don’t want us – they do want a bigger share of the TV money that our presence will bring to the SFL and its clubs.

“Never mind sporting integrity – where is the moral integrity there?

“And there is no line to be drawn in the sand. Rangers have not been punished enough in their eyes and along with one or two people who have a vested interest within SPL clubs, our right to past titles will be challenged.

“They want what we and our fans bring, yet seem determined to strip us of every bit of our dignity. It has to stop.”

The deal allows the SPL to take the broadcasting rights for Rangers’ Third Division games to their TV partners, Sky and ESPN.

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “Discussions will now continue with our broadcast partners and we expect to be in a position to make a further announcement next week on broadcasting rights and the ongoing EBT investigation.”

While McCoist will be able to get back to some semblance of normality tomorrow, if a Ramsdens Cup first-round tie at Glebe park can be described as that for the Rangers manager, the board members will continue their struggle.

Ibrox chairman Malcolm Murray said: “We still have outstanding issues with the SPL but we will challenge them at every turn.”

Murray, whose company’s £5.5m (€7m) purchase allowed up to £130m (€165.9m) of debt to be wiped out, added: “This is still Rangers and the next chapter of our history has the potential to be one of the greatest stories in the history of sport.”

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