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SFA compliance officer to investigate allegations SPFL breached SFA rules in cinch dispute with Rangers

THE SFA compliance officer is to investigate claims the SPFL have breached SFA rules during their dispute with Rangers over the cinch sponsorship deal.

The move follows talks between legal advisers for Park’s of Hamilton – the luxury coach hire firm which is owned by Ibrox chairman Douglas Park and is a commercial partner of the Glasgow club – and the SFA.

Park’s of Hamilton believe the SPFL have breached the SFA’s articles of association by attempting to block their participation in arbitration proceedings involving Rangers, the SPFL and cinch in the Court of Session.  

The company have also alleged the SPFL failed to act in the “utmost good faith” and did not take every available step to resolve the stand-off with Rangers before referring the matter for arbitration.

SFA compliance officer Andrew Phillips is now set to examine if the SPFL have breached articles 99.12 and 99.14.

Article 99.12 states: “A member, an associated person and/or the Scottish FA shall not take a Scottish FA Dispute to a court of law except with the prior approval of the Board. For the avoidance of doubt, this Article 99.12 does not prevent a member, associated person and/or the Scottish FA from raising proceedings for time bar purposes, subject to such proceedings being sisted at the earliest opportunity for resolution in accordance with this Article 99.”

Article 99.14 states: “A Football Dispute shall not be referred under these provisions where (i) the Scottish FA (including the Judicial Panel and any Committee or sub-committee) has power to determine a dispute or other issue in accordance with a different provision of these Articles or the Judicial Panel Protocol; or (ii) the member or associated person has not taken every possible step to have the Dispute resolved in accordance with these Articles or rules of the Scottish FA and appeals processes contained therein.”

Park’s, who obtained an interim interdict preventing the SFA from proceeding with the arbitration process without them back in October, have also revealed they are prepared to pursue a legal claim against the SPFL.   

Rangers chairman Park believes the £8m deal the SPFL struck with cinch back in June – which made the online car retailer the title sponsor of the Premiership, Championship, League 1 and League 2 – breaches an existing commercial agreement between Park’s of Hamilton and the Ibrox club.

The Scottish champions have refused to display cinch branding on players’ strips or on advertising boards at their stadium during the 2021/22 season.  

A Park’s of Hamilton statement read: “We can confirm discussions between the legal representatives of Park’s of Hamilton and the SFA have been referred to the Compliance Officer, in line with Article 94, by the SFA’s legal advisers.

“We continue to believe that the SPFL’s recent attempts in the Court of Session to block our participation in the ongoing arbitration proceedings breach the Scottish FA’s Article 99.12.

“In addition to this, we believe that the SPFL have failed to behave with the utmost good faith in this matter and did not take every possible step to resolve the dispute prior to referring the matter to arbitration – as they are required to do in terms of article 99.14.

“Whilst we are not members of the SPFL or the SFA, we were forced to commence court proceedings to protect our commercial position due to the conduct of the SPFL. 

“It is imperative that the SFA, as the governing body, applies all Articles to members in order to protect the integrity of its disciplinary processes.  

“The SPFL continue to engage in behaviour which we believe seeks to induce a breach of a contract to which we are a party. We are prepared to pursue a claim against the SPFL regarding this ongoing conduct.”

The SPFL were approached for comment.

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