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Rangers row rumbles on

Guest johngers

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Guest johngers


RANGERS chairman David Murray last night called for an independent body to scrutinise any future fixture problems within Scottish football.

Speaking at the end of a week in which the SPL, SFA and Rangers became embroiled in a massive row over the league's refusal to postpone the Ibrox club's match against Dundee United ahead of the UEFA Cup final on Wednesday, Murray reiterated his claim that the episode had been "embarrassing" for Scottish football.

Murray then suggested: "There is an argument that maybe there should be an independent body available to be assembled quickly who have an impartiality, if that is at all possible in Scotland because you have a vested interest, we all do, in a situation like that. There should have been a Plan B in place and there wasn't."

The Ibrox chairman admitted the fixture congestion had affected Rangers – "when they played the Hibs game they had only slept in their beds one of the previous four nights. Rest is important."

Meanwhile, SPL executive chairman Lex Gold has stoutly defended his role over the non-postponement of the fixture, though he admitted that if Rangers are beaten by Zenit St Petersburg, he will be further criticised.

Asked if he was worried about getting the blame should Rangers fail, Gold said: "I don't need to worry about it, it will happen, so there's not a great deal of point in worrying."

Speaking at a press conference before Murray's latest intervention, Gold described the circumstances of the season as "exceptional" due to the bad weather, the death of Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell and Rangers' success in three cup competitions. He said that he had been concerned most of all with "fairness" to all the clubs, and that the SPL had "tried to be flexible, but because we were not able to, it is seen as somehow partial".

He said he would welcome a meeting with Murray to discuss the issue and emphasised that it appeared to have been forgotten that the SPL had already extended the league season.

Gold claimed that the chief executive of the Russian league had told him personally that other clubs in Russia and the Russian media were upset by the postponements allowed to Zenit St Petersburg, even though the Russian season is still at an early stage. He added that Scotland manager George Burley had called him to make it clear that he had not been critical of the SPL.

Gold also pointed to the fact that in the past seven seasons, no other countries had allowed clubs to postpone matches before the UEFA Cup final. Only the SPL had allowed one club, Celtic in 2003, to bring forward a game before the final.

Gold said he had been unanimously elected SPL chairman each year for the past nine seasons and expected to be so again.

The SFA have also confirmed that they are not yet looking into the statements made by Murray on Rangers' official website in which he said the season has been spoiled by "bureaucracy and Scottish footballing legislators".

Article 123 of the SFA's Articles of Association says any football official in Scotland can be fined, suspended or expelled who "brings the game into disrepute or is likely to bring the game into disrepute". In practice the general purposes committee summons people making critical remarks and reprimands or fines them.

An SFA spokesperson said: "The next meeting of the general purposes committee is not until the first week in June. The agenda for this meeting will be set nearer the time."

Hearts are watching how this issue develops, as chairman Roman Romanov is presently under investigation for his remarks at the club's AGM that the SPL is "fixed".

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