Six Premiership clubs raise 'serious concerns' over SPFL report

Six Scottish Premiership clubs have expressed concern about the “independence and transparency” of the review into the Scottish Professional Football League’s governance.

Aberdeen, Livingston, Motherwell, Rangers, St Johnstone and St Mirren have expressed “serious concerns” over the report and want “full clarity on numerous issues” to clarify if “further action is necessary”.

The clubs, who also raised concerns over the overall governance of the SPFL, are questioning why the executive were able to amend the original draft of the report before it was presented to the rest of the board.

It is also claimed SPFL chair Murdoch MacLennan’s statement following the completion of the report “was issued without the approval or knowledge” of the SPFL board and member clubs. Furthermore, some clubs are concerned MacLennan’s statement was not a true reflection of the report.

Sky Sports News understands there are also concerns that just one member club, Aberdeen, were allowed any input into the auditing process, and, despite several requests, the full report has yet to be released to any of the clubs who paid for it.

Sky Sports News has contacted the SPFL for comment.

What did the review reveal?

Murdoch McLennan
SPFL chair Murdoch McLennan released a statement after the review

The independent review was commissioned when MacLennan apologised to Rangers following a lengthy dispute about its main sponsorship deal.

In January the SPFL announced a draft report following the three-month review showed it complied “with significant elements of the UK Code of Corporate Governance”, with MacLennan adding he was “reassured, but not complacent”.

The review was carried out by independent external auditors and involved detailed questionnaires and interviews with 15 stakeholders, including senior executive team members, non-executive directors, and other senior figures in the game.

The joint statement in full…

DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 05: A close-up of the new SPFL ball before a cinch Premiership match between Dundee and Motherwell at Dens Park, on August 05, 2023, in Dundee, Scotland. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)
Aberdeen, Livingston, Motherwell, Rangers, St Johnstone and St Mirren wrote a joint letter to the SPFL

“On behalf of SPFL Premiership clubs Aberdeen, Motherwell, Livingston, Rangers, St Johnstone and St Mirren, a letter was today issued to the SPFL executive in response to the handling of the recent Independent Governance report.

“The clubs hold serious concerns regarding the report’s independence, transparency, and the overall governance of the SPFL.

“The letter seeks full clarity on numerous issues so that the clubs, as shareholders of the SPFL, can determine if further action is necessary.

“In conjunction with a draft report being made available to the SPFL board, SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan hastily released a statement that did not reflect the full findings of the report.

“Additionally, the statement was issued without the approval or knowledge of members of the SPFL board or SPFL member clubs.

“The SPFL board is to meet at a future date to discuss the draft report’s contents, making it highly inappropriate for the SPFL chairman to have made any public comment ahead of that meeting.

DINGWALL, SCOTLAND - JUNE 04: Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Professional Football League Neil Doncaster during a cinch Premiership play-off final second leg match between Ross County and Partick Thistle at the Global Energy Stadium, on June 04, 2023, in Dingwall, Scotland.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Neil Doncaster is the SPFL chief executive

“Regarding the report itself, the clubs and others are deeply concerned about its independence, given that the SPFL executive received the first draft of the report and made changes to it prior to sending it to SPFL board members.

“Of the 42 member clubs, only one had the opportunity to input into the report’s investigation, outside of current or previous SPFL board members.

“Despite several requests from the clubs, the report has yet to be released to any of the member clubs despite the clubs footing the bill for its creation.

“The handling of the Independent Governance report has brought the clubs’ governance concerns to a head, and it is now incumbent on the SPFL board and executive, for the sake of trust in those running our game, to provide clarity over these clear and deeply troubling concerns as a matter of urgency.”

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