Rangers make stance clear on finishing season early as SFA/SPFL joint response group issues preference as how campaign ends

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The Ibrox club have said the season is only complete when 38 games are played

Rangers have said that if there is any attempt to finish the season without 38 games played would bring the integrity of sport in Scotland into question.

Managing director Stewart Robertson confirmed the club’s stance on the current situation in Scottish football.

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Football has been postponed in the country until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Rangers have had their say on the state of play in the Ladbrokes Premiership. Picture: SNSRangers have had their say on the state of play in the Ladbrokes Premiership. Picture: SNS
Rangers have had their say on the state of play in the Ladbrokes Premiership. Picture: SNS | Other 3rd Party

As things stand Celtic lead the league by 13 points ahead of Rangers with Hearts bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Much has been said and speculated as to what happens next with the league. Hearts owner Ann Budge confirmed the club would look at legal action if they were relegated without the full 38 league games being completed.

Robertson took a similar view on the league only being concluded when every game is played.

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He said in a statement: “Rangers are continuing to monitor the ongoing situation regarding Coronavirus and its impact on football at all levels.

“I reiterate Steven Gerrard’s comments this morning that football is secondary to the health and well-being of the citizens of the United Kingdom. Life is precious and as a society, we must endeavour to do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable in our community. As a club, we will continue to follow government guidelines and advice relating to the health and safety of all members of staff.

“It is our firm view that this season’s league competition (2019/20) is only complete when all 38 games are played by all teams. For the avoidance of doubt, we believe that final standings can only be confirmed when all games have been completed, not before. Any attempt to finish the season with a significant amount of games still to play, impacts upon the integrity of sport in Scotland.”

Rangers also confirmed their stance that games should not be played behind closed doors.

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It was mooted as a potential option as the coronavirus situation worsened.

“Furthermore, we are strongly opposed to playing games behind closed doors,” Robertson said. “Rangers fans have stuck by our club in the darkest of times. Their loyalty will not be forgotten and they will not be left behind.

“We are cognisant of the uncertainty surrounding the future of many businesses and peoples jobs because of a potential lengthy extended break. We must be mindful that football goes well beyond the result of a match. Football brings us all together, it provides countless people with a livelihood and we will work to ensure no one runs roughshod over people’s lives.

“We will continue to maintain a watchful eye on the decisions of footballs governing bodies. Let me reassure the fans that we will not be found wanting in this situation.”

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Rangers' statement was released at a similar time as the SFA/SPFL joint response group provided fans with an update.

The SPFL board that all league fixtures, as well as the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup final, are postponed indefinitely “pending any Government order and/or further direction from the Scottish FA”.

The SFA will be involved in a call with Uefa member associations on Tuesday which will likely determine the future of European competitions as well as Euro 2020. A decision on the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals and UEFA Nations League play-off against Israel will be made afterwards.

As part of the statement, it was confirmed that “the preference remains that Season 2019/20 will be played to completion” but that health is the number one priority, which was also the reason for no games being played behind closed doors.

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However, they refuse to speculate on what potential contingency plans are.

It read: “Given the ever-changing landscape of the virus in Scotland – as with countries across the world – the Scottish FA will only lift the suspension when it is deemed safe to do so from the perspective of public health, but also the safety of all stakeholders including supporters, players, match officials and staff.

“This (closed door games) was one of the options considered and an approach that has been adopted in various countries. However, it was the unanimous view of the Scottish FA Board that this approach could compromise the health and safety of other key stakeholders, not least players, match officials and staff, as well as necessitating the attendance of emergency services and medical staff.

“The Joint Response Group is engaged in a contingency planning phase that will assess all possible options for the remaining season and beyond. It would be inappropriate and unhelpful to speculate on any future decisions to be taken by competition organisers. We will, however, commit to updating clubs, supporters and other key stakeholders when appropriate in this fast-moving landscape.”

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A key concern for clubs is the financial aspect with no money coming in for gate receipts.

“The Scottish FA and SPFL are currently reviewing all their commercial contracts to understand the financial implications of the disruption so far,” the statement said.

“The SPFL advances club fees across the season. The next such payment is due to be made in April. It remains the intention of the SPFL Board to make April’s scheduled payment to clubs.

“Likewise, the Scottish FA is investigating ways in which support can be established in respect of advanced payment of distribution moneys and other ways in which we can help minimise the burden for members, where practicable.

“As per an earlier Joint Response Group Update, the SPFL and the Scottish FA strongly advise clubs at all levels to review their insurance policies.”