SPFL asks Scottish FA to facilitate arbitration in row with Rangers

Aberdeen players celebrate
All teams are expected to have the SPFL sponsor on their shirt sleeves as well as branding inside stadiums

The SPFL has asked the Scottish FA to facilitate arbitration in their sponsorship row with Rangers, warning that the dispute could prevent them paying out prize money.

The Ibrox club insist their refusal to promote car company cinch is covered by a rule concerning the breach of a prior contractual obligation.

The five-year deal is worth £8m.

The SPFL has written to clubs, describing the stand-off as a "real and substantial commercial risk".

Scottish Premiership champions Rangers would need to agree to the arbitration process.

The letter says the SPFL board, on which Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson sits, has been trying to settle "this very serious impasse" to no avail.

It also states that Rangers have not provided the SPFL board with "sight of any pre-existing third-party contract" that would represent a conflict of commercial interest.

The letter, signed by chairman Murdoch MacLennan, continues: "The refusal by one of our clubs to provide inventory for cinch presents a real and substantial commercial risk to the SPFL - and one which materially threatens the SPFL's fee payments to all 42 SPFL clubs.

"This is the first time in the history of the SPFL, or the SPL before that, where a club has not provided agreed inventory to the league for use in fulfilling a commercial contract.

"Your board considers it has been left with no realistic option, in compliance with Scottish FA articles, other than to refer this dispute to Scottish FA arbitration."

Scotland's leagues had been without a title sponsor last season after the previous deal with bookmaker Ladbrokes ended.

SPFL take action with 'great reluctance'

Letter sent to clubs on behalf of SPFL board

The one SPFL club that has failed to deliver club inventory for cinch is also hampering the SPFL from promoting the SPFL's relationship with cinch by, for example, refusing to permit cinch-branded interview backboards to be delivered to, or used at, its home ground and to be used for broadcast partner interviews with club representatives at away matches.

At their opening league match, none of that club's players wore the cinch branded sleeve patch; there were no LED advertising or static advertising boards with cinch branding allowed in the stadium; and the club concerned also refused to allow the use of the standard SPFL broadcast partner interview backdrop board displaying cinch branding.

Over several weeks now, your board has sought to engage with the club concerned to find a way through this very serious impasse.

However, we have been met with a refusal to give the board sight of any pre-existing third-party contract that would prevent the club from providing inventory for cinch.

The refusal by one of our clubs to provide inventory for cinch presents a real and substantial commercial risk to the SPFL - and one which materially threatens the SPFL's fee payments to all 42 SPFL clubs.

This is the first time in the history of the SPFL, or the SPL before that, where a club has not provided agreed inventory to the League for use in fulfilling a commercial Contract.

Your board considers it has been left with no realistic option, in compliance with Scottish FA articles, other than to refer this dispute to Scottish FA arbitration. Your Board has reached this conclusion with great reluctance.

However, your board believes that it has a clear obligation to embark upon this course of action to protect and advance the interests of the SPFL and all of its member clubs.

Rangers 'continue to comply' with SPFL rules

Letter sent to clubs last week by Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson last week

For the avoidance of doubt, Rangers continues to comply with the rules of the SPFL.

One of the key rules that protects the commercial interests of all members is Rule I7.

When the SPFL Executive put forward the written resolution with regards to the new sponsorship contract, Rangers immediately notified Neil Doncaster that, in line with Rule I7, we would be unable to provide the new sponsor with many of their rights due to a pre-existing contractual obligation. We cannot breach an existing contract.

This is a legal principle which is founded in Scots Law and is the reason that the SPFL has Rule I7 within its rules.

Rangers has complied with and will continue to comply with the SPFL rules and fulfil all sponsorship obligations which do not conflict with our pre-existing contractual obligations.

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