The Scottish Premier League might decide whether Rangers face disciplinary action over alleged undisclosed payments before the result of the ’big tax case’, according to chief executive Neil Doncaster.
The SPL launched their investigation on March 5 and were until recently thought to be awaiting the outcome of the First Tier tax tribunal concerning Rangers, which was held in mid-January.
However, it emerged last week that the SPL’s lawyers had not received the documents requested from the club’s administrators.
Much of the pertinent information surrounding the investigation into Rangers’ Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) payments was revealed last week in a BBC documentary, which alleged there were more than 50 side letters detailing extra-contractual payments to players and staff.
The SPL yesterday revealed that Rangers had provided documentation in relation to the probe and that their legal team would update the board on June 18.
And Doncaster last night revealed they would not necessarily wait until the tribunal’s verdict before making a decision on the next course of action.
Doncaster told the BBC’s Newsnight Scotland: “Certainly the full information will only emerge, I suspect, with the outcome of the big tax case.
“Ultimately our board may have to take a decision prior to that whether they have sufficient information at that point to be able to conduct a disciplinary process.
“What the SPL board have made clear is that any is that any such prosecution which arises from the investigation will be in front of a wholly independent panel made up of eminent lawyers without any association with any SPL club.
“We’ll see what we receive from Rangers and the board will make a decision.”
Meanwhile, Doncaster revealed he had not requested information on the make-up of the Sevco consortium in place to buy Rangers when the group’s frontman, Charles Green, met SPL officials.
Green has named two of the investors, one from Malaysia and one from the Middle East, after saying that about 20 individuals or families had pledged to put money in.
“We have met with Charles Green and a venture capital house who is with him but in terms of the 15-20 investors who have been talked about, we don’t know who they are,” Doncaster said.
“It’s not for us to be involved – we deal with the club and not the underlying owners.”
The Scottish Football Association have rules regarding the propriety of club officials but Doncaster does not think such tests are appropriate within the SPL.
“I have yet to see a test that works as people expect it to,” he said. “Ultimately we might believe a particular person is right to run a club or not but any test has to be objective and because of that it’s very difficult to design a test that is fit for purpose.
“If you talk about past criminal record, Gandhi may have had a criminal record and you would say he is a fit and proper person to run a Premier League club but he might be forbidden by such an objective test.
“Other people who have never faced any criminal sanction might be deemed wholly inappropriate to run a club but under any objective test might be able to do so.”
Doncaster added: “Supporters see directors as custodians of institutions embedded in the local community.
“But in legal terms they are owners of a company that can be sold and to restrict the owners of a football club from selling those assets might face some legal challenge.”