Celtic ‘surprised’ Rangers allowed to keep league titles

Celtic have declared their “surprise” at the official conclusion that Rangers gained no competitive advantage from years of making undisclosed payments to players.

Oldco Rangers were fined for breaching rules from 2000 to 2011 but a three-man panel led by Lord Nimmo Smith ruled the affected players were not ineligible and so ruled out stripping the Ibrox club of five Scottish Premier League titles won during the period.

Celtic made an official statement last night after saying they had been “inundated” with requests to make their position clear.

The statement read: “We note yesterday’s decision that Rangers FC has been found guilty of contravening the SPL rules on disclosure of payments over 11 years between 2000-2011. The scale of this amounts to a deliberate non-disclosure of £47 million in payments to players and staff. We also note the penalty of £250,000 which has been imposed.

“Like many within Scottish football, including supporters and other observers, we are surprised by the parallel conclusion that no competitive advantage was gained from these arrangements.

“However, the implications of this verdict are for the Scottish football authorities to address since the rules breached were specifically intended to defend ‘sporting integrity’.”

Celtic manager Neil Lennon earlier refused to divulge his full views on the independent commission’s conclusions, instead focusing on the positives from his club’s season, which continues with a William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final at St Mirren Park today ahead of their Champions League second leg with Juventus on Wednesday.

And, apart from declaring they had been taken aback by the verdict on sporting advantage, the rest of Celtic’s statement focused on their own status rather than that of their city rivals.

Lennon also shot shooting down the notion that the 2-1 SPL defeat at Motherwell in midweek was a sign that he was finding it difficult to motivate his players who are still 19 points clear of the Steelmen at the top of the table.

“It is a cheap way of criticising the team,” he said. “It is absolute nonsense to say they are complacent.

“We have lost only one game in the league since December. We have won seven and drawn one so that’s not bad.”

We have scored 23 goals in the last five home games.

“Winning games is hard, these boys do it consistently, which is why they are where they are at this stage of the season.”


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