The start of the SPFL season has been put in serious doubt after the SFA allowed a clear breach of testing rules by the Ibrox club.
The first signs of concern came late on Wednesday afternoon when the 6pm kick off for the friendly against Motherwell was delayed apparently because of late testing results.
Motherwell were quick to put that right when they tweeted that their results had come back negative and were on their way to Ibrox for an 8pm kick off. There was no announcement of testing results from Ibrox before the game kicked off.
Earlier on Wednesday Dundee United won a friendly match at Murray Park 4-1. It seems that the United team were put at risk by playing against a team containing NINE members who hadn’t been negatively tested in the previous seven days.
Late on Thursday night the Daily Record broke the story. Keith Jackson appears to have uncovered some very reliable sources inside the SFA.
Rangers are facing a top level SFA probe over fears the club broke virus testing protocol.
Record Sport understands Hampden top brass suspect as many as nine of Steven Gerrard’s first team squad played in a bounce match against Dundee United without having been given the mandatory all clear by medics.
SFA stand-in president Mike Mulraney was alerted to the developing situation on Wednesday night and it’s believed he has demanded the Ibrox club are asked for a full explanation of the events.
The potential rule break was discussed as a matter of urgency on Thursday afternoon at a crisis meeting of the Joint Response Group which lasted almost two hours.
Motherwell will also be asked why their test results were not returned until just two hours before kick-off at Ibrox – while Hibs are facing similar questions from the beaks over Saturday’s late cancellation of a friendly against Ross County.
Hibs took the right action in calling off their match against Ross County since they didn’t have their test results. It seems that playing a friendly against Dundee United, giving game time to Jordan Jones, Greg Docherty, Calvin Bassey, Ross McCrorie and others was deemed more important inside Ibrox than complying with the virus testing rules. McCrorie tested positive while on loan at Portsmouth.
? Today’s Rangers B Team to face Dundee United at the Rangers Training Centre.
? Kick-off 1pm, goal updates to follow. pic.twitter.com/nVfKMySoEP
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) July 22, 2020
The SFA should be asking why they allowed the Murray Park match to go ahead, what the match officials knew and when it was relayed to Chief Executive Ian Maxwell and those on the Joint Responce Group. It seems that testing twice weekly rather than once a week was the reaction as the breaches were glossed over.
The breach of rules puts the SFA in the spotlight. They sanction every match played in Scotland and supply the match officials. The game against Dundee United kicked off at 1pm, surely if they didn’t have test results by 10am in the morning the match should have been cancelled.
Despite knowing that the testing rules had been broken at Murray Park the SFA sanctioned the Ibrox match with Motherwell to go ahead later that day.
The Joint Response Group for Scottish Football have been in daily contact with the Scottish Government in an effort to get the game restarted with the SPFL Premiership season starting next weekend.
For generations a different set of rules have been applied to the clubs from Ibrox. In July 2012 The Five Way Agreement confirmed a different set of rules for the club formed by Charles Green, this went through without a single complaint from the 41 others clubs in the SPFL. Last year Peter Lawwell told Celtic shareholders that he hadn’t even read the document.
It would go against all past practise to punish the Ibrox club but unless action is taken this morning by the SFA they are putting the new Premiership season at risk.
Steven Gerrard took his squad to France last week with all but two of the team that started against Dundee United on that trip. After returning from France, where they played on Thursday and Saturday the Ibrox players weren’t tested until Tuesday. The test results didn’t surface until sometime after 5pm on Wednesday.
Last night the Joint Response Group issued a statement after seven St Mirren coaches tested positive, the club has gone back into Lockdown as tracking procedures take place.
Ibrox is due to host a match tomorrow against Coventry City. If the SFA don’t call that off and impose a stricter testing programme on the club with a best in class website and revolutionary new kit deal then they are leaving themselves open to severe sanctions from the Scottish Government.
Maxwell has shown with the 2011 UEFA licence that different rules apply to clubs from Ibrox. If he maintains that approach today the Premiership season could be delayed causing serious financial problems across the game which is highly dependent on payments from Sky Sports.
This morning the spotlight is on the SFA- their track record suggests that their fear of matters Ibrox related, which allowed two friendlies on Wednesday to go ahead, could plunge Scottish football into chaos.
Celtic and Ross County are the only clubs that have gone on record stating that they have purchased testing equipment allowing results to be known within two hours. Each machine costs £35,000.