Rangers have accused the SPFL of misleading supporters as the fall-out over the cinch sponsorship deal brings out claims about Ibrox naming rights in court.
Rangers are at loggerheads with the SPFL over the £8m sponsorship deal which the Gers believe conflicts with previous business agreements.
It is argued that online used car sales site cinch conflicts with arrangements concerning Rangers chairman Douglas Park’s own car trading business.
As a result Rangers – who warned the SPFL about the conflict prior to the deal being signed – have refused to promote cinch branding in or around their stadium on matchdays
This, naturally, has irked the SPFL directorate and the situation is now having its day in the Court of Session.
That’s despite a judge previously ruling that SFA arbitration had to be halted because Park’s of Hamilton were left out of the process [Glasgow Times].
Now, a legal QC representing the SPFL has been criticised by Rangers after he claimed that the Gers were “negotiating” with cinch earlier this year regarding the renaming of Ibrox.
These claims concern heavily redacted documents given to the SPFL regarding Park’s of Hamilton’s business relationship with Rangers.
In it, advocate Lord Keen of Elie QC claims that they show Rangers were “negotiating” with cinch over potentially renaming Ibrox all the way up until June 7th [Glasgow Times].
The QC would then request an unredacted version of the contract be submitted to the court so its commercial sensitivity could be defined by the court.
Naturally, the tabloid press has had a field day with the comments but Rangers have made a statement of their own claiming any suggestion of “negotiations” is misleading and that cinch contacted the Ibrox club regarding commercial opportunities.
In ongoing legal dispute between #Rangers and the SPFL over league sponsor Cinch, a court hears from a QC that the club was in negotiations with Cinch about selling off naming rights to Ibrox, in June. pic.twitter.com/blltdcnKgH
— Chris McLaughlin (@BBCchrismclaug) September 22, 2021
“cinch approached Rangers to discuss commercial opportunities in early 2021,” the club said in a statement to BBC Scotland’s Chris McLaughlin.
“Rangers provided information on what opportunities might become available. This is common practice for our commercial team.
“At no point did cinch offer any terms to Rangers. Contrary to the SPFL’s claims, no “negotiations” took place.”
Ibrox naming rights a soft spot for supporters and a low blow on Rangers
For most supporters the conversation around renaming the legendary stadium will draw an unwelcome flashback to the Sports Direct era at Ibrox.
Back in 2013, whilst under the stewardship of the so-called spivs, Rangers and Charles Green controversially sold the naming rights to Sports Direct [Guardian].
However, Mike Ashley – who also struggled to rename Newcastle United’s St James’ Park – would give these up 18 months later despite purchasing them for a measly £1 [CityAM].
Since then, there’s been a genuine feeling amongst supporters that the naming of Ibrox Stadium is off limits when it comes to commercial opportunities.
As a result, no-one comes out looking particularly good in all of this.
Going by Rangers’ comments, it appears the club has a commercial prospectus of sorts that it hands out to potential partners. Disappointingly for many, this may include the renaming of Ibrox.
Cinch – who have struck partnership deals with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur in recent seasons – may well be one such commercial entity that has previously enquired about opportunities at Ibrox.
Rangers suggest the notion that the two were “negotiating” over the naming of Ibrox is wholly misleading given any potential prospectus is sent out to a range of commercial operators.
But it’s a sore spot for supporters nonetheless, with the club’s commercial department at the very least apparently willing to consider the renaming of the ground.
Rangers’ commercial operations have been revolutionised in recent seasons as marketing director James Bisgrove strikes a multitude of commercial partnerships for the club.
You only need to look at the financial value of some of these to highlight how short the SPFL is selling the game in Scotland.