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SBD Global/December 12, 2012/Franchises

Rangers Plan Defense As 67 Players Take On Club In Contracts Legal Battle

More than five dozen players could take on Rangers in a contractual legal battle.
The Professional Footballers' Association Scotland has "raised an employment tribunal claim" against Scottish Third Division club Rangers on behalf of 67 players, according to Richard Wilson of the HERALD SCOTLAND. The action was revealed in the share prospectus issued by Rangers, and relates to a failure "to inform and consult" during last summer's purchase of the business and assets from Rangers Football Club. When Rangers CEO Charles Green's consortium bought the club, the contracts of all employees "automatically passed over to the new company under TUPE employment regulations." However, some players took the opportunity to object to the transfer -- which "protects employees' rights since all contracts have to be honoured -- and subsequently left the club as free transfers." The 67 players were all registered with the club at the time, but were unnamed. Departed player Sone Aluko tweeted a response to questions from Rangers fans on Sunday by saying that "he did not know anything about the claim" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 12/11).

ROBUST DEFENSE: The SCOTSMAN reported in the Rangers' share issue prospectus, the club declared PFA Scotland had raised the claims and that they would “robustly” defend themselves. The prospectus also stated that former Rangers players Sone Aluko, Kyle Lafferty and Jamie Ness have "raised constructive dismissal claims." The three players were among nine who "refused to transfer their contracts over" to newco Rangers. PFA Scotland declined to comment, but it is believed the claims "were brought in a strategic move as part of an arbitration battle which will be decided by the Scottish FA." Rangers are "demanding compensation over the Ibrox exit of six of the players who declined to join the new company" (SCOTSMAN, 12/11).

CURRENT PLAYERS TARGETED: In Glasgow, Keith Jackson reported 18 current Rangers are "caught up in a legal wrangle." Rangers' lawyers believe that Green’s case is "water-tight." A source said, "The legal opinion we have received is that the SPFA’s case is a complete and utter non-starter. The regulations are crystal clear and this move is baseless and invalid." A number of senior players who remain at the club, led by captain Lee McCulloch, have been "embarrassed by the latest move." In fact, McCulloch -- who "famously volunteered to play on without wages when the full scale of the carnage of Craig Whyte’s reign began to unfold" -- has already met with Green to "distance himself from any possible cash claim." Many of McCulloch's teammates "feel the same way." McCulloch tweeted: "For everyone asking, I’m not involved in the 67 people and if my name is there it will be getting taken off" (DAILY RECORD, 12/11).

FINDING A COMPROMISE: Also in Glasgow, Gregor Kyle wrote the Scottish players' union said it will drop its legal claim against Rangers if the club abandons its "breach of contract proceedings" against several of their members. In light of the "reaction to the matter becoming public,'' the PFA have now released a statement explaining its position and how it is willing to ''withdraw the Protective Award claim... in the event of the SFA breach of contract proceedings being withdrawn against our members." The statement, "contradicting the club's prospectus," goes on to explain that PFA Scotland alone has  made the claim which "has not been lodged in the name of any Player let alone some 67 individual Players as has been reported." The statement continued, "It is quite simply inaccurate therefore to suggest that PFA Scotland has acted here without instructions. PFA Scotland does not require instructions to raise a court action in its own name" (DAILY RECORD, 12/11).
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