April 16 (Reuters) - Rangers boss Steven Gerrard criticised on Thursday the handling of the vote to end the Scottish season in the lower leagues and called for an investigation.
Scotland’s 42 professional clubs voted digitally on a proposal to end the season immediately across the lower tiers and in the top tier Premiership if and when it becomes clear the campaign cannot be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vote was passed with a majority meaning Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were declared champions of the Championship, League One and League Two respectively.
The Premiership, which Celtic lead by 13 points from Rangers, will not be called off until at least April 23, the earliest date UEFA would accept the abandonment of top divisions to avoid the possibility of being barred from European competitions.
Championship side Dundee did not vote last week but belatedly backed the Scottish Professional Football League’s (SPFL) resolution to end the season early following a change of heart.
Rangers, who are second in the Premiership, and bottom side Hearts, who would be relegated, were not in favour of the resolution.
“From afar, the SPFL looks an absolute mess,” Gerrard told Sky Sports. “I’m watching ex-players, pundits and reading media and it’s getting absolutely battered from pillar to post for the way it’s handled things, certainly in the last couple of days.
“There are so many accusations and doubts and questions about this institution, he (SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan) needs to allow an independent investigation... to prove everyone wrong and make sure there is fairness and transparency across the board in Scotland.”
MacLennan has previously said that he was “entirely satisfied” that the SPFL had acted properly at every stage in the process.
Rangers said last week they had evidence that raised “serious concerns” over the league’s voting process.
Hearts owner Ann Budge said she was “disillusioned and bitterly disappointed” after Dundee “re-cast its vote” to back the SPFL resolution and said they would continue fighting the decision.
“I believe the whole process has been incredibly badly handled and shows Scottish Football in a very poor light,” Budge said.
“I believe the SPFL should have admitted that errors had been made in the handling of this resolution, withdrawn it and asked clubs to re-vote. The outcome may have been the same but at least some of the criticisms would have been addressed.
“I have said from the outset that it was imperative that we find a solution that ensures no club is penalised by relegation in a situation where the leagues cannot be finished. The financial consequences are enormous.”
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis
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