03 August 2015

SPFL responds to RST request for comment over McLaughlin receiving delegate's report

by Shane Nicholson | Executive Editor

As the battle over the media bans of Chris McLaughlin and Graham Spiers waged on over the BBC's airwaves tonight, the Rangers Supporters Trust issued a statement detailing the response from the SPFL in regards to McLaughlin's acquiring a match delegate's report last Saturday.

"The SPFL reply confirmed that it is not common practice for match delegates to brief journalists and that the SPFL could not explain why it had happened in this instance," said the RST in a statement on their website. The league body also informed the RST that delegates reports will not be made available to the public in an ongoing manner.

In a response to the SPFL the RST stated, "A journalist, seeking to create a negative story about the club, has received assistance in doing so from an SPFL match delegate. This assistance has been rendered in breach of guidelines for match delegates."

But the SPFL would not elaborate further, telling the supporters group, "Matters between the SPFL and individual Match Delegates must remain confidential. Where we have concerns these are addressed, either with individual Match Delegates or with all Match Delegates as appropriate, to maximise the level of consistency clubs and their supporters have every right to expect."

The SPFL offered a meeting to the RST to further clarify its position and to discuss concerns that the fans group has raised. Said the RST, "It is quite clear in this case that a journalist with a long history of imbalanced reporting on Rangers has concocted a negative headline with the assistance of an SPFL match delegate in what is an entirely unacceptable incident."

Elsewhere, Craig Houston was joined by Tom English, Richard Wilson, Kenny Macintyre and Stuart McCall to discuss the bans of McLaughlin and Spiers. Not shockingly given his mock outrage professed via Twitter the past few days, English stood strong in the corner of the pair, saying he was delighted that BBC Scotland had "taken a stand."

But when Houston pressed him on how this particular instance was different from prior bans by other SPFL clubs, including that of former BBC reporter Jim Spence by Dundee, English could only say that those situations were "entirely different" without offering any further clarity to his opinion.

Wilson entered the fray after English commented, "What were we supposed to do, accept Rangers' view that Chris is biased against Rangers?" by saying, "Journalists have a responsibility to report in the correct matter."

"The issue is the prominence of (McLaughlin's) story that Rangers felt wasn't deserved," Wilson said. "It's not a case of Rangers saying journalists can't have opinions. This has built up over a number of years."

McCall said, "I can understand Rangers being upset. They see the club winning 6-2 and that was the main story."

English also continued to peddle the line that Rangers fans were delighted over the death threats sent to Scott Allan via Twitter last week, saying supporters showed a "distasteful reaction" to the actions of Hibernian fans.

When the conversation swung back to McLaughlin and the fact that his editors have on at least two occasions warned him over his reporting of Rangers, English again backed the side of his employer. "What if (Rangers) draw Celtic at Ibrox in the cup?" asked Houston. "I bet you'll end the boycott then."

The BBC are currently planning on not broadcasting Friday's match against St. Mirren live on radio. The SPFL is set to comment on the situation later this week.