Doncaster Still Playing A Straight Bat To Criticisms
Both Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster are in the firing line if Scottish football does not survice the fall out from Rangers liquidation
Neil Doncaster does not think he can offer any assurances that the SPL league programme will would have a television deal next season. The SPL chief executive knows that with Dundee invited to take the place vacated by liquidated Rangers, the package may not be so attractive to broadcasters. The SFL were warned that the SPL could lose £15.7million - all but £1million from broadcasters - were Rangers to be relaunched in the Third Division but Doncaster refused to make any predictions now that Rangers will be starting off afresh at the bottom of the ladder. Sky and ESPN were due to sign a new £80million five-year deal this summer but their existing £13million annual contract still has a year to run. As you would expect, all broadcasting deals have an exit or re-negotiation clause should one of the Old Firm be absent. Doncaster said: "In terms of financial consequences, we'll work through that over the coming days and weeks with our partners and as soon as we're in a position to make an announcement about the reality then we will do so. I'm not going to be commenting specifically on any discussions with any of our partners. It's important that we work intensively over the next few days and weeks to bring clarity for the benefit of our clubs and we'll do that as soon as we can." When put on the spot regarding if there will be a TV deal, Doncaster said: "I'm not going to be speculating on what might be the case. I think it's important that we focus on what the reality is and we'll be working to discover what the commercial damage is." ESPN said after Friday's SFL vote on that they wanted to continue their relationship with Scottish football but Sky Sports have remained silent on the matter. Stenhousemuir produced a detailed report of their briefing by Doncaster and SFA chief executive Stewart Regan which stated that the SPL broadcasting rights were valued at £3million if the new Rangers kicked off life in the Third rather than the First Division. However, Doncaster said: "That document was put together by the SFL not the SPL or the SFA." Some SFL clubs felt that an SPL2 breakaway was inevitable should they reject the First Division plan but Doncaster said: "Certainly that is not something I have said to anyone, either to the clubs or the media. SPL2 wasn't on the agenda today. All of our clubs were focusing on the reality of Rangers being in Division Three and Dundee being invited to take their place." Regan had vowed to block attempts to put the Ibrox club in the Third Division while Charles Green's Sevco Scotland have still to acquire the transfer of Rangers' SFA membership. Doncaster said: "It's probably a question for Stewart rather than me. Our clubs talked about the position following Friday's vote and they were quite clear that they would do what they can to facilitate the decision taken by SFL clubs." Doncaster had no time for claims from some SFL clubs that they had been "bullied" and "threatened" into accepting the First Division plan, which 25 of them rejected. Doncaster said: "I don't think that's fair at all. What we've tried to do is set out the facts as we see them. Certainly I've done that. Stewart Regan has done that. I think Stewart Regan has taken a lot of very unfair criticism over recent days. The guy has just been trying to do his utmost for the game in Scotland. I think the sort of personal attacks he has had really don't do any credit to those that are making them." SFA chief executive Regan has been under intensive pressure since the weekend with a leaked email outlined his role in the plan to put newco Rangers in the First Division. But Doncaster said: "Decisions can only be made by the clubs, decisions can't be taken by executive bodies. What we can do is advise, assist and try to bring solutions to the table. Ultimately it's for the clubs to decide whether they wish to endorse the actions or not. There was a lot of work carried out on behalf of all 42 clubs by the two leagues and the SFA to achieve the best outcome for the game as whole. The clubs have made their views felt, that's clear and we have to draw a line under the issue and move forward." When asked whether he would consider his own position, Doncaster said: "That's really for the 12 clubs who I represent to take a view on, not for me." Doncaster will continue to discuss reconstruction proposals with the SFL and SFA but confirmed there would be no promotion play-offs for the top flight in the coming season. And he said the £2million settlement payment to the SFL might not be paid in full. He said: "It's not a fixed figure, it's calculated based on the rate of inflation and the SPL's commercial revenues. As soon as we're in a position to establish what they are, then that will determine what the payment is this season."
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