Les Gray dismisses claims of bullying around SPFL vote as ‘absolute nonsense’

Accusations of bullying around the Scottish Professional Football League vote to end the season are “absolute nonsense”, according to board member Les Gray.

The Hamilton director dismissed demands for an independent inquiry and claimed calls by Rangers to suspend chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal adviser Rod McKenzie were pointless without evidence.

Gray revealed SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan and independent board member Karyn McCluskey had begun their own investigation into the process, which saw Dundee make a U-turn to carry the resolution five days after the requested deadline and having discovered they had the casting vote.

Rangers have called for Neil Doncaster to be suspended
Rangers have called for Neil Doncaster to be suspended (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Rangers claimed they had heard accusations of bullying but have refused to hand over evidence they described as “alarming”.

Gray, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme, said: “At the moment we don’t have any evidence, we have asked for it on several occasions.

“We have high-calibre non-exec directors and we are happy that they can look at this process and see what we could have done better.

“We have what’s been called a shambolic voting mess and it’s hard to disagree with that because of what happened in the end.

“But the system was in place and the way it all panned out is part of that mess but there was no wrongdoing so there is no need for an investigation in my view.

“I don’t like Boris Johnson and I could write a letter asking for him to be suspended but they will not suspend him unless I give in some evidence.”

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack and Hearts counterpart Ann Budge have both added their weight to calls for an independent probe.

Ann Budge is among those to have called for an independent inquiry
Ann Budge is among those to have called for an independent inquiry (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Gray said: “We have two independent directors who are looking at that process to see if there was anything that was in there that was wrong, anything that we have to bring people to account for.

“That will be handled by Murdoch MacLennan and Karyn McCluskey and if anything comes out of that, we will go the full hog.”

Gray added: “The accusations of bullying are complete nonsense. There’s loads of negotiation goes on between clubs, there’s loads of chats, but the board is there purely to enact the will of the clubs and 81 per cent of clubs voted in favour of this resolution.

“The silent majority have carried the day and other people are noisier and it’s the clubs that voted no that are the noisiest. And I’m looking at what their motives might be.

“If you’ve met Neil Doncaster, the idea that he bullied anyone is absolutely hysterical. Neil is probably the most even-tempered person I have met in my life. I feel sorry for him and Rod and Murdoch for the way they’ve been treated. They have remained silent in the face of huge provocation.

“Murdoch is a heavyweight businessman, has run PLCs, Karyn McCluskey is a criminal justice advocate and has a background in the police.

“We have good people at the helm SPFL and they are being slaughtered all over the place because probably it could have been handled better. But we are in difficult times.”

Gray accepted the SPFL board needed to be more contrite about how they handled the process.

“The way we handled it last Friday could have been better, putting out the results before all the votes were in could have been better,” he added.

“But on one hand we have everybody screaming at us to get transparency to the media and fans and we tell them. We didn’t tell them it was Dundee who hadn’t voted, it was the clubs who did that.”

Gray described claims the SPFL could have loaned clubs money rather than terminate the Championship, League and Two seasons to release prize money as a “red herring” given the amount of time it would have taken to perform due diligence on the loan applications.

And he is confident they did not act too quickly on moving to end the season, with a decision on the Premiership likely to be taken after UEFA talks in the coming week.

“We have looked long and hard at the medical evidence, the Government evidence,” he said. “And whether we have gone too early or not will only be borne out in time.

“But the reality is I don’t think we will be playing football again before September/October. That’s my view and there would only be one board member who doesn’t think that.”

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