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Watchdog criticises Rangers Charity Foundation over Milan fundraising match

The charities watchdog has criticised Rangers Charity Foundation because money from a fundraising event was assigned to the club.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator found misconduct in the organisation of a charity dinner and football match between Rangers Legends and AC Milan Glorie in March last year.

The foundation agreed to forego most of its share of the proceeds in favour of The Rangers Football Club plc which entered administration the previous month.

An inquiry was opened in February last year when the watchdog received complaints about the planned event.

A report by the regulator found a "conflict of interest" in the close relationship between the charity trustees and the football club.

The decision-making process breached the trustees' duties, the inquiry concluded.

The watchdog acknowledged that the agreement to forego the cash was widely publicised and many people may have bought tickets in order to benefit the club.

Laura Anderson, the regulator's head of enforcement, said other football charities should take note of the findings.

"This case has generated considerable interest and while it features its own particular circumstances, the issues it highlights are straightforward governance issues common to many of the concerns we receive about charities," she said.

"It's therefore essential that charities generally reflect on the key lessons in the inquiry report.

"What this case has highlighted, however, is the potential conflict of interest that may exist between charities and professional football clubs.

"This is a matter that we are considering with a view to working with relevant bodies to highlight key governance issues they may wish to examine."

But the watchdog said it will not be taking action against individual trustees of the charity foundation.

Two new trustees have since been appointed and the foundation has sought independent legal advice on how to improve its governance, the regulator said.

Craig Mather, chief executive of The Rangers Football Club Ltd, said: "This match took place during an unprecedented time for Rangers Football Club and we are delighted that OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator) concluded that the decision to assign proceeds to both the club and the charity foundation was done "in good faith and in the interests of the charity given the risk that otherwise the event may not have taken place, in which case the charity would have received no benefit at all.

"The Rangers Charity Foundation has and continues to do great work and, with the support of the fans, has donated over £1.1 million in cash awards to charity and over £1.9 million of in-kind support, making a combined total of over £3 million since it was set up in October 2002."

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