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Unhappy players dispute newco 'transfers'

RANGERS players are "unhappy" with the way the crisis at the club is being handled as their union last night robustly defended their right to decline to transfer to a newco.

Rangers CVA proposal is almost certain to rejected by largest creditor HMRC
Rangers CVA proposal is almost certain to rejected by largest creditor HMRC

Duff & Phelps and Charles Green have insisted players' contracts would switch to a newco in the event of the Ibrox club being liquidated. PFA Scotland, employment lawyers and sources at FIFA rejected this claim, while the Scottish FA last night wrote to FIFA seeking urgent clarification on the situation. It is believed that the international football body is minded to side with the union's stance.

The PFA also hit out at how the crisis had been handled as Rangers face a creditors' meeting this morning when a CVA proposal is almost certain to rejected by largest creditor HMRC.

The players accepted pay cuts of 75% in March to keep the club alive and to save jobs but their patience is running out. "The players are becoming increasingly unhappy at having to operate in an information vacuum whilst their futures are portrayed by others as being a fait accompli with no proper communication and consultation taking place," a union statement read last night.

Under Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, contracts can be switched to a newco but crucially this must be done under existing terms. This not only applies to wages, but to conditions and players have the right to object and end the contract.

Paul McQuade, an employment lawyer with Levy & McCrae, said: "If a player decides to object to the transfer, there is no breach of contract on his part. By exercising this statutory right to object under the TUPE regulations, he is not dismissed and neither is he entitled to any statutory or contractual compensation on account of the termination of the contract.

"Following communication of the objection, the player is not required to work out his notice period and his existing contractual terms, such as a restrictive covenant, are no longer enforceable against him. The player's employment with the current employer ends on the date of the business transfer."

This means that up to £30m of Rangers talent will be able to walk away from the club.

Sources at FIFA last night confirmed the contract situation, but players face another obstacle in the matter of their registrations that are held with the SFA. But it is believed that a Rangers newco would not have any right to those registrations as the club would be seeking registration with the SFA itself.

The multi-million pound question is what would the SFA do with the registrations? Precedent suggests that they would allow the players freedom of movement. FIFA stepped in to ensure Andy Webster moved to Wigan Athletic in 2006 in a similar situation.

This seems to be the strong opinion of the players' union. PFA Scotland said: "With regard to the question of registration, we are unclear on what legal basis the football authorities would be entitled to withhold the transfer of registration of any player in this situation."

The union also revealed how the players are growing increasingly unhappy. "The players are being asked to decide upon their future with so many uncertainties and unanswered questions," said the union. "Particularly since it a career that is short-lived."

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