THE Scottish football season may have ended weeks ago, but there has been no let up in hostilities. The warring factions in the game in this country have continued to aim potshots at each other this summer. And there are no signs of peace breaking out any time soon.

Condoleezza Rice working in tandem with Henry Kissinger would struggle to broker a truce between Rangers and the SPFL at the moment so bitter are the divisions and so deep the ill-feeling which exist between the two parties.

The revelation in these pages earlier this week that the Ibrox club have been granted permission by the SFA to take the SPFL to court underlined they remain mortal enemies.

The Herald:

Rangers are, in the latest development in the long-running stand-off over the £8m cinch title sponsorship deal that was struck back in 2021, cranking up their quest to receive an apology as well as legal costs from the governing body to DEFCON 1.

It is believed the SPFL indicated they would supply both last July when the Court of Session found that an existing agreement with Park’s of Hamilton – the company owned by major shareholder and then chairman Douglas Park – prohibited them from providing the online car retailer with advertising inventory.

READ MORERangers set to take SPFL to court with SFA blessing over cinch dispute

Neither, though, has been forthcoming 12 months on. Hence Rangers’ unprecedented action. Who knows where or when this sorry saga will all end? However, it is obvious from this week’s bombshell that the Glasgow giants have no intention of ending their all-out offensive any time soon.

The cinch affair was widely perceived to be solely a dispute between Park and the SPFL and it was speculated that when the wealthy Scottish businessman – who was involved in his own legal challenge - stepped down from the board back in April that there might be a thawing in relations.

But it is far from the only grievance Rangers directors have. The way the early curtailment of the 2019/20 season was handled following the Covid 19 outbreak – Celtic were awarded the Premiership title on a points per game basis after a controversial vote – left a very sour taste which has not gone away over time.

It is clear that grave concerns about the corporate governance of the leagues remain down Govan way and will persist until chairman Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive Neil Doncaster and others who occupy senior positions in the SPFL executive are removed and replaced.  

When a new £150m television deal with Sky Sports was approved by all 11 of their top flight rivals back in September – after Rangers abstained from the vote in protest over the cinch feud and a qualified resolution proposing a change of rules was passed – it suggested there is no appetite for such a cull at Aberdeen, Celtic, Kilmarnock or Ross County.

The Herald:

But those who favour the status quo will have been asking themselves a question of late. Can Scottish football really flourish in a difficult economic climate in the years ahead with Rangers, one of the two biggest clubs in the country, constantly at loggerheads with the SPFL?

READ MORESPFL, Rangers and cinch: The timeline, the row and what happens next

The strategic report commissioned by Aberdeen, Dundee, Dundee United, Hearts and Hibernian and compiled by the Deloitte Sports Group, advised the organisation move from a largely administrative function to a more commercial structure last year. The recommended changes have since been implemented.

Will they be able to achieve their ambitious objectives and increase their annual revenue from £30m to £50m by 2029 if one of their best-supported teams has opted out of their flagship sponsorship agreement and refused to back their television deal? Potential commercial backers could be forgiven for being wary about ploughing in their cash.

Ann Budge, the Hearts chairman and a former Entrepreneur of the Year, expressed her exasperation at the dysfunctionality of the sport in this country after the Tynecastle club’s AGM in December. “I do think it's important the clubs stand together,” she said. But that will not happen while Doncaster is in situ.

The Herald:

The Englishman, who it was this week revealed took home a cool £392,000 last year and has a two year notice period written into his contract, has ridden out all kinds of crises during his turbulent 14 year tenure at the SPFL. Hence his Teflon Don nickname.

When the SPFL announced they had renegotiated the cinch contract in June last year he stated: “Rangers are no longer required to participate by providing the sponsorship inventory that they have so far not provided”.

READ MORENeil Doncaster's astonishing SPFL exit cost amid 2 year notice period

He and his associates are clearly still sceptical about the validity of the Ibrox club’s stance despite the court rulings. Many chairmen and chief executives may well share their view and sympathise about how this has played out. He retains the backing of influential figures.But can Doncaster really survive if the SPFL are forced to back down over the cinch affair, say sorry and cough up a hefty sum? It will be deeply damaging for both his reputation and his credibility.

At the moment, it is a mess and no mistake. Something clearly has to be done to end the discord. Is it really too much to ask to have everyone in the upper echelons of the game working as one for the greater good of Scottish football?