THE long-running dispute between the SPFL, Rangers and Park’s Motor Group over the league’s title sponsorship has finally been resolved, as the governing body were forced into issuing an apology and agreeing to pay compensation to the Ibrox club, as well as sanctioning an independent inquiry into the governance of the SPFL.

The so-called ‘cinch dispute’ has rumbled on acrimoniously between the parties for over two years now, ultimately costing the league hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees, after Rangers successfully argued an existing contract agreement with Park’s prevented them from providing advertising inventory to a competitor in the motor vehicle industry.

Herald Sport exclusively revealed last month that Rangers had been granted permission by the SFA to take the SPFL to court over the dispute.

READ MORE: Rangers set to take SPFL to court with SFA blessing over cinch dispute

But after the apology, the promise of an inquiry and a six-figure settlement was agreed between the SPFL and Rangers – which the Ibrox club will split three ways between the Rangers Charity Foundation, a charity of Park’s choosing and the SPFL Charitable Trust – Herald Sport understands that all parties consider the matter closed.

The statement read: The Scottish Professional Football League, Rangers, and Park’s of Hamilton have confirmed that the long-running dispute between them in relation to the SPFL’s title sponsorship contract with cinch has been brought to an end.

The SPFL has accepted that Rangers had a pre-existing contract with Park’s at the point that the SPFL entered into its title sponsorship contract with cinch in June 2021. All three parties have now agreed to withdraw the resulting Scottish FA arbitration, with the SPFL making a contribution to the costs of Rangers and Park’s. These sums will be donated to charity.

The SPFL regrets any damage to the reputation of Rangers and Park’s as a result of the dispute.

SPFL Chairman, Murdoch MacLennan, said: “We are delighted to have finally drawn a line under this dispute following discussions between ourselves and Rangers, and we are keen to do all we can to learn from this protracted disagreement.

“I am particularly grateful for the constructive approach shown by all parties in helping resolve this long-running situation and am very happy to apologise if there has been any damage to the reputation of Rangers FC or Park’s of Hamilton.

“Going forward, we have also agreed to commission an independent review of governance to help ensure the SPFL can avoid any such dispute in the future. This review will commence in October 2023.

“I am pleased we have put this matter to bed at last and am now looking forward to working constructively with Rangers and our 41 other clubs at what is a hugely exciting time for Scottish football as a whole.”

A spokesperson for Rangers commented: “Rangers acknowledges the apology from the SPFL and is pleased that this long running dispute has been brought to a conclusion. In welcoming the independent review of SPFL governance, the Club wishes to give thanks for the efforts and patience of those who have driven this to a satisfactory outcome.”

Questions will now however be asked of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and the way that the agreement with cinch was pushed through in the first place, with Rangers informing Doncaster ahead of the conclusion of the deal that they would not be able to comply with the terms of the contract.

Having forced the deal through, the admission from Doncaster that he was wrong to do so will be a humiliating one for the 54-year-old, who had cast doubt about Rangers’ claims of a pre-existing agreement with Park’s before ultimately being forced to climb down.

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Doncaster himself stopped short of apologising to Rangers, expressing only his regret at any damage to their reputation, while it was SPFL chairman Murdoch McLennan who offered a full apology.

The victory will however be seen as a vindication of outgoing managing director Stewart Robertson’s position, who long maintained that Rangers were bound by the terms of their agreement with Park’s, and who has publicly expressed his concern around the corporate governance of the SPFL.