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Chelsea out to maul Black Cats

Chelsea 9 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
May 6, 2008

Rangers chairman Murray slams SPL chiefs

Rangers chairman Sir David Murray claims the football world will 'laugh at this decision in disbelief' after the Scottish Premier League refused to extend the season to allow Walter Smith's team extra time to prepare for the UEFA Cup final.

Murray wants talks with the SPL once the season is over after being frustrated with league officials on more than one occasion during the present campaign.

Rangers had called for Saturday's SPL match against Dundee United to be rescheduled, to ensure Smith's side are prepared as well as possible for the showdown in Manchester with Zenit St Petersburg on May 14.

However that proposal was rejected and further talks this morning involving the SPL and the Scottish Football Association only resulted in confirmation the league season will end on May 22 and the Scottish Cup final featuring Rangers and Queen of the South will proceed according to plan on May 24.

If the United game had been moved, the SPL season could have finished on the day allocated for the cup final, or on a later date.

Murray told the club's website: 'Throughout the world people will laugh at this decision in disbelief, and none more so than in Russia as their own association have done everything they can to assist FC Zenit St Petersburg.'

Zenit have had games postponed to allow them time to gear up for the City of Manchester Stadium clash.

Murray explained: 'We were not asking that all games be called off, simply one match prior to such a prestigious European final.

'The reaction throughout Europe when we have been discussing other matters with clubs has been one of astonishment that we are in this situation.

'It has been a remarkable season despite being spoiled by bureaucracy and Scottish footballing legislators.'

CIS Insurance Cup winners Rangers still have seven important matches remaining this season, five in the SPL and their two remaining cup finals.

They are seven points behind Celtic in the SPL, but with three games in hand.

Their fixture backlog has developed because of postponed domestic games. The club's continued success in Europe, plus domestic cup replays, have left Rangers with little room in their calendar to squeeze in games.

Last month saw the SPL agree to extend their season by four days to May 22 in the event of Rangers reaching the UEFA Cup final, however at that stage the Ibrox club management were unhappy that not enough was being done to assist them in the bid to bring a European trophy back to Scotland.

Chairman Murray had been half-expecting the SPL to refuse to budge at today's meeting with the SFA.

'Their decision does not surprise me, but disappoints and angers myself and indeed the Rangers supporters,' Murray said.

'Our chief executive, Martin Bain, has worked diligently behind the scenes in relation to this issue and at all times we as a club have not made public any of the confidential discussions, despite external pressures.

'We wrote to the SPL on Friday asking for the Dundee United match to be moved in respect of our forthcoming UEFA Cup final and both the SPL and the club turned down our request.

'Subsequently, after being informed of their decision, the SFA then became involved and, after a further meeting today, we have once again been turned down.

'As a club I don't think we have been treated fairly and indeed most, if not all, football associations throughout the world would have taken a different position.

'In fact, they would have been only too pleased to assist a member club.

'What has happened here is footballing authorities not being proactive in their assistance, but only at this late stage by being reactive through embarrassment.'

Murray added: 'This football club will make no further comment but will now focus on the challenge that lies ahead, however, at the end of this season I, as chairman of Rangers Football Club, will ask to meet with the SPL to understand their management and decision-making process this season on certain matters.'