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Friday, 15 February 2013 17:30

Green In Belgian Talks

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CHARLES GREEN this week stepped up his investigation into the likelihood of participating in cross-border leagues by meeting Standard Liege chairman Roland Duchatelet.

After returning from a trip to Dubai, Qatar and Australia on club business, the Rangers chief executive travelled to Brussels for exploratory discussions.

Duchatelet spoke in December about the need to form a Dutch-Belgian league, insisting the game in those countries ‘would die’ without one.

He also claimed Liege would try to move into French football if the project did not get off the ground.

As well as the suggested Benelux combination, there appears to be an appetite for something along the same lines involving clubs in Russia and Ukraine a present.

Green has grown frustrated by a lack of significant movement on the reform of Scottish football in recent months and has similar issues to Duchatelet regarding his own club.

As talks about a variety of proposed new structures here continue to drag on, he feels Gers have no option but to consider other avenues.

Green is keen to explore how feasible cross-border competitions could be given it is something more and more people seem open to than before.

And he said: “The big issue for us at the moment is we don’t know what is happening domestically. Scottish football has been in a mess for some time.

“That’s not something which was brought about by Rangers’ demise – gates were dwindling before then and interest from fans and sponsors was diminishing.

“While I was away, Ross County’s chairman came out saying their fans didn’t support the proposed structure. St Mirren, I understand, have had a similar response.

“We’re not really sure what the SPL clubs are thinking of doing but clearly something has to happen. There has to be a fix but not with a sticky plaster that covers the cracks.

“A strategic review needs to take place but that will involve other countries and not just Scotland.

“It would be very wrong of me to sit by idly waiting to see what comes of that. I must explore all avenues and the issue of cross-border leagues is now on everyone’s lips.

“I recently visited the chairman of Standard Liege because he has made a statement about a Benelux league.

“There is already one in existence in the professional women’s game and a precedent is there in that respect.

“We’re seeing that kind of thing being looked at in the former Soviet states and in some of these countries, you have one or two very big clubs.

“After that, the rest of the clubs are small and that’s exactly what you’ve got in Scotland. Rangers and Celtic are giants and that’s it.

“There are parallels with many countries across Europe, places such as Belgium and Portugal, where there’s a difference between the top two or three and the rest.”

Green has revealed he is also keen to push the boundaries of football law and regulation like never before – and maintains Rangers are right to do so.

The Yorkshireman revealed during his trip Down Under he has written to Prime Minister David Cameron signalling his intent to challenge certain issues he feels hold Gers back.

Green believes the Light Blues should be allowed to branch out to play in leagues outwith Scotland and will go to whatever lengths he feels are appropriate to move the club forward.

He added: “We’re part of the EU and what we have to do is take advantage of the rules and regulations within that.

“There are very clear and concise regulations regarding the restriction of trade and football is a business which benefits from the rules and protections of EU competition laws.

“There is no doubt whatsoever the English FA and leagues will be in breach of European competition laws.

“They will say UEFA and FIFA regulations are outside of that, something you’d expect, but it’s not true. Nothing is outside the law.

“If people continue to hide behind that, they will be challenged in court and they will lose. The reality is things are going to change.

“I understand why people don’t want to change or give up the little gold mines they have found but it’s not within European law for them to do so.

“I have written to the Prime Minister to make the point this is something we want to do but not necessarily for him to come out and help or support us.

“I’ve always believed in telling someone what you’re going to do and I think speaking to the Prime Minister and the First Minister is the proper thing to do.

“But rather than wait for anyone to agree to it, I’m just going to get on with seeing what is open to us.

“Rangers fans are aware our transfer ban was applied and the Fighting Fund put up a defence, went to court and the ban was then thrown out.

“I’d rather these matters were resolved within football laws but if people want to put their heads in the sand, maybe there is no choice but to challenge issues in court.”

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