A former Rangers youth footballer who alleges that a coach at the Ibrox club sexually abused him has been told by the club that he should direct his complaint to the liquidators, in what can only be seen as a deplorable act by the club hierarchy.
The alleged victim claims that he was abused within Ibrox by Head of Youth Development Gordon Neely in the 1980s, but the club’s lawyers claim that the duty of care is not with the current owners, that when the abuse took place Rangers were owned by a different company which is now in liquidation.
According to BBC News, an email was sent to the victim’s solicitors, saying: “You will understand that there have been many changes affecting Rangers over the last several years. The company which owned Rangers Football Club…. which you refer to as owing duties of care to your client will have been the company then called The Rangers Football Club PLC and now called RFC 2012 Limited. That company is currently in liquidation but we do have the liquidators’ contact details and can provide that information if it will assist.”
A BBC documentary by journalist Mark Daly revealed allegations of abuse by Neely at a number of clubs including Rangers and Hibs in the 1980s, but he died in 2014 before his victims could find justice.
The BBC report claims that the victim, who is a Rangers season ticket holder, spoke to a solicitor around two years ago about the alleged abuse and was advised to contact Rangers and make a claim, but while Rangers’ lawyers said that the club offered ‘its deepest concern’, they made it abundantly clear that any compensation claims would be for the liquidators.
The victim, who the BBC call David, said: “My issue’s always been that they may be a different legal entity, but they’re still the same club. And although they don’t have the same maybe liability legally, certainly morally they’re still the same club…. I’d like them to sit there and listen to me and realise the impact that it’s had and get an apology off them face-to-face. That’s my real goal.”
Scottish charity Talk Now, which counsels victims of sexual abuse, criticised Rangers for their stance.
Spokeperson Pat Mair, said: “The survivors are looking for acknowledgement, they’re looking for communication with the football clubs where they were abused. The abuse happened at Rangers Football Club but they are not taking any responsibility and it’s as if they’re not accountable for it.”
A statement from Rangers Football Club said: “It is vital matters are dealt with sensitively and with proper care and regard for those involved. We will not respond to questions that seek to turn allegations of desperate and deplorable conduct from three or more decades ago into cheap and nasty attacks on Rangers Football Club, and those of its employees who now have to attend to such difficult matters.”