Scottish scrap ‘could be resolve on Monday’

Edinburgh owner Bob Carruthers insists he does not have an axe to grind on a personal level with Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) chief executive Gordon McKie.

The ongoing dispute between Edinburgh and the SRU began as a row over Heineken Cup and Magners League fees, and has escalated into conflict affecting the Scotland national team and threatening the long-term relationship between each party.

Indications in the last 48 hours of the heated row beginning to cool have offered hope that a peaceful conclusion can be reached.

And although Carruthers continues to be riled by the SRU withholding a six-figure payment Edinburgh are demanding, he is also hoping an end is within reach, and dialogue with McKie will be essential.

“I think what’s very important is that this shouldn’t be characterised as a fall-out between Gordon McKie and I,” Carruthers told BBC Radio Scotland.

“I’ve never called for Gordon’s resignation or anything like that, so I don’t have a personal problem with Gordon McKie.”

Carruthers has not held back in his criticism of the SRU. He was angered by the decision earlier this year to shut down Border Reivers without consulting Edinburgh, and just as dismayed by demands to release players for Scotland duty for months on end, even in a World Cup year.

Edinburgh refused their 12 Scotland players permission to train with the national team on July 2 but have since released them to head coach Frank Hadden.

Carruthers said: “When we bought this club it was one of three professional clubs and we were told that the idea was to build back to the four that Scotland used to have.

“That would give us an inter-district championship and all sorts of options.

“What happened in practice is that they immediately closed one of the clubs as soon as we were in the door, without consultation or bringing us into the fold to say, ‘Look we’re going to do this’.

“So we’ve got a situation where for professional rugby there’s no clear vision as to where this game is going.

“Really what we want is a dialogue that addresses that.

“We pay the wages for a substantial number of the Scotland players, and it can’t be fair that the SRU can come and take those players for as long as they like, whenever they like, leaving us without enough people to even train.”

Edinburgh received a censure from the SRU on Thursday evening following those withdrawals, but agreed to take back their resignation as associate members of the union, which had been submitted six days previously.

Carruthers described the SRU’s action against the Edinburgh hierarchy as “ludicrously over the top” and added: “It seemed like a vindictive and petty thing to do.”

Such comments are unlikely to have the SRU rushing for mediation, however measured talks between the two parties appear the only way to avoid the dispute over match fees ending up in court.

Carruthers maintains Edinburgh were due a “substantial” payment on November 30 2006 but are still waiting for the funds to reach them.

He added: “It’s surely got to be in the interest of Scottish rugby, for me to sit around the table with somebody in authority from Scottish Rugby and two lawyers. We could resolve this on Monday – it’s no big deal.”

365 Digital

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