Rangers withdraw co-operation with BBC

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The Independent Football

Rangers have withdrawn co-operation with the BBC for the second time this season ahead of a documentary exploring Craig Whyte's takeover of the club.

The Clydesdale Bank Premier League club described the programme, which will be shown on Thursday evening, as "little more than a prejudiced muckraking exercise".

However, the BBC strongly rejected claims of bias against the club and insisted the content of the programme was accurate and in the public interest.

Rangers first withdrew co-operation following a national news report on sectarianism ahead of the opening weekend of the SPL season, before a BBC apology ended the impasse.

A statement on the club's official website read: "Rangers Football Club is withdrawing all co-operation with the BBC as of today.

"The decision has been taken due to the repeated difficulties the club has encountered with the BBC this season.

"The club was forced earlier in the season to suspend co-operation with the BBC over its serious misrepresentation of the club manager's position on violence and sectarianism.

"There have also been other instances where the BBC's reporting on the club's affairs has been neither accurate or fair.

"Furthermore, over the last few weeks the BBC has been involved in making a documentary about the club which appears to be little more than a prejudiced muckraking exercise.

"Efforts to ensure that reporting of the club's affairs should be balanced and fair appear to have been in vain.

"The club believes that the BBC has on a number of occasions now demonstrated a pre-determined negative attitude towards Rangers and its fans and its journalism has fallen well short of acceptable standards.

"The decision to end co-operation with the BBC has been taken very reluctantly but the club feels it has been left with no other option."

BBC Scotland later defended the programme and their general standards of reporting.

A spokesman said: "Rangers FC has made a number of assertions in relation to our journalistic standards, including a claim of underlying bias against the club. We completely refute this allegation in the strongest terms.

"All of our reporting of matters pertinent to the running of Rangers FC reflects the high standard expected of the BBC, an organisation that places an absolute value on the accuracy and impartiality of its journalism.

"The club has also made specific criticisms of a documentary scheduled for transmission at 7pm on BBC One Scotland on Thursday.

"We have assured them that rigorous editorial standards will be applied and nothing will be broadcast that is not both accurate and in the public interest."

The BBC website claims that the programme, Rangers - The Inside Story, "investigates the current plight of Rangers FC, and asks what the future might hold under new owner, Craig Whyte".

The programme comes in the same week that Ibrox great John Greig and former chairman John McClelland resigned from the board after feeling marginalised by Whyte, who completed his takeover in May.

The BBC apologised to Rangers for an "inappropriate edit" in July after Ibrox manager Ally McCoist was shown smirking while audio was played of a news reporter questioning him about the behaviour of supporters at Old Firm matches.

McCoist, a former team captain on Question of Sport, was "appalled" that his response to another question had been inserted in the feature, which was shown on the News at Six on BBC One on July 22.