Glasgow Clan: Sixth sponsor suspend deal after signing of player linked to rape charge

A total of six major sponsors have now suspended their support of Glasgow Clan as the ice hockey team is engulfed by the fall-out from its aborted signing of a player at the centre a rape allegation.
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They have all put their support on hold with pointed criticism of the team’s owners for its handling of what is now a growing crisis.

Point2Point Courier Service and Wet Wall Works have become the latest in a growing line of businesses – all run by fans of the team and the sport – to take action in the wake of the toxic signing of Finnish player Lasse Uusivirta.

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The 33-year old was at the centre of a rape allegation in 2013 while playing ice hockey at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Glasgow Clan (Pic: Al Goold)Glasgow Clan (Pic: Al Goold)
Glasgow Clan (Pic: Al Goold)

He returned to his native Finland. The BBC has reported that a grand jury declined to proceed with the case.

Uusivirta has continued his career in Germany, Austria, Denmark and Italy, but his arrival in Glasgow last Thursday sparked a huge backlash - drawing parallels with the chaos that engulfed Raith Rovers after its signing of David Goodwillie.

It led to the suspension and re-instatement of head coach Malcolm Cameron, while the future of chief executive, Gareth Chalmers also remains unclear after an internal investigation.

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Coach Malcolm Cameron will take charge of the team this weekend after his suspension was lifted (Pic: Al Goold)Coach Malcolm Cameron will take charge of the team this weekend after his suspension was lifted (Pic: Al Goold)
Coach Malcolm Cameron will take charge of the team this weekend after his suspension was lifted (Pic: Al Goold)
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This morning, Paisley Autocare joined major sponsors Aspray Glasgow West, Proximo3 and Indigo Unified Communications in suspending their support.

A fifth sponsor, Wet Wall Works, added its name to the growing list with immediate effect this lunchtime.

Business owners Alistair and Liz MacKenzie said: “We cannot condone the way events this week have been handled by Clan.

"Our business cannot support an organisation that appears to have ignored these shared values, and we cannot condone the lack of empathy and respect for the issue surrounding these events.”

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That stance was mirrored across the club’s business backers, but, significantly, none chose to completely severed ties, suggesting the next steps from Clan’s owners are key.

A statement from Paisley Autocare said: “The owners have refused to take any accountability for their actions in regard to the recent recruitment process.

“If the way these situations are handled heading forward does not change, then we will no longer be able to continue sponsorship.

“We will continue to sponsor other initiatives that align with our values.”

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Criticism also came from John Strange, director of Aspray (Glasgow West) who said his business “simply can’t remain” as title sponsors in the current crisis.

“As a business owner and a hockey fan, I simply can’t condone the actions of the club or the lack of awareness, apology or responsibility the ownership have shown this far.

“With immediate effect we are suspending our sponsorship.

“Unless there is a change in the process of how situations like this are dealt with then we will be unable to continue.”

Mr Strange added: “This is not the end, simply the beginning of the need for positive change.”

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Craig Armstrong, MD of Indigo Unified Communications hit out at the “complete lack of transparency and respect shown in the last few weeks to all involved in the club and wider community.”

Neil Black, team owner, who also runs Nottingham Panthers, was also criticised in a statement from Microsoft consulting experts, Proximo3.

Putting their sponsorship on hold, they said: “We believe mistakes have been made during the recruitment process of a recent player. The events following this have not been handled in a way that we feel ties with the club’s or our family values

“We have tried to contact Neil Black to ask him to give a sincere apology on behalf of the club, engage on behalf of the club, engage with the affected community and put in place policies to make sure this type of incident does not happen again

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“We have had no response from him, and until the above has been addressed we will be suspending our sponsorship of the club.”

The growing off-ice problems come as the team prepares for this weekend’s games which will see Malcolm Cameron return as head coach after his suspension was lifted.

His team have already hit rock bottom with nine-straight losses, and face a tough weekend at home to Coventry Blaze on Saturday, and away to Fife Flyers on Sunday.

The fall-out could also have a financial impact on Fife’s home rink in Kirkcaldy with only a limited number of advance tickets bought so far by Clan supporters who traditionally travel to the Kingdom in huge strength.

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Clan’s comms officer, Craig Anderson, has resigned his post and will leave after this weekend.

Commercial director Gerry McLaughlin, has also handed in his notice, although he said it was not related to the off-ice chaos as he looks to pursue new opportunities.