Dire warnings have been delivered about the damage to Scottish football's finances if Rangers were three divisions below the SPL
The future of the Rangers name rests with a vote of the Scottish Football League after the Scottish Premier League's 11 clubs voted "overwhelmingly" not to accept a newly-formed Rangers club into the SPL next season. The issue of what to do next about Rangers, who have collapsed into liquidation and whose assets – Ibrox and a training ground – have been bought for £5.5m by a company with the businessman Charles Green as its chief executive, is tearing Scottish football apart.
Rangers dominated the SPL since the top league was formed as a financially-driven breakaway from the SFL in 1998, and Rangers, Celtic and the Old Firm matches between the Glasgow giants are the financial mainstays of the SPL's TV and sponsorship deals. However, the clubs' rejection of Green's application came after the Scottish Football Association stated it would not sanction the inclusion in the SPL of a Rangers newly formed by Green's company next season.
In a statement following the meeting at Hampden Park, the SPL said: "SPL clubs today voted overwhelmingly to reject the application from Rangers newco to join the SPL." Several clubs in the SFL's three divisions have argued that on principle, any new club should apply to join the Third Division, and many fans, outraged at Rangers' failure to pay up to £140m of creditors, have strongly expressed that same view.
However, the SPL's chief executive, Neil Doncaster, has delivered dire warnings about the damage to Scottish football's finances if a Rangers club were to be three divisions below the SPL. At an SFL meeting on Tuesday, Doncaster told clubs that the Sky and ESPN TV deals, worth £80m for five years from this coming season, depend on Old Firm matches, and sponsors also have the right to walk away if one of the Old Firm is not in the SPL.
That prospect underlies Doncaster's insistence that the SPL would lose £16m and, with players' wages and other bills to pay, suffer financial collapse if Rangers are in the Third Divison. He warned that the SPL would then struggle to meet the settlement payment it makes to the SFL, by agreement after the top clubs broke away, now £2m a season.
Doncaster argues that the integrity of competition is recognised by not allowing a re-formed Rangers into the SPL, but pragmatically one of the two Glasgow great names cannot be in the Third Division. The compromise he has been seeking is for the SFL to accept Green's newco Rangers into the First Division; Doncaster believes Sky, ESPN and sponsors could accommodate a league without Rangers for a minimum of one season, but not three.
It has, however, enraged some SFL clubs that the SPL has talked of inviting the First Division to join it in a breakaway, as SPL2, if a majority of SFL clubs do not accept Rangers into the First Division. The SFL clubs, among whom feelings are running high, will meet on 12 July to take a vote. Its decision will have a profound impact on Rangers and Scottish football, which, three weeks before the start of the SFL season, is in a state of infighting close to paralysis. Read More
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