RANGERS manager Ally McCoist has admitted his interest in a potential move to the fifth tier of English football for the Ibrox club and believes his team can successfully adjust to whatever level of the game they find themselves in.
The Third Division leaders are opposed to a 12-12-18 league structure put forward by the Scottish Premier League, although it was clear yesterday that several top-flight clubs – including Motherwell and St Mirren – also remain unconvinced by that proposal, which will require an 11-1 majority from the SPL clubs, as well as a 75 per cent majority from member clubs in the Scottish Football League.
Rangers chief executive Charles Green has threatened to explore the possibility of leaving Scottish football if the 12-12-18 plan is passed, and yesterday McCoist responded to comments from Brian Lee, chairman of the Football Conference, who stated this week that it was possible Rangers could be admitted to the Blue Square Premier Division of his organisation.
Lee’s stance is in marked contrast to that of the FA Premier League and the Football League who have consistently opposed the notion of Scottish clubs joining their ranks.
Their view was underlined again yesterday by Greg Clarke, chairman of the Football League, who suggested that the English FA would block any attempt by the Conference to adopt Rangers.
“If there was a serious move to bring a major Scottish club into English football that would be under the purview of the Football Association as the national governing body and would require a discussion with Uefa and Fifa,” Clarke told Talksport. “So I don’t think the Conference would be able to invite them in, and I don’t think the Football League would ever invite them in without a major conversation. Those conversations will only ever take place league to league, FA to FA, because we can’t be negotiating with each other’s clubs.
“They would have to take place at the highest levels of English and European football before such a big decision can be taken.
“We should be working together to create a business model in Scotland that supports professional football rather than stealing their big clubs and leaving the rest in a mess. We should be helping Scottish football through a difficult period rather than cherry-picking their best clubs.”
Conference club chairmen are expected to discuss the prospect of Rangers’ entry to their ranks at their mid-season meeting next Monday and McCoist is gratified it is at least being considered.
“It’s interesting because it seems everyone else is slamming the door in your face in England – in the nicest possible way!” McCoist said. “It was interesting to hear Mr Lee’s views. They are having a meeting next week and we would be on the agenda. We’ll just need to wait and see how that goes.
“We would adapt to life there. We will cross that bridge if and when we come to it. It will certainly not be next year or the year after. But we are hopefully preparing ourselves to adapt to any change. We must be ready for it. At this moment in time, it looks as though it will be within Scottish football. I would look at the scenario of playing in England if and when it arose. Our immediate target is to get back to the top of Scottish football, to continue to grow as a club and to be involved in the growth of Scottish football.
“Anything else, we’ll have to wait and see. What will be, will be. If it’s around the corner, then we can discuss it then. But our immediate aim is to continue to prosper and get back to where we want to be.”
The debate over Rangers’ possible move south has been fired by the threat of their chief executive Charles Green to quit Scottish football if the proposed 12-12-18 league reconstruction plan for next season is approved.
McCoist is also vehemently opposed to the plan, which would leave Rangers in the bottom tier even if they win the Third Division this season, and is encouraged by the doubts which have since been expressed by some SPL clubs.
“I was a bit concerned that the 12-12-18 was set in stone when it was announced last week,” said McCoist. “But it doesn’t seem to be, which is obviously good from our point of view.
“It was presented as a fait accompli by those putting it forward but you would have to say that at least a couple of SPL clubs have contradicted the idea that it was unanimous.
“I’ve been involved in enough over the last 18 months to know that people will look after their own corner. That goes without saying and, to a massive degree, it’s understandable.
“But I was just a little bit surprised that 12-12-18 was presented as a fait accompli when it looks nothing like it at the moment.
“Of course it is wrong to announce change like that mid-season. You cannot move the goalposts in the middle of a season.
“I agree with Peterhead manager Jim McInally on this. It’s just as unfair on the rest of the teams in our league is it is on ourselves.
“If you make the rules at the start of the season, everyone knows what they’re playing for. If what you’re playing for now isn’t what you set out for, that’s when you have a problem.”