Rangers believe SPL will call for reconstruction as going gets tough
ON the day Rangers began life as a Third Division club with a 2-1 victory over Brechin City in the Ramsdens Cup, chairman Malcolm Murray has warned that Scottish Premier League teams could be driven by financial necessity into demanding league reconstruction.
Although he stressed that newco Rangers, voted out of the SPL in July, were content to make their way back up the ladder from the Third Divison, he painted a bleak picture of life at the top of the game on a weekend when Celtic attracted a crowd of 22,000 for their friendly with Inter Milan.
“I think we have to be careful about what we say,” said Murray, when asked whether the ripple effects of Rangers’ position at the bottom tier of the game will continue to impact on clubs in the SPL. “I hope that’s not the case but there has to be a reasonable probability [of reconstruction sooner rather than later].”
“We will be back at the highest level, and I don’t think it will be as long as some people say,” he added.
Off the field, Rangers were in bullish form yesterday. Photographs emerged appearing to show chief executive Charles Green joining in with a song that asked Rangers’ fans to clap “if you hate Stewart Regan”. The Scottish Football Association chief executive was not present at Glebe Park to see Rangers secure a victory after extra time thanks to goals from Andrew Little and Lee McCulloch. Andy Jackson had equalised just before half time for the hosts, in front of 4,124 fans.
In an earlier interview, aired on BBC Radio Scotland, Green had been critical of the decision to deny the club a place in the top flight. “Some of it has been driven by bigotry, some of it’s been driven by jealousy and some of it’s been driven by all the wrong motives,” he said.
Later, he told reporters that there are “massive financial hurdles for the whole of Scottish football” to address. “Even on Friday we saw the chief executive of Celtic asking the fans to buy season tickets because they have not sold,” he added. “We are in a financial crisis the world over, not just football. What I would like to say to everyone is that Rangers are now moving forward from the shackles of the last few years.
“In the latter end of David Murray’s ownership, the club was under pressure, and during Craig Whyte’s ownership it had problems and in administration those problems have only grown. Where we are now is in a clean position where we can rebuild this.
“We have already seen from the reaction of the fans today, when the board arrived, there is now a warming in attitude even towards us. We have always understood the issues surrounding whether they [the fans] could trust Charles Green and his consortium. But what we have done is delivered on everything we said we would.
“We have heard stories this week where directors of clubs have been phoning people individually asking people to buy season tickets.
“That just shows where we are. At one of the SPL meetings I went to there was a comment that our fans won’t buy season tickets unless we vote Rangers out of the league. Well they voted us out of the league and they are still not buying season tickets.”
Murray added that “we are ready with a strong balance sheet and a good squad”. The chairman said: “We will be ready to do whatever we need to, whether it is in the SPL or Timbuktu.”
“If we leave Rangers out of it, there will be changes up there,” said Green. “Some of the clubs up there are clearly going to struggle with their current debt burdens. They all file accounts. You are capable of looking. The loss of revenue to all these clubs is huge. Whether they can sustain their business models is up to the actions their directors will take.
“We as a board have made the decisions, we have taken our steps, we do not have the debt any of these clubs have, and on the last day of the season I will really enjoy [the findings of] a clever financial analyst who looks at the balance sheets, and the debt to equity ratios of every club in Scotland.”
Green placed what happens next at Rangers in the hands of the supporters, over 3,000 of whom made the journey to Brechin yesterday. Ian Black made his debut at Glebe Park after agreeing a three-year contract on Friday, while former Kilmarnock attacker Dean Shiels and Greek midfielder Pantelis Kafes are in signing talks with manager Ally McCoist.
“If the fans want to get behind the club then we will honour a commitment where we won’t make job losses,” he said. “If the fans decide not to buy their season ticket, which is their right, then we have to look at the business model. Our plan is to build this club, not to cut it.
“We have a great team of employees and a committed manager. What we want to do is be in the strongest position for when this club gets the opportunity to improve its level.”
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